Changes to AZ Law Give Cops More Power to Hassle Brown Residents
May 1, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-Arizona lawmakers made a few changes to the state’s draconian “show me your papers” anti-immigration law, which seemingly addresses the controversial issue of the institutionalizing of racial profiling. But the changes removing the phrase “lawful contact” appear to be mere window dressing. A new addition to the harsh measure provides cops with the power to question people about their residency status, if police suspect a violation of property or rental codes. What might those violations be, you may be wondering? As explained in an email obtained by Think Progress’ Wonk Room, written by the nativist group that wrote the legislation, the new amendment envisions such violations, as “cars on blocks in the yard.” No racial profiling here folks—move along.
The “cars on blocks” addition to the bill was obviously added to make up for removing the “lawful contact” provision, to ensure Arizona police have an excuse to demand residency papers from just about anyone with brown skin. And even the new language added to replace lawful contact isn’t much better. The law now reads: “lawful stop, detention or arrest,” which still provides local cops with the authority to stop and question brown-skinned people whenever they choose.
According to the report by the Wonk Room, the racially charged language used in the author of the bill’s email, leaves no about abut the group’s intentions:
“However, the legislature also implemented a third change that some call “frightening.” As part of the amended bill, a police officer responding to city ordinance violations would also be required to determine the immigration status of an individual they have reasonable suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant. Wonk Room recently obtained an email written by Kris Kobach, a lawyer at the Immigration Reform Law Institute — the group which credits itself with writing the bill — to Arizona state Sen. Russell Pierce (R), urging him to include language that will allow police to use city ordinance violations such as “cars on blocks in the yard” as an excuse to “initiate queries” in light of the “lawful contact” deletion.”
The email also mentions a violation of a city ordinance prohibiting “too many occupants of a rental accommodation.”
And as noted by Steve Benen of Political Animal, Kris Kobach is an infamous Republican political operative, noted for his illegal tactics to deprive minorities of their right to vote:
“In case Kris Kobach’s name sounds familiar, he used to serve as the chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, where he boasted about his aggressive — and successful — “voter caging” efforts. And if you’ve forgotten, vote caging is “an illegal trick to suppress minority voters (who tend to vote Democrat) by getting them knocked off the voter rolls if they fail to answer registered mail sent to homes they aren’t living at (because they are, say, at college or at war). Less than three years later, he’s crafting and manipulating Arizona’s immigration laws to make harassment of minorities easier. Quite a guy.”
Quite a guy indeed. And Arizona is quite the wingnut state. Shameful.
See The Wonk Room for more on this story.