Why AZ's immigration law is bad for conservatives
There’s a genius column by Byron York, who works for The National Review, in today’s Washington Examiner.
York, who once defended to me George W. Bush’s inaction after receiving a Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6,2001 stating that “Al-Qa’ida members–including some who are US citizens–have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks,” has the gall to say that a law which allows law enforcement to use race or ethnicity as a determining factor in deciding whether to question someone’s immigration status is “reasonable.”
The heart of the law is this provision: “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency…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…”
York and supporters of the measure make a big hullaballoo over the fact that race or ethnicity may not be the “sole” factor in deciding whether to demand proof of citizenship. Law enforcement may still use race as a factor, just not as the “sole” factor.
Yet when race is one factor among others, as it is here, that a college admissions committee uses to admit applicants, Republicans call this unconstitutional.
Funny how it’s OK to use race as a factor to throw people they don’t like out of the country, but not when it’s used redress 391 years of systematic oppression under force of law, as with affirmative action.
One of my favorite things about Republican rhetoric is that it is so often against what they proclaim to be their own interests. York–whom I’m willing to bet dinner at the Capitol Grill has never exchanged more than 12 words at a time with an illegal immigrant, and whom I’m also willing to bet has either his home lawn-mowing, childcare, or janitorial services at his office done by Latino immigrants–does not even realize that the bill will undermine law enforcement’s ability to solve crimes.
That is because anyone with dark skin is going to avoid any possible interaction with law enforcement, including providing information that may lead law enforcement to the solving of a crime.
Say you are Latino, and you witness a hit-and-run. You’re on the way home from the playground with your kids, and you didn’t bring your wallet so you don’t have your driver’s license on you. Are you going to offer yourself as a witness to the aggrieved party, and be interviewed by the cops, so that one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s over-aggressive deputies can haul you downtown, resulting in considerable inconvenience, embarrassment in front of your kids, and expense to prove that you are here legally?
No, you are going to hot-foot it out of there, and the drunk driver who did the hit and run is going to get away.
Encouraging law enforcement to get involved in immigration matters always results in less interaction between immigrant communities and law enforcement. If the Republicans who argue in favor of this measure weren’t so closed-off in their gated communities and their private schools, and actually bothered to interact once in a while with Americans who do not look like them, they might understand this.
The Arizona anti-immigrant measure is bad for law enforcement, bad for immigrant communities, and bad for everyone else because more crooks will go free. So much for law and order.
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