New Arizona Law Is Really Hate Legislation

By April 8, 2010News & Press

In the opinion of Annie Banerjee, a Houston-area immigration lawyer, Senate Bill 1070, a new piece of legislation being proposed by the Arizona legislature, would be more worthy of Nuremburg circa 1934 than Arizona 2010.

Hate speech is one thing, hate legislation quite another. A proposed state senate bill being proposed in Arizona would, if implemented, set a Draconian standard for criminalizing noncitizens and dehumanizing any person who doesn’t look, act, speak, or smell “American,” a term that really can’t be defined except in the minds of the intolerant. If passed into law, Senate Bill 1070 would be yet another law on the books which would justify racial profiling under the guise of “reasonable suspicion.”

This law being considered by the Arizona legislature is awful,” asserts Annie Banerjee, an immigration lawyer based in the Houston area, “and even its underlying rationale is faulty.”

The law would allow a vagary known as “reasonable suspicion” to become the premise of racial profiling to become an active component in the administration of justice. State officials would be able to determine a person’s immigration status by utilizing hunches harbored behind a veil of bias. “What exactly is reasonable suspicion of alienage,” Banerjee asks, “Is it not being able to speak English? Is it a shade of skin color that’s not white, a religion other than Protestant? Is it facial features that suggest an ethnicity other than Caucasian?”

Banerjee is able to contemplate a crossing guard encountering a child walking to school who doesn’t speak English, say an East Indian child born in Bombay but whose family moved to Mesa, Arizona from Bellevue, Washington, is the officer now obliged to examine the child’s papers or call her parents and ask about immigration status? “It’s bordering on Kafka-esque,” Banerjee argues, “and certainly not what you’d expect in a country with so-called ‘open borders.’ The little girl would probably feel like she was caught in a nightmare version of Alice in Wonderland.”

Banerjee questions if anyone promoting this piece of legislation “has even read the U.S. Supreme Court’s March 31, 2010, decision in Padilla v. Kentucky which states in no uncertain terms that immigration law is so complex that even trained experts have difficulty delineating which offenses lead to deportation. In Arizona I wouldn’t be surprised if jaywalking became a deportation crime if this stupid law is passed. It’s much worse than hate speech – it’s more like hate legislation,” Banerjee concludes.

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