Damn this is hard to write about.
So many people have jumped on the backs of Arizona lawmakers that is seems almost suicidal to speak out for SB 1070, aka the new Arizona Immigration Law. In politics as with everything else, though, “Understanding is a three edged sword: your side, their side, and the truth. (J. Michael Straczynski) ” If I could play the role of moderator…and hey, it’s my blog…then I would declare that “their” side is represented by those who have fought for Civil Liberties their entire lives such as Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson; likewise, I would (and hereby do) declare that “your” side would be represented by the people of Arizona itself. Ready…set…go!
Let’s start with some supportive evidence for “their” side. According to an ACLU of Arizona report (http://acluaz.org/DrivingWhileBlackorBrown.pdf ), “In sum, this report concludes that DPS officers treated persons from different racial and ethnic groups unequally between July 2006 and June 2007. Minorities were more likely than whites to be searched and stopped for longer periods of time. This unequal treatment was not justified by higher contraband seizure rates from minority motorists.” Do non-whites have reason to believe they’re being pulled over more so than whites in Arizona? According to this, at least between these two time periods they did. Is there any reason to believe it has changed in the last few years? I doubt it. So I think it’s pretty reasonable to say that minorities in Arizona have a right to feel this law might unfairly target them.
On the flip (aka “your”) side, everyone who lives legally in Arizona appears to have a right to be upset with illegal immigration. According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=iic_immigrationissuecenters5e3f), “Analysis of the latest Census data indicates that Arizona’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers about $1.3 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration.” 1.3 billion dollars? And that’s just what the state taxpayers are footing, let alone what the federal and local governments are losing in tax revenue etc. What about the tons of money flowing out of American and into the coffers of other governments as illegals send their money back home? Forget the jobs argument…follow the cash!
Now for the middle view. The truth of the bill lies here: “http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2r/summary/s.1070pshs.doc.htm” It says it right at the beginning. “Requires a reasonable attempt to be made to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town or political subdivision (political subdivision) if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.” Therein lies the rub. Three phrases are freaky here: “reasonable attempt”, “legitimate contact”, and “reasonable suspicion”. Come on…does anyone think this won’t lead to more cases of “Driving while Brown”? Anyone?
After days of hemming and hawing, I find that I can’t support this bill wholeheartedly because it will only be a matter of time before someone somewhere gets pulled over for the totally wrong reason, and that just isn’t how things should run. Having said that, I also find that I can’t bash the bill in its entirety because Arizonians have a legitimate complaint and no one else seems to give enough of a crap to man up and take the problem head on. Want to change one simple thing and satisfy (or at least mollify/shut up) everyone on all sides? Make it so that everyone, and I mean everyone has their driver’s license checked every single time they’re stopped. Then be sure to pull the governor’s car over if she does something wrong, make her wait while you run her license and check her immigration status, and do it again the next week. Then do it to everyone in the state’s House and Senate. Then everyone who works for city and local government. Then start doing it every single time someone applies to city or state services…including hospitals. If after four months of this treatment the people of Arizona still want this bill, let ’em have it.
Understanding is a three edged sword, eh? Funny thing about weapons (and weapon analogies) is that they’re safe only as long as they’re in the sheath; they become dangerous the second they’re drawn. Let’s see how this bill cuts the people of Arizona.