Arizona Immigration Policy: What Have We Come To?
The new Arizona Immigration policy is one of the most blatant examples of racial profiling I have ever seen. For those of you who may not know, this past week Arizona lawmakers legalized the strictest anti-immigration ever passed in America. If signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer, police officers would have the right to stop people and ask them to show documents proving that they are in America legally. If they are not, then they can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Furthermore it makes it a crime for anyone to willingly harbor an illegal immigrant.
I believe that there needs to be new comprehensive immigration policy that seeks to strengthen America's borders and creates a system whereby illegal aliens currently in the United States can achieve legalized status, this bill is not the way to do it. While there are 460,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona, there has to be a better way to address the situation. Arresting and throwing them in jail, making it a crime to possess them in your house among some of the other measures, is too similar to what occurred in World War II.
Another aspect of the bill that is problematic is the fact that police officers would be the one responsible for enforcing the law. As many people are aware, relationships between police officers and communities of color, especially Latino and black communities have always been strained. Creating a system whereby police can merely stop you if they think you are in the country illegally creates a huge problem. Let us all be honest. Most of the people that police officers will assume are illegal will look much more like Barack Obama and less like John McCain. What this policy essentially does is make it completely legal to racially profile people. What happens when you stop someone who is legal in America, based on the opinion that you assumed they were illegal? How do you prove in a court of law that the Civil Rights of the person stopped were not violated, especially if it is considered legal under state law. This can not go on.
I wonder what would happen if I walked the streets of Arizona. I have a Muslim first name and a French last name. I look African-American, but could easily be mistaken for a dark-skinned Latino. But the fact of the matter is I am a born American. Who is to say that the next person who looks more white than me, but who happens to be illegal will be stopped? If we are honest, the odds of that happening are very slim. And furthermore why should that person be stopped? What crime did that person commit so egregious that they should end up in jail and furthermore kicked out of the country.
America is supposed to be a country that welcomes immigrants and should never seek to forget that crucial part of its history. Lets create a system where we can continue to live up to that ideal. Lets not create a Gestapo state, where it feels as if we are in Nazi Germany. The words on the Statue of Liberty should be read by every member of the Arizona legislature who voted for this policy.
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Words to live by!