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Your Papers Please April 27, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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Linda Greenhouse, The NY Times Pulitzer Prize-winning Supreme Court correspondent doesn’t like the new Arizona immigration law that permits police to roust anyone who isn’t white.

…I’m not going back to Arizona as long as it remains a police state, which is what the appalling anti-immigrant bill that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last week has turned it into.

What would Arizona’s revered libertarian icon, Barry Goldwater, say about a law that requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from any person with whom they have made “any lawful contact” and about whom they have “reasonable suspicion” that “the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?” Wasn’t the system of internal passports one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa?

It is reasonable to expect that any person of color will be subject to police harassment because of this legislation.

You know it’s funny. I haven’t heard any of the tea partiers, who are constantly complaining about big government, say anything about giving police the power to demand papers just because a person looks suspicious. It is as if tea-partiers only complain about abuse of power when it issues from the fever swamp of conservative paranoid delusions. Remember the “death panels” in the health-care debate. When it comes to real abuse of power, the kind perpetrated daily by authoritarian governments, its OK as long as its brown or black people on the wrong end of the abuse.

Even some conservatives don’t like the smell of this.

Former GOP congressmans Joe Scarborough criticized the immigration law:

“…It does offend me when one out of every three citizens in the state of Arizona are Hispanics, and you have now put a target on the back of one out of three citizens, who, if they’re walking their dog around a neighborhood, if they’re walking their child to school, and they’re an American citizen, or a legal, legal immigrant — to now put a target on their back, and make them think that every time they walk out of their door they may have to prove something. I will tell you, that is un-American. It is unacceptable and it is un-American.”

But as far as I know, given research from ThinkProgress, only one sitting Republican member of Congress, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, has explicitly opposed the Arizona law.

Might this odious law be the catalyst behind a new civil rights movement?

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com



1. Asur - April 29, 2010

A principle of reasonable belief that a crime has been or will be committed strikes me as the only useful paradigm for law enforcement to follow in the field as pertains to who they examine and why.

If it is indeed illegal to be an illegal immigrant, then an officer of the law is simply doing their duty to follow up on the possibility of that if they believe it to be probable relative someone they encounter. This isn’t an abridgment of anyone’s rights; we’ve invested our law enforcement with the authority to do this for a reason.

We could say it’s unfair racial profiling if they’re focusing on Hispanics…so, maybe it would be more productive to look for Canadians, instead? The reality of law enforcement is that there isn’t enough available resource not to factor in probability when making these decisions.

I think that represents pragmatics, not bias.

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