Local Laws Require Racial Profiling of Latinos?!

While immigrant rights groups pressure the federal government via high-profile marches and rallies, anti-immigration forces are pushing punitive laws on the state and local levels. Thousands of immigration reform proponents rallied last week to push federal lawmakers to pass reform this year, but the Arizona House of Representatives passed one of the toughest immigration laws in the country, which enables racial profiling of Latinos.

If the Senate fails to propose a reform bill this Spring, immigration reform won’t be on the agenda for 2010. With elections at the end of the year, it’s uncertain if reform will pass after that, as the resulting Congress could be more conservative.

More rallies from the grassroots

As Seth Freed Wessler reports at RaceWire, “Rallies for immigration reform were held in at least seven cities on Saturday, including Las Vegas, Seattle and Chicago, and were meant to maintain momentum from the massive march in Washington last month.” The rallies were part of a sustained effort by reform supporters to pressure the Senate to take up reform this year.

In Las Vegas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) made an appearance and told supporters that the Senate would start work on reform soon after legislators came back from a brief recess this week.

“Speaking before a crowd of more than 6,000, Reid, a vulnerable incumbent, assured his audience of his commitment,” Steve Benen wrote for the Washington Monthly.

“We’re going to come back, we’re going to have comprehensive immigration reform now,” Reid was quoted as saying. “We need to do this this year. We cannot wait.”

New America Media cites a report from Univision, writing that “Reid, fresh from the fight for health system reform and with a difficult re-election campaign ahead, told demonstrators that there is some urgency to passing legislation to reform the immigration system, including improving border security and creating a guest worker program for seasonal workers.”

New America Media also reports on a surprising conservative-evangelical alliance that supports comprehensive immigration reform that protects children and families. “While not entirely new, the involvement of conservative Latino and evangelical leaders in the immigration debate puts additional pressure on Congress and the president to take up the issue this year.”

In Seattle, AlterNet reports on the large presence of Asian immigrants at the local rally, quoting Diane Narasaki, executive director of the Asian Counseling and Referral Service: “There are about 1 million Asians living in this country who are undocumented, so comprehensive immigration reform is really key to our community,” Narasaki said.

Local laws target immigrants

Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled Arizona House of Representatives voted along party lines this week to pass a state law that would, as RaceWire’s Freed Wessler reports, “make it a criminal offense simply to be an undocumented immigrant on Arizona soil and to require local cops to determine a person’s immigration status if there is any ‘reasonable suspicion’ the person is undocumented.”

“The law would essentially require police to racially profile Latinos and threatens to terrorize immigrant communities already trying to survive in what is arguably the country’s most anti-immigrant state,” writes Freed Wessler.

In Colorado, where a similar state law passed despite wide criticism of civil rights abuses, there are reports on an effort in Denver to push back against a a local city-wide anti-immigrant law that encourages police to impound vehicles of undocumented immigrants.

“Members of the city council here are considering eliminating a controversial vehicle impound law that has raised financial and constitutional questions,” Joseph Boven reports for the Colorado Independent. “It’s unconstitutional, for example, to require Denver police to judge whether someone driving in Denver without a license might be an illegal alien.”


Linking national concerns with local issues, the National Radio Project reports on a panel called “Race, Immigration and the Fight for an Open Internet,” which focused on how telecommunications corporations’ moves to restrict internet access could affect immigrant communities.

“Right now, telecommunications companies are pursuing a restrictive pay-for-play business model for online access that many say will only further the digital divide, discriminating between those who have Internet access and those who do not,” the news outlet notes.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.



photo credit: thanks to GypsyFae via flickr
By Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger


LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Elizabeth Schauki

American isn't a race, it's about citizenship. My ancestors, all that I know of, came from Syria and Lebanon. But I'm an American citizen and I was born an American citizen and I'm American. And didn't pretty much everybody originally come from Africa anyway? But we don't all call ourselves African today which I think would be a little silly. If anyone else in another country in South or North America wants to call themselves American too I don't mind. But please don't try to tell me that I'm not a real American because I am and I'm proud to be that.

Lindsey DTSW
.6 years ago

Fortunately, Deborah, when we look at the origins of the American Indians most sensible people tend to accept the findings of geneticists and archaeologists rather than those with agendas to push.

