Last month, District Judge Susan Bolton ruled that police authorities in Arizona could enforce what is arguably one of the most divisive provisions of the state’s immigration law. As CNN reported, this “show me your papers” provision essentially gives police the power to call someone’s immigration status into question if they simply believe that they do not have the legal documents to verify it — namely, that they seem to be in the country illegally.
This law originally took effect in 2010, but various provisions have been voted on over the past two years.
In my opinion, this provision is completely ridiculous. First of all, it relies upon the subjective judgment of the Arizona police force. They need have no reason for questioning the status of a person other than some kind of “inkling” or feeling that someone appears to be an illegal immigrant. The margin of error this leaves is way too high for my liking and does not seem appropriate for such a large-scale law. Additionally, the nature of this subjective judgment is reminiscent of many of the racial profiling issues that the country has had over the years, ranging from African-Americans to Arab-Americans. While the reasoning behind the provision seems legitimate, it seems that this may lead to yet another American minority group being targeted. I understand that the government wants to restrict illegal immigration, but I’m not sure this was the way to go about doing so. Who’s to say that the law won’t do more harm than good when American citizens who happen to be Hispanic are targeted because they look “illegal”? Will allowing police to stop whoever they think may be in the country illegally really have the intended effect?