May 3, 2010
Arizona ‘show-me-your-papers’ law is about suppressing minority voters
Much of the attention over the recently passed Arizona racial profiling law has been how unconstitutional and racist it is, but what has been overlooked is that it may be another attempt by Republicans to suppress minority voting.
The law gives “local police officers authority to investigate, detain and arrest people for perceived immigration violations without the benefit of proper training, exacerbating the problem of racial profiling and raising concerns about the prolonged detention of citizens and legal residents,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), that plans to challenge the law in court, along with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC.The law violates the Supremacy Clause by interfering with federal immigration power and authority, and it unlawfully invites and encourages racial profiling against Latinos and other people of color.
The “show-me-your-papers” law conjures up images of old black and white movies where the Communist block KGB agent on the train dressed in a long, black trench coat asks to “see your papers, please.” I’m not sure what papers that is, but the only thing that would prove I’m a U.S. citizen would be my birth certificate or a passport. I don’t make it a habit of carrying my birth certificate, and even though I have been all around the world, but I have never had a passport. I would venture a guess that less than half of U.S. citizens have a passport.
This is about racial profiling, but it is also about voter suppression. Like Arizona, Michigan is a border state, but I can guarantee you no Canadian is going to get pulled over just because he meets a criteria for being Canadian, such as drinking Labatt Blue, wearing a hockey jersey and saying “abut” all the time. That is, of course, if the Red Wings come back to eliminate San Jose and the Montreal Canadians get by the Pittsburgh Penguins; then it’s OK.
But author and investigative journalist Greg Palast makes a case for what this law is really about: Republicans disenfranchising minority voters who may vote Democratic. Arizona has a history of minority voter suppression, as does un-elected Governor Jan Brewer, who signed the bill into law.
Palast said when Brewer was Secretary of State, she “organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer's command, no less than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanics, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.”
Palast said in 2008 while working for Rolling Stone with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, a team flew to Arizona to investigate what looked like a purge of Hispanic voters. Voting or registering to vote if you're not a citizen is a felony, and it should be easy to find them because they list their names and addresses. Palast and his team discovered Brewer had not “busted a single one of these thousands of allegedly illegal voters,” nor had she turned over any for federal prosecution.
One of the many questions I have for this textbook definition of racial profiling is where are the teabaggers? I would think government officials violating the constitution and arbitrarily pulling people over for no reason to ask for their citizenship papers and even requiring then to carry citizenship papers at all times is a classic Big Brother, government overreach.
So, when are teabaggers going to organize a protest?