City Journal Winter 2016

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By Heather Mac Donald, Victor Davis Hanson and Steven Malanga

The Immigration Solution.

By Heather Mac Donald

Are Cops Racist?

Eye on the News

Heather Mac Donald
Praising Arizona
The state’s new immigration law is perfectly reasonable, but you wouldn’t know it from the New York Times.
April 30, 2010

Selected Responses:

Sent by Craig Cantoni on 05-02-2010:

My wife and I live in Scottsdale, Ariz. Our son is a freshman engineering student at the University of Ariz. in Tucson. Therefore, according to the echo chambers of the national media, the White House, and the rest of the liberal intelligentsia, we are cretins and racists who dislike brown people and want to subject Mexican-Americans to Nazi-like racial profiling and discrimination.

Judging by the news coverage, virtually no one in the echo chambers has actually read Arizona’s new immigration law or driven or walked in the Sonoran desert. Well, that’s not entirely true. Every summer, pasty-faced tourists from New York and similar environs walk into the desert without carrying water and a compass, turn beet red in five minutes, get disoriented, and keel over from heat stroke.

The echoers are right, though, about Gestapo tactics in the desert. In fact, my family and I recently encountered such tactics on a visit to Kitt Peak, which is 56 miles southwest of Tucson on the Tohono O’Odham Indian Reservation and is an astrophysics wonderland, with its scores of solar and celestial telescopes. Mexico can be seen by the naked eye from the 6,875 ft. peak.

On the way back to Tucson on State Route 86 in the middle of the reservation, we were driving behind two behemoth motor homes from Minnesota. One of them had an incongruity hooked up behind it: a Prius. For no apparent reason, the behemoths began slowing. Wondering why, I pulled into the passing lane and peered around them. Ahead was the reason: a roadblock of police cars and armed, uniformed officers with a German shepherd. Other than the flora and topography, it could have been a scene out of the Third Reich.

The officers asked the motor home occupants a few questions and sent them on their way. The same with us. Looking for illegal immigrants, the officers were using racial profiling to ascertain that motor homes with Minn. license plates driven by flabby, Swedish-looking drivers were not stuffed with illegal Mexican aliens. Likewise, they ascertained that my olive skin, my wife’s natural blonde hair, our son’s frame of six feet-two inches, our command of English, and our Toyota Corolla with Arizona plates indicated that we did not fit the profile of illegal Mexican aliens.

Were the officers from the Arizona State Police? No. From the Pima County Sheriff’s Department? No. From the Tohono O’Odham Police? No. They were Federal Border Patrol agents. In other words, their bosses were Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Barack Obama, both of whom have railed against Arizona’s new law, which essentially mirrors federal law except that it doesn’t allow roadblocks and racial profiling.

Janet’s and Barack’s awful hypocrisy, double standards, and racial pot-stirring are not as awful as the hypocrisy, double standards, and racial pot-stirring of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who has accused Arizona of opening the door "to intolerance, hate, discrimination and abuse in law enforcement." This from a guy who heads a nation that has some of the most restrictive, intolerant, race-based immigration laws in the world.

Now we Arizonans have to endure Rev. Al Sharpton coming to the state and stirring the racial pot. This from a guy who concocted a story about whites smearing feces on Tawana Brawley and raping her because she was black, and whose anti-Semitic rhetoric resulted in attacks against Jewish merchants in New York City. Hey, Al, have you thought about taking a walk in the desert without water and a compass?

The big mistake of the Republican state legislature was to not anticipate the reaction of the echo chamber. They should have named the law, "The Law to Support Existing Federal Law but without Roadblocks and Racial Profiling." Or even better: "The Law to Support Janet and Barack but without Their Roadblocks and Racial Profiling."

That wouldn’t have silenced the occupants of the national echo chamber, but it might have made them think before making fools of themselves.

