We Are All Arizonians

Or is it Arizonans? Arizonites? Whatever Sarah Palin said.

If you get caught jaywalking in Arizona, you’d better be prepared to SHOW YOUR PAPERS. Unless you can say who won the World Series in ’73, or remember the words to the theme from Gilligan’s Island. Okay, I’m just speculating on quick and easy ways to prove your citizenship.

If a law that targets one group of people makes you uneasy for your own civil rights and liberties then you are thinking a few steps ahead. What goes around comes around.

You think it can’t happen here? This is from ProJo.com.

CENTRAL FALL, R.I. — Central Falls Police Chief Joseph P. Moran III has launched an internal investigation into a Guatemalan man’s allegation that a desk-duty officer refused to let him report a beating, because – as the officer allegedly said – the man “is Spanish” and therefore presumed he must be “an illegal immigrant.”

The accuser, Mario Ortega, of Central Falls, speaking through an interpreter, said the officer told him that “because of his [assumed] immigration status, he can’t file a police report.” Ortega said the officer also said that “his [the officer’s] tax money doesn’t cover his [Ortega’s] being in the hospital” as a result of his injuries.

If this story is true, then a police officer didn’t bother to pursue a couple of thugs who beat a man so badly that his bone was sticking out of his leg. Just leave them on the street. They won’t bother anyone.

I’m proud that the minister of my church will be in Arizona this month, standing against racism, against profiling, and for justice. Immigration reform and fair enforcement are badly needed, compromising civil rights is not the answer.


5 thoughts on “We Are All Arizonians

  1. Immigration as an issue has emotional appeal on both sides, but I think we should seek a middle ground and civil discourse.

    Those alleged to be illegal immigrants deserve and are entitled to due process and must be treated humanely. Racist opposition to immigrants must be condemned.

    But Americans have a right to be concerned about some downsides of illegal immigration involving respect for the rule of law, protection from loss of jobs and downward pressure on wages (lots of data on this) possible negative impact on certain facilities (e.g. hospitals with strained resources having to give uncompensated care) and the rate of US population growth and its environmentl impact.

  2. First, we do need civil discourse.

    Second, the reasons hospital resources are strained go beyond immigrants. A big factor is 30 years of tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, which has led to a crisis in the way of public goods of all kinds. Education and infrastructure come to mind.

    Third, immigrants are good for our economy. They keep it growing, and keep us from the downward-spiral demographic that, e.g. Japan is in.

    Finally, the reason illegals risk breaking the law is to better themselves by getting a job. You want to stop illegal immigration? Then punish businesses that hire illegals. Just as drugs will be smuggled as long as there is a market, so will illegal immigrants come as long as there is a market for their services.

    It’s supply and demand. And businesses are the real culprits in luring illegals.

  3. California has essentially the same statute as Arizona… go figure

    Section 834b in the California Penal Code:
    (a) Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws. (b) With respect to any such person who is arrested, and suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws, every law enforcement agency shall do the following: (1) Attempt to verify the legal status of such person as a citizen of the United States, an alien lawfully admitted as a permanent resident, an alien lawfully admitted for a temporary period of time or as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of immigration laws. The verification process may include, but shall not be limited to, questioning the person regarding his or her date and place of birth, and entry into the United States, and demanding documentation to indicate his or her legal status. (2) Notify the person of his or her apparent status as an alien who is present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws and inform him or her that, apart from any criminal justice proceedings, he or she must either obtain legal status or leave the United States. (3) Notify the Attorney General of California and the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service of the apparent illegal status and provide any additional information that may be requested by any other public entity. (c) Any legislative, administrative, or other action by a city, county, or other legally authorized local governmental entity with jurisdictional boundaries, or by a law enforcement agency, to prevent or limit the cooperation required by subdivision (a) is expressly prohibited.

  4. I hate to interrupt a good narrative with facts, but the California statute is not “essentially the same” as the new Arizona statute. Significantly, the California statute requires an “arrest” – a term of specific legal significance.

    On the other hand, the Arizona statute permits inquiry upon “any lawful contact” and where “reasonable suspicion” exists that a 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 a person.

    Wow – could it be any more ambiguous?

    Moreover, a law enforcement officer, “without a warrant,” may arrest a person if the officer has “probable cause” to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.

    This begs the question of whether the officer must observe the perpetration of the alleged crime, or whether the officer can rely on an uncorroborated statement by a “witness”? That’s not even getting into exigent circumstances.

    Oh, and another thing, “a person” may bring suit to compel compliance with the statute. Any person…standing be damned.

    To be fair, the Arizona statute specifies specific violations of the law – e.g. trespass, illegally obtaining public benefits – however, these violations of law are not the only triggers to investigating an individual’s legitimate presence in Arizona and the United States. Thus the import of the Arizona statute as detailed above is not “essentially the same” as the California statute. In fact, it’s a far cry from being the same.

    Start with Arizona’s “any lawful contact” versus California’s arrest. “Any lawful contact” is an ambiguous standard and “reasonable suspicion” is not the “probable cause” necessary to affect an arrest. That’s just for starters. The mushy language in the Arizona statute is way too over-broad and will likely fail any constitutional challenge.

    Try as one might, you can’t torture the California statute in order to make it look or sound like the Arizona statute.

    And now, thanks to those in our Cranston delegation to the state house,we now have an Arizona-like bill introduced in the legislature.

    I agree with Klaus. We do need civil discourse on this and all other issues.

    We need to recognize that this is a national problem calling for a national solution. This fear-based state-by-state approach promoted by those who seek to instill fear and hate to advance a narrow political agenda will only derail any responsible discussion or solution to what is a legitimate national issue.

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