skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Controversial Arizona Law Reaches Supreme Court

Above: A women holds a sign that reads 'Unity & Justice for All' during a protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, on April 25, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Aired 4/25/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Alisa Joyce Barba, Senior Editor, NPR Fronteras, Changing America Desk

Adrian Florido, Reporter KPBS Fronteras, Changing America Desk


KPBS Evening Edition

Alisa Joyce Barba, NPR Fronteras

Alisa Joyce Barba, senior editor for NPR's Fronteras Desk, talks to KPBS about the Supreme Court's hearing of the Arizona immigration law.

The U.S. Supreme Court takes up yet another incendiary election issue Wednesday when it hears arguments on a controversial Arizona law that targets illegal immigrants.

As with last month's test of the Obama health care overhaul, the case pits the federal government's assertion of power against some states, and with some exceptions, it pits Democrats against Republicans.

The Arizona law before the court, known as SB 1070, has become a model for other states, particularly those dominated by Republicans. Last year, however, a federal appeals court blocked enforcement of key provisions as an unconstitutional encroachment on federal immigration authority.

Historically, the federal government has the power to regulate immigration questions, while the states have the power to police illegal activities that threaten health and safety within their own borders. This case pits these two legal concepts against each other.

In recent years, Arizona has become the eye of the political storm over immigration. The state, which shares a 370-mile border with Mexico, contends that it bears a "disproportionate burden" of illegal immigration, due in large part to what it calls "lax enforcement" by the federal government.

Its brief paints a grim and frightening picture of life in the state: human traffickers more heavily armed than border patrol agents; Mexican drug cartels penetrating as far as 80 miles beyond the border, threatening police, invading homes and kidnapping people. Indeed, the situation is so bad, the state says, that large tracts of desert designated as national parkland have signs posted warning visitors that the area is an "active drug and human smuggling area" where they may "encounter armed criminals."

Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer alluded to these dangers when she signed the law in April 2010.

"We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels," she said. "We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation."

Cooperation Or Conflict?

In response, the Obama administration notes that the federal government has increased the number of border agents by 40 percent in Arizona over the past five years, supplemented with 40 air-interdiction aircraft and 306 miles of new border fence.

Indeed, Arizona's critics point out that even as the state was passing its tough new law, illegal border crossings in the state were down dramatically, to numbers not seen since the 1970s.

Four specific provisions of the Arizona law are before the Supreme Court Wednesday. The state defends all of them as written to mirror, not supplant, federal law.

The most notable are the so-called show-me-your-papers provisions. One authorizes warrantless arrests when an officer has probable cause to believe someone is illegally in the country. Another requires state and local law enforcement officers, upon reasonable suspicion, to detain anyone stopped or arrested for any reason, no matter how minor, until the immigration status of that person is determined.

Paul Clement, who represents the state, contends such stops are an example of cooperation, not conflict, between federal and state authorities. Arizona's law "is consciously designed to complement the federal law and not replace it," he says.

But James Ziglar, who served as head of the immigration service during President George W. Bush's administration, disagrees, saying that instead of cooperating, Arizona is "confronting the federal system" by forcing into the federal process everybody who's even technically in illegal status. The Arizona law will "flood" the system, he says, so that the federal government will be unable to effectively enforce the current laws.

Indeed, the federal government says flatly that there is no way to have 100 percent enforcement of the federal immigration laws because there just aren't enough resources to hold everyone suspected of being in the country illegally and provide hearings for them.

As a result, the federal government has established priorities to deal first with dangerous criminals, felons, suspected terrorists and the like. It would be impossible to carry out those priorities, the government says, if the system is glutted with requests for information on every minor traffic offender who is suspected for some reason of being in the country illegally.

Who's An Illegal Immigrant?

Furthermore, Ziglar, the former Bush immigration enforcement chief, says that the immigration data system does not fully reflect the real status of many people. For instance, prosecutors often allow witnesses to stay in the country if they are the victims of violent crime, or if their testimony is needed to bust drug or human-trafficking rings. Also, the government uses its discretion to refuse deportation of refugees from certain countries — for example, Syria right now, or China at the time of Tiananmen Square. Nor does it deport people while they are seeking asylum from persecution abroad.

Individuals seeking asylum have no proof of legality until final approval is granted, according to Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "If the Arizona police officer called the federal authorities to find out the status of the person, they would receive a response that the person is in removal proceedings," she says.

Arizona's Clement replies that whatever the problems, federal law mandates responsiveness and provides for a federal center that is manned 24 hours a day to do that. "Congress has been incredibly specific that the federal government shall respond whenever the state and local governments ask for that kind of information," he says.

