Thursday, April 29, 2010

Arizona's New Law

I’m finally going to have to comment on the Arizona law, I guess, not in support of it but in response to the worst of the hyperbole regarding it. Hardball has a graphic which they use every time it is the topic which is particularly horrible, a group of jackbooted soldiers carrying weapons, who look suspiciously like Hitlerian storm troopers. Chris Matthews keeps talking about “women and children on their way to Sunday school” being stopped simply because they are Hispanic.

The law does not call for, or even permit, anyone to be stopped merely for the purpose of investigating the legality of their presence in this country. It merely says that such legality may be questioned “upon reasonable suspicion” if they are stopped for any other lawful reason. The phrase “reasonable suspicion” is not unique to this law, it exists in many laws in Arizona and throughout the nation, and has been found to be permissible. This law says specifically that ethnic origin may not be used as the basis for that reasonable suspicion.

Of course Olbermann, Mathews and such ignore all of this and refer to the law as the “racial profiling law” or, in Olbermann’s case, the “death panel” law. By all means, let’s not allow facts to get in the way of our hysteria.

Another alarmist feature of the law seem to be that it treads on grounds reserved to federal jurisdiction. That strikes me as somewhat laughable in the face of the federal government mandating state highway speed laws and issuing dozens of spending mandates for individual states. In any case, the federal government has abdicated this area of it’s responsibility for decades, and if it is unwilling to fulfill its responsibility then it has little room to complain when the states step up to protect themselves.

That is not to say that I support this law. I most emphatically do not. It certainly does open the door to abuse that can lead to ethnic tensions. It injects local law agencies into an additional realm of enforcement that adds to an already heavy burden and strains budgets that are already at breaking point. It has significant potential to create friction between federal and local law enforcement agencies.

But using hysteria to argue against it is hardly useful.


  1. bruce1:07 PM

    The Arizona law, plus it's recent amendment(s) have certainly generated a lot of controversy. The amendments are added to strengthen the "no profiling" aspect of the law. Not doubt many reporters, bloggers, liberal, immigration right activists will conveniently ignore this, as well as the other specifics of the law, and comparisons of how it related to existing law (mostly federal law). It mostly reiterates existing law, while adding a little extra regarding local ordinances. It (esp with the addendum) specifically forbids "racial profiling".

    The biggest thing I do not like about the law is the hyperbole and hypocrisy surrounding it. I don't believe it will lead to wide spread jackbooted thuggery, or mass roundups or anything like that. It will certainly have more people being turned over to ICE, but the purported levels of enforcement are overblown. It will likely start with obvious things like clear cut felonies, where there is little doubt of the first offense (the arresting offense). A lot of the enforcement levels will depend on the local departmental and officers' level of commitment and resources available. Are they willing and able to enforce this? Are they willing to deal with the social tension and accusations and certainly, lawsuits that will coming? Are the ICE people able to take the overload they will be getting?

    I fell sorry for the illegals that are just trying to do anything they can to support themselves, when they have no ability in their own countries.
    I feel sorry for the innocent legals that will be caught up in it.
    I feel sorry for the cops that have to deal with the crap on the streets from both sides.
    I feel sorry for the people in the court system who will suffer longer legal issues due to legal problems with this.
    I feel sorry for the citizens who have diminished city and state resources because of this.

    I do not feel sorry for the Feds, who have long ignored and politicized the issue. They have it coming.

  2. Your series of "I feel sorry for..." points is well made. I think the first one might be argued, but I don't outright disagree with it, and the rest are very nicely put. Other points could be made as well; the damage inflicted by this law is widespread.