Lately, the word “racist” has been thrown about quite liberally. Apparently, because I agree with Arizona’s immigration bill, I have been told I am a racist. So I ask, is this law “racist”? And, can someone automatically be called a racist because they support this law? Let’s examine this in a logical manner (with a dash of sarcasm and rhetoric for entertainment) and see if it holds up.
Having read many people’s reaction, comments, and accusations, it is clear that a very small number of people have actually read the law. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that if you’re against something, you would at least find out what it is you oppose? Or (and this is what I suspect) are people accepting that this law targets certain races because they have heard as much in the news or by word of mouth? Apparently ignorance is bliss. Well, if you put that much faith in the news or the word on the street, I’d like to discuss a bridge I have for sale after this debate.
I really shouldn’t have to prove that the law is not “racist”, just reading the thing would be the end of the discussion. But who would be bothered to do something as simple as that? I mean really, if it wasn’t racist, why would the press report that it is…right? Oh, I forgot that liberal bias and sensationalism is what the media counts on to have you coming to them like cattle to a trough at feeding time. I am going to say something very important here, so please pay attention. Do not accept what the media spoons out, or what I say for that matter, as truth! Please verify it, check into it, educate yourself!!!
So this is a “racist” law and those who support it are “racists”? First, let’s make sure we are all using the same definition for “racism.” Can we agree that racism is hatred or intolerance of another race or other races? I think that’s a fair definition of racism.
Most of the arguments I’ve seen against the bill deal with how this is unfair to Mexicans and the fear of racial profiling. The facts are indisputable; this law will affect many Mexicans. I do not deny that, nor do I think that there is anything wrong with that. I am sure I just offended some people with that concession. Let’s establish what EXACTLY that means.
A Mexican is a person who is from Mexico, a foreign national. Now, here in the US we have a lot of citizens and legalized immigrants with Mexican heritage, but they are Americans. (I realize that anyone from the Western Hemisphere is “American”, but it is also generally understood the use of “American” means someone from U.S.A., so we’re going with that term) Two different nationalities, American…Mexican, nationality does not equal race. One more time, there is a difference between a Mexican and American, and that difference is the country they are LEGALLY belong to.
Having said that, of the ILLEGAL immigrants in the US, the majority come from Central America. Of that population, most are from Mexico, probably due to its proximity and a porous border, but that’s just a guess. So to say that any law that deals with ILLEGAL immigration, statistically speaking, it is going to affect Mexicans. That does not mean that it is targeting Mexicans, it just means that being the largest segment of the ILLEGAL immigrants, naturally they are affected the most. That does not make it “racist”; it makes it a statistical eventuality.
But this law will also affect Guatemalans, Canadians, Russians, et al. The US has ILLEGAL immigrants from all over the world. What Arizona’s (and Federal) law says, if you are here ILLEGALLY, we have the right to treat that as a crime (just like every other nation of the world). Nowhere in that law does it say, if you are here ILLEGALLY and you have brown skin, we have the right to treat that as a crime. Again, it is a statistical inevitability. To make this even easier to understand, let’s say you blindfold me and put in front of me 10 apples, 9 green and 1 red. Now, if you tell me to pick one and it turns out to be a green one, guess what. I’m not being “racist” against green apples. There just happens to be way more green apples. You would think that this may end the debate, but I’m sure there are still hold-outs who still think the law is unfair for their race.
So what does the law allow Arizona to do differently? If you read the law, it essentially covers three areas of concern; enforcement, state services, and accountability. Enforcement is the apprehension of illegal immigrants in the course of law enforcement’s duties. State services and accountability is pretty much self-explanatory. I will touch briefly on state services, but if further discourse is needed on accountability, I’ll address it in the future.
For now, let’s look at enforcement, because that’s what has everyone up in arms. First, let’s all understand a few of the basic terms used in this law. There are three common ways that a person is contacted by law enforcement. These are probable cause, reasonable suspicion, and consensual contact.
Probable cause, the most sound of the three, is when some law has been violated and it is the officer’s duty to intercede on behalf of the citizens. For example, a person is driving 55 mph in a 15 mph school zone. I think everyone can see how that is dangerous and intervention is required. This shows a clearly lawful reason for contact.
The next is reasonable suspicion, which I think most people are having difficulty understanding. Reasonable suspicion is well-established “case law” in the US. “Case law” is determined when the higher courts offer opinions on the constitutionality of a set of circumstances. For instance, Terry v. Ohio establishes that an officer may contact a person if “reasonable suspicion” exists that a crime has occurred or going to occur. As an example, an officer is on patrol at 3am, conducting a premise check at a closed business. While at the rear of the business, the officer notices a man standing near a rear entrance to the business. He is dressed in all black clothing, wearing a ski mask, and holding a crow bar. It is a hot summer night, so the long sleeve shirt and ski mask don’t exactly match the given environmental conditions. There exists a reasonable suspicion that this person may be engaged in a burglary, whether he has actually committed that crime yet or not. Although I’m sure there are defense attorneys out there crying at the top of their lungs that this fine citizen was probably just out for exercise and the crow bar was for self defense. To most REASONABLE people, the officer, at the very least, has cause to check further into this situation. So, the officer has a lawful reason for making contact with this person.
