Illegal immigration is a very divisive hot-button issue these days. With Arizona’s strict new immigration laws in place, many people have been up in arms over this new legislation. Personally, I do not know exactly where I stand on illegal immigration. It appears to me that is an issue that is full of smoke and mirrors. It’s a subject that can naturally alienate groups and create dissension, but the smoke and mirrors come in when the media shines a heavy spotlight on the often explosive protests surrounding illegal immigration and not the core economic statistics and administrative provisions that are attached to the subject.
One of my good friends is a young Hispanic man named “E. Antonio” and he is slowly dipping into activism. He sent me an article that he posted about racial profiling and how it ties into the current illegal immigration debate. This what he has to say:
I am a Latino-American citizen currently residing in Cobb County, Georgia. In Cobb County, police officers have the right to deport illegal immigrants under probable cause. This means that officers can set up road blocks in strategic places around town and ask for proof of drivers license (which they most certainly take advantage of). Once I tried to avoid one of these road blocks on the way to a friend’s house when a police officer pulled me over. He asked me why I didn’t want to go through the block and asked for identification. After a bunch of questions and rude attitude, he finally let me go and told me to go through the road block, but this isn’t the story I’m writing about.
The story I’m going to tell is of an incident that happened to me last year. I had just returned from my two year stay in Miami and, unknowingly, was carrying a suspended drivers license. I had received a ticket in Miami for speeding (my first speeding ticket actually) and due to certain circumstances ie my car breaking down, I was unable to handle it upon immediately coming back into town.
So I was taking my younger sister to buy some shoes for a wedding and all of a sudden, we’re stopped in traffic and a vehicle slams into the back of my mom’s car. The police come and after checking our info, they began to look at me with bizarre smiles on their faces. My first thought was “this can’t be good,” next thing I know I’m being handcuffed and read my rights. I asked the officers why I was being arrested and they said I have a suspended license in Florida which could possibly be due to my social security. When they said that, I was alarmed and told them, “no I’m a natural-born citizen and have always lived here.” The officers said “We’re sorry, but we don’t know why your license was suspended so we have to take you in.”
This is despite their records indicating that I had been issued a drivers license in the same county years back and that it had been revoked due to the issuing of a Florida license.
I have never been handcuffed in my life, never sat in the back of a police car and I was mad. Thankfully, since my sister was with me, she called my mom. My mother spoke to the officer over the phone and explained that we were on our way to a wedding and asked if there was any way he could let me go. If my mom didn’t speak English in an Anglicized and formal manner, I know I would have been at the police headquarters until they found out I was a citizen. In other words, had it been my dad (who is also citizen, but speaks with a strong Latino accent) speaking to the officer, I wouldn’t have been let go so easily.
Point blank, I was suspected of having a bad social security simply because of the way I look. Had I not looked Hispanic, I may have not been arrested for carrying a suspended license. The officers probably would have let me go with a warning. Even if they arrested me for having a suspended license, the fact that he made several comments about my citizenship and social security left me frustrated and without a doubt I knew I was a victim to racial profiling.
This is what goes on now with police having the ability to deport people with probable cause, imagine what will happen when given “reasonable suspicion”?
Hate and bigotry support a new law in Arizona which allows for police officers to criminally charge illegal immigrants under “reasonable suspicion.” To many Americans this may sound great and have nothing to do with hatred. To them, it means that there will be stronger enforcement in ridding people who, “destroy our economy, take our jobs and are responsible for increasing crime.” Many Americans think they can take their country back and this brings them feelings of security and a tranquil peace of mind. Unfortunately, abiding by such a law does nothing of the sort and as President Obama has stated, it is “misguided.”
There are better alternative solutions to the problem of illegal immigration. For instance, providing easier access for residency to Mexicans. In this manner, border crossings would decrease and the U.S. could have better control of declining people with criminal records from entering our country. It also would allow better taxation methods for those that want to work and at the same time allow for deportation of individuals who do not abide by the law.
Support smart alternatives to illegal immigration laws based upon “reasonable suspicion.” How do we define “suspicion,” who does this genuinely target and what will this encapsulate?