Commentary: Anger, fear shouldn't play into immigration fixes

The American public is angry and afraid, and understandably so.

When many of us go to bed at night, we're not sure what mind-numbing challenges we'll be faced with when we awake in the morning.

We're worried about our jobs, our health and our children's schools. We're concerned about rising deficits and wonder if the recovery that economists say is under way is real. We cower when we read or hear news reports about another drug bust or homicide in our communities.

And we fume when it appears that our government is unable or unwilling to address, or better yet, fix the problems plaguing us.

I believe it is this level of frustration and fear that is at the heart of the Arizona law aimed at stopping illegal immigration.

After my last column was published on this topic, many readers took issue with the fact that I said it was unjust and could lead to racial discrimination.

Critics of the column countered that this new law has nothing to do with race and that it was established to stamp out crime committed by illegal immigrants. (Statistics have shown that immigrants aren't more likely to commit crimes.)

Some readers also noted that the state's law enforcement officials first must find that someone has committed a crime before they can ask for proof that someone is in the country legally.

I have read the law several times, and it states that law enforcement must make "any lawful" contact with a person before making a "reasonable attempt" when it's feasible to check documentation. The law says law enforcement may not solely consider race, color, or national origin.

And yet, I don't see how it cannot lead to profiling based on anything other than someone's ethnic background.

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