Logically, there's nothing wrong with suspecting that some who looks and talks like a foreigner might be an illegal foreigner, and there's even a Supreme Court decision [US Vs. Brignoni-Ponce] that said that "The likelihood that any given person of Mexican ancestry is an alien is high enough to make Mexican appearance a relevant factor," although they didn't think that it alone justified a stop.
April 26, 2010
Fears of Arizona's Immigration Law Are Bogus
It's hard to argue that the requirements of Arizona's new immigration law will impose an undue burden.
When Arizona's new law was signed on Friday, Hispanics demonstrated outside the state capitol in Phoenix, fearful of what it would mean for them. "If a cop sees them and they look Mexican, he's going to stop me," a 18-year-old Hispanic told the Associated Press. "What if people are U.S. citizens? They're going to be asking them if they have papers because of the color of their skin." The young man claimed that he was that even though he was a U.S. citizen he risked being arrested and put in jail.
Other news stories discuss Hispanics believing that they will have to have to carry multiple IDs to avoid prison. "Even if you're legal, you're in fear that maybe your driver's license isn't going to be enough or if you're walking down the street and the police stop you," a 21-year-old University of Arizona college student told CNN. "It's a constant fear we're living in and even legal citizens are afraid to go out."
But it is a dangerous game stirring up fears of people being hunted down and put in jail because of their race or nationality. The law specifically bans picking up someone just because they are Hispanic or even because the person was originally from Mexico or any other country. You can read a copy of the law right here. Anyone arrested for a crime must have their immigration status determined before they are released. Thus, it is not just Hispanics who will be required to provide evidence of citizenship, but so will all whites, blacks and Asians. If the eligibility for public services depends on citizenship, again, everyone who applies, regardless of race, will have to provide an ID. In other circumstances, law enforcement officials must have reasonable suspicion, not based simply on the person's race or origin, that the individual is an illegal alien before they can ask to check someone's ID.[More]
But the combination of civil rights law and Fourth Amendment law means that they can't use common sense. They can, however, check everybody they arrest, and deport the ones who are illegal.