IANAL (huhuhuhuh) so I can’t get into constitutionality or any of that crap — though if turning a specific subset of the population into a suspect class isn’t a massive violation of the equal protection clause then I’m not clear why we even have the fuckin’ thing — but I figured I’d roll up my little digital sleeves and have a gander at Arizona’s SB1070. Here’s what I found in the way of a laymen’s take on poorly-written, ill-defined or otherwise problematic language:
1) The “lawful contact” provision, which originally triggered harassment “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement officer[.]” This was so blatantly over-the-top that they already passed a followup bill replacing the phrase “lawful contact” with “any lawful stop, detention or arrest.” At least we can credit them for that but I’m still counting the original language against them because “lawful contact” is so vague that there was a legitimate question as to whether the bill was requiring an off-duty police officer to accost brown people in the supermarket and the Arizona legislature knew damn well that was a problem and were too chickenshit to even kick it back down for a rewrite.
2) The updated version of the “lawful contact” language still means that any brown person who gets a traffic ticket — or bumps their stereo a little loud thanks to the followup bill adding code violation calls to the list — better have their birth certificate on ’em because if
3) “REASONABLE SUSPICION” — which goes undefined — “EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES,”
4) “A REASONABLE ATTEMPT” — goes undefined
5) “SHALL BE MADE,” — Regardless of what you may’ve heard this law does mandate police behavior. Funny how people who think government should be as small as possible because politicians are too inept and corrupt to do anything right have no problem with those same people writing laws that order cops around.
6) “WHEN PRACTICABLE,” — undefined
7) “TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON.” The one and only guideline: “THE PERSON’S IMMIGRATION STATUS SHALL BE VERIFIED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PURSUANT TO 8 UNITED STATES CODE SECTION 1373(c).”
8 US Code 1373c says in short that the INS must respond to requests from state & local agencies to verify a person’s immigration status. It makes no mention of “in a timely fashion” or any such. Am I going to far out on a limb to read this as saying anyone who can’t provide an unspecified (arbitrary?) level of documentation gets tossed into jail until INS gets to their place in a backlog? Hey, it’s not as though anyone passed a law that’ll lead to a flood of verification requests…
8 ||| “E. 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.”
Seems equivalent to taking someone directly to jail because you think there’s a roach in their pocket… ? I’m not entirely clear on how the whole process works but you generally either need the cop to observe the crime, a witness at the scene to make a statement, or a warrant based on prior testimony/evidence before an arrest is made, correct? So this dispenses with what… 1 step of that process? 2?
9) “I. A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IS INDEMNIFIED BY THE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER’S AGENCY AGAINST REASONABLE COSTS AND EXPENSES, INCLUDING ATTORNEY FEES, INCURRED BY THE OFFICER IN CONNECTION WITH ANY ACTION, SUIT OR PROCEEDING BROUGHT PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION […] EXCEPT IN RELATION TO MATTERS IN WHICH THE OFFICER IS ADJUDGED TO HAVE ACTED IN BAD FAITH.”
Mandate cops to harass a certain segment of the population and offer to pay their court costs if anyone sues. Good thing bad faith detectors are admissible in court! The addon bill also states that “race, color or national origin” can’t be the basis of complaints or investigations. Maybe I’m overly cynical but doesn’t that mean that any investigation that does take place is afforded an artificial measure of legitimacy?
10) THIS SECTION SHALL BE IMPLEMENTED IN A MANNER CONSISTENT WITH FEDERAL LAWS […] PROTECTING THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF ALL PERSONS […]
From here on out it gets a lot wordier as they start reproducing whole sections of existing law in order to change a word here and there. I skimmed through it and most of it’s greek to me, but this certainly stands out:
B. The attorney general shall prescribe a complaint form for a person to allege a violation of subsection A of this section. The complainant shall not be required to list the complainant’s social security number on the complaint form or to have the complaint form notarized. On receipt of a complaint on a prescribed complaint form that an employer allegedly intentionally employs an unauthorized alien, the attorney general or county attorney ***shall*** [emph. added] investigate whether the employer has violated subsection A of this section. If a complaint is received but is not submitted on a prescribed complaint form, the attorney general or county attorney may investigate whether the employer has violated subsection A of this section. This subsection shall not be construed to prohibit the filing of anonymous complaints that are not submitted on a prescribed complaint form. The attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin.
I fail to see how this will in any way lead to abuse! (Does look like a good opportunity for an activist to subvert the system though)
If I’m an Arizona cop I’m giving the business to every “average citizen” (yknow: cracker) I run into. Just have to make sure you didn’t sneak in from Canada, I’m sure you understand… you think the bill lasts a week past the first time a white dude gets fucked with?
Another question for the cons: I know a few people who support this bill and they all cop to the fact that it’s profiling, “but that’s necessary because it works” etc. Now, the bill “makes clear” that race and nationality etc. are not to be taken into account, so what’s the deal? Ends justify the means or what? We’re cool with laws that’re written so as to paper over the fuckin wink-and-nod attitude we all know damn well is being taken towards those anti-profiling provisions? Fuckin hell.
And shame on the Arizona Dems and America at large for being ok with this shit. We’re a bunch of fucking pigs..