Thursday, April 29, 2010

What Constitutes Reasonable Suspicion in Arizona?

OK, so, even under the most difficult of situations, you might think that the responsible order of events would be to first develop a course that trains your police officers on what constitutes "reasonable suspicion" that someone is in the U.S. illegally and then sign into law a set of measures designed to make life so utterly hellish for illegal immigrants that they flee from your state. But not in Arizona. No, their Governor signed the legislation into law first and NOW says she will order state officials to develop such a course.

In the meanwhile, one assumes, officers poorly trained in what constitutes reasonable suspicion must run around interpreting the law as best they can.

Mind you, I'm not agreeing that Arizona was pushed to this under the most difficult of situations. While looking at the numbers in one light might support Senator John McCain's claim that the situation in his state is "the worst I've ever seen," (the percentage of illegal immigrants per resident in Arizona has increased from 5.5% in 2000 to about 7% in 2010)...a 1.5% increase in the ratio wouldn't seem to justify such drastic police state tactics. But, as we're constantly told in such situations...if you don't live there, you just don't know, so shut up.

And they're right. I don't live there...and I really don't know. But doesn't that also mean I should now avoid Arizona like the plague? I don't like the idea of that, it's a beautiful place, but I really don't want to risk going somewhere the police are empowered to demand your papers but not well trained on what constitutes a reasonable cause to do so. Personally, I have no idea what would make a cop stop me and demand proof I'm not illegal.

I mean, does wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap make you suspect? Does having fair, untanned skin (as I do) make it clear you're not a resident? Without clear indications of what the cops are looking for, it's far too risky I think. And the Governor is clearly way behind in developing and communicating the guidelines, so what is a potential Arizona visitor to do?

Well, at first I thought, I can just look to People of Walmart. That will give me some indication of how to dress while in Arizona so I don't stick out too much. Here are photos of folks shopping at Walmarts across Arizona. I guess that if you dress like this, you're beyond reasonable suspicion while visiting Arizona, but that outfit would clash with my complexion, so...perhaps I should stick with this motif. Then again, it's hot in Arizona, so perhaps something cooler, like....

OK, so that's not can pull that stunt for any state.

But seriously, Arizona, please get your sh*t together. Your fellow Americans would love to visit you, but your obscene over-reaction to your illegal alien problems offends far too many of the children of immigrants and as human beings.

After signing the new law requiring police to check out people who may be illegal immigrants, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was asked how the cops are supposed to know when someone should be screened. "I don't know," she replied. "I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like."
Then, dear Governor, you had no business signing that legislation into law!

Labels: politics


Anonymous kim matthews said...

When I hear calls for boycotts, I think of my friends and colleagues in Tucson: artists, gallerists, innkeepers, independent bookstores who just like most of us are trying to hang on during difficult economic times. They don't support the governor's actions and shouldn't be punished for them. This should be handled federally. How about threatening to pull the TSA out of the airports for starters? In any case Ed, you're right. Those of us nonresidents don't really know the extent of the problem or how best to address it. But I'm skeptical that anything good can come out of policies like these and am certain that they set a dangerous precedent.

4/29/2010 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Brent said...

A third of the Arizona citizenship is of hispanic origin, and this group of citizens will likely end up being subject to a level of harassment they have not seen from the US before, being more typical of a police state.

I find it more than a little upsetting that as a political group, the backers of the bills are the types who complain loudly of getting government "off their back" - and look what they did? They produce possibly the worst law giving sweeping powers to the police.

I'd be the first to declare a boycott of Arizona, but I haven't been to that state for years, so for me to shout it out loud would seem a bit disingenuous.

But I also know that the way the winds are blowing in the US, if we don't speak up in some way today, it will only get worse. YOU could be next.

A side note - if the US had a rational, permissive immigration system, the only "issue" left with immigrants would be xenophobic racism.

4/29/2010 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

Dammit, I just spent way too much of my blog reading time looking in that funny walmart pics site... lol!

but seriously, Ed, I don't think you have much to fear going to AZ, it's not fair, untanned-skin that fascists in the western world are after...

THANK GOD he wasn't elected as president!

And regarding those drugs coming in, well how about starting with reducing consumption and demand, won't that help solve the problem? How about more funding for EDUCATION instead of trying to turn this country into a police-state? won't that take better care of the issue?
I mean, of course one needs to fight drug distribution and crime, but this way of handling immigrants will only bring racial profiling mandated by law, nothing else...

4/29/2010 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how rising joblessness fits into the equation. My guess is that it affects tolerance levels quite a lot. Add to that the power the drug cartel has in Mexico, practically replacing the government in some border areas. Yeah, it's a huge problem and of course heartbreaking that the people of Arizona feel they have to resort to this. I don't live there so I don't know either but it seems undeniable that the problems are quite real.


4/29/2010 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

@ Cathy, of course - joblessness and economic instability always gives rise to fascism and other forms of human cruelty.
But again: seeing AZ and the US as a 'victim' of the drug cartel while very obviously it is an enabler and therefore a major partner in crime, is just another excuse for putting the blame to all your troubles on the 'other', thereby avoiding solving anything whatsoever, instead just escalating and worsening the problem and adding new ones to the equation.

4/29/2010 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Larry said...

Related: There's a moron congressman from CA, one Duncan Hunter, who "told a tea party gathering in Ramona that he would support deporting the U.S. citizen children of illegal immigrants."*

The dum-dum ought to try reading the 14th Amendment:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Nothing unclear about that.

