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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just Say It - "All Immigration Laws Are Racist"

There is a fundamental disconnect in the arguments being mounted against the Arizona immigration law. What many of the critics want to say, but do not, is that they view all immigration laws as inherently racist because most illegal immigrants are non-white.

There are some legitimate civil liberties concerns regarding the standard by which police can require someone to produce identification or other information. These concerns are not unique to the Arizona immigration law. Much of the history of our criminal laws is an attempt by the courts to set forth standards for police conduct regarding searches and seizures, and questioning of suspects.

But a point I have made before is that a law which may end up being tossed by the courts on civil liberties grounds does not make the law racist. Issues such as random DWI checkpoints have posed serious legal issues for reasons completely unrelated to race.

That a racially neutral law may be enforced in a racially discriminatory manner also does not make the law, or supporters of the law, racist. Our traffic laws are a prime example.

Police often are accused of singling out minorities for traffic stops based on race, but that does not mean we stop enforcing traffic laws altogether, or accuse proponents of speed limits and stop signs of being racist. Rather, we implement policies which prohibit racial profiling and do our best to enforce such policies.

I realize that this may be too nuanced for some. But the distinction is important because of all the hyperventilated charges that Arizona now is a Nazi, Communist and Apartheid state (quite a combination).

At its heart, the accusations of racism stem from the view which many critics of the Arizona law share, but will not state: All our immigration laws are racist because the vast majority of illegal immigrants are non-white, and of those, a majority are Mexican. Immigration laws, therefore, must be racist, and those who seek enforcement of the laws are racists.

This is the argument which is not made, because it inevitably leads to an open border policy which is a non-starter politically. Open borders are advocated by many groups, but not explicitly by any major political party or politician.

Hence the tension. You will hear charges of racism no matter what is done to enforce the immigration laws.

If the federal government took steps to fully control the Mexican border and stop people before they entered the U.S. , so that Arizona police did not need to ask for identification, you still would hear charges of racism.

I do not believe that most Americans share the view that controlling the border -- whether along the Mexican border or at JFK airport or at crossings from Canada -- is inherently racist; so too, it is not racist to enforce the immigration laws against people who violate the border controls.

Rather, the issue is sovereignty. Is the United States, like every other country in the world, entitled to control its borders, to determine who can enter and under what terms, and to enforce the laws which protect this sovereignty.

That is the debate we need to have, because the debate over the Arizona immigration law is just a sideshow in the larger national debate over sovereignty.

Update: Michelle Malkin just discovered, I am not white! And JammieWearingFool discovered that Our Road Signs Aren't In Chinese.

Meanwhile, Pat at And So It Goes In Shreveport documents how students at universities are disrupting classes in protest, including "faux immigration and customs enforcement agents coming through the lecture hall demanding papers of students who didn't 'look American.'"

Related Posts:
Obamacare Requires You To "Show Your Papers"
Saturday Night Card Game (The Arizona Immigration Bill Is Not Racist)
Voices of Hate

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  1. Yes, Professor, you are exactly right. It is a question of sovereignty, and it also points to the need to understand and study the concept of “citizen” as enshrined in our founding documents.

    There was a Congressional Hearing, in 2005, called “Dual Citizenship, Birthright Citizenship, and the Meaning of Sovereignty,” which received little media attention:


    It is also interesting to look back at the debate over citizenship and sovereignty during the Hamdi v Rumsfeld case.

    This excellent speech, by Constitutional scholar Dr. Edward Erler, also discusses the sovereignty issue:


  2. The law is not racist but we apparently are. It is indeed an issue of sovereignty - including our right to control criminal activity up to and including terrorism.

    The Republican Southern Border Security Assistance Act focuses on this issue and does not cloud it with matters of citizenship. My most recent post is on this topic.

    Dems are again working behind closed doors on single party legislation. They haven't learned much.

  3. Well said professor. I hear all this rhetoric being thrown around and I say to myself, "Does everybody know that we are talking about ILLEGAL immigration?"

    How can people argue that the US needs to just let everyone in our country that wants to come in?

    Living here is a privilege, not a right that every human being on earth is born with.

  4. We targeted a lot of Germans for extermination in WWII too. What's wrong with? Why must we always pick on people just because they aren't us?

  5. Nothing says freedom from government interfernce like "show me your papers.". Of course, limited government only applies to people who are real americans,not to mexicans. It's the same reason the tea baggers aren't interested in regulating wall street even though they brought our economy to the brink of disaster. We're not really as angry at wall street as we used to claim. They look too much like "real amricans". Anyway, dick armey isn't paying for any bus trips to protest wall street excesses, therefore, no protesters will show up. In Germany, during wwII, Nazis started demanding papers from jews to make sure they were legal citizens. That's nothing like the Arizona law....

  6. Yes, George you are correct. And since Nazis also breathed in oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide, and you apparently do this as well, you must be a Nazis.

  7. George, can you provide me with the comprehensive list of laws that mustn't be enforced? Can I quit paying taxes? Those fascist bastards at the IRS are apparently profiling me based on my income alone, not what a nice guy I am.

    Oh, and have you ever traveled abroad? In France you'll likely get asked to produce "papers" and I'm told by a reliable source that if you don't look Japanese in Japan they'll ask you for "your papers" all the time.

    Oh, and there are several other sets of laws I'd like them to quit enforcing. Can you direct me to the place where the hyperventilating types will get all huffy about them and get the feds off my back?

  8. Not exactly on topic, but I would like the pro-amnesty crowd to explain this to me: There are thousands of people living on the African continent who would love to immigrate to the U.S. Among them would be the many who named their child "George Bush", and those who have observed how far the child of a Nigerian can climb in this country. Some have probably already applied for citizenship. If you grant amnesty to illegals, effectively bumping them in line in front of the Africans, there is less room for African immigrants. Their application will either be delayed or never granted. So who is really racist here? Why is it that those who "celebrate diversity" would give preference to Mexican immigrants? Why should one race have a disproportionately large share of the immigration pie?

