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Racial Profiling Proves Not to Be the Strongest Argument Against AZ SB 1070 in the Courts

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From LatinaLista.net, where this blog was first published.

July 15 was the first day that a Phoenix judge, Judge Susan Bolton, heard the first of six lawsuits aimed at making the now infamous immigration bill SB1070 disappear.

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While it’s too early to say how Judge Bolton will rule, and she did concede that if she passed an injunction it would only block certain provisions of the law and not the entire law, her questions and analysis of how the bill currently reads gives hope.

She indicated that she wasn’t concerned with the portion of the law forbidding law enforcement from restricting the enforcement of federal immigration law to the fullest extent of the law. But she did seem concerned with the portion of the law that states that any person arrested cannot be released until their immigration status is determined. She said that portion of the law “goes well beyond explicit enforcement provisions.”

“Does this have the potential to violate the Constitution on reasonableness of detention?” she asked.

She also questioned the impact of the portion of the law that allows police to arrest individuals without a warrant if they have committed a “public offense” that makes them removable from the U.S.

“Who gets arrested that couldn’t get arrested before?” she asked. “The determination of what makes an individual removable from the U.S. is a determination only the federal government can make.”

The questions and arguments Judge Bolton brings up are not only good points but strong arguments against the implementation of SB1070 — stronger even than the principle argument of racial profiling now popularly used by Latino advocacy groups.

Even the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the bill chooses other elements to object to:

Holder said the suit was based primarily on the constitutional argument that enforcement of immigration laws was a federal responsibility because “we wanted to go out with what we thought (was) our strongest initial argument and to focus on what we thought is the most serious problem with the law as it now exists.”

Holder further admits that his office will look into racial profiling if the law should go into effect since by then they will have gathered enough evidence to bolster their case against it.

However, for the vast majority of people who have never been racially profiled or have known anyone to be racially profiled the issue is nothing more than an urban myth for them. The proof of that observation is seen in the number of people cited in polls who are against any kind of interference in stopping SB1070 from being activated as it now reads.

It’s clear that no amount of marches or “Do I look illegal” t-shirts they see make a difference but everyone can, or should, understand the universal nightmare of someone being arrested based on nothing more than a subjective opinion by a police officer.

How many times do people every day argue or challenge a speeding ticket?

Racial profiling may not be an argument a lot of people can identify with but being arrested for a public offense that is vague to begin with and is 90% based on how the arresting officer sees and interprets the so-called offense is something that most people can understand where mistakes and abuse can happen.

And that’s where the greatest amount of reasonable doubt that this law could be fairly enforced lies.

 

Marisa Treviño is Publisher of LatinaLista and President of Treviño TodaMedia, LLC

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of The Texas Observer. The author is solely responsible for its content.