Fact Check dot org checks in on Arizona’s profiling statute. The discussion of the “But why the outcry? These people are here illegally, right?” argument is well worth the two minutes it takes to read:
Here’s Fact Check’s summary. Follow the link for the full analysis.
We’ll leave it to others to decide whether Arizona’s new immigration law is a good thing or a bad thing — but here we try to straighten out some of the confusing factual claims. First, a quick summary. Contrary to what the law’s defenders often say, the new statute does more than merely mirror federal law. For example:
- It’s a state crime for an illegal immigrant to apply for a job, or to solicit work publicly.
- The law also makes it a misdemeanor for a citizen driving a vehicle to stop to hire anyone if that “impedes” traffic.
- Citizens will be able to sue officials or agencies whose policies interfere with vigorous enforcement of federal immigration law.
On the much-discussed issue of whether the law permits or encourages “racial profiling,” we find:
- The amended law allows police to consider “race, color or national origin” when deciding whether to ask somebody for proof of citizenship, but only to the extent already deemed constitutional by the courts.
- It remains to be seen how police will interpret the law’s anti-profiling language in practice. State officials tell us they have yet to work out what factors police should be trained to use to establish “reasonable suspicion” of illegal status.
- Federal officials are open to criticisms similar to some of those being made about Arizona’s law. A federal manual for training state and local officials says they may consider whether a person has a “thick foreign accent” or looks “out of place” when deciding whether to ask them about their immigration status.
Finally, we examine a widely circulated chain e-mail written by an Arizona state senator who supports the law, and find her claims to be misleading. The violence against ranchers that she describes is real, but it is the work of Mexican crime cartels, not illegal immigrants.