Thursday, May 6, 2010

Add DWH to the Arizona penal code

There is a new crime on the books in Arizona and it's called Driving While Hispanic. With the passage of SB 1070, law enforcement officials will have the authority to check on the immigration status of any motorist who is detained as the result of "any lawful contact."

According to the new law "where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person."

Backers of the new law see no problem with that provision. They will point out that the police can't just stop anyone for the express purpose of checking their papers because there has to be a legal reason for the traffic stop. Would that be like a DWI stop in Texas in which the basis for the detention is an equipment violation and not evidence that the motorist is endangering anyone on the road?

Furthermore, what exactly constitutes "reasonable suspicion" that a person is not here with the blessing of los federales? Brown skin? Speaks Spanish? Has a last name ending in Z? Do you think the police will be asking too many white, black or Asian drivers for proof of their immigration status? Hell, I don't possess a single piece of paper (except for my passport that sits in a safe deposit box) that says it's okay for me to be here -- and I've been here all my life.

And then there's this gem:
"If an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States is convicted of a violation of state or local law, on discharge from imprisonment or assessment of any fine that is imposed, the alien shall be transferred immediately to the custody of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the United States Customs and Border Protection." -- Arizona's SB 1070
That means a conviction for a moving violation, such as speeding, or a conviction for an equipment violation, such as an expired inspection sticker, can get you deported. How's that for a final solution? It must warm your heart to see these so-called pro-family right wing Republicans force American citizens (don't kid yourselves, the children of "illegal" immigrants born on American soil are just as American as your and I) to choose between living here and going "home" to a country they've never seen.

Despite what the apologists for Arizona's new racist law claim, if you have brown skin and you're driving in Arizona, you are a target.

See also:

"Pima County Sheriff refuses to enforce "unconstitutional" controversial AZ anti-immigrant law," Democracy Now! (May 6, 2010)
"Dozens show up at Minute Maid Park to protest Arizona law," The Houston Chronicle (May 6, 2010) -- of course no one goes to see the Astros these days.
"Holder: US may fight Arizona immigration law," CBS News (April 27, 2010)

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