April 28, 2010
To the Arizona State Legislature,
I want to make sure I understand what it is your new law on immigration will do. If police have reasonable cause to stop someone they feel is an illegal, they may ask for documentation proving citizenship. That’s the main point in a bill that has such redundant mandates as claiming that illegal immigrants are committing a crime (that’s already a crime) and that the state of Arizona may sue the police if they aren’t doing a good job (you’re going to sue yourselves). You will also require legal immigrants to carry identification that verifies they are, in fact, legal immigrants. That would include me if I ever went to Arizona.
Are we all on the same page now?
I’ve gone on and on about how Texas has such a bad reputation. We keep doing stupid things like backing up a governor who wants to secede and making stupid changes to our textbooks. When I said I wanted us to stop being so stupid, I didn’t mean to imply I wanted someone to be stupider.
More stupid… Oh, crap, it IS something in the water.
How exactly will you be enforcing this policy? What constitutes reasonable doubt in a state where one third of the population is Hispanic? Will you be arresting and searching people based on suspicion of Mexicaness? Driving while brown? What?
Let me make something absolutely clear. I am an immigrant. A *legal* immigrant. I have the papers, social security card, driver’s license, W9 forms, and work-related stress like every other American. I want tougher immigration laws, but I don’t want them to be at the expense of those of us that have run the obstacle course to get where we are.
“But Michel,” I can hear you say, “if you’re here legally, you have nothing to worry about, right?”
Wrong. I do. It’s been a while since I took social studies in eighth grade, but I seem to remember something about the Fourth Amendment.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In modern Americanese, this means law enforcement must have reasonable cause to search for and ask me for documentation. This is why even the almighty Lenny Briscoe needed a warrant.
If a guy with dark skin is wet by the Rio Grande and he’s holding a bag with all his belongings, I bet you he didn’t just compete in a wet t-shirt contest. If a brown guy is driving a beat-up truck and is speaking Spanish, that is not probable cause.
Want to know how I know?
Could you tell the difference between a recent immigrant and an illegal immigrant? For years, we’ve had the national debate on whether we should teach dual language courses to students from other countries. I guarantee that many of these kids do learn English, but they will continue to speak Spanish at home. In fact, if you were to go into a recent immigrant household, you’ll find it a rough approximation of the life the family enjoyed in their native land.
I’ve lived here for years and I can’t tell who is a citizen and who isn’t a citizen. Are you going to go by accent? Well, there goes half the state. You could always go by clothes, like this knucklehead in Congress suggested.
Just say it, Congressman Bilbray. You’re looking for the sombrero, sarape, and guaraches. Newsflash: We don’t all look like Speedy Gonzales!
Do we need to do something about immigration? Of course, but we have to walk a fine line. This law will catch a lot of illegals. Do you mean to tell me that naturalization is not good enough? I am not equal to my fellow citizens and must carry a document stating I am here without breaking the law if I go to Arizona?
At what point did we forget about “innocent until proven guilty?”
And one more thing… You keep saying this isn’t about racial profiling. Will you be looking for Chinese immigrants too? Hey, I’m not really brown, but I could pass for western European. Think maybe I’m some socialist usurper? My girlfriend has some Middle Eastern blood in her. Think she could be a member of that infamous Mexican al-Qaeda?
There’s already been an incident because of this new law. It hasn’t gone into effect and you already detained a natural-born citizen because he didn’t have his birth certificate.
There is no way to enforce this law without racially profiling. And there is no way to get results without detaining law-abiding citizens. Do you wonder why, after 9/11, we didn’t start rounding up Muslims and general brown people just in case? Since blacks make up such a large section of our prison population, do you think anyone’s seriously considered just planting microchips on blacks or asking them to prove they’re not violating that parole you assume is the reason they’re out on the street? Better yet, let’s put those microchips into the illegals! Yeah, that should solve our problems!
There is an immigration problem in this country. Don’t think I don’t know that. I see it first-hand. However, what you’ve done is a few steps shy of Japanese internment camps. You’ve ignored any notion of integration for the legal immigrant community. If the Hispanic community is mad it’s because we’ve been targeted. This is like performing an appendectomy with a Glock.
May your lawns grow wild and your babies feral as your gardeners and babysitters are arrested, you weak-willed, sycophantic bastards.
You can read Part 2 here.