Friday, April 30, 2010

The Right to Be Safe; Except Arizona

Most the arguments and now protests against the Arizona state illegal immigrant law are disingenuous at best, but is another example that illegal immigrants have become a defacto protected class. The illegal immigrants that are in the US certainly have no right to demand that they not be approached by law enforcement and ask for evidence of legal residency. Most of these southern border illegal immigrants come from countries where the possession of documents of legal residency are required of all citizens; their right to not be contacted due to a jurisdictional dispute in the US carries no weight. Then you have resident aliens in the country legally. Since a condition of their legal residency in the US is they have their proof of legal residency or “Green Card” on their person at all times, the idea that they should protest law enforcement’s right to contact them and request their proof of legal residency goes contrary to the very reason they are mandated to posses their proof of legal residency. The persons that it would seem have the greatest investment, are American citizens that believe they will be racially profiled and constantly harassed by having to prove their citizenship. Those that are protesting Arizona law for this reason are saying they doubt the ability of law enforcement to not profile or to use the reasonable cause clause, both of which are mandated in the law.

The problem with the above argument is it is built on a house of cards. The current law of the land prohibits profiling and law enforcement use reasonable cause throughout the country for detentions and arrests. Those that are protesting this law, have a very skewed idea of how illegal immigration should be handled and do not understand the concept of reasonable cause. When anyone is legally contacted by law enforcement, the first request of the officer is for identification. If one produces valid identification, i.e. a driver’s license, a state ID card, or Green Card, then there is no legal residency investigation, because the investigation would lack reasonable cause. What would initiate an investigation? A reasonable cause investigation relies on a number of factors, with any one factor not being sufficient to make an arrest. Most of the following scenarios are legal behavior when taken by itself, but when combined with these and other factors, and depending on individual circumstances, could lead a law enforcement officer to make a reasonable cause arrest. 1) the subject produces counterfeit identification, a non-USA National ID card or no identification at all 2) the subject has limited English skills 3) the subject is driving without valid driver’s license 4) the subject is in the company of others with limited English and no valid identification 5) the subjects admits he is in the country illegally (very common) 6) the subject is known to law enforcement, has been previously deported and returned 7) there is a citizen complaint. Again, most of these behaviors are legal, but when combined with three or four together and depending on the specific circumstances of the lawful contact, there may be enough reasonable cause to make an arrest.

Very few would argue that ICE should not be enforcing immigration law and that is where the enforcement rightfully and constitutionally belongs. But the Federal Government has turned a blind eye to the Arizona/ Mexican border, where it is not safe for Arizonians and/or Hispanics to walk down the street (yes, most the victims are Hispanic). The Arizona law is identical in most ways, but is actually more restrictive; the federal law allows for contact on reasonable suspicion, without the need for a prior lawful contact. It is a crime that there is no Federal Immigration reform, but until the federal government lives up to their responsibility, Arizona is stepping up to protect its citizens. The protests simply want to defend the illegal immigrants as a protected class, which they believe have a greater right to safety than the Arizona residents. One of the basic obligations of our government is to keep the citizenry safe, nowhere does it say, except for Arizona.

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