  9. I think the media "rule of thumb" here is that the Government will act properly when the Democrats are in charge and be abusive when Republicans are in charge. If the Democrats passed this law it would be held up as a model for the world.

    Would George be pleased if we modeled our immigration laws on enlightened Mexican laws? Then those who are not American citizens could not own property in the US. And illegal aliens would be exploited by everyone -- including the "lawful authorities."

  10. William,

    Your argument is the one I've been making from the start, but from the position of a police officer. There is no way the police aren't going to be hammered with charges of racism as they try to worm their way through the rulings on detainment, arrest, custody, Terry, and Miranda.

    My problem is that the lawyers tried to outsmart their future opponents with this law putting A LOT of responsibility on the police at point of contact. Why? Because if it screws up they'll say they did their best...but you know those cops...

    When I read the law I saw one other area of concern. The Arizona law claims race neutrality. But the criminal vs civil enforcement is lopsided. They made it criminal to be illegal, transport illegals, pick up illegals, aid or hide illegals, but if you are a business owner employing illegals there is no fine, only a chance of a suspended business license for short period of time. Worse, the mechanism seems to be police can make PC arrests in the first criminal set, but the AG and the county DAs decide whether or not to follow up on the business complaints. (This opens up all the dangers of political relationships getting in the way.) Is this "equal"? Not hardly when you look at this stat from the US Govt Census.


    Note the number of businesses vs. minority owned businesses. I think if they had made employing the illegal a crime, even a small misdemeanor- say 30 days in jail and a thousand dollar fine for the first offense- the business owner would be vetting his employees because nobody wants to go to jail over an illegal.

    However, it doesn't appear to be so designed. Further, and I'm not sure, did Arizona cut off the state funded programs to illegals? Refuse to place illegal students in public school? If you cut off the money and the services you will drive the illegals out for good. Which would help limit the number of "mules" the drug traffickers have access to.

    No human will want to walk a thousand miles north- to starve.

  11. pasadenaphil said...

    We targeted a lot of Germans for extermination in WWII too. What's wrong with? Why must we always pick on people just because they aren't us?

    Off your meds again????

  12. Want to ensure that police officers have made "lawful contact" for a stop, and are not abusing the law? Install cameras in Arizona police cars.

    According to an International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) study examining situations involving complaints against officers, "In instances where the event was recorded, 96.2% of the officers were exonerated by the recording. Only 3.8% of the complaints were substantiated by the recordings."


  13. One distinction I think is worth making here. Just because we say that Jan Brewer is a Nazi doesn't mean that she is racist. Of course, the Nazis were racist. But they did a lot of other bad things too. Hitler, for example, overturned the comparatively liberal regime of Weimar Germany and established a police state, and disgraced and ruined one of Europe's great nations. Arizona's new law is an attack on a tradition of *habeas corpus* and personal liberty that has been built up in the course of a thousand years of Anglo-American jurisprudence and is fundamental to the heritage of freedom which has made us the model, the bastion, and the champion of liberty in the world, and to which Jan Brewer poses an existential threat. "Nazi" is an apt description of such a law, but that doesn't have to involve any charge of racism.

    The word Nazi can be used to describe vicious control freaks who perpetrate outrages against innocent people without necessarily meaning that those people are racist. I'm quite prepared to believe that if Arizona was mainly Hispanic and the peaceful and industrious immigrants who were entering it in search of freedom and opportunity were white, Jan Brewer and her supporters would behave just as iniquitously as they are behaving now.

  14. "Arizona's new law is an attack on a tradition of *habeas corpus* ..."

    I'd be interested in your fanciful definition of "habeas corpus".

    On the other hand, under Federal law, it is a crime to be am illegal immigrant (yes, you heard me right - it really is a crime to be illegal, regardless of what the Left tells us).

    Ever since the 40s, it's been a Federal law that immigrants (legal immigrants) have to carry proper ID.

    Speaking of which, I have to show my ID (driver's license) when I open a bank account, when I rent a video the first time, when I cash a check, board a plane, ...

    In fact, the only time I don't have to show ID is at the voting booth.

    Go figure.

    ""Nazi" is an apt description of such a law,..."
    No, "Nazi" is a meaningless term used by the Left in a feeble attempt to smear or discredit someone who disagrees with them.

    This country was built on immigration, certainly. But it was legal immigration. They came through Ellis Island, not the Rio Grande.

  15. Here's the main part of the problem which isn't being discussed and won't be discussed. The left wants to de-white the United States of America.

    Remember a few years ago a course was offered at Harvard where one of the two professors stated his goal was to kill the white race? Remember all the acrimonius protests on campus against that prof? Yeah, me neither.

    The left wants the white race to become a minority here in America. They are racists who want to celebrate when white people suffer. By encouraging illegal immigration from Central and South America, form Asia and Africa they hasten the day when white folks lose power.

    That's what it's all about. Sing.

    I know this argument is not an easy one to make in polite society. It is true nonetheless.

  16. @Nathaneal the troll: you will have a hard time convincing anyone that the new Arizona law interferes with Habeous Corpus.

    The reason is that Hispanics and others who are acting legally have nothing to be afraid about. The police cannot just stop people and demand their papers!! Even if a car is full of Mexicans it cannot be stopped unless the driver is breaking the law e.g. the driver is speeding. Only then, after being stopped can the police request to confirm identity.

    My husband has quite a few tales to tell about how Australians were treated when he was in Marietta, Georgia back in 1976, and how one of his troops ended up languishing in jail. They were whites... not Mexicans... but they were Australians!!!!