Tom Tancredo: Beware of racial profiling in immigration laws

posted at 5:07 pm on April 26, 2010 by Allahpundit

He supports Arizona’s new law — with a caveat. If it ends up doing what the left claims it’ll end up doing, then it’s no go.

Contrast Tanc’s statement with what McCain said over the weekend about the law being a “good tool” for cops even though he’s, er, not sure that every part of it is legal. We’ve actually reached the point where Maverick and Tom Tancredo are more or less simpatico on immigration.

Coloradans can expect to become part of the debate waging in Arizona over the strictest, most sweeping immigration legislation in the country…

“If I had anything to say about it, we’d be doing it in Colorado,” smiles former Republican Colorado Congressman Tim [sic] Tancredo.

Tancredo applauds the law in that Arizona took control of enforcing laws the federal government hasn’t enforced.

But he questions how police can stop people for any reason. “I do not want people here, there in Arizona, pulled over because you look like should be pulled over,” says Tancredo.

He suspects police in Arizona will only pull people over for breaking the law.

The director of the Arizona Police Association expects the law will be “rarely applied” and notes that there’s nothing in it requiring cops to check someone’s illegal status. Only when “reasonable suspicion” arises does it come into play. Two issues then: (1) Is being caught without ID sufficient grounds to generate “reasonable suspicion”? No, according to my reading of the statute. Showing ID can overcome “reasonable suspicion” that already exists, but that’s the key — it has to already exist. (2) Can cops pull someone over on suspicion of being an illegal alien or do they need an independent reason? Sixty percent of the public supports the former scenario, but here’s what reader John B., a lawyer, e-mailed this morning about what the law actually says:

The first sentence of the section [of the statute] you posted, in my view, requires that a lawful stop be made in the first place, before you even get to the question of reasonable suspicion as to whether a person is here illegally.

The first sentence of the section you posted states, “FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL …” … Stop right there. I would argue that the language of the statute requires “lawful contact” to be made in the first place. That’s condition #1 – that the law enforcement officer have reasonable suspicion (governed by Terry v. Ohio) to stop a suspect in the first place…

The statute in my view, in no way, codifies the mere question of citizenship as the basis for which to stop someone. If that weren’t the case, the AZ legislature could simply have omitted the language in the statute before “where reasonable suspicion exists ….”

First, you need reasonable suspicion to stop someone. Then, you need reasonable suspicion that they’re here unlawfully. Two levels.

If that’s correct, then you’re not going to see citizens being pulled off the sidewalk and threatened with jail unless they show their “papers.” There has to be some sort of independent suspicion first — although admittedly, given the welter of federal and state criminal laws that the modern citizen has to navigate, cooking up “reasonable suspicion” of driving infractions, etc., wouldn’t be hard for a cop looking to justify making a stop.

Exit question: Which of you dangerous tea-party radicals went and smeared refried beans in the shape of swastikas on the windows of Arizona’s state Capitol?


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