I’ve talked to several people in the last week about Arizona’s immigration law, and I wrote this post for LA Moms Blog. Some people said they didn’t have a problem with the law because when a person is illegal that means he or she is doing something illegal and should be punished.
But it’s not that simple. I read this LA Times article last night about two Arizona police officers who felt so strongly that the law would inhibit them from doing their jobs that they filed separate lawsuits against the state of Arizona. And they worried about what would happen to law abiding legal citizens like them, Mexican Americans who could be mistaken for illegal.
And that’s my biggest problem with the law is that it claims to be against anyone in the country illegally, but really it hurts all Latinos in the state. Not only could a legal immigrant be unjustly questioned, but it could have many more unintended consequences such as reduced ability to fight crime.
Someone who is in the country illegally isn’t going to be as willing to talk to the police if they have information about a crime. If you don’t trust the justice system you’re not going to use it. One of the officers in the article talked about how it took years to get the people of the South Tucson neighborhood he patrols to trust him. And those years of work could be for nothing.
When I say that the law will lead to racial profiling, I’m not saying that all police are biased. I can’t believe I’m going to admit this, but I was watching “Police Women of Maricopa County” on TLC, which is set in Phoenix. One of the deputies pulled over a man in an extended cab truck with dark tinted windows for something to do with his license plate. When she approached the driver, he accused her of pulling him over because he’s Mexican. She told him to look at the deputy to his right and look at her, that he’s Mexican and she’s Mexican. And how is she supposed to tell who’s driving the truck when the windows are so dark?
It must be incredibly offensive to be unfairly accused of racial profiling and the deputy was visibly angry. This law will make it even harder for the police to do their jobs and for people who are illegal or legal to live their lives.