Former state Sen. Russell Pearce, who sponsored Arizona's law, adds that the whole purpose of the law is what the statute refers to as "enforcement through attrition." Put another way, if the going gets tough enough for illegal immigrants, they will leave — as Pearce puts it, "self-deport." Pearce also accuses the federal government of bad faith.

"They love to tell lies, to tell people, 'Oh, we just can't do that,' " Pearce asserts. But when "you enforce the law, things start changing. It's just like Disneyland. You want the crowd to go home, you've got to turn off the lights."

Wang, however, says that Arizona legislators are wrong in thinking "there's an on/off switch — you're either legal or you're illegal." In fact, she says, "the system Congress has created really accounts for what actually happens in the real world," and in the real world, the immigration status of noncitizens is often "complex and fluid."

Concerns About Profiling

Even some law enforcement officers in Arizona worry that the state's new law will lead to racial profiling, since it provides stiff civil fines of up to $5,000 a day levied against law enforcement officers who fail to detain suspected illegal immigrants.

Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff of Pima County, which includes Tucson, says SB 1070 "coerces us to profile people, and we're going to get sued on both sides — one from the people that don't think we're enforcing the law and one from the people that say they're being profiled."

While Arizona's law has been blocked so far by the federal courts, a similar law in Alabama has gone into effect and has led to some embarrassing incidents, like the arrest of a German Mercedes executive when he couldn't produce proof that he was legally in the country during a routine traffic stop.

In Arizona, though the law is in legal limbo, some residents say they already feel its effects. Jim Shee, a 72-year-old U.S.-born citizen of Hispanic and Chinese descent, says that in the past year and a half, he has been stopped twice by police and asked for his papers. The first time, he says, he was questioned while he was sitting in his car at the side of the road, having pulled over so he could respond to a text message, and the second time, the officer told him it was because his window tinting was too dark.

"We're old folks driving a car, not speeding or anything like that, but here we are subject to 15 minutes of interrogation," he says. "I'm an American citizen and I am being stopped because of the color of my skin, what I look like." Shee, a retired exporter, says he now carries his passport with him.

Wider Consequences

The justices won't be deciding the case on evidence such as Shee's, however. That's because the case is a "facial challenge," meaning the government contends that even before the law goes into effect, the provisions in question are, on their face, unconstitutional in all applications. That makes this a particularly difficult case for the Obama administration to win.

In addition to the show-me-your-papers provisions at issue in Wednesday's case, there are two other provisions that may be on somewhat shakier ground at this stage. One makes it a state crime, punishable by a mandatory jail sentence, for an immigrant to fail to register under federal law. Another provision makes it a state crime for illegal immigrants to work or seek work. Currently, federal law makes it a crime for businesses to hire illegal immigrants, and for workers to use false documents, but federal law does not make it a crime for the employees to work. The state contends that it is thus free to legislate against workers because the federal law is silent on the subject. But the administration counters that state law unconstitutionally interferes with Congress' decision not to make working, by itself, a crime.

The federal government also argues that allowing 50 states to set their own immigration policies, many of which would be inconsistent with each other, would create exactly the kind of patchwork of immigration laws that the founding fathers sought to avoid in giving the federal government regulatory authority over immigration. Such a patchwork, the government contends, would make it difficult to do business in the U.S. and could create "significant foreign-policy consequences" as well.

Indeed, after Arizona passed SB 1070, countries throughout Central and South America issued statements criticizing the law, and two, El Salvador and Mexico, issued travel warnings to their citizens traveling to the U.S.

Clement, however, responds that under the U.S. system of government, just because a state law may cause foreign policy problems doesn't mean it is unconstitutional. He observes that when he was solicitor general in the Bush administration, the Supreme Court sided with Texas in a death penalty case, citing the state's sovereign right to administer its own criminal justice system, even though the state had clearly violated the Vienna Convention, a treaty signed by the United States, which requires foreign consulates to be notified whenever their country's citizens are imprisoned.

An Eight-Justice Court

A huge and varied array of individuals and organizations has filed briefs in the Arizona case. Supporting Arizona's position are 16 states, 56 Republican members of Congress, two Arizona sheriffs and some two dozen conservative organizations.

Opposing Arizona's position are 11 states; 12 countries; 68 Democratic members of Congress; three Arizona sheriffs; top State Department and national security officials from the Reagan, George W. Bush and Clinton administrations; and more than 150 civil rights, civil liberties and religious organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

On Wednesday, only eight justices will be on the bench. Justice Elena Kagan has recused herself, as she did last year in another Arizona immigration case. She has not given a reason but presumably stepped aside because prior to her Supreme Court appointment, she served as solicitor general in the Obama administration and was involved in discussions about both cases.