* "Congressman says Constitution's citizenship provision needs clarification," By EDWARD SIFUENTES -

4/29/2010 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

"congressman... told a tea party gathering in Ramona that he would support deporting the U.S. citizen children of illegal immigrants."

Too crazy to believe, huh?
When Hitler rose nobody believed his ideas could ever come to execution in reality.

See, Ed, you should always stick to talking about art in your blog, look now where this talk has brought us - creeping collective paranoia...

4/29/2010 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

To me if you own a firearm, or use a lot of gazoline (travel a lot in aeroplanes), you are suspicious.

That's the two main problems that will doom this world: profusion of artillery and expansion of pollution.

Cedric C

4/29/2010 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous kim matthews said...

It's only paranoia if they're not really out to get you. I read the law this morning and it's ridiculously vague. Time to turn over this unconstitutional law and actually deal with immigration reform. And while we're at it, we might take a look at NAFTA.

4/29/2010 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A side note - if the US had a rational, permissive immigration system, the only "issue" left with immigrants would be xenophobic racism.
Yea, McCain's comment about illegal immigration being, "the worst he's ever seen," really begs the question, what's so bad about illegal immigration, and what's the best way to remedy that? Is it illegal immigration or illegal immigrants that are the problem, and if it's the latter, who are these people, really, and why are they such a problem? We know what the stereotype is, but is that the reality of the illegal immigrant?

Of course there are two ways to do away with illegal immigration. The first is to kick them all out, the second way is to allow people to immigrate in ways that aren't illegal. Frankly, I've known people who were in the country illegally, and most of them have been Europeans, many of them highly educated and skilled in areas that would be quite beneficial to our country. Hell, my father is an immigrant (from Europe), albeit a legal one, he carried a greencard for 20+ years. I guess Duncan Hunter would have people like me thrown out of the country as well. or was he just speaking about Hispanic immigrants? I wish someone had passed his "kick the immigrants and their kids out" law back when his family came to this country.

I am sure it's true in Arizona that most illegal immigrants are from Mexico, but I would really wonder if they are the majority of illegal immigrants in the country. Are there any statistics on this? I checked naturalization statistics, and in 2008, 37% of new citizens were Asian... but aside from the occasional news story about some stow aways from China dying in shipping containers, you don't hear too much of a stir about that group of immigrants... legal or otherwise.

4/29/2010 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger nina said...

I am a permanent resident. Law abiding and tax paying. I graduated high school in the US, and finished my undergraduate and graduate degree here. I have owned property here and own my own US based business. Much of my family and now also my husband is American.
New York is my home but I am terrified when I see what is happening in Arizona.
Irony of it all is that they are more likely to stop my husband, the American, than I if we were to travel through Arizona I suspect.
But it is not just Arizona. Travelling internationally has become increasingly stressful. One of the reason for me personally is that reentering the US is always something I dread. Any foreigner, including Permanent Residents, are finger printed and photographed as they enter the US. And often also questioned.
Mind you this is before they grill you at your point of departure. I lived in Chinatown when 9/11 happend. I do understand what world we live in. But this can't be the answer.

4/29/2010 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Mery Lynn said...

I'm on the verge of a cross-country drive and I have to stop in Arizona. It's just in the way. So I chose to rent a hotel room in Phoenix because the mayor has filed a lawsuit against this stupid law and will refill in Tucson because the sheriff there refuses to follow this stupid law. The rest of the state can get screwed.

4/29/2010 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger tony said...

In France, & certain other European countries, a similar psychosis has entered into the public consciousness but over here it is in relation, for the most part, to Muslims of North African descent.

The result has been that instead of encouraging any form of integration or normalisation of human relationships there has been a hardening of positions so that the concept of 'them & us' is passed and reinforced from one generation to the next. Political parties use the threat to security and social order to increase police powers and diminish the rights of the citizen - that is the citizen who is recognisable as being of non-European parentage.

Add to this scenario a police force the members of which are often of medium intelligence and whose sensibility is eroded by an almost daily confrontation with the darker realities of human experience and you create a situation where the only logical consequence can be the development of an extremism which hardens into the reality of fascism.

When injustice is codified into the law then the sense of natural justice, which I believe runs deep through each being, must inevitably respond & if such a response does not come through public pressure on the lawmakers then it will inevitably express itself in violence and in turn the fascist wheel will begin to grind in seriousness.

4/30/2010 06:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Jay said... increase from 5.5% to 7% in the overall percentage of illegal immigrants per resident in AZ is almost 28%!

I know you know that, but in your post, you make it seem as if the increase of 1.5% in illegal immigrants was insignificant. 28% is a big jump over 10 years.

Not that I disagree with your conclusions; I think that it's a crappy law. But I don't think it helps to downplay the situation.

4/30/2010 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Tony, let's talk about the psychosis of Theo Van Gogh.


4/30/2010 01:26:00 PM  
Anonymous nemastoma said...

The justification of a police state is repugnant whatever the circumstances.

4/30/2010 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Kim has it right: There are many artists, dealers, and other small businesses in Arizona who do not support this racist law and who --like the rest of us--are just hanging on.

And so does Mery Lynn: deciding to stay and full up in the cities where the people in power will not use that power in the execution of this law.

5/03/2010 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

I won't go to Arizona now. I have a driver's license from a state that doesn't require proof of citizenship to get a license, and I am not going to carry my U.S. passport to visit a U.S. state. I just won't.

5/04/2010 11:06:00 AM  

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