Thursday, May 06, 2010
Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about the recently-signed Immigration Law in Arizona. From Columbian pop sensation Shakira and New York Times columnist Frank Rich to Colorado governor Bill Ritter and Tucson-native, Grammy-award-winning singer Linda Ronstadt, liberal-leaning folks have spoken up against the new policies, which they fear may cause discrimination, racial profiling and unfair employment practices. Right-winged types, however, are applauding the decision of Governor Jan Brewer for finally handling the rampant illegal immigration policy. The new law requires state and local law enforcement to question people about their personal immigration status if there is probable cause to suspect they are in the country illegally, therefore making it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.
Set to take effect this summer, the law is being challenged by a lawsuit filed by 15-year police veteran Martin Escobar, who claims the law is unconstitutional. Escobar claims that there is no possible legal way for officers to confirm immigration status without impeding investigations and thus violating constitutional rights. Escobar is an overnight patrol officer in a heavily Latino community in Tucson whose own parents immigrated from Mexico when he was five years old. According to his lawsuit, the law “is the product of racial bias aimed specifically at Latinos.” Escobar asserts that questioning people based solely on their skin color, proximity to the border and linguistic characteristics is a sure-fire way to endorse harassment and profiling. Officer Escobar believes the state law will place Latinos in danger of losing their constitutional rights.
Governor Brewer has publicly acknowledged that racial profiling is illegal in the United States and not practiced in Arizona. She contends that the new law will not condone racial profiling.
Martin Escobar’s lawsuit, which was the first of two filed last Thursday, is thought to be the first of many involving Arizona’s new immigration laws. So it looks like we’ll be talking about Arizona for quite some time.