An eight-justice court raises the possibility of a tie vote. If that were to happen, the lower court's decision would stand, meaning that much of the Arizona law would be invalidated, at least until a full nine-justice court could rule on a similar law in another case.

In last year's Arizona case, the court split 5-3, with the court's five most conservative members lining up to uphold a different Arizona immigration law aimed at punishing employers. In that case, it was a business group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that challenged the state law. The chamber lost, despite the fact that the current Supreme Court is widely viewed as quite business-friendly. The upshot is that this year, with a challenge brought by the Obama administration, the tea-leaf readers are forecasting that the justices will likely uphold some or all of SB 1070.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.


Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 25, 2012 at 9:49 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

The "muderous greed of drug cartels," Gov. Brewer? How about the murderous cravings of American drug users?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 25, 2012 at 11:30 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

MA I suppose if a hitman kills a person, they are inculpable, and only the person who paid them is guilty?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 25, 2012 at 1:15 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Brewer simply fuels this whole debate using hysteria and extreme examples.

There are criminal elements in all walks of life - illegals, legals, Whites, Latinos, etc.

Brewer and her ilk like to pander to people with racist tendencies by throwing out veiled statements that imply certain races or certain classes of people are inherantly evil or more prone to violent crime.

It's a pretty crude and intellectually filmy tactic, but it is red meat for immigrant haters which is why she does it.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 25, 2012 at 1:16 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

I intellectually *flimsy* tactic

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 25, 2012 at 2:05 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Do you think drug cartels do not pose a special danger to the citizens of Arizona? I would think statistics support the conclusion that cartel members are more prone to commit violent crime than many other classes of people. I would be interested in hearing a counter-argument if you disagree.

Do you think the governor should not be concerned with it if they do pose a special danger? If not, why not? Isn't public security pretty high on the list of things most governors should be attempting to provide?

You don't have to be a racist to not want smugglers (either narcotic or human) running through your back yard.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 25, 2012 at 3:12 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Benz, I don't have issue with Brewer being concerned over drug cartels, what I have a problem with is the implication that all or most illegal immigrants are violent criminals involved in cartels.

It's no mistake the way she words her hysterical statements, she knows exactly what she's doing and who she's pandering to.

Furthermore, how does a law that allows police to check the "papers" of people with brown skin at a traffic stop in Flagstaff prevent dug cartel violence?

She is using scare tactics to justify an overly-broad, over-reaching piece of poor legislation.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 25, 2012 at 3:45 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

I wasn't aware that the law specifically targeted skin color. I was under the impression it was about illegal immigration and anybody suspected of that transgression would be asked to provide the appropriate documents. Columbian, Czech, Norwegian, Nepali... does it really matter if they are here illegally?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 25, 2012 at 4:03 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Benz, look at the quote from Pima Co. Sheriff Dupnik:

*"(SB 1070) coerces us to profile people, and we're going to get sued on both sides — one from the people that don't think we're enforcing the law and one from the people that say they're being profiled."*

When you have even law enforcement coming out ginst this, something is wrong.

I hear peope using the argument about the law applying equally to Nordic people as it ows to Latinos, but let's be frank:

(1) there re far fewer Swedes living in Arizona than there are people from Mexico and Central and South America.

(2) a foreigner of northen European decent has **far** less chances of being stopped and asked for "papers" while in public not doing anything illegally, but the number of Latinos stopped when not doing anything illegally has increased dramatically.

This law violates the civil rights of **legal Americans of Hispanic background**.

It's not right that they have to be stopped and searched simply for going into public to do daily activities such as driving or shopping while their white neighbors don't have this burden.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 25, 2012 at 4:36 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

If you want to be frank... hunt where the deer are. Profile. Use all the information you can to focus on the most likely source of a problem. Be respectful, but put the extra attention on the 16-30 yr old nervous looking arab man travelling alone on a last minute ticket. Or, in this case, filter for the most likely source of illegal immigrants. I guarantee you ISF profiled me every time I moved through Baghdad. They saw us as a target for potential trouble and made sure we got the ‘special attention’ we needed.
Doctors profile diseases with the ‘hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras’. I’d be willing to be beat cops know the gangs in their areas and take notice of those who fit those profiles. Not doing so is probably unhealthy.

If you don't want to do that... make the law apply equally to everybody. It is probably a waste looking for Swedish illegal immigrants in AZ, but if you aren't going to allow targeting, the only alternative to having the search apply to everybody is to not address the problem. Fairness may waste time and money, but shrugging shoulders and giving up is an even worse option.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 25, 2012 at 7:13 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Benz, at least you are honest and admit you have no problem with racial profiling.

