Racial Profiling in Arizona

Protesters show their hatred towards Arizona's immigration law.

Protesters show their hatred towards Arizona's immigration law.

Originally published April 29, 2010:

Fascism – 1, Constitution – 0. With the passing of a new immigration law in Arizona, the Grand Canyon State paralleled itself with Nazi Germany in terms of rights of the people. Unfortunately, history has repeated itself in a major way.

 

Arizona’s House of Representatives passed a bill on Monday, April 19th, that gives police officers in Arizona the right to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant, and ask for their identification as an American citizen. If the person in question has no identification on their person, they can be arrested until it is brought to the police. Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into a law on Friday, April 23.

 

The nation has erupted since then with questionable legality of this law, and the parallels that it draws with another country in history that enforced similar laws– Nazi Germany. In Germany in the early 1940s, Jews were required to wear a Star of David on their clothing, and anyone could be detained and sent to a concentration camp, based on even the slightest suspicion.

This situation, while being deathly serious, also has an element of irony to it. After many Republicans criticized Democrats for their stances on health care, saying that universal health care would put us in a communist position, the parties find themselves with their positions reversed. The Arizona legislature, dominated by Republicans and a Republican governor, is being criticized by Democrats for the parallels to fascist practices.

The legality of the law is also in question right now. Many are arguing that it violates the fourth and fourteenth amendments, as well as the Constitution itself.The Constitution states that immigration laws will be passed only by the federal government. The argument in favor of the law here is that policing illegal immigrants in the state is not directly a matter of immigration but instead is a question of enforcement inside of the state itself. However, policing illegal immigration is a job of the federal government, and should not be enforced by individual states.

Also, the Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Many argue that that searches and seizures based solely on appearance would be protected against by the Fourth Amendment. It seems inevitable, even if these searches were deemed Constitutional, that so many searches would eventually result in many violations of the Fourth Amendment, for which the Arizona law enforcement could and would be prosecuted. No matter how you look at it, the Fourth Amendment will be violated when this law takes effect.

The Fourteenth Amendment is another amendment that may have been broken with the passing of the immigration law in Arizona. The amendment states, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” Clearly, citizens from Hispanic backgrounds would have their “privileges and immunities” taken from them in a search. As well, for those citizen not carrying identification, if they are detained until their identification is given, the state will have deprived them from “life, liberty, and property, without due process of the law.” This amendment, created for civil rights purposes, will inevitably be broken with the passage of the immigration law in Arizona.

Governor Brewer, however, believes that police officers will refrain from abusing the law. “I will not tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling in Arizona,” she said. If these are Brewer’s beliefs, then she should not have signed a bill that makes racial profiling inevitable.

Quote courtesy of Teaching Tolerance.

Photo courtesy of cbsnews.com.

For questions and comments, Jesse Buchsbaum can be reached at jessebux@yahoo.com.