Can you imagine police officers in Minnesota pulling over every white person to check their federal civil status on suspicion of being an illegal Canadian immigrant? Or everyone who looks Somali on suspicion of terrorist activity? Bafflingly, Arizona has passed equivalent legislation allowing police to stop those who they suspect are in the country illegally, which would clearly lead to profiling of Hispanics.
The Supreme Court is currently deciding whether federal immigration laws preempt this state law, but the real contention should be whether we, as a nation, can tolerate this type of mentality. It goes much further than state autonomy. The law’s requirement to carry papers at all times is similar to anti-Jewish legislation that enforced the carrying of identity cards in Nazi Germany. It would also be illegal to “shelter” illegal immigrants — would you be legally obligated to turn them in to the authorities on suspicion of the lack of documentation?
Proponents of the law argue that officers may not “consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection.” But what could possibly indicate to an officer a suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant other than appearance? Similar to the Trayvon Martin case, an officer’s “suspicion” is just like the justification of killing an unarmed young man in Florida because of the killer’s subjective suspicion of Martin being a “threat.”
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s declaration that this law is “draconian” is not a hyperbole and almost falls short of truly describing the situation. Excepting our 2.5 million registered Native Americans, there are more than 300 million U.S. citizens who descend directly from immigrants. We need to stop this battle against people who would live here legally like all other 300 million residents if they could.
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