A lot has been said since Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer signed Arizona Senate Bill 1070 on April 23rd, better known as the Arizona Law. Among the harshest critics of the law is Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who on April 28th called it “the most anti-immigrant bill in the country”.
Jorge Ramos claims that according to the law “it is a crime to be without papers or identification in Arizona”. Most recently, Ramos appeared on Fox News O’Reilly Factor, where host Bill O’Reilly repeatedly asked Ramos what he would do if he was the governor of Arizona and he had “1100 guys and gals convicted of violent felonies on one county”.
Ramos basically refused to answer the question and continued to press his main point that “most illegal are not criminals” (question: who is saying they are? Lou Dobbs? He’s not even on TV anymore); he even claimed that were he in Arizona he “could be detained simply because of the color of my skin”. My friends, that is a flat out lie; remember Jorge Ramos is not an ignorant simpleton, but a journalist that had won eight Emmy Awards for “excellence in journalism” (you may want to read his biography here).
Unless they give Emmys left and right to anyone, I must assume that Jorge Ramos knows how to do some basic research, like going to the Arizona’s Senate Website and reading the law. It’s only 17 pages and the article that is causing all this controversy is on page 2 and spans only 7 lines. Here’s what it says:
B. FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE 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. THE PERSON'S IMMIGRATION STATUS SHALL BE VERIFIED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PURSUANT TO 8 UNITED STATES CODE SECTION 1373(c).
The first four words should tell anyone that there has to be a “lawful” reason for a “law enforcement official or agency” to be in contact with you. There has to be probable cause, defined as “a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime” before a police officer even think of asking you about your immigration status.
Merely being Hispanic, having a certain color or accent is not probable cause; if a police officer were to detain you, in Arizona or anywhere in the U.S. merely for the way you look, that would be a violation of your civil rights even if it turns out that you are in the country illegally. However, when the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of Arizona over the immigration law, it didn’t claim the law was discriminatory or that it violated civil rights, just that it is “pre-empted by federal law and therefore violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution”.
But it doesn’t matter, said those who like Jorge Ramos oppose the Arizona law and claims that it is discriminatory against Hispanics. Even after a related law (Arizona House Bill 2162) was passed to address discrimination concerns, people still claim that racist cops will use the law to target and harass Hispanics.
O.k., that could be a fair point; yes, I’m pretty sure that there are racist out there and that some of them get to be police officers; there are rotten apples everywhere and the law of average means that some poor fellow somewhere in this great country will have the unfortunate experience of dealing with them. That poor fellow could be me; a legal immigrant that still carries around his green card, brown skinned and speaking with a heavy accent.
So, just because there’s a chance that I may face a racist immigration officer at an airport, do we have to repeal immigration enforcement laws? No, we don’t, we enforce the laws and if there are law breakers in uniforms and a badge, we go after them too.
So, where is the hypocrisy in all this debate? I see it in how selective opponents of the Arizona law are in their outrage; as it happens, Arizona is not the only state that enforces immigration law. As reported by The Boston Globe on July 6th, in Rhode Island State Troopers “are reporting all illegal immigrants they encounter, even on routine stops such as speeding, to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement”.
So how is that again…? Did Rhode Island passed an “anti-immigration” law too? Why didn’t eight-time Emmy winner Jorge Ramos reported about that? Well, for starters there is no specific law in Rhode Island mandating that law enforcement reports illegal immigrants; Governor Donald L. Carcieri simply issued an executive order in 2008 “mandating immigration checks on all new state workers and ordering State Police to assist federal immigration officials.”
So where is the outrage? Where are the calls to boycott the state of Rhode Island for its “discrimination” against Hispanics? Want an even better hypocrisy test? Yesterday the New York Times reported in its online edition that the Obama administration if no longer conducting immigration raids at factories and farms.
Instead, it is “sending federal agents to scour companies’ records for illegal immigrant workers”. So let me end this post with a question to all you crying at the top of your lungs about the “discriminatory” Arizona Law. How do these federal agents know which records they need to look at? Are they looking at all the records or just those with names that appear to be foreign?
I will expect to hear your outrage about this practice now… but I’m not holding my breath.