I know, I know--they're not only going to consider race/national origin. They're going to consider those things, plus whether you may or may not have been caught in of the minor infractions that most of us commit every day.
So you won't be pulled over just for acting normal--jaywalking, driving one mile an hour over the speed limit, failing to come to a full stop at a stop sign. You'll be pulled over for those things, and being brown. Which is somehow supposed to reassure me.
The notion that "the only people who have reason to complain about this law are
those who are here illegally and those who believe that immigration
laws should simply not be enforced" is, frankly, ludicrous. I'd be pretty pissed if I had to carry my passport at all times because there was a lot of Irish illegal immigration (as there was, until recently) and my nose is suspiciously flat. Yet I wasn't particularly enamored of giving Irish illegals a free pass on the immigration laws.
Yes, I'm more pro-immigration than the people who voted for this law . . . but this is not an argument about whether the laws should be enforced; its about how. Racial profiling on our highways and byways should not be the how. And the people claiming that this is somehow not about racial profiling seem, quite frankly, to be living in some alternate fairyland universe where police are going to rely on their psychic powers to peer into the minds of the people they encounter, rather than relying on external signals like . . . skin color.
I fully understand that illegal immigration causes a lot of problems in border areas, and that pro-immigration people are often too flip in dismissing these. But the problems are not so bad as to justify such broad and crude increases in the power of the state to hassle its citizens (or of citizens to hassle each other). As Matt Welch eloquently writes:
I have sympathy for people who are freaked out by desperate
immigrants and ruthless smugglers trampling over their property in
southern Arizona, and as I've said elsewhere, us pro-immigrant
types too easily skate over rule-of-law objections. Federal
immigration policy is a failure, and poses real public policy
challenges that no amount of righteous indignation and/or
handwaving makes disappear.
But anti-illegal immigration crackdowns almost always end up
restricting freedom for the rest of us. And giving cops more power
is almost always felt more on the receiving end by people-including
people just as law-abiding as you and I-who don't look like the
norm. Remember, the stated goal of the new law is "to make
attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and
local government agencies in Arizona." Those who think you can
surgically accomplish "attrition" without inflaming and driving out
legal residents, too, are kidding themselves. I doubt that many
Arizonans themselves believe it.
I doubt they do either; perhaps uncharitably, I think that the people who supported this law are not overbothered because they're not the legal citizens whose skin color just became "suspicious." Yes, again, I understand that they have legitimate concerns. But I just can't believe that they would think that this was a proportionate and sensible response to those concerns if they themselves risked being held in the pokey until the police could check their immigration status. The reason this law passed is that the people who support it--the same people now claiming that this isn't about racial profiling--know that it only applies to people who are poorer and darker skinned and probably speak with funny accents, anyway.