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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Arizona Immigration Police Watch: Government Abusing The Innocent

The latest example of individual rights being threatened because of the federal government's abject dereliction of duty is a new Arizona law that requires state police to ask for identification and proof of "legal status" (as to being in the country legally) from anyone whom they suspect is an illegal immigrant or alien.  (See this Washington Post report)   This law is a reaction and response to the lack of federal border control.   And the people of Arizona -- of all skin colors -- will now pay the price. 

There is a huge danger from unintended consequences.   State troopers and local police will now be required, as a practical matter, to stop all sorts of people inside the state.   This will not be done out of racial profiling (although some will engage in precisely that, not that it is always improper).   Rather, the police will be stopping people primarily to ensure that they are "complying" with the law; in other words, they will feel pressure to hassle all sorts of people in order to safeguard their own jobs.   Arizona police will now be pressured to take actions which may violate the rights of -- or at least strongly inconvenience and induce discomfort among -- United States citizens as well as legal aliens (green card holders) for no other reason than their own entirely rational, personal risk-aversity with respect to their own career.

The prevalence of illegal immigration (or more accurately, the relative ease of entry across the border from Mexico by migrant workers and transients -- because many are not "immigrants" in the classic sense of the word) is undoubtedly a big problem and security risk.  However, the real problem with this state law is that it is the product of the federal government's utter failure to secure the borders.   As a result, citizens and legal residents in Arizona will now face grave inconvenience, intrusion, discomfort, intimidation and possible deprivation of their Constitutional rights (see both the First and Fourth Amendments).   And all because the federal government has failed to do its job.

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