Back in April 2010, I blogged about my dismay at Arizona’s decision to enact a racially motivated immigration policy, SB 1070, which targeted illegal immigrants for the wrong reasons, instead of leading the way on true immigration reform:
Arizona could’ve put into place a law to go after the companies. They could’ve encouraged citizens to turn in their landscaping company instead of the officer who isn’t harassing enough Hispanics walking down their street. And Arizona could’ve provided grants and loans to businesses. These would offset the cost of raising pay to minimum wage and providing benefits. But only if the companies would actually go under if they had to, you know, DO THE RIGHT THING by their workers. (Yes. It’s a bailout. But probably cheaper than teaching officers how to not do RACIAL PROFILING while doing RACIAL PROFILING. And it’s almost definitely cheaper than lawsuits.)
Although I am an advocate for amnesty because I believe that people, who have come to our country to contribute and create better lives, deserve to stay and be recognized, I understand that some people can’t let go of the word ILLEGAL. Well, what if after enacting this anti-corporations-using-illegal-immigrants bill, Arizona places advertisements around town to see how many of these jobs at the fair wage are filled? Arizona could’ve been the testing ground. And let the people in this country, who think illegal immigrants are destroying our economy, know: Look. We don’t have people to do these jobs. That was just smoke and mirrors for hate. Let’s grant amnesty to the hard working [illegal immigrants]. If only for the sake of our economy.
Well, those lawsuits finally made their way to the Supreme Court and a ruling came down this week. Although the justices gutted most of the Arizona immigration bill by striking down the statue making it a state crime to be in United States without proper authorization, a state crime for an undocumented worker to apply for a job or to work in Arizona, and by ruling it is unconstitutional for law enforcement to arrest without a warrant a person in the country legally but who the police believe committed a deportable offense. (source)
However, the court upheld law enforcement’s right to ask for proper documentation from anyone thought to be an illegal immigrant. In other words, the court legalized racial profiling.
Take a moment and think honestly: What does an illegal immigrant look like? What does an illegal immigrant sound like? Walk like? Dress like? Act like?
Oh really? Because I think we profiled a few friends of mine who are American citizens.
What would it feel like to have officers demand papers every time I walked by or got a speeding ticket or went to work because I looked a certain way or had a foreign sounding last name?
I already have a married last name that gets a “tone” from some people. An uncomfortable laugh. I can’t even imagine if the police showed up during those moments. Our last name is Iwashyna (ee-vah-shen-ah). My husband has no accent. He’s first generation born in the U.S.. But people read his name and think and wonder. What if they could act on their prejudice? What if it was Hispanic instead of Ukrainian? What if we were blaming former Eastern Bloc immigrants for our economic woes?
I would feel demoralized and afraid. Even if I hadn’t done anything wrong, I would dread saying my name.
I know that our Supreme Court has upheld ideas in the past, which are not what our founding fathers envisioned, but I find codifying racial profiling abhorrent. Our liberties as citizens should be more important than catching a few extra illegal immigrants.