And, again fortunately, the issue of whether or not Americans calling themselves Americans is approved of by some in society is somewhat moot. Since that's what we're called and, after almost 250 years of existence as a nation, I rather think we intend to continue to do so. I certainly do.

Deborah K.
Deborah K.6 years ago

Lindsey: If someone lives in one of the Americas, then s/he is American. The word “American” does not appear in the “United States of America.” I never employed the word “'US'ers'” either. However, it is a good word for citizens of the U.S. as we use everyone else in the world to supply not just our needs (or what we think we need), but our wants as well. Again, co-opting the word “American” is a good example of U.S. hegemony. Also, that First Nations people came from Asia is a theory, not a fact.

The Europeans violated International Law when coming into the Americas, stealing land and slaughtering millions of people. (This is what the National Socialists admired most about the U.S. Hitler mentions it in Mein Kampf and the Boors followed that particular template when invading South Africa.) Stealing something does not make it yours. It makes it stolen.

Norlene W.
.Norlene W.6 years ago

This is America not Amexico and I as one of many fellow "Americans" have no intentions of handing over my country to anyone. these people have total lack of respect for this country and even less respect for it's laws. if you wish to become a citizen of a country you supposedly love you do not burn its flag in the streets while carrying a foreign flag , threatening to kill its citizens with your picks and shovels. Where is your common sense this is and Invasion on American soil and they are coming to your neighborhood. Not only Illegal Mexicans are crossing our borders so are people from Iraq, Iran and several other terrorist nations. and as far as Arizona's bill 1070 it is the same bill the federal government has it does not promote racial profiling it enforces the federal law.people need to educate their self before making accusations.

Lindsey DTSW
.6 years ago

No, Deborah. They may be South American, Central American, or North American (and concurrently Canadian, Mexican, Honduran, Brazilian, etc.) Those are the 'Americas' - not 'America'. They aren't 'American'. And we aren't 'US'ers' (what an odd name). We are the United States of America. It's part of our name - we're American.

And my ancestry is indeed from Europe. And I'm American. Just as the Navajo, Cherokee, Apache, and so many others had ancestors who came from Asia. But they're not Asian - they're American now.

Deborah K.
Deborah K.6 years ago

The americas include South America, North America and Central America. That means than someone from, for example, Puerto la Cruz or San Salvador is just as American as someone from Wisconsin or Utah. Those of us in the U.S. are U.S.ers and are but a small portion of the americas. But then, those whose ancestries derive from europe are not from the americas at all.

Michael R.
Michael Rapp6 years ago

Ok, first off. For the people saying that atleast they are catholic, shut up. Intolerance is intolerance any way you look at it. For those saying that the white devils and blacks are the real illegals, because their ancestors lived nowhere near here, shut up. Past actions can not be solved by future generations (not I said actions, not problems), this would be as if children of nazi generals would say I'm sorry for the holocaust. It would make a warm fuzzy for a second, but ultimately help nothing.

Now onto the actual subject, immigration. I have zero problem with someone immigrating to America. No one should. With that being said though we should want to know who the people are who come into our country. That does not mean to open the border widely and let anyone across. This means taking careful step to insuring that 1.) the person is who they say they are. This should include fingerprinting, but this would ultimately fail as well for the fact that unless you are a "criminal" (ie. you got caught) no fingerprints would be on file. 2.) That they are not here to try and destroy America. (fundamentalists come in all shapes and sizes)

Ultimately, we need better immigration. Is Arizona the blueprint? No, but it's a good start. Congrats Arizona for having any sense what-so-ever.

Tom W.
Tom W.6 years ago

YES, We do need immigration reform.
Start by making only children born to legal citizens be recognized as lawful citizens and those born of Aliens be given the same status as the Aliens who produced them.

This will end having to feel any empathy towards these illegals - case made.
The the issue of work permits would help both sides and stop the ever increasing child dumping by their Alien women with late term pregnancies sneaking across our borders.

These aliens think they can flout our laws without mercy and care nothing of the damage to those who came here legally.

Get involved and tell your representatives that their demands are not merited and breaking our laws is a criminal act.
Show them and their supporters the way back and close the doors.