Our immigration policies are quite restrictive so there are very few legal immigrants being admitted each year into the United States. So if you are a blond, white male in Tucson and speak with a British accent, the police can stop you on the street and check your ID to see if you’re illegally here from England. If your last name ends in a vowel, like Soprano, and you are a soccer fan wearing an “Italia” T-shirt you are also subject to a stop and an ID check to see if you snuck in from Italy. The most nefarious of all is if you look like an average American but don’t like the Arizona heat, you are subject to being stopped because you might be an illegal from Canada.
But in reality the law wasn’t targeting European immigrants but Hispanic immigrants. So basically if you look Hispanic you better have your ID readily available. Even better, if you are a native American and you look Hispanic you are going to have to prove you have a right to be in America. How is that for insult to injury?
I had a conversation once with the federal government regarding identifying applicants to the school district by race. Many applicants wouldn’t put down their race and I was told that the district should just guess. I got the distinct impression that the only category that was needed was white and not white. How would anyone know if a person was black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian Pacific Islander or Inuit or a mix of any of the above? What if you are like our president? He is as much white as he is black. So are we actually looking for racial purity just like the Nazis?
Arizona has clearly stated it doesn’t want Hispanics, legal or not. Who cares if they were there before any white people showed up. We stole it fair and square. We don’t want birth control taught in our schools but we don’t want Hispanics to have large families, only white people. Who says there is no more racism in America? It is alive and well and thriving in Arizona.
We do not live on an island and cannot separate ourselves from the rest of the world. The problem with illegal immigrants isn’t that they are here but it is with the economics that drove them over our borders. Do we really want to be a country that builds walls so we don’t have to see the suffering on the other side? History has taught us that we can’t be isolationists. Illegal immigrants are a sign of the distress outside our borders. Rounding up a few dozen immigrants in Arizona won’t solve the problem. We need a comprehensive cross border cure.
Arizona’s racial profiling is un-American and violates our constitutional rights. It makes all Americans look bad. It should not be applauded but repealed.
Jeff Blanck is a civil rights attorney in private practice in Reno. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.