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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/25/10

Arizona Immigration law legalizes racial profiling

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Message Abdus Sattar Ghazali
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American Arab and Muslim civil rights advocacy groups have joined other organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the South Asian Network, in condemning the signing of Arizona Senate State Bill 1070 into law by Governor Jan Brewer. The draconian measure allows law enforcement agencies to detain anybody "if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants," and requires legal immigrants to carry paperwork proving their status at all times.

Currently most immigration law is handled by the Federal government and is an administrative issue, rather than a criminal one. However this law changes that by diverting more law enforcement resources to mostly non-criminal activity meant to be handled by the Federal government.

The new Arizona Immigration legislation:

  • Legalizes unchecked racial profiling by local law enforcement of anyone they "suspect" is undocumented.
  • Effectively requires all immigrants, even those who are naturalized, to carry identification proving their legal residency in the U.S., and grant police officers authority to enforce federal immigration law and arrest people who cannot produce identification.
  • Criminalizes all undocumented immigrants as "trespassers" in the state of Arizona and would subject all undocumented workers and their families to arrest and conviction for misdemeanors, and in some cases felony charges for the new crime of "trespass."
  • Allows police officers to arrest people without a warrant, thereby undermining constitutional safeguards under the Fourth Amendment.
  • Allows residents to sue cities if they believe the law is not being enforced.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Legal Director, Abed Ayoub, pointed out: "To allow the use of racial profiling in law enforcement practices is both dangerous and unconstitutional. The measure signed into law by Gov. Brewer has a profound impact on not only the Latino community of Arizona, but on all individuals living in the state. This law also illustrates the pressing need for Congress, and the Obama Administration to pass comprehensive immigration reform."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

In a statement, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Arizona Chapter Chairman Anas Hlayhel said the new legislation allows the use of racial profiling. "American Muslims have faced the detrimental effects of racial profiling and we stand against the broad and generalized application of this practice. Racial profiling is ineffective policing which will build distrust and fear of law enforcement in the community."

Hlayhel went on to say that the new legislation "would impact even those community members who are legal permanent residents and naturalized citizens, because the law gives unfettered discretion to law enforcement to identify and stop those perceived to be undocumented and to arrest those who do not have proper documentation of their legal status. Such a broad law enforcement tool leaves room for stereotyping and discrimination against minorities and those perceived to 'look' undocumented."

"The repercussions of such a law would be devastating for immigrants and all communities of color in Arizona. Moreover, it will have dangerous consequences in that it will set a national precedent for state and federal law, permanently criminalizing immigrants and legalizing racial profiling by law enforcement."

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) expressing its concerned over the new law said:

"Muslim Americans can empathize. Under the pretext of national security and immigration, Muslim Americans have already been subject to widespread ethnic and religious profiling. During the 2004 Presidential electoral race, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation initiated "Operation Front Line" where over 2,000 people from Muslim-majority countries were arrested. No one was ever convicted on national security violations or terrorism charges. Instead the majority of those that ended up being deported were due to minor immigration charges.

"Such enforcement was not only a waste of national security resources, but a blatantly discriminatory action against a particular community of faith.

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Abdus Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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