The new immigration bill that was signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in April is a small degradation of our civil rights.
Arizona is now going to be the first state that will permit law enforcement officers to question suspected illegal immigrants about their right to be here after articulating 'reasonable suspicion' of any number of activities such as jay walking, loitering or even having missed a court date. This is a bad law. It is bad for everyone and not just those who are in this country illegally.
Law enforcement should not be granted the kind of unfettered power to make the easy decision that someone was not cooperating in an investigation or even just looked out of place in a certain neighborhood in order to ask for the papers.
There is no amount of training in the world that would have prevented a recent Seattle Police Officer from kicking a Latino man in the head after shouting "I will beat the (expletive) Mexican (expletive) out of you, homey. Do you feel me?" right in neighboring South Lake Union last month. While that is still under investigation, it sounds racially motivated.
That is an extreme example of a situation that can arise when someone with power has hatred toward a certain race. However, it is because of the existence of extremes that it is our government's responsibility to guard against the insertion of race into a criminal investigation at all costs. If one is not actively within the confines of the court system for an alleged crime, then his or her immigration status should not be questioned. That is what the 'home of the free' part is about in America.
The sad part is that we let this happen. The even worse part has been the reaction from those in opposition to the law. It has been disappointing nationally and rather annoying locally.
For example, President Obama recently met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and apologized for the AZ law and spoke about how his hands are tied until the Republicans work with him on a federal overhaul of immigration law. He is the President of the United States with a good-sized democratic majority in the Congress. How is blaming Republicans even relevant to his ability to take control of the immigration issue?
Then there is our own City Council. Really guys? The 7-0 vote to 'boycott Arizona' is not only ridiculous sounding, but it has no actual teeth as Council exempted the only contract the city has with an Arizona company operating 29 of our red light cameras. They should stick to items on their list of priorities such as economic recovery and creating a sustainable budget for 2011-2012 and really stay out of this unless they are willing to offer something useful.
Perhaps President Obama can listen to the people this time who have spoken and acted instead of cavalierly sloughing it off as some kind of a one-off right-wing solution. This was not a one-off right-wing solution.
Today, Gov. Brewer is more popular than ever and according to a recent Rasmussen poll 55 percent of the American people agree with the law. Clearly, the majority sentiment is that we should do something to combat illegal immigration.
When left with nothing from Congress to address the problem, state lawmakers reacted. In doing so, a little bit of our civil rights were taken away and our borders are no more secure than they were before this law ever came into fruition.
Nicole Franklin is a lawyer living in Magnolia[[In-content Ad]]