From an editorial in Fridays Washington Post:
After a two-year struggle, a federal judge has authorized Arizona law enforcement agencies to require officers to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. Wearing the wrong clothes, speaking with the wrong accent or having the wrong skin color could land you in hot water in Arizona.
The states show me your papers provision one of the most bitterly contested parts of the obnoxious immigration law enacted in 2010 is the second such measure to receive a green light from federal courts. The first was from Alabama, where a similar policy was implemented about a year ago.
There, according to a recent report by the National Immigration Law Center, an immigrant advocacy group, law enforcement officers have created an environment of racial profiling that has encouraged private citizens to discriminate and abuse people they regard as foreign.
The report, based on thousands of calls to a hotline, recounted instances of Hispanics, including legal residents, who were repeatedly stopped by police on flimsy pretexts and, in some cases, subjected to prolonged roadside detentions.
Arizona has a far larger population of Hispanics than Alabama does, including citizens, legal residents and illegal immigrants. Many of them have good reason to brace for similar treatment. Although the Supreme Court upheld Arizonas show me your papers provision, the justices warned that it could be struck down if it gave rise to a documented pattern of racial profiling or if it caused detentions to be prolonged. The Alabama case suggests that is highly likely.
And for what? Federal immigration authorities have made it clear they lack the resources to pick up and deport illegal immigrants if they are neither repeat offenders nor threats to public order or national security. The Arizona law, forced on the state by Republicans, is unlikely to result in increased deportations. The more probable outcome will be to deepen the climate of hostility for Hispanics, legal and illegal, in a state heavily dependent on them for its economic well-being.
The views in U.S. Opinions are not necessarily those of the Observers editorial board.
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