Beyond Borders – What does Illegal Immigration mean to you?

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?

3 responses to “Beyond Borders – What does Illegal Immigration mean to you?

  1. Wait a second, so he was racially profiled because the cops were going to arrest him for driving with a suspended license? I smell bullshit. A family member of mine, a white dude, blonde hair, blue eyes, had some unpaid parking tickets that led to his license being suspended and he didnt know it. He got stopedp in GA and guess what? They hauled his ass to jail. So…was that racial profiling? I think its more like enforcing the law, the dude in this story should be glad that he wasnt late for Thanksgiving dinner because his dad had to go and bail his ass out of jail for being dumb enough to drive around on a suspended license. Get over it.

  2. I think “smoke and mirrors” might be a bit heavy handed as it implies willful creation of illussion (as in a stage magician) – but many of these barriers to clear understanding can just be do to inherent complexities and (as you point to) coverage being somewhat sensational or by parties, who while acting in good faith, still have an interest in promoting a particular view or outcome or align themselves others that do.
    Sadly, this very article is an example of that. The story is told by an aggrieved party as opposed to a more neutral observer and it shows in a number of ways.
    The party starts with the telling of one story and only after completion states “but this isn’t the story I’m writing about.” . This can serve to bias the audience that the wrtier is “the good guy” so that the telling of the second story is seen in a light more sympathetic to the teller.
    The teller of the story goes on to make claim about certain police powers (he at one point refers to them as rights – it would be more accurate to call them powers) but he cites neither code nor caselaw . I suspect he’s referring to “INE 287(g)” though he does not state so – we really can’t even determine the accuracy or bias of his legal interpretation as he doesn’t supply what he’s interpreting – nor can we determine if any particular action by enforcement personnel is in keeping with the law or if it is an improper exercise of enforcement power.
    In the (second) story, we have a recounting of certain details which are immaterial but tend to portray the teller in a more sympathetic light ‘driving my sister to by shoes’, ‘it was my first speeding ticket, ‘I couldn’t take care of it immediately b/c of my car breaking down’ . (Moving violations are generally strict liability remember)
    We then have speculation (about alternative conditions) voiced as a definitive “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.”
    Even the title of the article “illegal immigration” can serve to compress and distort a variety of issues under one all-encompassing label .
    We can have, for instance, issues surrounding enforcement procedure nd does it match their authorization
    We can have another issue about what those powers are
    (these can, largely be 4th ammendment issues and centrally aren’t even specifically about the alien status of an individual, but are about enfrcement)
    Then we have other topics such as who and what consitutes an illegal alien, who is a responsible party in that illegality (such as a knowing employer, etc), if and how those laws should be changed, etc
    So as we look at these sorts of issues, it’s wise for us to remember that activism itself has an interested position and by the very nature of “active” is imposiing a particular perspective. A Perspective that those of the same feather will often see as “clear and reasonable” and those opposing will see as “using smoke and mirrors” – a more neutral observer may see it simply as subject to bias and “clouded”.

  3. OK, I have a former foreign exchange student arriving in us in Dec so she can register with some form of medicaid so she can have her baby in Jan on our dollar and get the social security card. Something is wrong with this picture as she holds a masters and comes from an affluent family.

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