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Papiere Bitte! Police State Policy in Arizona Comes Exclusively from Republicans

Over the past few days, I’ve been looking at “Tea Party” organizations across America and finding (link | link | link | link) two components of the movement sitting so oddly side by side. On the one hand, Tea Party leaders cry loudly about their commitment to the Constitution. On the other hand, Tea Party organizations endorse and contribute overwhelmingly to Republicans — Republicans who have acted nationally in the U.S. Congress to gut the 1st Amendment, the 4th Amendment, the 6th Amendment, the 8th Amendment and the 14th Amendment.

Republicans have been pursuing a particular anti-constitutional agenda for some time: turning America into a society in which people are subject to identification and tracking at the whim of the government. In 2005, without any hearings, 96.5% of Republicans in the House and all Republicans in the Senate passed the REAL ID Act into law, allowing the Secretary of Homeland Security to nullify any law in border regions of the United States and requiring Americans to hold national identification cards. In 2008, we learned that anyone forgetting their ID and entering an airport was having their name added to the Terrorist Watch List as some kind of twisted door prize, thanks to the policies of the Bush administration.

And then in 2006, Republican leaders of the Ohio state legislature introduced a bill that would have created an entire state agency dedicated to coordinating police as they arrested people solely for being illegal immigrants. Considering our 4th Amendment constitutional protections against search and seizure of personal papers without probable cause, I wondered at the time how police could possibly go about arresting people just for being illegal immigrants:

How exactly does an officer arrest a person solely for being an illegal immigrant, given that people don’t tend to walk around with signs that say “Illegal Immigrant Here!” or t-shirts that say “I Walked 500 miles, Illegally Crossed the Border, and All I Got was this Lousy T-Shirt”??? Also peskily missing are the illegal immigrant tattoos on the forehead. What will qualify for suspicion meriting further investigation? Brown skin? Overheard snippets of conversation in Spanish?

I was joking about the special Illegal Immigrant T-Shirts, but Representative Brian Bilbray wasn’t joking when he appeared on cable news just the other day and suggested that yes, you could accurately pick out illegal immigrants and not just because of the brown color of their skin. No, no, not just skin color! It’s also, explained Rep. Bilbray, because they wear Illegal Immigrant Clothes:

Chris Matthews: Like what, like what? Give me a non-ethnic aspect that would tell you to pick up somebody.

Brian Bilbray: They will look at the kind of dress you wear, there’s different type of attire, there’s different type of, right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes.

My point in bringing all this up is that these aren’t isolated policies. We’ve got ourselves a trend when it comes to this Republican Party obsession with using police to track people and demanding people’s identity papers not on the basis of probable cause (too constitutionish) but rather on the basis of some characteristic that’s a synonym for SKIN TONE and rhymes with GLACIAL SNOWPILING. It’s a long-term Republican policy trend.

So when we saw that the Arizona State Legislature passed a bill last week requiring police officers to stop people on the basis of rhymes-with-GLACIAL-SNOWPILING, demand their papers, and detain them if they don’t have papers, should we have been surprised? No. Should we be surprised when we find out that every single Arizona State Senator and Representative who voted for this bill (SB 1070) is a Republican? No. Should we be surprised to find out that only 1 out of the approximately 100 Republican Arizona state legislators voted against the measure? No. Should we be surprised when we find out that the current Republican Governor of Arizona, channeling Evan Mecham and J. Fife Symington III, signed the bill into law? No.

No, we shouldn’t be surprised, because time and again we have seen that this is what Republican politicians do. We shouldn’t be surprised by these events, but we should note them and remember them. We should also remember what these practices were called back during the Cold War when our teachers told us about the evil countries that practiced them. “Papiere, Bitte!” cried the East German Stasi agents in the spy films we were shown as they chased Good Germans citizens racing for a train to Free Berlin. “Police State” was a phrase my teacher used in civics class fairly often to describe the evil Communist way of life, the way of life that our own great country rejected in the noble cause of Freedom.

