It's really puzzling as to why Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer decided to piss off the entire Hispanic population of her state by signing a bill that basically legislates racial profiling but does nothing to actually address the problem of illegal immigration. The idea behind it was to use legislation to solve the "problem" of illegals, the crimes they commit and the strain on the state's system rather than just fixing the porous border between Arizona and Mexico.
I mean, she's not as ditzy as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, but it was a dumb political move nonetheless. All that notwithstanding, the new law, which kicks in after 90 days, barring any successful legal challenges, presents an opportunity to bring together the African American and Hispanic communities, healing long-strained relations between the two.
Not that this law was a good thing at all. Not only does it give police permission to yoke up anybody they feel like, it encourages bigots to Nazi-snitch on anybody they don't like too. It also diminishes the state's economy by insulting its largest consumer market, thereby encouraging nationwide boycotts, and kills any chance the Republicans have in the upcoming fall elections, where not only she, but a handful of her party colleagues, are competing for positions.
It's ironic that the Republicans have spent the better part of the last six months bitching about government intrusion on people's lives through health care legislation, but have no problem with government intrusion with people they don't like.
Rev. Al Sharpton has pledged to protest the new law both in the courtroom and on the asphalt. He and Hispanic Federation President Lillian Rodriguez Lopez are expected to announce a legal challenge and will march arm-in-arm Montgomery-boycott style.
But black and Hispanic relations have not been stellar over the past couple of decades. As the Spanish-speaking population began to grow in America since the 1970s, divisions have drawn deeper. In a 2007 poll released by New America Media, researchers found that while immigrant populations, including Hispanics and Asians, were optimistic about their opportunities in the United States, as many as 60 percent of blacks felt the opposite.
It also found that about half of African Americans felt that Hispanics were taking away land, jobs and political power, while 44 percent of Hispanics were afraid of blacks because they blamed us for high-crime rates. Around the same time the poll was released, Los Angeles police were reporting an increase in racially based violent crimes perpetrated by black and Hispanic gangs in that area.
Each ethnic group in this country has its own individual causes and issues to deal with that other groups cannot understand or relate to. Racial profiling, though, is a common enemy that all of us can join together under the same umbrella and fight. That's the reason Sharpton is jumping in to the fray. This flavor of profiling is targeted directly at Hispanics, but if allowed to go unchecked, it provides precedent for profiling anyone due to a cop's whim.
Besides that, it's an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth Amendment, which states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The people who will be affected by Arizona's Immigration law will mostly be naturalized immigrants, resident aliens and citizens of Hispanic descent. This law will do little about illegals, though, because the businesses need them like they need electricity and water. If we're smart, we'll take a look at the Hispanic community (as well as all communities of color) and begin to understand what we have in common that race-based legislation can affect, making us all stronger and politically respected in the long run.