Sunday, April 25, 2010

Perpetual Foreigners & Arizona's Immigration Law

I'm sure you've been following the news about Arizona's new law designed to root out illegal aliens:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill Friday that requires police in her state to determine whether a person is in the United States legally, which critics say will foster racial profiling but supporters say will crack down on illegal immigration.

The bill requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect that they're in the United States illegally.
What does that mean for you? Well, if you have children of color, it could mean a lot to them. If your child came from abroad, he or she is an immigrant. Yes, the Arizona measure is intended to weed out ILLEGAL immigrants, and our children emigrated legally. But we know that people of color are seen as "perpetual foreigners," which I've written about here and here. And when focusing on illegal immigration, police are likely to catch legal immigrants, naturalized citizens, and birthright citizens in their net as well. And before long, our children, when old enough to be out without us, are going to have to carry proof of their LEGAL status so they won't get pulled in by a doubting police officer. Carrying papers -- not the America I expected my immigrant children to live in.


Montana said...

Arizona can pass race base laws, pass Birthers laws and the state can continue to boycott Martin Luther King Day, well the rest of the Country can boycott the state of Arizona and spank them where it hurts them the most their pocket book. Their phony patriotism is sickening, they are just racists going by another name. We all know you are just itching to put a sheet on their head? Let’s face it the Republicans had eight years to deal with health care, immigration, climate change and financial oversight and governance and they failed. It appears that the Republican Party is only good at starting wars (two in eight years, with fat War profiteering contracts to friends of Cheney/Bush) but not at winning wars as seen by the continuing line of body bags that keep coming home. The Republicans party will continue turned inward to their old fashion obstructionist party (and their Confederacy appreciation roots) because they continue to allow a small portions (but very loud portion) of their party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” to rule their party. I will admit that this fringe is very good at playing “Follow the Leader” by listening to their dullard leaders, Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush, Savage, Sarah Bailin, Orly Taitz, Victoria Jackson, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the Blowhards and acting as ill programmed robots (they have already acted against doctors that perform abortions). The Birthers and the Tea party crowd think they can scare, intimidate and force others to go along with them by comments like “This time we came unarmed”, let me tell you something not all ex-military join the fringe militia crazies who don’t pay taxes and run around with face paint in the parks playing commando, the majority are mature and understand that the world is more complicated and grey than the black and white that these simpleton make it out to be and that my friend is the point. The world is complicated and people like Hamilton, Lincoln, and Roosevelt believed that we should use government a little to increase social mobility, now it’s about dancing around the claim of government is the problem. The sainted Reagan passed the biggest tax increase in American history and as a result federal employment increased, but facts are lost when mired in mysticism and superstition. For a party that gave us Abraham Lincoln, it is tragic that the ranks are filled with too many empty suits and the crazy Birthers who have not learned that the way our courts work is that you get a competent lawyer, verifiable facts and present them to a judge, if the facts are real and not half baked internet lies, then, and only then, do you proceed to trial. The Birthers seem to be having a problem with their so called “facts”. Let’s face it no one will take the Birthers seriously until they win a case, but until then, you will continue to appear dumb, crazy or racist, or maybe all three. I heard that Orly Taitz now wants to investigate the “Republican 2009 Summer of Love” list: Assemblyman, Michael D. Duvall (CA), Senator John Ensign (NV), Senator Paul Stanley (TN), Governor Mark Stanford (SC), Board of Ed Chair, and Kristin Maguire AKA Bridget Keeney (SC), she wants to re-establish a family values party, that’s like saying that the Catholic Church cares about the welling being of children in their care, too late for that.

Anonymous said...

I think if a law like this is passed, the courts should require that it be applied to ALL people who have contact with police. After all, even a white person with an American-sounding accent could be an illegal immigrant. Take the discretion away from the police to decide who "looks" like they might be illegal. Instead, every person who has contact with police must be able to prove they are in the country legally. I suspect that people will become tired of the harrassment and the law would be repealed.

What do you think?


travelmom and more said...

From what I understand this there is a movement to challenge this in the courts. It will be interesting to see where it goes and how the courts interpret this. This bill scares me and I am afraid that there is a lot of support for a bill like this in many states that have large immigrant populations like mine. Anyone who is not white is going to be subjected to a lot of harassment. Malinda I would like to know what you think the courts might say about this law.

Tara said...

It's also been my experience that transracial adoptees can be under slightly heightened suspicion anyway.

~1996, on a vacation to Michigan, my parents and I crossed the Ambassador bridge into Canada. On the way back, we were stopped at the checkpoint because the U.S. officers there insisted on seeing my adoption papers. This was before anyone was required to show passports or birth certificates at the US/Canada border, and we, of course, didn't have them.

I wonder what kind of suspicion may result from having a passport with a traditionally anglo-saxon name (My name is actually 100% Irish) and a Korean face. In any case, I'm not willing to chance it.

malinda said...

I expect there will be many court challenges. Immigration isn't my area, and there are several provisions of the bill, so I can't say whether the whole thing will be struck down. I think parts of it will, because of existing case law. Based on a hallway conversation with my colleague who teaches immigration law, it's likely that the employment provisions will be struck down, and that the solicitation of work provision by day laborers will fall afoul of the First Amendment.

As to the provisions requiring police to verify immigration status where there is reason to believe the person is in the country illegally -- depends what "reason to believe" means. If it is "specific, articulable facts that would warrant a reasonable person in believing that a crime has occurred," it would probably be ok under the 4th Amendment, but it will depend on what those facts are, and whether something more than race motivates them. There are also 5th Amendment self-incrimination problems with the law since several provisions require one to register with the government, when one may not be able to do so without admitting one's illegal status. Don't know if those will be winning arguments -- depends on the courts.

There's another problem with one provision -- it criminalizes something the federal government only makes an administrative violation of the immigration code. That probably won't survive a challenge.

As you can see, it's going to be an interesting and rocky road in the courts on this one!

malinda said...

While stopping everyone, regardless of race, would solve the problem of discriminatory enforcement, it would be a fundamental change in what it means to be American -- one of the hallmarks of the American way of life has been the ability to move about freely without having to provide papers. I'd hate to see that come to an end, just so there's a smokescreen to target the people Arizona are really interested in targeting.

Anonymous said...

My point was that if people believed police officers would be asking everyone for proof of legal residency, there would be such outrage that the law would be repealed in the next election. I don't think citizens will put up with constantly having to prove their status. However, as I'm sure you can tell, I'm not a lawyer. There are probably much better ways to deal with the problem.