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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Arizona embraces profiling

Papers Please

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The Arizona of 2010 is the Alabama of 1963

Those of us who are old enough will never forget the images of fire hoses being turned on children marching for their civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama - or the police nightsticks of Bloody Sunday at the Raymond Pettus Bridge in Selma.
Those images stirred a nation to act against racial segregation in the 1960's. The draconian anti-immigrant bill that was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is likely to do the same when it comes to the crisis of our broken immigration system.
The Arizona of 2010 is the Alabama of 1963.
For those who have not read a paper or turned on the TV in the last several days, the new Arizona law requires that all police officers with a reasonable suspicion that an individual might not be in our country legally, must demand to see that person's papers.
It also requires that each person who has immigrated carry those papers at all times or be in violation of the law themselves.
It even creates a private right of action that allows anyone, from an ordinary citizen to the Minutemen, to file suit against individual law enforcement officers who they believe are refusing to enforce the new act.
The new law makes anyone with brown skin, anyone who looks like he might be from Eastern Europe, the Irish guy who works behind the bar at a pub, anyone with an accent - frankly anyone who looks the least bit like they might be an immigrant - subject to the demand: "Papers please."
That phrase -- "papers please" - is something that the authorities asked you in the old Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. It has never been something we ever expected to hear uttered in the United States of America. It is as un-American as jack boots. Unless this law is stopped, thousands of people - many of them perfectly legal American citizens - will begin to hear it regularly in the state of Arizona.
Let's be clear. In a free society people should never have to worry that the plainclothes police officer around the next corner has the right - even the obligation - to demand to see their papers simply because they have brown skin or are chatting with their friends in Spanish, or Polish, or Italian.
This moral outrage will create an enormous backlash that will badly damage the reputation and economy of the state of Arizona. It will profoundly wound the state's massive convention and tourism business. It will make Arizona a symbol of racial profiling and conflict. As the controversy over the law explodes across the country, organizations of all types are already canceling conferences and meetings, and families are changing their vacation plans. Arizona will soon become the butt of jokes on late night TV, and its leaders will join the ranks of Bull Connor and George Wallace as symbols of what is not best in America.
The new law will not only cost the state in tourist dollars and reputation. Law enforcement officials consider it a danger to public safety. When this bill goes into effect, what family with an undocumented member will now call the police to report any ordinary crime? But ironically, the passage of this law may also serve as a wakeup call to people around the country who believe in fundamental American values. In the same way the excesses of Alabama's leaders helped pass the civil rights laws, so this un-American law may spur Congress to fix our profoundly broken immigration system.
The fact of the matter is that there are only three realistic choices when it comes to immigration: Link Here


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