I was asked whether I thought that bills like Arizona SB 1070 are motivate entirely or even mostly by racism.
The answer is no. I do not think that people who support bills like 1070 are motivated by racism, and, interestingly enough, neither does Attorney General Holder. There are certainly non-racial reasons for wanting to control illegal immigration.
However, sometimes people slide from resentment against illegal immigration to resentment against Hispanics, and people sometimes presume that people are here illegally because they are Hispanic, they speak Spanish, they are lower-class, etc. Resentments about illegal immigration can be a mask for racism, and those who have those resentments sometimes can attach those resentments towards Hispanics as a whole, as opposed to illegal immigrants. The movie 9500 Liberty shows just how these distinctions can end up getting blurred, and when they are blurred, you can get a slide into racism.
Perhaps the most efficient way to fight illegal immigration is to develop some kind of DNA-matched ID card for all citizens to have. You can't get a job if you don't have one. However, a lot of people will think this is too big-brotherish or even mark-of-the-beastish to be acceptable. You can also increase security along the border and prevent entry that way. I would support either measure if done in a feasible way.
When she signed the law Governor Brewer said that racial profiling was against the law and that she would enforce the law in such a way as to be in compliance with the prohibitions against profiling. Is she wrong about that? Should she just not worry about profiling?
My question is whether you have a workable law if you are trying to enforce the law and abide by the profiling laws at the same time.
I would have thought conservatives would object to the law for exactly the reason that they support tort reform. Whether a immigration inquiry is initiated is a matter of somebody's "reasonable suspicion????" The subjectivity of the law's terminology means that all sorts of things have to be settled in court, and that is not where conservatives, last I checked, like to see things settled.
If you are going to use state and local law enforcement to make immigration inquiries, you need a set of procedures as fixed as the procedure whereby you and I are asked for our DL, registration, and proof of insurance when we are pulled over by the police. As it stands, police departments are climbing the walls on this law, because they know they can be sued for profiling, but 1070 also says they can be sued for not enforcing the law.
Something that Vallicella, in his responses to this issue, has not covered is this. There are cases where the police come out but don't ordinarily ask for identification, such as when an officer comes to a house on a complaint about loud music late at night. I would argue, in such a case, that if the people in the house appear to be lower-class Mexicans, if they are playing Spanish-language music, that is not a reason for an officer to initiate an immigration investigation. Vallicella mainly talks about the kinds of police stops that involve the showing of identification in any event, but I wonder what he thinks of these other kinds of cases.
I am also concerned about police enforcing "tickytack" violations such as a cracked windshield or driving less than 10 miles over the speed limit, which they would let slide if the person were white, because of a desire to go on a fishing expedition for illegal immigrants. I can imagine the Mark Fuhrmans on our police forces jumping at the opportunity to do that.
It seems to me that there are two replies which have to be kept separate. One is "this is not profiling" and the other is "what's wrong with profiling?" But if it really isn't profiling, why do people then argue that profiling isn't wrong? You can take this position. You can say that illegal immigration is a huge problem, that most illegals are Mexicans, at least in these parts, and that law-abiding legal aliens and citizens who happen to look like Mexicans are simply going to have to suck it up and deal with a certain amount of profiling if we are to have a society safe from the menace of illegal immigration. But, if you take that position, then you have to say SB 1070 doesn't go far enough, and that Brewer effective emasculated the law by insisting that it be enforced in accordance with laws prohibiting racial profiling. Does anybody want to go there?