Why is it that folks in power – smart, educated folks never seem to understand the meaning of the term “racial profiling?” Why do they all turn deaf, dumb and blind when we ask what makes suspicion reasonable? Perhaps Al Sharpton is on the right path: give ’em an example they can understand, perhaps if we had “a law saying we’re looking for people that look Canadian in the state of Vermont” then it would FINALLY be clear. That would definitely be racial profiling. Now, Governor Jan n’em will tell ya that there’s a provision in the law that makes profiling illegal but I would tell them that makin’ something illegal don’t keep it from happening. In fact, if it did, we wouldn’t need the law in the first damn place. I mean ain’t it illegal to come here without permission?
Although we’re talking about racial profiling, I won’t go so far as to call the new law racist or ask whether the entire AZ State Legislature starred in O Brother, Where Art Thou? I won’t point out that this new law has less to do with immigration and more to do with Arizona deciding they have enough Mexicans. I won’t do it. I’ll just concede that it’s not racist because I don’t want to waste the energy debating whether or not folk who shoot at Mexicans with their BB guns are racist. Of course they’re not! These are just good decent lawmaking folks who loves them some Mexican people. There’s Maria who does the wash…love her! There’s Jose who cuts the grass…love him! There’s Paco who put the addition on the house without the permit…love, LOVE him!! Whatever! Quite frankly, it just doesn’t matter here.
What does matter here is whether or not we are legislating opportunities for those folks to cross the thin line between reasonable suspicion and attempting to legally establish first the probability, then the propensity for someone to commit a crime based on race or ethnicity. It is the very definition and danger of racial profiling. The impacts are far-reaching and frightening for a country who is just one or two generations removed from a history of young men swinging from trees under the guise of reasonable suspicion. This is not how we want our sons to reach high places. And to suggest that there are protections available in the words, “reasonable suspicion” is both misleading and offensive, not to illegal immigrants, but to American citizens whose rights and liberties are being trampled in the face of the very Constitution that was designed to protect us from these abuses.
Proponents of the law will say that those who do not believe po-po can be trusted to enforce this law responsibly don’t have a problem with the law, we have a problem with law enforcement. This is a semantic maneuver, at best. So, let’s just take it there. Nope, I don’t trust the po-po to ensure that my rights and the rights of other colored folk are protected. Sorry, we ain’t got a great history together. Not to say that all cops are racist. Hell, this is not to say ANY cops are racist. I have met some wonderful (and quite sexy) cops, really, I have. But reasonable suspicion for an immigration law by definition ain’t gonna be pointin’ at nobody that looks like Opie. From the DOOR, a reasonable person singles out people based on race or ethnicity. So, a reasonable person is forced to do a racist thing under this law. White folks ain’t even gonna make it to the lineup. So, can someone please tell me, how something that starts out dividing folks turns into something that’s “indivisible with liberty and justice for all?”
The resolution seems a simple one to me. Clearly define reasonable suspicion. Make this an issue of criminal profiling, not racial profiling. Let reasonable suspicion be based on triggers and behavior patterns of those come to this country illegally, not appearance or accent. And then? Question anyone, regardless of race, who fits the profile. No, really…I think that’s it. Hear me out! If you walk into Tito’s Tacos and there’s a white guy putting Tapatio sauce on everything and a Mexican guy eating a taco, wearing a Mexican flag on his back, with grass stains on his knees, and fence marks on his shirt, eyes darting around suspiciously, hiding behind his menu. In spite of what your gut tells you, question the white guy…it’s just criminal to put Tapatio on everything!