Veronica Hendrix

*I won’t be visiting Arizona anytime soon.

No more staying at the magnificent Arizona Biltmore Hotel or horseback
riding in Tucson, dining in Sedona, bike riding in Flagstaff or strolling through the museums in Prescott.

Hasta la vista baby. It was nice while it lasted.

I’ve decided to join San Francisco in boycotting everything Arizona.  

San Francisco has taken a bold move. Their Board of Supervisors is considering a resolution to cancel any contracts they have with Arizona based companies and they want to sever any business ties they may have with the state of Arizona. I just heard the Los Angeles City Council is considering a similar motion as well.

Why?

Last week Governor Jan Brewer signed into law sweeping legislation that requires police officers to make a “reasonable attempt” to determine the immigration status of a person if there is a “reasonable suspicion” they are an illegal immigrant. Before the bill was signed into law, officers could only check someone’s immigration status if they suspected that person had committed a crime.

So how do you go about making a “reasonable attempt” to ascertain if someone is here illegally? Well, you start by racial profiling.  You make a spot on, knee jerk determination about their national origin and if you deem that their documents are out of order, insufficient or suspicious, you arrest them or “detain” them until you can work with the feds to sort out  their legal status.

While those who drafted the legislation said that it is not intended to violate an individual’s civil rights, it simply can’t be avoided.  What other criteria could you possibly use? Let’s see how about the kind of car you drive? What cathedral you worship at? Perhaps scoping out the restaurants you frequent?  Or how about cruising the grocery store and sizing up the contents of your shopping cart? Too many ethnic foods, you must be an illegal immigrant.

These are all ridiculous. The obvious choice is to look at a person’s race, their language, and if they speak with an accent. And with Arizona being so close to the border, all of the aforementioned will be considered and more.  Even San Francisco Police Chief Gascón commented that an officer might not intend to racially profile while enforcing the law, but that’s what will happen.

“It will increase the risk that police officers, especially those who are untrained, will be placed in a situation where they will try to comply with the law and will be looking for characteristics to try to determine whether someone is here without authority,” said Gascón in a recent interview. “People who appear to be of Hispanic descent, who speak with an accent, are going to be targeted.”

So there it is. And when a law enforcement professional can be this candid, we don’t know the half of how this law will be enforced and to what extent. But you can best believe it will be to the fullest extent of the new law.
Don’t get me wrong. I am for immigration reform. Illegal immigration has placed an undue burden on our infrastructure to the tipping point.  Our borders need to be secured and measures do need to be put in place to penalize employers who hire undocumented workers. But this is not the way to solve the problem. It just opens the crypt to abuse of the law and even harassment of people who look different or ethnic. What’s to stop an officer from detaining someone who looks Latin, or say Muslim, Haitian, Jamaican until they run the gambit of background checks and up the wazoo analysis to confirm their immigration status?  It could take days or possibly weeks. Only goodness knows what other things they may uncover during a detainees background investigation they now want to delve into and detain them longer. Meanwhile, the untimely detention precludes that individual from going to work and supporting their family.  And if it turns out to be a horrible mistake, what recourse does that individual have? It could happen.

With all the legal challenges that will erupt as a result of Governor Brewer’s pen stroke, the federal legislature and the judiciary  will have to deal with this issue sooner than later. In the meantime, I think I will boycott Arizona altogether just as many tourists and businesses boycotted it in the early 90’s when their state legislature refused to recognize King Day as a national holiday. If you don’t have family or friends in Arizona, it might not be a bad idea to boycott it too.

(If you have comments about Veronica’s View, email them to vsview@yahoo.com.)