I have already weighed in on this volatile issue and will continue to do so in the future. See Unintended consequences: new Arizona illegal immigration law.
But on Tuesday, two editorials ran about SB 1070. Although reams of opinion on both sides are being written, these two commentaries drew my particular attention because of their trenchant criticism. SB 1070 makes it an Arizona state crime to be in the country without proper immigration documents.
The first editorial I read was Arizona’s Immigration Frustration, which was in The Wall Street Journal. Describing the law, it succintly says, “What you get is a blunt instrument that produces lawsuits, more political polarization (if that’s possible) and the risk of hostility between the local police and the public.”
Are you blond enough?
The second editorial was in the local Phoenix West Valley newspaper, the West Valley View. It’s sure to rankle some, especially its provocative headline: Are you blond enough to avoid cops’ suspicion?
According to the paper’s editorial board, here’s the nub of the matter:
“Supporters of the law (which include a majority of Arizona residents, according to opinion polls), argue that it won’t result in racial profiling. But how can such a law not result in racial profiling?
Go into any store or restaurant and look around. Which of the people you see or overhear do you suspect might be an illegal immigrant? Is it any of the people who appear to be of northern European descent who are speaking without a trace of a foreign accent (OK, they might be Canadians, but who cares)? Or is it the people with darker skin whose English is tinged with Spanish inflections?
Because of this law, any person with dark skin and a trace of an accent is a potential illegal immigrant in the eyes of the law, and the police are required to question them and demand to see their “papers.” This new law will create absolutely no problem for white Americans, but it’s a potential nightmare for people “of color.” “
Finally, with respect to racial profiling, there’s a powerful documentary that couldn’t be more timely. In spite of the lip-service proscription paid to avoid racial profiling’s anticipated recurrence in Arizona’s new law, there’s renewed attention being paid to prior attempts at similar enactments. The one in Prince William County, Virginia is singled out in a documentary, 9500 LIBERTY, which is scheduled to air at one of Phoenix’s local movie houses starting Friday, April 30, 2010. It’s to be screened at the Harkins Valley Art Theater.
The following trailer for the documentary is striking and worth watching.