The state of Arizona now requires all citizens to carry identification and legal documentation as well as to submit to random questioning from any police officer at any time. The grounds for questioning? Looking "suspicious."
If there aren't serious alarm bells going off in your head right now, please read that again. Police can stop any random person walking down the street and detain them if they do not have an acceptable form of identification or cannot answer a question correctly.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed this bill on Friday while assuring skeptics that the legislation would not lead to racial profiling of any sort. My only response to her reasoning is an expletive that is not appropriate for print. What does "illegal" look like? Illegal immigrants in Arizona come primarily from Mexico and South America. Mexicans and South Americans are Hispanic. There is absolutely no way that race will not be the primary factor in determining who gets questioned and who does not.
Additionally, there are thousands of Hispanics living legally in Arizona who are going to be subjected to this racial profiling for no reason; their rights as law-abiding American citizens will be disregarded simply because of their race. Brewer's bill is targeting Hispanics, illegal or not, and she needs to own up to it. The next logical step is to make Hispanics visibly display their identity somewhere on their clothing, right? Oh wait - Hitler already did that. Zero points for creativity.
Let's be fair and disregard the painfully blatant abuse of civil liberties here so we can address how this bill came about in the first place. Republicans in Arizona have claimed that they are done waiting around for the federal government to do something about immigration, so they went and took matters into their own hands. They were right to do so, considering that the issue needs to be addressed on a national scale. Going to the extreme, however, is never smart.
The issue of illegal immigration is about as complicated and controversial as it can be. Some individuals felt so strongly in the days following the announcement of the bill that they threatened to bomb Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva's office simply because he spoke out against the legislation.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the only Republican who was cooperating with Democrats and Independents on forming climate legislation, was so upset that the federal government was even debating the immigration issue that he pulled out of the semi-productive talks and effectively made the entire project useless. Graham's overreaction is deplorable, and if it were up to me, he would spend the rest of his life in middle school as punishment. Graham's immaturity is not directly relevant to this specific issue, but it does display the divisiveness of immigration on a national scale.
Illegal immigration is a touchy subject; that much is obvious. Frankly, I don't care if there are people in Arizona feel the need to scream and cry and guard the border themselves to keep immigrants out; this encroachment on civil liberties is unacceptable under all circumstances.