I mean, let’s be honest. This is a state where, every summer, 90% of the population spends their days sitting in the shade panting and watching their dashboards melt. This isn’t someplace you go without first suffering severe brain trauma.
So, to prove that they can be just as prejudiced as South Carolina, Arizona decided to pass a law which would allow the police to pull over anybody swarthier than Karl Rove and ask to see their paperwork. Of course, the police are just checking their documents to make sure they’re here legally, right? (Not to get all Godwinny here, but isn’t that exactly the same reasoning used by the police in 1930s Germany?)
So what we have here is a law that is opposed by police and churches. The top lawman in Pima County, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said that the law is "racist," "disgusting," and "unnecessary," and he’s not going to enforce it.
Even Tom Ridge, Bush’s former head of Homeland Security, is uncomfortable with the law, saying it allows the police to question people without probable cause. So why is it going into effect?
Well, Grampa McCain was on Fox News to say that we needed it because of “the drivers of cars with illegals in it (sic) that are intentionally causing accidents on the freeway."
Of course, while McCain has had issues with things like honesty for some time now, this statement is kind of fascinating. I mean, he’s talking about an actual crime:
This particular scam is called the "swoop and squat." (The first car "swoops" in while the second car "squats" in front of you.) After the "accident," everyone in the car you rear-ended—usually crammed full of passengers—will file bogus injury claims with your insurance company. Each will complain of whiplash or other soft-tissue injuries—things difficult for doctors to confirm. They may even go to crooked physical therapists, chiropractors, lawyers, or auto repair technicians to further exaggerate their claims.But think about it for just a second. It would be kind of stupid for an illegal immigrant to intentionally draw attention to himself when the police are on their way, and they’ll be getting driver's licenses and suchlike documentation from everybody, isn't it? This scam is strictly for the criminals with legal, documented identities.
Representative Brian Bilbray is trying to claim that the law won’t involve racial profiling, because the police can spot them by their clothes and shoes.
Jeff Palast has an interesting point:
What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote -- and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.At least three Arizona cities are considering taking legal action to block the law, and lawsuits have already been filed by police officers and Latino groups.
In 2008, working for Rolling Stone with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters ... directed by one Jan Brewer.
Brewer, then Secretary of State, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer's command, no less than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanics, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.
That statistic caught my attention. Voting or registering to vote if you're not a citizen is a felony, a big-time jail-time crime. And arresting such criminal voters is easy: after all, they give their names and addresses.
So I asked Brewer's office, had she busted a single one of these thousands of allegedly illegal voters? Did she turn over even one name to the feds for prosecution?
No, not one.
Which raises the question: were these disenfranchised voters the criminal, non-citizens Brewer tagged them, or just not-quite-white voters given the José Crow treatment, entrapped in document-chase trickery?
The answer was provided by a federal prosecutor who was sent on a crazy hunt all over the Western mesas looking for these illegal voters. "We took over 100 complaints, we investigated for almost 2 years, I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case."
And Governor Jan Brewer better hope that one of those lawsuits overturns this law before another American citizen is detained for not carrying his birth certificate.
I mean, admittedly, the evidence over the last decade shows that Republicans don't want to actually read the Constitution, but does the following statement sound familiar to anybody?
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
It’s a shame that I’m so damned white. Because Arizona is right next door, and if I looked in any way Hispanic, I would be driving their highways (at the speed limit), with a video camera operator in the passenger seat. And the first words out of my mouth, every time I got pulled over, would be "why are you stopping me, officer?"
Because you want to sue early. This law is going away soon, but I predict that it won't go away before Arizona writes somebody a fairly sizable check for having their Constitutional rights violated.
Update (5/1/10): Well, Governor Brewer went on Fox "News" to whinge to spokesbarbie Megyn Kelly about the unfair treatment she's been receiving.
She complained, for one thing, about the comparisons to Nazi Germany. Well, OK then. I guess that all Nazi comparisons might currently be under GOP copyright, so perhaps we should compare this legislation to laws in other countries where citizens were required to carry identity papers. That's only fair, right?
My favorite part of this long loving massage that Kelly gave the governor would have to be this quote, though.
You know Arizona has been under terrorist attacks, if you will, with all of this illegal immigration that has been taking place on our very porous border.Really? Because according to statistics from the Bureau of Justice, crime in Arizona has been steadily dropping since 2005, thanks to policies put in place by Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, the current US Secretary of Homeland Security.
In fact, study after study shows that the immigrant community commits less crime than native-born populations.
To be honest, a 2007 study by the University of Munich noted that Arizona "historically has not had a terrorist attack," although if you go back 15 years, the Arizona Viper Militia had been stockpiling weapons and planning on blowing up a federal building in Phoenix, but were arrested before they could do anything.
So, that argument is really a non-starter. And the governor is either an idiot, a liar, or simply paranoid.
I'm not sure which.