A fact of life for many Black Americans
The fence installed along the U.S.-Mexican border (OPTIONAL-FRONT or JUMP)
Racial Profiling Masquerading as Immigration Law
The latest Immigration Reform controversy in Arizona has stirred up thoughts of “racial profiling”, a term the African American community live with constantly.
By Niele Anderson
Sentinel Religion Editor
While the Federal Government has been slow to address Immigration Reform, Arizona lawmakers have decided to take matters into their own hands. The Arizona state Senate voted 17-11 to pass a bill that would make it a crime for “illegal” immigrants to not have valid alien registration documents. It also would require police to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.
Other provisions allow citizen to file lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of existing immigration laws, and also make it a crime for people to hire illegal immigrants (that is already a crime) in any capacity whatsoever or knowingly transport them.
The Arizona law has ignited a firestorm throughout the country and everyone from President Barack Obama on down to the man-on-the-street have been vocal about the potential havoc that this misguided law will create. It harkens back to the days of the Dred Scott decision; and Black folks can definitely relate to that.
“Arizona’s new immigration law is a poorly-considered disaster in the making for people of color”, National Urban League president and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “It’s an enormous setback. There is no indication this law will have any effect on the problem it was designed to fix,” he continued. “Meanwhile, tens of thousands of innocent, legal residents of Arizona are vulnerable to harassment, detention and imprisonment based on nothing more than the perception of their ethnicity.”
Some Arizonians have cited costly services provided to illegal immigrants and the recent slaying of a southeastern Arizona rancher near the U.S.-Mexico border as reasons for the move. The new measure would be the latest crackdown in that state, which has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants and is regarded as the nation’s busiest border crossing point.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-35) stated “As the Representative for a diverse district in southern California that is heavily impacted by immigration, I understand that America’s broken immigration system has had disastrous consequences for our nation, American citizens, and undocumented individuals living here who seek a better life for themselves and their families. She went on to say “The effect of this is clear – many American citizens will be subjected to harassment by the police on the basis of their skin color, ethnicity, or speaking with an accent. This is not consistent with the Constitution or America’s democratic values. Moreover, it will make our communities less safe by diverting police resources from fighting violent crime and will make residents who witness crime afraid to report it to the police”.
While Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA-9), who is also the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, stated, “Such actions are clearly questionable under the constitution and this law attempts to override federal jurisdiction of immigration laws which cannot be done under the federal preemption standard of law. This is shameful. So today we join with other civil rights organizations and Latino leadership groups by expressing our opposition to this form of law and again calling on the congress to legislatively provide for immigration reform that addresses the human needs of those who simply want justice, and to also ensure the security of our borders.”
The Justice Department and the Homeland Security Department are reviewing the Arizona state law that lawmakers used to produce this bill that the governor has signed with intent to unleash it on its citizens. Attorney General Eric Holder stated, “Arizona’s new law is subject to potential abuse”. A number of options are under consideration including “the possibility of a court challenge,” Holder said in response to questions on the Arizona law during a recent news conference.
The bill is considered to be among the toughest immigration measures in the nation. Supporters say the measure is needed to fill a void left by the federal government’s failure to enforce its immigration laws and that “illegal” is not a race, it’s a crime.”
President Obama has instructed the Justice Department to examine the Arizona law that he said last week threatens to “undermine basic notions of fairness.” He also is pressing anew for national immigration legislation, saying, “If we continue to fail to act at a federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.”
The law is set to take effect this summer.