Ragged Claws

Saturday, April 24, 2010

El ley SB 1070

SB 1070, the immigration law recently passed in Arizona, is a profoundly repulsive piece of legislation. Some of its more appalling provisions:

”For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person. The person’s immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to 8 United States Code Section 1373 (c).

So, do you ever leave the house without a driver’s license, passport, or certified copy of of your birth certificate? That’s very, very irresponsible of you. You should always carry your papers, so they can be promptly displayed to any police officer who has a “reasonable suspicion” about your immigration status. (Maybe you were speaking a foreign language in public, or have a Spanish surname, or expressed a preference for salsa picante over ketchup, all of which are also extremely irresponsible behaviors.) The point is, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that you shouldn’t be detained and jailed. I mean, that’s what America, like, stands for and stuff.

A. It is unlawful for a person who is in violation of a criminal offense to:
1. Transport or move or attempt to transport or move an alien in this state in a means of transportation if the person knows or recklessly disregards the fact that the alien has come to, has entered or remains in the United States in violation of law…
B. A means of transportation that is used in the commission of a violation of this section is subject to mandatory vehicle immobilization or impoundment pursuant to section 28-3511.

Did you give a friend of a friend a ride home from a party without asking to see his papers, and then get caught speeding? Ha ha! Lose your car, sucker!

It is an affirmative defense to a violation of Subsection A of this section that the employer was entrapped. To claim entrapment, the employer must admit by the employer’s testimony or other evidence the substantial elements of the violation…L. An employer does not establish entrapment if the employer was predisposed to violate Subsection A of this section and the law enforcement officers or their agents merely provided the employer with an opportunity to commit the violation. It is not entrapment for law enforcement officers or their agents merely to use a ruse or to conceal their identity. The conduct of law enforcement officers and their agents may be considered in determining if an employer has proven entrapment.

So although undocumented immigrants allegedly pose a great and growing threat to Arizona’s workforce, police may still have to “[provide] the employer with an opportunity to commit the violation” in order to make a case. Law enforcement is hard! But really, if someone is “predisposed” to do something, they’ll totally get around to doing it eventually, right? Looked at this way, the police are just acting as life coaches, making sure that employers don’t put off until tomorrow the crimes that they can commit today.

The law also has several provisions to prevent state agencies or local governments from exercising any discretion when it comes to enforcement. For example, a town’s police department and elected representatives may believe that their community’s interests are best served if all residents are free to report crimes and give evidence without fear of deportation. But SB 1070 explicitly prohibits Arizona officials from “adopt[ing] a policy that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.” It eliminates the possibility of flexible government response, and prioritizes the enforcement of federal immigration law over more important societal goals.

And finally, SB 1070 is as racist as all get-out, passed by 17 Arizona state senators who, judging from their pictures, will never themselves be faced with a police officer demanding to see proof of their immigration status. And who can’t imagine, or who don’t care, what it might be like to be treated as a suspect outsider based on language or skin color. To whom the words “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in” signify only a contemptible state of dependency.

Court challenges to SB 1070 have already been promised – let’s hope that basic constitutional principles will soon extinguish this vile legislation.