The third type of contact is called consensual. Simply put, an officer may approach any person and ask if the officer can speak with them. If the person consents, or by virtue of engaging in conversation, the contact has been lawfully established. Of course that person may at any time, barring the officer noticing a violation of law, may walk away.
While reading people’s concerns about Arizona’s law, I have seen the argument that officers will see the color of a person’s skin and use that for a basis for making contact. This is a horrible, unsubstantiated argument. First, consider for a moment the number of citizens living in Arizona of Hispanic genealogy. The Census Bureau puts Arizona’s Hispanic/Latino population at about 29%. That means roughly 1 in 3 or 4 people are of Hispanic descent. Arizona’s officers would be overwhelmed trying to stop and check immigration status on every third, or even fourth, person they saw. It is laughable at best. Second, it is an assumption of what individual officers will do, based undoubtedly on a general mistrust for law enforcement. Third, if officers in Arizona represent the makeup of the racial demographics, about 29% of the officers in the state are of Hispanic/Latino descent. Do they get a pass on the “racist” allegation? Or are they included as well? I could continue ad nauseum, but I think we can see the problems with this accusation.
So what does Arizona’s law allow officers to do? Well, here it is…
Article 8. 11-1051(B). For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state, or a county, city, town, or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person. The person’s immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to 8 United States Code Section 1373(c).
I know that not everyone will read that and understand what it means. So let’s break it down.
– “For any lawful contact made by any law enforcement officer…” is saying that this law is activated when “lawful contact” has been made. Remember the explanations above? Probable cause, reasonable suspicion, and consensual contact? Reasons OTHER than determining immigration status have already put that officer and person in contact. Let’s look at this in a different light. A lot of states require that drivers have insurance. An officer may not stop you solely for the purpose to inspect your insurance. They may however, subsequent to stopping you for OTHER reasons, ascertain if you are insured.
– “…a law enforcement official or agency of this state, or a county, city, town, or other political subdivision of this state…” means pretty much every cop in Arizona, if you didn’t get that already.
– “…where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States…” Let’s take a little extra time on this one; I think this is where most people are confused. So the officer has already made lawful contact with someone, which gives the officer a legal reason to be there. Then, the officer has some reasonable suspicion that this person may be an illegal immigrant. Not a gut feeling, intuition, ESP, or throwing of chicken bones…reasonable suspicion.
Some circumstances are easy to see why an officer may suspect the person is an illegal alien. For example, the officer pulls over a car and hears voices in the trunk. This may be legal in other countries, but here in the US, we frown upon your cargo being humans. Upon inspection, the officer locates six people stuffed into the trunk. A reasonable person could reasonably suspect that this is a smuggling operation. This gives rise to ask about their immigration status.
There may be circumstances where determining the “reasonableness” of the suspicion comes into question. But to this point, the officer has made a lawful contact, and then had a reasonable suspicion about the person’s immigration status. The officer still cannot apprehend the person for an immigration violation. Read below…
– “…a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.” Well, this sounds just like Nazi Germany, just as many opponents are now suggesting. Those jack-booted SS folks are making “reasonable attempts”, “when practicable” mind you, to “determine the immigration status of a person.” Wow! Oh, wait, that sounds nothing like fascism. But, wait, say the hold-outs, they will just “say” they made a reasonable attempt, then boot them anyhow. Read on my friends…
– “The person’s immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to 8 United States Code Section 1373(c).” There is a VERY important legal word in there and I hope you caught it. In “legalese”, there is no ambiguity to the word “shall.” No wiggle room allowed. So our officer has made lawful contact, had a reasonable suspicion about the person’s immigration status, and now will make a reasonable attempt to determine the person’s immigration status through the federal government. Hmmm, that sounds quite nefarious and racially biased doesn’t it? If you just answered yes, you are invited to find the nearest port of entry and cross to the other side. Other countries are much more lenient with their immigration laws, or not, but that’s another conversation.
Of course, all of the above could be circumvented by possessing some form of documentation proving one’s status in the US, like a driver’s license. I will illuminate this briefly with an examination of the state services.
This amendment allows Arizona to obtain and maintain immigration status on people to determine eligibility on for state benefits, services, or licenses. The source of this information may be provided by person’s requesting services or the federal government. Well, that’s just not right! Right? Who are they to check if you are a citizen before issuing you some state benefit? Why should you be required to prove your citizenship before you get your license? That’s just not fair! It’s racist!
Before you know it, you’ll see things like this…”You must present a Social Security Number (SSN) that the RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicles) can verify with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) as having been issued to you OR an acceptable Denial Notice from the SSA. If you present a Denial Notice, you must also present proof of acceptable visa status, an I-94 (Record of Arrival and Departure), and a current non-U.S. Passport.”
