Barcoding the Mexicans: New Arizona bill to prevent illegal immigration discriminatory

May 17, 2010 — by Parul Singh

Imagine a person walking down a street, minding their own business, when suddenly a police officer appears out of nowhere and detains said person for the sole fact that they look Mexican. Sound unfair? Discriminatory? Well, under a new state state law passed in Arizona, this is exactly what law enforcement personnel could do.

Aimed at reducing the number of illegal immigrants, the law would allow police to detain people based on “reasonable suspicion” to check if they were in the country without authorization. It would also allow the police to charge immigrants with a state crime for not carrying immigration documents.

The term “reasonable suspicion” used here is vague and could mean a variety of different things. A legitimate fear is that it can be easily be exploited by racist law enforcement personnel. Because of this fact, the bill could result in increased racism near the border and many people against the bill argue that the harassment of Mexicans would undoubtedly increase as well.

Although illegal immigration is a major problem, instead of resorting to racial profiling and extreme measures, the government should be investing in less discriminatory alternatives. One such alternative could be making it easier for immigrants to obtain the proper paperwork legally and also educating Mexicans about the consequences of illegal immigration within Mexico itself.

This controversial new bill has sparked outrage throughout the country. Thousands of citizens across the Bay Area itself took to the streets on May 1 to protest Arizona’s new immigration law. The protesters argue that although there is an illegal immigration problem in the United States, solving this problem through the means of racial profiling undermines the values of equality that our country upholds.

Several prominent members of the Arizona community also do not support the new immigration policy. The Phoenix Suns chose to wear “Los Suns” on their jerseys in the Western Conference semifinals to honor the “Latino community and the diversity of [their] league, the state of Arizona, and the nation.”

The outrage over this bill has stretched from coast to coast and from ordinary citizens to basketball players. One protester mocked that “we might as well give each of them a bar code.” The truth in this protester’s words is apparent since forcing every Mexican in the state of Arizona to carry their immigration papers is actually not far from giving each of them a bar code. It is clear that this type of racial profiling should not be allowed and the Arizona state government should revoke this bill immediately.