Any self-respecting and serious Tea Party member who cries “Constitution” or who holds a sign with a picture of Obama with a “Hitler” mustache or who sports a bumper sticker declaring Nancy Pelosi to be a “Communist” or who explains to the nice journalist with the mike that we have to protect our “Freedoms” against the power of “Big Government” should be speaking out right about now against SB 1070 and should have nothing to do with the Republican politicians who voted for it.

Watch Tea Party members over the next few days to see if they live up to that “self-respecting and serious” part. And while you’re at it, watch yourself too. The next time you consider voting for a Republican, remember that THIS is their agenda for America.

15 comments to Papiere Bitte! Police State Policy in Arizona Comes Exclusively from Republicans

  • Tom

    The FISA Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the Orwellian named Patriot Act were all foundations for this repressive nonsense and were approved by both parties (and continue to be renewed by both parties). The Republicans may be the crazy side of the coin, but the Democrats sure aren’t helping matters much, from where i’m sittin’.

  • ramone

    protect the borders, forget civil rights!
    we have a fear alert! people with brown skin are alive and breathing!
    the tea party has no problem jumping from “obama the nazi” to “seal the border”
    hypocrisy is alive and breathing in the tea party. their willingness to uphold the constitution goes only as far as their personal bank accounts. ask sarah palin or glenn beck. their bank book balances are rising faster than the deficit.
    their consistent and main motivation is GREED.
    the illegal immigrants might get government health care; the illegal immigrant might take their job; the illegal immigrant might steal from them.
    the tea party can frame an issue toward your pocketbook and instill fear and blame on some “other”; knowing, full well, the panic driven legislation will do little or nothing to solve underlying problems and in fact only exasperate the issue even more. now, if they can somehow make a buck off this…

  • Grady

    I want an illegal immigrant shirt? Does it exist?

  • Ooh, good idea, Grady. What’s the slogan: Arrest Me. I Look Like An Illegal Immigrant.

    I’ll work on it.

  • Allowing the government and police forces to randomly stop and question people without just cause is a violation of the 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
    If we allow them to violate the rights of one ethnic group, what will stop them from doing it to ANY ethnic group, or ANY individual?
    The Tea Partiers should be raising Hell about the government violating their precious Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
    Maybe they don’t really care about the Bill of Rights or individual liberty for all, maybe they just want it for people who look and talk like them.

  • Tom

    Hey EP, where were you during the Bush administration when all this stuff started? As i noted in the first comment above – this shit isn’t new! It’s just the latest wrinkle in the formation of their police state.

    Want a job? The brownshirts are hiring.

  • Bville1942

    The Feds will probably copy Gore’s idea for trading Carbon Credits (CC) on the Chicago Carbon

    Exchange. (CCX)

    For Background:

    http://www.examiner.com/x-14143-Orange-County-Conservative-Examiner~y2010m4d27-Scandal-Obama-

    Gore-Goldman-Joyce-Foundation-CCX-partners-to-fleece-USA

    The Feds will need to raise A LOT of money to pay for the extra health care and other

    government benefits the 12 to 20 million illegals will be entitled to once Obama gives them

    amnesty…. See More

    The new program can be called the Arizona Mexican Exchange (AMX). The new exchange will

    create credits for workers who need the new unfunded benefits. We will call them Mexican

    Credits or MC’s.

    To start the program, everyone legal citizen in the United States will be issued one MC. That

    entitles you to hire one illegal Mexican. If you own a Taco Bell, Landscaping Company, or

    have a large yard, you will have to buy other MC’s from someone who does not need theirs or

    you will have to pay a fine.

    There will be plenty available from people who mow their own yard or live in apartments.

    The AMX will be set up for you to buy and sell the MC’s.

    Thanks to Gore, Obama and others involved in the formation of the Chicago Carbon Exchange,

    there is a great model to copy. Thank you Arizona.

    If you want to know why the Cap-And-Trade bill is so important. Check out the link above and

    Follow-The-Money!

  • Tom,
    I know the Neo Cons started this BS, and
    I wrote and blogged about it for the last 10
    years, and all the left wing libs spend their
    time attacking and hating a puppet-bush,
    now the right wing tea partiers are doing the
    same thing with another puppet- Obama.
    My point is the tea partiers and 9-11 truthers
    are hypocrites for not speaking out against this Bill,
    and the tea partiers are lacking compassion for all
    people, they don’t care about the rights of anyone
    who doesn’t look like or talk like them.
    If the government gets away with this bill they will
    go nation wide and then they will use it on Muslims
    and then on anyone.
    That was the plan in the first place, and they used
    the immigration issue to “Trojan-horse” this bill.
    Divide and rule is their Modus Operandi, and it’s
    working just the way they planned, Peace.