Many who support SB 1070 claim they oppose profiling and refuse to see the obvious - that the bill is a green light for it.

I don't agree with racial profiling because, as mentioned above, it violates the civil rights of legal Americans of certain ethnic backgrounds.

But there is a different reason many in law enforcement are scared of this SB1070.

Law enforcement has spent years building relationships with certain communities, including illegal immigrant communities. These relationships have fostered cooperation against violent crimes involving gangs, child traffickers, and drug dealers. This has involved looking the other way at illegal immigrants who are law abiding (besides the illegal entry) in exchange for information on dangerous criminals who pose a large public safety threat. Law enforcement officials are worried the networks of cooperation they have build could be eroded, making it **harder** to arrest violent criminals in certain communities.

The bottom line is even if SB1070 is unleashed in full force, it still won't make a dent in the numbers of illegal immigrants. There is no way to track down and deport 12 million people, it's just not going to happen with this or any other law. Immigration reform needs to take place by amending our legal process to make it less cumbersome.

With that said, I want law enforcement to be focused on the worst of the worst.

As you know, we have limited LE resources and limited money in both the Fed and at the state levels.

I want LE taking out **violent criminals** and not wasting their time with someone whose only crime was coming to another country illegally to try and make a little money through working here.

I feel that building relationships and a sense of trust with immigrant communities, even illegal immigrant communities, by law enforcement to focus in on gangs and other repeat criminals makes far more sense than random fishing on the street by asking everyone for papers.

This law even issues a fine for LE for not doing due diligence as far as checking the papers of anyone "suspected" of being illegal.

Not only is the vague wording an open invitation to lawsuits, this law will, I'm afraid, tie up resources of LE checking papers of everybody at the peril of going after hardened criminals.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 26, 2012 at 8:20 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

@JEANMARC weak attempt to deflect true blame.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 26, 2012 at 8:27 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Judge Blocks Parts of South Carolina's Immigration Law - NYTimes ...

Dec 22, 2011 – He also banned provisions that make it a crime to harbor or transport an illegal immigrant. ... Federal judges have now struck down portions of state immigration laws in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana and Utah. “This is ...

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 26, 2012 at 8:38 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Peking are you kidding? Of course there will be more latinos stopped/caught. Lets consider a few things.

The majority of the population is hispanic. Automatically, if they are being fair, this means more hispanics must be stopped.

And consider another thing. I would guess that 90-95% of illegal immigrants in Arizona are latino. Does that mean we need to employ some sort of equal opportunity system and make sure we pull over one white person for each latino? No. If 90-95% of the illegals are latino, then 90-95% of those pulled over should be latino. It makes sense, and it is efficient.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 26, 2012 at 11:30 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

PDSD, the point is not to spend new effort to track them down, but rather capitalize on existing efforts already expended contacting the potential lawbreaker by checking status.
You say we'll never get all 12M out. You are right. The assumption that since we can't reach a 100% solution we should not take any action at all is 'intellectually flimsy' however. What is the best way, in your opinion, to reduce that number?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | April 26, 2012 at 3:32 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Is deportation really so bad? After all, illegal immigrants aren't being sent to hell. They're merely being returned to their native homeland (on our dime) from whence they came.

Is all this over-simplification merely a strategy to keep us from protecting our borders?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 26, 2012 at 5:12 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Benz wrote:
*"The assumption that since we can't reach a 100% solution we should not take any action at all is 'intellectually flimsy' however."*

I'm not saying do nothing.

Profiling is not the **only** way to catch lawbreakers.

I'm saying that since, as you acknowledge, we will never deport the millions here, we need to concentrate on those people committing additional crimes in our country after their illegal crossings.

This bill could actually **hinder** that effort by eroding trust law enforcement has built with certain immigrant communities who help them nab gang thugs, drug traffickers, and other violent criminals.

Sure this law may increase net deportations, but if it does so at he peril of catching violent criminals it will be **counter-productive**.

Here is an example for you.

If I lived in a neighborhood with 50 illegal immigrants where 2 were violent gang members and the rest law abiding citizens since their crime of entering illegally, I would want law enforcement to build trust with the 49 so they can catch and deport the underground gang members instead of doing random "papers please" checks that might deport 10 people none of which are the violent gang members wreaking havock on the neighborhood.

SB1070 erodes law enforcement's trust with immigrants and makes LE spend so much time inspecting random people on he street that there will be less resources to go after the harder-to-catch underground violent criminals that you really need insider community members to help to nab.

