The campaign, called the Sound Strike, has been organized by Zack de la Rocha, the lead singer of the rap metal band Rage Against the Machine, and is endorsed by English-language rock and rap performers like Massive Attack, Kanye West, Conor Oberst, Sonic Youth and Joe Satriani. But the signatories also include Spanish-speaking reggaetón artists and Los Tigres del Norte, perhaps the most popular and influential exponent of Mexican regional music in the United States.
In an open letter initiating the campaign, Mr. de la Rocha, whose father is Mexican-American, wrote, “Fans of our music, our stories, our films and our words can be pulled over and harassed every day because they are brown or black, or for the way they speak, or for the music they listen to.” He added, “Some of us grew up dealing with racial profiling, but this law (SB 1070) takes it to a whole new low.”
Others have claimed that the law is unconstitutional because it will encourage racial profiling. While that seems certain to be the effect in practice, that’s a hard claim to prove in court. The law, which the Arizona legislature revised for this very reason, now explicitly states that police may not consider race as a factor in determining whom to question. Individuals stopped because of their race will have a civil rights lawsuit against the officer, but it’s not clear the law itself—rather than the misapplication of the law by officers—is the problem.
If the Department of Justice files suit, the chances of Arizona’s law being invalidated increase significantly. The president is in change of enforcing federal immigration laws and if he claims Arizona’s law is inconsistent with federal policy, the courts are more likely to listen. Justice lawyers might argue, for example, that Arizona law will force the federal government to expend resources processing the large number of illegal aliens caught in Arizona that the federal government would prefer to spend elsewhere, like securing the border. That kind of argument is harder for private civil rights groups like the ACLU to make persuasively.
Arizona’s new immigration law deserves to be consigned to the historical dustbin. But if the Obama administration stays on the sidelines, don’t be surprised if the federal courts refuse to send it there.
Conservatives’ most important responsibility is to remember to protect freedom, liberty and the rights of every citizen. The Arizona immigration law doesn’t do that, and that’s why I oppose it.
I am proud that the GOP has been the party in which freedom has always mattered. We are a party whose members are willing to stand up for liberty because we believe that freedom matters and that it works.
As the wise saying goes, he who sacrifices freedom for security ends up with neither.
I do not want to live in a nation where American citizens are asked “Where are your papers?” We are better than that.