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Arizona bill bashes civil rights

Editorial Cartoon by Michael Escanuelas

Editorial Cartoon by Michael Escañuelas

As a citizen of the United States, one gives up certain rights to gain protection. However, in Arizona citizens are about to give full reign to law enforcement.

The Arizona House of Representatives approved a measure, 35-21, to give police officers the right to ask for immigration papers from anyone with “reasonable suspicion” of illegal status.

Also, working without proper immigration papers in the state will become a misdemeanor and police will be able to detain and fine them $2,500.

The obvious problem with this law is that it does not protect legal citizens, who may be wrongfully suspected as an illegal alien, from being racially profiled.

After Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law last Friday, she said it would prevent enforcement from “solely considering race, color, or national origin” when suspecting illegal aliens, but how is that possible?

If they see someone on the street that they deem “suspicious” due to dark skin pigmentation or broken English, they can simply walk up and ask for their papers, even if the person has lived in the United States their whole life.

Racial profiling has always been a problem, but when the law encourages its practice, it becomes an invasion of civil rights.

It’s understandable that border and immigration laws should be stricter in Arizona, where many illegal immigrants cross the border into the United States. But giving police officers the right to choose which people are suspicious, regardless of their criminal history, personal life, or status is not the way to approach the issue.

If the Arizona government wants to crack down on illegal immigration, they should put their money into hiring more border control officials. Making the border more secure should be a priority rather than letting the police, who should be busy taking care of other criminal actions, such as homicide and drunk drivers, stop random people on the street to check their immigration status.

On a positive note, the law has received nation-wide attention and hopefully now President Obama will get a move on immigration reform as he promised.

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