Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's Going On In Arizona?

So, this topic has been introduced to us a couple months ago and that's the new Arizona immigration law that would take effect July 29.

This new law, "directs officers to question people about their immigration status during the enforcement of any other laws such as traffic stops and if there's a reasonable suspicion they're in the U.S illegally." But it's the "suspicion" part of the equation people have the most problem with. How can you tell what an illegal immigrant is before you look at their papers? Well, because it's Arizona, the police will be looking for Hispanics...but not all Hispanics are illegal and not all Hispanics carry their Immigration Visas around with them or their birth certificates.

That's where the racial profiling comes in, because they're saying this race is illegal and therefore we have the right to pull them over, etc. But what really is racial profiling? This term has been popping up in the news fairly regularly, but I have an inkling many people don't really know what it is or why it's "wrong". Reason magazine states, "Although there is no single, universally accepted definition of 'racial profiling,' we're using the term to designate the practice of stopping and inspecting people who are passing through public places -- such as drivers on public highways or pedestrians in airports or urban areas -- where the reason for the stop is a statistical profile of the detainee's race or ethnicity." That is the definition of racial profiling and that's what the Arizona law wants the police to do.
As you can see, there isn't much doubt that the law is racial profiling but also that isn't unconstitutional or illegal (so far). However, there is a lawsuit going on to stop this law from taking effect.
So, if the fact that it utilizes "racial profiling" isn't enough to stop this new law, what can? Interestingly enough, the government's basis for a lawsuit against this law (and Arizona) is states' rights: basically, federalism. The Obama administration argued that immigration is something that the federal government legislates, not individual states. The Supremacy clause in Article VI of the Constitution states that the "Constitution and the laws of the United States...shall be the supreme law of the land...anything in the constitutions or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." That is interpreted to mean that any law the Federal government makes is the "supreme law of the land" and it trumps any state laws. In connection with the Arizona case, the U.S. government wrote that the "provisions of S.B. 1070 [the Arizona law] are therefore preempted by federal law". They go on to write that, "While holding that the '[p]ower to regulate immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power,' the Supreme Court concluded that not every state enactment 'which in any way deals with aliens is a regulation of immigration and thus per se preempted by this constitutional power, whether latent or exercised.' De Canas v. Bica, 424 U.S. 351, 354-355 (1976)."

To put this all in layman's terms, the Supreme Court has ruled before that immigration falls under the category of something the federal government dictates. They go on to connect this with the supremacy clause to make the point that their laws go above what the state government does. After hearing the case and looking at the current laws Judge Bolton ruled on the case recently and issued an injunction to stop the law from taking effect. One of her reasons for issuing the injunction was because , "Preserving the status quo through a preliminary injunction is less harmful than allowing state laws that are likely preempted by federal law to be enforced."

In my personal opinion, I think she made the right decision.
Although this issue seems to be over now, there is a very good chance this case will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court because of the federalism issue and also the civil liberties issue. This issue is still important to us because it shows how much we want immigration control (well, at lest Arizonans). Immigration is a big issue right now because of the downturn of the economy. People are angry and think their jobs are being "stolen" from them. But I don't think this law is the way to handle immigration at all. We cannot strip liberties away from an essentially defenseless group. Instead, if the country decides we want to increase immigration control, we should strengthen our borders. Another thing to consider would be amnesty; let the people here have a chance at the real American dream. Whatever the government decides to do, racial profilin" cannot be a part of the equation.

Further reading:


  1. AMAZING!!!! I agree completely.

  2. Thanks, I'm glad you agree. Yeah, it's really not up to the standards of our country to use racial profiling...there are better ways to get tougher on immigration, but still stay civilized.

  3. Hey girlie, this is great! glad to see you finally got it up and Laurencie didn't steal it from you! :P

  4. Yeah I know...she was really close to doing that.