Oh, sorry, those are the requirements to get a license in Massachusetts, one of the most liberal states in the US. What?!? An illegal alien cannot get a driver’s license there either? That’s bull! Oops, I guess Arizona isn’t the only state that has “racist” laws on the books that prevent illegal aliens from obtaining state services.
Let’s get to the heart and soul of denying illegal immigrants state benefits and services…tax dollars. There’s no easy way to say this, but the fact is, you have to look at this portion in an economic light and how that affects the legal citizens.
I often hear the argument that illegal aliens work the jobs no one else wants to. Or, that if it weren’t for the lower wages, we would have to pay higher prices for goods and services. For the moment, I’ll agree that these statements are true (but I don’t). Is the money you’re saving, worth the amount you are spending? In simple terms, if it costs you a $1.50 to save $1, you may want to reconsider your financial acumen.
Since we know they are here illegally, we can stipulate they have no LEGAL Social Security Number. Thus, they either work under the table or have a stolen and/or forged SSN. Forged/stolen SSN’s are bought from another group of people who make it their business to steal your identity. And let’s face it; they have a large supply/demand pool. Yes, I’ve said it; illegal immigration is a contributive factor in identity theft.
So it is either a completely false set of numbers, or someone’s identity has been stolen. Imagine the feeling of having to get the IRS off your back because you weren’t earning a paycheck picking fruit in Oregon last year. So there are a bunch of earnings out there not getting taxed. And let’s be honest, our government, both federal and state, operate off taxes. We fill up the bank account and they spend it! So is it unfair or “racist” of them to say only the citizens should receive benefits and services of those tax dollars? Membership has its privileges, and that IS the fair thing. I wouldn’t go to Mexico illegally and expect their government to provide me with all the rights, benefits, and services it offers its citizens. In fact, Mexico has very stringent laws prohibiting that.
I should note that I do not begrudge folks for leaving their homes and coming here looking to make a better life for themselves. In their shoes, I may do the same thing. I wholly believe in immigration, my relatives came to this great land through the legal means. Having said that, I believe in the sovereignty of this nation and respect its laws. This is what this whole thing is about. I also promote this radical idea of improving your own country. Not long ago, 1776 precisely, a bunch of radicals decided that they didn’t like the way things were and did something about it. It’s a catchy idea this whole freedom, democracy, and capitalist society thing.
Okay, let’s get back on target. With taxes not being paid, you may ask how much are we really out? Well, here’s a couple statistics about illegal aliens (IA’s).
Estimate number of IA’s in the US: 22.7 MILLION
Currency wired to Latin American since 2001: $260.3 BILLION
Costs of Social Services to IA’s since 1996: $397.4 BILLION
Costs to education systems since 1996: $163.8 BILLION
Costs of incarceration since 1996: $ 24.4 BILLION
Skilled jobs taken by IA’s: 11.5 MILLION
(Information obtained from http://immigrationcounters.com)
So, how do you want your money spent? What about your kids’ education? (We all know how the schools have an abundance of money…right?) How about locking up and caring for criminals who shouldn’t be here in the first place? Or what about what about when you go to look for a job? Given the numbers above, do you really think the savings from lower wages are worth the drain on the system? Hint, that should be an easy no.
So you think that they are only doing the jobs no one else wants. Really? There are very few industries that are not affected by illegal aliens; it’s not just field workers. Construction, restaurants, grocery stores, factories, and the list goes on. Check this article about the jobs “no one else wants.”
And I doubt we are getting lower prices for goods and services because of lower wages. This is just my opinion, because I have no way to proving it, but I don’t believe businesses are passing those savings along to you. Whenever a business can increase its profit margin, its first reaction isn’t, “Hey, let’s give the customer lower prices!” Greed is a big component you have to account for. Just look at the CEO’s of the financial institutions and car companies after they received your tax dollars for bail out. Did they use that money responsibly to help fix the sinking ship? Uh, no, they gave themselves bonuses.
Given the details of this law and what it allows, there are no valid reasons to say that it is “racist.” In our society, with its checks and balances, a prejudiced law would not survive the legal battle that would ensue. This leaves racism, as ignorant as it is, a personal choice. Are there racists in our society? Of course there are, each race has them. Since law enforcement is made up of people from all walks of life, there are bound to be a few bad apples, and that is a shame. But no industry is immune from having a few kooks and idiots.
This law does not create a race problem, it deals with illegal immigration. If there is a race problem, or racial profiling, that problem already exists due to the individual officer’s biases and ignorance. It is his or her choice to act ignorantly, and whether SB 1070 is passed or fades away, that problem is still a problem.
So I ask the jury, has the case been made that Arizona has passed a “racist” law? Or further, that my support of this law makes me a “racist”? I think it is great that everyone have an opinion, discuss, and even dissent on issues. But is using the race card really an argument? Many people lower their heads and do not want to be involved if the race card is thrown out, for fear that this may affirm the accusation in other’s minds. Remember your freedom of speech!!! Do not be stymied by cheap tactics that use baseless allegations.
Thank you and God bless.