Law & Order: Arizona
Arizona has an interesting history for law enforcement.
It is, after all, the location of Tombstone, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and such colorful rogues as Wyatt Earp, “Doc” Holliday, and the Clintons — er, Clantons.
Arizona still maintains a lot of its Wild West image. Just a few weeks ago Arizona joined Vermont and Alaska as states where it’s perfectly legal for any adult who is legally permitted to own a gun to carry it concealed without a license.
Arizona is home to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has a national reputation for being creatively ruthless — some who’ve read the Bill of Rights might say “cruel and unusual” — in the punishment of his department’s prisoners.
For many years I lived in Southern California and drove several times cross-country to the east coast, and many more times to visit my parents in San Antonio, Texas, and my sister in Colorado Springs, Colorado. My drive always took me through a scenic, mountain-lined thirty-mile section of Arizona as soon as one drove over the Nevada border, where I learned by hard and repeated experience that if I drove even one mile-per-hour above the posted speed limit — which got progressively and erratically higher and lower every mile or so with poorly-visible signs to notify drivers of the changes — I ended up getting a very expensive ticket from well-concealed Arizona police.
I’m white. It wasn’t about the color of my skin. It was about skinning me.
But where the controversy about how Arizona handles matters of law enforcement has recently come into national focus is its new law designed to clamp down on residents of the state who are in non-compliance with the federal immigration regulations. I’ve done what Fox News and Republican point-talkers keep asking Obama administration officials to do: I’ve read the complete text of the law.
The Fox News and Republican point-talkers keep making the talking point that the new law specifically forbids law-enforcement stops asking for papers based on ethnic characteristics — commonly called racial profiling. This is true. It’s in the text of the law — twice.
But while the new Arizona immigration law specifically outlines penalties which any legal resident of Arizona may trigger with a lawsuit against Arizona officials who fail to enforce federal immigration regulations, the new Arizona law does not outline any penalties for Arizona officials who make stops asking for papers based on ethnic characteristics. Unlike ordinary criminal cases where a judge can throw out an indictment based on police misconduct, in the case of a person arrested by Arizona law-enforcement officials and turned over to federal authorities for deportation, there is no court case or judge to release the prisoner if the bust was illegal.
But even if the Arizona police don’t want to cherry-pick ethnic persons who look like they might not be in compliance with federal immigration regulations, there’s an easy work around — the same one used to give me tickets. It’s based on the old teacher’s tactic that if you don’t know who threw the spitball you give the entire class detention.
Simply stop and ask for papers from as many white dudes as ethnic dudes, and at the end of the day every cop can honestly say he or she did no racial profiling. Polling data suggests that seventy percent of Arizona residents are perfectly willing to be harassed like that if it will rid the state of ethnic persons who look like they might not be in compliance with federal immigration regulations.
So the law’s intent to rid Arizona of persons out-of-compliance with federal regulations has teeth; the intent to forbid racial profiling is toothless.
Further, Arizona now piggybacks just about every other felony or misdemeanor offense into this new immigration law by denying civil rights due citizens — for example, the right to keep and bear arms — to anyone determined to be in the country without being in compliance with federal regulations.
Do you notice that I keep saying “federal regulations” rather than law? There is very little actual law involved in determining who is and is not in the country legally. It’s largely a complex maze of bureaucratic regulations designed to sanction federal law-enforcement and Homeland Security officials to bully anyone they want to by threatening to throw them or someone they love out of the country.
A lot of these regulations — and the new Arizona law — operate on the hostage system. By threatening third parties law-enforcement officials can use perfectly legal extortion as a tactic for nullifying any rights or legal protections written down in what’s supposed to be the real law of the land, the Constitution of the United States.
I wrote about one such vulnerability — hiding “illegals” from the authorities — in my earlier article “The Diary of Anna Francisco.”
Now, am I in favor of Mexicans sneaking into our country, evading minimum-wage laws, not paying income tax or Social Security, getting free schooling for their kids and free medical care at overtaxed hospital emergency rooms, and committing heinous crimes?
Of course not. I’m an American.
So don’t export Mexicans so much as import Americans.
Get rid of the minimum-wage laws that do nothing but forbid freedom to contract between job-providers and job-seekers.
Get rid of federal income and Social Security taxes, and if you have to have taxes to pay for the federal government, the Constitution says you put duties on all those imported goods that used to provide jobs here and are now providing jobs there.
Close down the public schools and if you feel public education is still necessary take that tax money and use the money to endow libraries. Public schools are bureaucratic propaganda factories that can’t teach anything worthwhile anymore anyway.
Make the providing of health and medical care efficient and responsive to people’s needs by eliminating all government regulations, taxes, subsidies, licenses, and mandates over the practice of medicine. That’s the way it was at the time the Constitution was written, when this was a free country.
And if you don’t like living in a free country, may I suggest you might be happier in Mexico?
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