Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) pulled out a secret weapon on Wednesday to talk about the Arizona immigration law and potential for racial profiling: Justin Bieber.
In a speech about the law, SB 1070, the pro-immigration reform congressman showed pictures of Bieber, who is Canadian, along with other celebrities, journalists, athletes and Supreme Court justices who are children of immigrants or immigrants themselves and asked who looks more like an immigrant.
“For our young C-SPAN [viewers]: Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez,” he said on the House floor. “These young people have overcome their very different national origins and became apparently a happy couple. I’m sure Justin helped Gomez learn all about American customs and feel more at home in her adopted country.”
“Oh wait a minute, I’m sorry,” he continued. “Because I’m not a trained Arizona official, I somehow got that backwards. Actually, Ms. Gomez, of Texas, has helped Mr. Bieber, of Canada, learn all about his adopted country. Justin, when you perform in Phoenix, remember to bring your papers.”
The Supreme Court ruled on several elements of SB 1070 earlier this week. Gutierrez applauded the justices for declaring some provisions unconstitutional, but raised questions about the section that will be allowed to go into effect. That piece of the law, sometimes referred to as the “papers, please” provision, will instruct police to ask about immigration status when they have “reasonable suspicion” that a person may be undocumented.
“We could play this game all day,” he said. “But the point is simple. The idea that any government official can determine who belongs in America and who doesn’t simply by looking at them is completely ridiculous, unfair and un-American.”
First of all, the Arizona law does not permit the police to stop people on suspicion of being here illegally. It specifically states that if the police have stopped someone during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” AND there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is an illegal immigrant that the police “attempt to determine” an individual’s immigration status.
Remember that Arizona shares a border with Mexico. Thousands of illegal immigrants cross that border on a daily basis. It’s not like encountering illegal aliens is an unusual occurrence.
Generally when the cops stop somebody they ask for identification. If the stop is for a traffic violation they ask for a drivers license and vehicle registration. Illegal aliens can’t get drivers licenses here in the United States.
The cops can’t legally stop someone because of their race. But if they stop someone for some other legitimate reason and they have “specific and articulable facts” that the person is here illegally they can continue to detain them for a reasonable period of time while they investigate.
If they determine there is probable cause to believe the person is here illegally they can contact the Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to determine what to do with the person. If the feds say let them go, the cops have to release the person.
But wait! There’s more!
The Border Patrol and ICE are both part of the federal Department of Homeland Security. It’s their job to enforce immigration laws. They stop and detain people they reasonably suspect of being illegal immigrants. That means they do exactly what Rep. Gutierrez says can’t be done.
BTW – Legal immigrants are required by federal law to keep their immigration papers on them at all times.