Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In Reply: SB 1070: "...impossible to do, impractical to try to do."

In reply to the following comment about AZ's SB 1070:
It requires some sort of law enforcement contact aside from immigration concerns, such as a traffic stop or arrest. My main point was that they couldn't just go in and check them for IDs before their action became criminal trespass, or all the other protesters hanging around, including the one who felt confident enough to tell the media about her illegal status and give her full name. If for example you had told the media you had marijuana plants in your backyard and given your full name, in most places you could expect a visit from the police. Likewise for bragging about nearly any other violation of the law. Apparently, if you give your full name to the media and brag about breaking immigration laws, this does not happen. Instead, only if you get arrested or detained in a traffic stop, or some other police activity. The image being put out by the media is that the police may stop anyone and ask for ID based on 'reasonable suspicion' that the person is violating immigration laws, which is simply not true. - John Anderson, Wednesday, 26 May 2010 11:21 Arizona Law in Action: Illegal Aliens Arrested in Protest Face Deportation - Youth for Western Civilization
First off, I can appreciate that you believe law enforcement ought to round up every single illegal and send them back where they came from, but I think it's impossible to do, and impractical to try to do.

Like it or not, there's a distinction between being in this country illegally and growing marijuana and many of those other violations of law to which you refer: It isn't a criminal offense to be here illegally. With the exception of AZ under 1070, there is no jail time or even a fine. When found, there's no trial or pleading guilty or innocent... they verify that you're not a US citizen, and you're deported. It's a civil offense.

That's not to say that I think folks who admit to being here illegally shouldn't be deported, but I'm not so sure I want the police wasting time looking for those illegals who haven't broken any criminal laws, especially if doing so will take time away from real police work. Similarly, I don't believe that AZ should be including nuisance complaints like loud parties or barking dogs among "lawful contact." If the goal is to reduce crime in AZ, wasting time, money, and energy on detaining and deporting the owner(s) of a barking dog is going to be counterproductive to meeting that goal, nine times outta ten.

Second, it's the subjectivity of the terms "lawful contact" and "reasonable suspicion" that have me concerned about the AZ law. While I agree that most cops are far too busy to bother harassing random people just because they can, there are cops who will use this new law to harass specific individuals because 1070 gives them another tool with which to do so. (If there was no such thing as police misconduct, there wouldn't be rules against it. Power can easily corrupt, and sometimes, it does.)

The fact is, I'm not entirely sure that all contact with a law enforcement officer isn't "lawful contact," or that such a standard wouldn't prevent an officer from checking any group of hispanics he finds "loitering" in a park or in front of a business or home, or making a "furtive movement" upon seeing an officer (stuffing hands into pockets, abruptly taking hands out of pockets, as though dropping something, staring at sector car as it drives past, purposely NOT looking at sector car as it drives past, ...), or even being the guy who called in the complaint about his neighbor's barking dog... ...assuming you're not "american-looking," of course...

I just think the AZ law is too subjective and casts a net so wide as to catch too many Americans and "illegals" who--but for their status under the new AZ law--would not be criminals. Aside from the wasted police man hours devoted to detaining loiterers and barking dog owners rather than murderers and rapists, the AZ law is going to overwhelm the enforcement and legal systems as they try to detain all these new "criminals" and answer wrongful arrest, profiling, and other lawsuits.

As I said below, I believe AZ do far better by following the example and experiences of Prince William County, VA, and changing 1070 to require status checks upon arrest rather than on reasonable suspicion during lawful contact, by not criminalizing the civil offense of being in the US illegally, and by cutting the illegal whose only offense is having a dog that won't stop barking, a little slack.

Posted Wednesday, 26 May 2010 13:46 (Western Youth blog time)
In Reply: SB 1070 facts vs fictions

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