By Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.
The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down S.B. 1070, the draconian law passed in Arizona, but shockingly enough, decided to reject all, but the stop-and-question portion of the legislation. The justices did leave plenty of room, however, for future challenges to its constitutionality. (Didn't they do the same thing with slavery back in the day?) So, does this mean that "walking while brown" is the latest issue all Latino men -- not just those in New York City -- have to be concerned about? Ask Raul Hector Castro. The 96-year-old Mexican American and former Arizona governor was just recently detained by border patrol a week ago after triggering an alarm. Despite triple digit heat, his age and explaining the medical condition that caused the faux paus he was treated like a threat.
Since it was passed back in April 2010, Arizona's S.B. 1070 has sparked a fiery debate over the current course of immigration policy and enforcement in this country. The state's controversial immigration law allows police officers to stop and question individuals they suspect of being in the country illegally (a.k.a. the "Papers, please" provision). The opposition pointed out that, clearly, in Arizona -- a border state home to hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from Central America -- police officials would be targeting Latinos. Immediately, demonstrators protested a law that seemingly legalizes racial profiling. Arizona police officers are unlikely to stop someone with blonde hair and blue eyes and ask to see their residency papers -- they're also less likely to stop women.
According to the court's decision, a police officer is constitutionally allowed to stop and request proof that you have a legal right to be in this country. Apparently, the undocumented are easy to spot: sombreros, zapatista mustaches, always tearing down America. You can obviously see the ludicrousness of the stop-and-question policy left untouched by the Supremes. My advice to my fellow Latinos: play it safe and pin your ID to your clothes. Wait. That might prove to be too inconvenient. Better yet, we can choose a symbol (a star is too Jewy for a Christian nation like ours, so maybe a cross), stitch that onto an armband and wear that at all times -- you know, so we don't get confused with the illegals. I'm a natural born citizen of the United States and I don't have to show a police officer anything if I'm walking down the street and breaking no laws. Police officers serve the public, so they should show me their papers.
In striking down much of Arizona's immigration law but keeping a provision that allows police officers to question suspected undocumented immigrants, the Supreme Court left the one part of S.B. 1070 that has more to do with actual American citizens than immigrants. The state of Arizona -- or any state, for that matter -- has the legal authority to identify lawbreakers within its borders. But as an American citizen, I should not become the unwitting victim of the state's enforcement methods. My dark skin, dark features and shaved head shouldn't represent some kind of bull's-eye on my back for police officers. Criminals, interestingly enough, look just like everybody else. The resemblance is uncanny!
I have a legal right to be in this country, just like every other citizen. Civil government was created for defense, not offense -- namely, to defend the rights of its citizens. In that sense, it's better to let 1,000 undocumented immigrants walk free than to violate the rights of one U.S. citizen, because if our government can violate our rights on a regular basis, then it's not our government. So, the Supreme Court killed most of the Arizona law, but left the heart of it intact. Killing that legislative vampire -- to defend the rights of Latino male citizens -- is the reason the fight must continue.
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