I'm not making this stuff up, LE officials are coming out against this, many see it as a roadblock to doing their jobs.

It's **poor leislation** designed to appease hysterics over illegal immigration and will end up hindering public safety .

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 26, 2012 at 5:19 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

Jean, I'm not talking about more Latinos being caught, I'm talking about more Latinos bing *profiled* which is necessary to do in order to carry out this law.

Yes, I realize people of Hispanic or Latino background make up the majority of illegal immigrants in the Ameican Southwest.

But, as you acknowledge, people of Hispanic or Latino background also make up one of the largest and fastest groups of **legal** American citizens.

It's not appropriate for the government to profile all Latinos.

It is a violation of the civil rights of the millions of legal Americans of Hispnic descent who will be targeted for these searches based on their ethnicity.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 26, 2012 at 5:21 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

David deportation is fine, but profiling people to do it is not.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 27, 2012 at 7:45 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

We are going to have to disagree on the relative desirability of those enforcement priorities. I do agree that catching violent criminals is more important, but I don't see it as more important enough to give everyone else a pass. I also wouldn't condone failure to pursue motorists for fender bender hit & runs because they might then be less willing to point out the perpetrator of a vehicular homicide.

On the topic of police-ethnic relations, which I think we are drifting into fairly regularly, my proposal would be to increase recruitment from those ethnic groups, especially if there is a need to step up enforcement in a concentration of that population.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Len'

Len | April 29, 2012 at 4:16 p.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

@Jeanmarc. You can be certain that whites will not be stopped and asked for papers anywhere near their percentage of the AZ population. To say that Latinos are 90% (or whatever) of Arizonians means that 90% of Latinos should be stopped is illogical. Studies have shown that black drivers are stopped by police for "traffic violations" (DWB, Driving While Black) far more frequently than whites are, regardless of respective percentages of the population, but the rate of them actually in violation of driving laws is no higher than that of whites.
About the "12 million" illegals residing here, there was an article, perhaps in 2010, where the federal chief of immigration, or an administration official of like post, said no one knows how many are here; the 12 million figure was picked because it "sounded" correct.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | April 30, 2012 at 8:11 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

I still see no problem with stopping latinos. Profiling is smart, profiling is efficient. Why waste time stopping people who most likely are here legally?

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | April 30, 2012 at 8:30 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

@JEAN MARC, maybe we will profile "Quebecois"?

@DAVID65, it is when you are tearing apart family members.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | April 30, 2012 at 9:01 a.m. ― 4 years, 11 months ago

If there we a large influx of illegal Canadians in Burlington, perhaps the VT police would be wise to do so.

Deportation does not necessitate separation from family; it only requires the departure of the individual. Others are free to move with them, or not if they are legal residents and choose not to. Placing the burden of family separation on the enforcer of the rule rather than the violator is false accounting.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | May 1, 2012 at 1:12 p.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago


The problem I have with profiling is that it violates the civil rights of legal citizens.

Our whole justice system is based on evidence before search and seizure.

Let's say that someone looked at statistics and found the vast majority of those convicted of child pornography were white males. If this hypothetical scenario were true, would you support LE being able to, without evidence, warrant or probable-cause, search the computer of any white males in the country?

Profiling is not fair, not just, and not constitutional.

American Latinos should **not** be subject to random searches simply because they share the same general ethnicity or skin color as many illegal immigrants.

I am having trouble seeing what rationale has brought you to the conclusion that a free and fair society can allow the government to profile people??

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | May 2, 2012 at 7:12 a.m. ― 4 years, 10 months ago

I think you are looking at two different kinds of boundaries.
Let's take your example above. If child pornography is such a problem that we, as a society, allow the search of any computer that the police have contact with and we further identify that the most common perpetrators are white males then it makes sense for the police to target their limited resources to searching the computers of white males. What it does not say is that every computer belonging to a white male needs to be searched. We are not there yet with this problem.
Similarly, if we decide illegal immigration is such a problem that everybody the police contact can be checked for status and we further identify that the most common perpetrator has a specific profile then it makes sense for the police to pay special attention to that group when they are conducting normal business with them. It is not a call to round up all brown people and check them. It is a way to leverage off of normal contact to aid enforcement of other issues.
I think the point a lot of people are missing here is that there should be no extra interactions, only a verification of validity during the ones already taking place. Perhaps I misunderstand the law. Can you please point out where the law says something different?
I agree that Americans of any type should not be subject to random searches simply because they appear to belong to that group. Organized searches are a different matter and they should not be conducted randomly, but better targeted to find their objectives.

( | suggest removal )