Commentary: Arizona's degrading immigration law

The San Luis Obispo TribuneMay 13, 2010 

An African-American teenager was driving home when a police cruiser pulled up from behind, stopping him in front of a home in a predominantly white St. Louis suburb.

After he produced his license showing that he lived at the spot where the traffic stop occurred, his car was searched, the contents strewn on the neatly manicured lawn as the neighbors watched. The officer even went a step further, asking him if he was a drug dealer or gang member.

That young man, a high school honor student 20 years ago, is now my husband. The incident mentioned above was just one of many such stops, always for alleged minor infractions such as failure to yield or rolling a stop sign, and they rarely resulted in a citation.

When I met him in college, he was wary of law enforcement because he knew that he could be pulled over, questioned and searched at any time, regardless of whether he did anything illegal.

Racial profiling existed then and it continues to plague black and brown people of every socioeconomic background across this country. Ask anyone who has been profiled, and they will tell you that it is not only unfair and discriminatory but degrading.

If Arizona's new immigration law goes into effect this summer, thousands of Hispanic men and women in that state will be subjected to the same painful humiliation and intimidation.

Understandably, SB 1070 has been the subject of much heated debate since Arizona's governor signed it into law, with many supporters arguing that it has been the federal government's inability to enforce illegal immigration laws that led to the state’s action.

Those in favor also cite an influx of immigrants into the border state, a sore point for some residents who blame them for an increase in crime and for draining Arizona of its resources.

To read the complete column, visit www.sanluisobispo.com.

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