Remember the Earps? Virgil,Wyatt and Morgan? And of course Doc Holiday? They mixed it up with the Clantons and the Mc Laurys and Billy Claiborne in Tombstone, Arizona back in ’81, 1881 that is. It became known as the “Gunflight at the OK Corral.” What should have been a simple, if there is such a thing, gunfight became romanticized and expanded into the legend it is today. Wyatt and his wife, Josie are buried up the road in Colma. Then there is the story of Geronimo who was finally captured in Arizona after leading the U.S. army on an odyssey. Such is the lore of Arizona.
The mostly white State, Latino’s making up about 30% of the population, is dealing with a dilemma of illegal immigration. What to do about the thousands of undocumented people (I refuse to call them aliens) within their borders? Well, why not make a law that ferrets out the illegals from the legals? Sounds good enough so far. I can understand Arizona’s frustration with the problem. Now the obvious question arises, how does one implement the law? Well anyone who “looks” illegal (read ‘brown people’) can be asked for some sort of identification to prove they are in Arizona legally. A simple, probable cause should be enough. Herein lies the problem. What constitutes probable cause? A broken tail light? Speeding? An accident? Or could probable cause mean dressing ‘a certain way’ while walking through the streets of Phoenix? Well Aricle 8 E of the law (SB1070) proposed by Russell Pearce says:
A Law enforcement officer, without a warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States.(Article 8 E.)
The “probable cause” clause is the most troublesome. If the penalty is removal from the United States, then this law is directly applicable to Latinos and not whites and therefore the “probable cause” seems to mean being Hispanic and nothing more. While illegal immigration is a serious problem, do we need such draconian laws that single out one, and only one, ethnicity? Is this a good thing for the State of Arizona and the nation? Back in the Bush years I heard arguments for supporters of illegal wire-tapping. The basic argument was, if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. That argument is not only stupid, it is dangerous. Ever been on a no-fly list because your name resembled some suspicious guy? And then, try and get your name off the list? This is a minor example of good guys getting caught up in the system. You haven’t done anything wrong, its just your name sounds like you may be a bad guy. Privacy is sacred and the blood of soldiers defending it is countless . Racial profiling is un-American. The recent second amendment rallies in Virginia and in D.C. have highlighted this point for me. Here were a bunch of white guys demanding that they had a right to wear their guns on their hips. What if a bunch of black guys with sagging pants, or Latinos with bandanas, or Asians with tattoos showed up at these rallies packin’ heat? (Yeah, I was stereotyping if you must know) The mental profiling would be in high gear.
The proponents of this proposed law focused on the “crime” angle to fire up the people. This law would cut the crime perpetrated across the border by the drug cartels in Mexico. They cite the murder of a rancher near the border as an example. The law would mean that the crime rate would be lower and everyone could go on their merry way, well not everyone. I’m not buying this argument. There is enough racial tension in this country as it is and I can only think the tension will rise in Arizona if this law is signed. Meanwhile the old ad in the Chronicle “No Irish need apply” seems like a long long time ago, when we were unenlightened.
Getting back to Tombstone there is still a law on the books for the town that reads: “It is illegal for men and women over the age of 18 to have less than one missing tooth visible when smiling.” Did they have trailers back then I wonder?
And so it really goes….