  • You are about 50yrs too late for this legislation.
    It has existed on a Federal level for well around 50yrs and was (surprise surprise) originally passed by progressives. Read the damned text in the actual bill before you write up such crap. It will save you the embarrassment of looking like a ignorant wretch later on. It’s only 30 pages long, surely you can wrap your skull around something that simple and short to read. If not, I understand. You aren’t the only one out there that can’t/won’t exercise their 3rd grade reading level long enough to get their facts straight.

    The bill explicitly states that AZ is merely enforcing the 50yr old Federal law. If an illegal immigrant is caught up in something unlawful and stopped by police, the police can place their immigration status under scrutiny if the person is unable to provide sufficient proof.
    When was the last time you got pulled over for speeding? Do you remember the fascist police officer asking you for your license, registration, and proof of insurance? Now if you were an illegal immigrant you probably wouldn’t have any of those documents. That would be a nice COMMON scenario for an officer to have reasonable suspicion that you were in the country illegally.

    What is so wrong about enforcing a law that is already in place? The only reason it hasn’t been enforced for so long has been because BOTH parties wanted those votes during election time.

    • Jim

      The unconstitutional activity of the Border Patrol, long a source of complaint in border regions of the United States, does not excuse new mandated unconstitutional activity by state and local police.

      Speeding is an observable offense. A police officer with a radar gun establishes probable cause on a public road without searching or seizing anyone’s papers and effects.

      Looking like an illegal immigrant is not a crime. But that’s the basis upon which the Arizona police can stop anyone walking down the street, demand they produce proof of citizenship or legal residence, and detain anyone who doesn’t have those papers on their person until their citizenship or legal residence is proven.

      If you don’t find that a problem, then there’s not much we can talk about.

  • A police officer who nails you with a radar-gun for speeding is absolutely going to pull you over and ask you to produce “your papers and effects”. They aren’t combing the roads looking for Mexicans to pull over for some inane reason or another. If you’re walking down the road, you won’t be bothered. If you break a law while walking down the road (ie vandalism, drunk and disorderly etc) then they can stop you whether you are white, black, or brown.

    In regards to the Border Patrol: I was unable to find any of the complaints you speak of. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure they exist somewhere. But one may argue that going through TSA metal detectors are in breach of the 4th. There are plenty of complaints about those as well, yet not much outrage in response to it.
    I’ve been dealing with the border patrol all my life. I live in AZ and travel to Mexico by car pretty frequently.

    Again, read the text of the bill. It specifically outlines that the AZ law is not to go above the Federal law already in place. Most of the articles and protester coverage you are getting from your media sources are both reactionary and inaccurate.

    • Jim

      The Text of the Bill.

      The hypothetical police officer in the case of speeding would have probable cause to stop someone, probable cause of speeding. Probable cause is required by the Constitution to search and seize a person’s papers and effects. SB 1070 does not require probable cause. It only requires a suspicion that a person might be an illegal immigrant. Page 2, Lines 20-26.

      There is no requirement that a police officer is arresting somebody for a crime in order for them to act against a person in the state of Arizona. There is only a requirement that a police officer is in contact with someone. In every situation in which a police officer is in contact with a person in the state of Arizona, the new state law declares that the police officer shall, to the extent it is possible, whenever the police officer has a suspicion, determine whether that person is an illegal immigrant. Not may. Shall. Page 2, Lines 20-26. Police walking the beat come into contact with Arizonans walking down the street every single day.

      There is no line in the law that declares that the “AZ law is not to go above the Federal law already in place.” Indeed, the law declares additions to federal law. For example, Page 4 lines 20 and following.

      Why don’t YOU read the law?

      [edit: the pages I refer to here are the page numbers of the PDF. Someone pointed out that the page numbers of the original document are different. Sorry about that.]

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