Sent by InAllFairness on 05-01-2010:

In all fairness to the Times...they characterized the current law correctly. You can't use yet-to-be-signed amendments to criticize their description of SB1070....the amendments are yet to be signed into law, as you state yourself. So the law still reads "lawful contact," which implies that a officer can stop someone for reasonably suspecting they are here illegally.

Sent by Theodore W. Miller on 05-01-2010:

A "reasonable" and lawful response is one thing, enforcement by boots on the ground is another. In the Land of Arpaio (our next governor?), the hispanic community is under constant threat.

Please tell your Republican friends to support the 2004-2007 Bush-McCain initiatives coupled with national IDs for "guest workers." Perhaps we can at least alleviate some of our border problems, and concentrate on only those individuals who have real criminal intent.

But it won't happen. The age-old "Us and Them" mentality is alive and well, and with a little paranoia thrown into the mix, arizonians are itchin' for a fight.

Sent by Donnie Carter Sr. on 05-01-2010:

Great reporting. More of the states bordering Mexico should follow suit. Please keep up the good work.

Sent by Bill Starke on 05-01-2010:

Outstanding article. Maybe 5% of the news on TV and newspapers supports Jan Brewer's courage and tough decison. This article is an accurate recap. How many more states will follow? Utah, Texas next. Thank you. Very few sources report the facts and the truth.

Sent by tony on 05-01-2010:

Let me guess, Ms. Mac Donald is white?

Sent by Shawn Brewer on 05-01-2010:

I would like to thank City Journal and Heather Mac Donald for this very insightful article. As both a service member currently in Iraq and a proud citizen of Arizona, I am appalled to see the news saturated with anti-SB 1070 propaganda any time I get some time to try and catch up with national news. This article is very well crafted; my only criticism would be that Heather could have directly cited U.S. Code to show just how exactly SB 1070 mirrors it.

As a resident of Maricopa County, I am intimately familiar with the the trials and tribulations its citzens go through, trying to juggle compassion with the law. The bottom line up front is that the situation is reaching critical mass. Deputies and farmers are being assaulted and murdered, and people want to turn a blind eye. Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the United States, and no one will give it a second thought. Jan Brewer asks for more AZ National Guard personnel on the border, and Congress scoffs. When our fair governor decides to take matters into her own hands, though, that's when we have protests everywhere around the country.

I've encouraged my friends and colleagues at work to read this article, and have pressed the attack as Heather diligently demonstrated on the O'Reilly Factor. If by chance this does reach Heather Mac Donald, I would just like to re-iterate my thanks to her for writing a balanced and logical article that stands up to the waves of unfounded, illogical hate that keeps washing over this issue.

Sent by Peter De Luca on 04-30-2010:

Finally, someone who sees through all the haze created by people who just want to talk emptily. Bottom line, the word is ILLEGAL. Being a second-generation immigrant whose grandparents came through Ellis Island, I would be the first to give a leg up to any person who comes here the right way. Since when can we choose what laws to follow and not follow? If the relatives of many of the illegals did not vote liberal, democratic etc., you'd see how fast illegals would be deported. Our politicians definitely do not do what the people ask, and we must take responsibility when we don't vote them out.Thanks for the article.

Supporters of Arizona’s new law strengthening immigration enforcement in the state should take heart from today’s New York Times editorial blasting it. “Stopping Arizona” contains so many blatant falsehoods that a reader can be fully confident that the law as actually written is a reasonable, lawful response to a pressing problem. Only by distorting the law’s provisions can the Times and the law’s many other critics make it out to be a racist assault on fundamental American rights.

The law, SB 1070, empowers local police officers to check the immigration status of individuals whom they have encountered during a “lawful contact,” if an officer reasonably suspects the person stopped of being in the country illegally, and if an inquiry into the person’s status is “practicable.” The officer may not base his suspicion of illegality “solely [on] race, color or national origin.” (Arizona lawmakers recently amended the law to change the term “lawful contact” to “lawful stop, detention or arrest” and deleted the word “solely” from the phrase regarding race, color, and national origin. The governor is expected to sign the amendments.) The law also requires aliens to carry their immigration documents, mirroring an identical federal requirement. Failure to comply with the federal law on carrying immigration papers becomes a state misdemeanor under the Arizona law.

