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SB1070: The Fear of Racial Profiling

A Supreme Court ruling allows Arizona police to ask for documentation from anyone they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that police officers in Arizona can ask for documentation from anyone they stop if they suspect that they are undocumented immigrants.  While three other parts of Senate Bill 1070 were voted down, Arizona governor praised the high court for maintaining the "heart of the legislation."

I am for one thankful that Illinois is not Arizona, but this ruling by the supreme court still scares me.  It sets a precedent that other states can create their own harsh laws regarding immigration and it promotes racial profiling.  How else will an Arizona police officer know who to ask for documentation?

As a white woman, I will probably never be the target of racial profiling, but I have witnessed first hand the damage it can do to innocent members of our society.  For a summer, I worked as an intern for a refugee resettlement agency.  The US Department of Homeland Security brings refugees from other countries to the US for their safety and provides them with 6 mos. support, a social security card, and health screenings.

One afternoon, I was driving a Chinese family to the health department for vaccinations.  I turned down the wrong street, and I was in a school zone.  I got pulled over for speeding.  Yes, I was speeding.  Yes, I deserved the ticket.  On any other day it would have been a routine stop, and I would have driven home pouting about my misfortune.  However, this stop was different.

Many refugees come from countries where people in power are the reason they feared for their lives in the first place.  This police officer was a frightening reminder of the horrors they faced in their home country.  I tried to remain calm to reassure the family that everything was ok.  Without speaking their language, I tried to use my body language and tone of voice.

The officers took a different approach to the situation.  Instead of issuing me a ticket and moving on with his day, he harassed me about who this family was.  Why are they in your car?  When did they come to the US?  Do you have their documentation?  For the first time, I realized what racial profiling really meant; innocent families facing unfair treatment from those that are supposed to protect them.

As we pulled away, the children were trembling and the mother sat silently with tears rolling down her cheeks.  The family had been terrorized by the same government that brought them to the US to protect them.

How will we stop this from happening in our states?  Why should the Mexican-American soldier who commited 10 years of his life to the Marine Corps be stopped by the police in Arizona and asked for his documentation.  I am disappointed with the Supreme Court and the message it has sent to our nation. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Megan Benham July 02, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Paul, I am not asking anyone to find undocumented immigrants jobs or provide for their college. I want the government to make it legal for them to do both on their own. Despite the harsh environment some immigrants face in the US, immigrants are here to stay. I come from a community where college is more of a dream than a reality and jobs are hard to come by. The result is a never ending cycle of poverty. This could be the same fate for immigrants unless our government finds a way to make it easier for them to further education and begin careers. With ways to find their own jobs and college educations, immigrants will be increasing US economy, literacy, and growing strong, stable communities.
Paul Young July 03, 2012 at 12:31 AM
I did judge youropinions on content and I put to you what you put top the rest of us, a descriptiuon based on naive and impolite assumptions. You brought up assumptiions on how the police were going to abuse this and push their own agendas and I threw an assumption at you on your background.
Paul Young July 03, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Megan, again with the assumptions. Wow!
Paul Young July 03, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Megan, you are lumping in illegal immigrants with legal immigrants, stop it. Legal immigrants with legitimate reasons to be in this country get the benefits they deserve. Illegal immigrants should be afforded no such benefits. If they want health care or college (or a kidney for that matter) they should go home. I don't care if illegal immigrants live a rough life here, they should be treated like the criminals they are.
Paul Young July 03, 2012 at 12:42 AM
One more thing on college, you said that it is more of a dream to go to college in your community, guess what, with the government giving aid and scholoraships to 'undocumented immigrants' it will only get worse. Why should illegal immigrants be given any aid and why should we break their cycle of poverty? What about our poor and out of work? People with similar beliefs to yours speak of education for these criminals being a human right, well, what about my children that will not get grants or financial assistance because they don't fit a special group. My family came here legally, as do many others from all ethnic groups, and we pay our fair share and work within the framework of the law. These people should do the same. Your community in southern Indiana is probably more affected by the labor crisis and income disparity than our area up here so I find it hard to believe that you want our money and jobs going to cheap and illegal labor.

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