Good luck finding any of these provisions in the Times’s editorial. Leave aside for the moment the sweeping conclusions with which the Times begins its screed—such gems as the charge that the law “turns all of the state’s Latinos, even legal immigrants and citizens, into criminal suspects” and is an act of “racial separation.” Instead, let’s see how the Times characterizes the specific legislative language, which is presumably the basis for its indictment.

The paper alleges that the “statute requires police officers to stop and question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant.” False. The law gives an officer the discretion, when practicable, to determine someone’s immigration status only after the officer has otherwise made a lawful stop, detention, or arrest. It does not allow, much less require, fishing expeditions for illegal aliens. But if, say, after having stopped someone for running a red light, an officer discovers that the driver does not have a driver’s license, does not speak English, and has no other government identification on him, the officer may, if practicable, send an inquiry to his dispatcher to check the driver’s status with a federal immigration clearinghouse.

The Times then alleges that the law “empower[s] police officers to stop anyone they choose and demand to see papers.” False again, for the reasons stated above. An officer must have a lawful, independent basis for a stop; he can only ask to see papers if he has “reasonable suspicion” to believe that the person is in the country illegally. “Reasonable suspicion” is a legal concept of long-standing validity, rooted in the Constitution’s prohibition of “unreasonable searches and seizures.” It meaningfully constrains police activity; officers are trained in its contours, which have evolved through common-law precedents, as a matter of course. If the New York Times now thinks that the concept is insufficient as a check on police power, it will have to persuade every court and every law enforcement agency in the country to throw out the phrase—and the Constitution with it—and come up with something that suits the Times’s contempt for police power.

On broader legal issues, the Times is just as misleading. The paper alleges that the “Supreme Court has consistently ruled that states cannot make their own immigration laws.” Actually, the law on preemption is almost impossibly murky. As the Times later notes in its editorial, the Justice Department ruled in 2002, after surveying the relevant Supreme Court and appellate precedents, that “state and local police had ‘inherent authority’ to make immigration arrests.” The paper does not like that conclusion, but it has not been revoked as official legal advice. If states have inherent authority to make immigration arrests, they can certainly do so under a state law that merely tracks the federal law requiring that immigrants carry documentation.

The Times tips its hand at the end of the editorial. It calls for the Obama administration to end a program that trains local law enforcement officials in relevant aspects of immigration law and that deputizes them to act as full-fledged immigration agents. The so-called 287(g) program acts as a “force multiplier,” as the Times points out, adding local resources to immigration law enforcement—just as Arizona’s SB 1070 does. At heart, this force-multiplier effect is what the hysteria over Arizona’s law is all about: SB 1070 ups the chances that an illegal alien will actually be detected and—horror of horrors—deported. The illegal-alien lobby, of which the New York Times is a charter member, does not believe that U.S. immigration laws should be enforced. Usually unwilling for political reasons to say so explicitly, the lobby comes up with smoke screens—such as the Times’s demagogic charges about SB 1070 as an act of “racial separation”—to divert attention from the underlying issue. Playing the race card is the tactic of those unwilling to make arguments on the merits. (The Times’s other contribution today to the prevailing de facto amnesty for illegal aliens was to fail to disclose, in an article about a brutal 2007 schoolyard execution in Newark, that the suspected leader was an illegal alien and member of the predominantly illegal-alien gang Mara Salvatrucha.)

The Arizona law is not about race; it’s not an attack on Latinos or legal immigrants. It’s about one thing and one thing only: making immigration enforcement a reality. It is time for a national debate: Do we or don’t we want to enforce the country’s immigration laws? If the answer is yes, the Arizona law is a necessary and lawful tool for doing so. If the answer is no, we should end the charade of inadequate, half-hearted enforcement, enact an amnesty now, and remove future penalties for immigration violations.

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