With the 2016 election in full swing, and Arizona being up for the primary election, once again Arizona has been taking a beating by immigration activists, special interest groups, and various other outspoken groups and individuals with an axe to grind. As an Arizonian myself and retired Officer, I have grown sick and tired of the mass amounts of ignorance on display by those who speak about Arizona with disgust and contempt, yet do so while demonstrating they have zero understanding of how Arizona’s SB1070 law really worked, ore facts around it.
Arizona’s law enforcement officers are some of the best and most professional you will find anywhere in the world. I had the honor to serve with many great officers in the field. They do their job with the utmost integrity, and are deserving to have the facts presented honestly and to have the record set straight, debunking these absurd media myths that still constantly get thrown around, and carelessly so, without little concern to the actual facts.
When SB1070 was first passed, an onslaught of controversy, rumors, myths, and nonstop attacks surrounded it. Now, once again we are seeing the same exact thing. When you listen to the outlandish statements made by those who oppose the law, it quickly becomes evident that they themselves either did not read the bill and have no understanding for how the law works in practice or they are simply ignoring the facts and dishonestly exploiting the issue for political gain.
President Obama made the statement that if you “looked liked an illegal immigrant, and if you didn’t have your papers and you took your kids out for ice cream, you could be harassed,” (2010). This statement coming from a sitting president is shocking. My first question is this; tell me, Mr. President, what does an illegal alien look like? I wasn’t aware that in the United States illegal aliens were labeled as one race over another. Are there not illegal immigrants that may be Canadian, Asian, or European? The fact that now the President is insinuating the Latino race as the Poster Child for what an illegal immigrant looks like, should be troubling and offensive to all Latino people of this nation. In a debate where the word “racism” often gets thrown around, you must ask yourself, who are the ones really making race a focal point? It’s certainly not a law that only focuses on legal status. Nowhere in this bill does the law make any reference to race or skin color in any way.
President Obama’s statement also demonstrated that he either has no understanding of how law enforcement works, or he is choosing to ignore the facts and push misinformation to drive more hysteria in support for his political position on this issue. By stating that you may be “harassed” by simply going out in public is both false and inflammatory. To have the leader of our nation spread such misinformation on legislation when Obama himself was a sitting legislator displays gross negligence on his part as the representative of this nation.
To clear up some of the myths about this bill being spread by activists on the left, let’s take a look at the popular talking points being repeated.
Myth: Hispanics will be randomly stopped by police when they go out in public.
Fact: This could not be any less true. A police officer must conduct themselves as they always have, and have probable cause for their stop. Citizenship status is not a primary infraction and therefore does not constitute probable cause for a stop. It is a secondary infraction. An officer may stop a car for a traffic violation, and then later find the driver has no legal status or identification. At this point an arrest may result after further investigation. This is no different than a drug charge. You don’t look at a car and say, “hey, they have drugs.” Once the vehicle is stopped, however, there may be other factors that indicate further probable cause to look for; drugs for example-an odor being emitted from the vehicle.
Myth: You will be questioned without just cause. What is considered reasonable suspicion?
Fact: Reasonable suspicion is very uniform in its application. If an officer pulls a vehicle over and the driver does not speak English, has no driver’s license, no state ID, no social security number to give, at this point there is ample reasonable suspicion for the officer to investigate further. The officer would then run a name and date of birth check to see if any DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) records show. If this comes back blank with no record, there is probable cause to detain the individual to investigate their legal status.
Myth: you will now have to carry “papers” on you to prove citizenship.
Fact: Legal immigrants are already required to carry their green card. In most states you must carry a form of ID and if an officer asks for your identification on a stop, you must give it to them. Arizona’s law is no different then what is already on the books. When you go to the DMV, you MUST provide vital records such as a birth certificate in order to obtain a valid driver’s license. If you are not a citizen, you still must have the proper paper work that shows you are in the nation legally before obtaining the license. When an officer stops an individual and must enquirer into legal status, whether or not that person holds a valid driver’s license with the state tells the officer most of what they need to know. Having a valid license takes the place of a birth certificate. The notion that you would have to carry such papers is false and not supported by fact, but rather emotional sentiment and misconception.
Myth: This law will lead to racial profiling.
Fact: This is another empty claim with no logic attached. Most police officers conduct themselves in a professional manner and are careful not to violate a person’s civil rights. The idea that somehow a new bill will cause racial profiling is an empty one. This statement is based on the assumption that officers who racially profile would only do so if it were “in the rules.” Racial profiling is illegal, and whether or not an officer participates in such acts is the choice of that individual. This law will no more encourage the officer who chooses to profile anymore then racial profiling being illegal will discourage it. This is like the empty argument stating that making guns illegal to carry will rid gun crime. If you’re a criminal, you don’t care about the law hence the title “criminal”, and will carry a weapon anyway regardless of what the law states. The same concept applies to the corrupt officer. Ethics come down to the individual, not what a law may or may not state. They will either profile, or they won’t; a bill won’t change that practice.
Myth: Most illegal immigrants only want to work; the real problem is drug crime. This bill does nothing to help fight the drug problem.
Fact: While this bill is not focused specifically at drugs, it does aid in the cartel drug problem in a large way. Illegal immigrants who come here to work depend on an economic system that caters to their illegal status. Their ability to find work, employment, earn an income and maintain a place to live is necessary for their survival. This bill makes it illegal for an undocumented alien to seek employment. It makes it unlawful for an employer to hire an illegal and unlawful to rent a home to an illegal. The end result of this will become a natural weeding- out process. The people, who are truly here to work, will leave on their own merit. They will have no other choice because you must be able to provide an income and shelter for families to live upon. They will either go back home or simply move to another state that is lax on immigration law. In 2008 E-verify for employment and immigration sweeps by Sheriff Joe Arpio made Arizona a more restricted place for illegal aliens to reside. Since 2008, an estimated 100,000 illegal aliens have left the state. The natural result of this will make law enforcement more effective when fighting drug and cartel crime, because people who are only in AZ to work will have to relocate, leaving behind the criminal elements. Illegal aliens who are here for sinister reasons, i.e. to traffic, push drugs, and run cartel errands will not need to relocate. They do not rely on legitimate work to provide an income. The lack of a general population of illegal aliens to blend in with may even result in cartels moving operations in cities and states that do not have such strict laws. Because the general population would move away, this leaves their operatives exposed for tracking and apprehension. It is much harder to blend in as just another landscaper looking for work when all the legitimate workers have moved away to other states where they can still obtain work. This will greatly aid both ICE and local law enforcement in combating cartel activity and tracking down operatives for such operations.
Bill 1070 is in place simply to enable our local law enforcement with the power to enforce laws that often get neglected on the federal level. For example, one night I was driving my patrol car when I was almost T-boned. A vehicle had run a stop sign. I pulled the vehicle over and found a man who did not speak English and had no driver’s license or State ID on him. He had no DMV record, and was not a legal citizen. This man had an alcohol level of .218, and was extreme DUI. After processing, I contacted ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). They told me they did not have the man power to send and could not pick the man up for detainment. Being local law enforcement, we had no authority to hold the man based on his citizenship and had to let him go. Do you think he showed up for court? Of course not, now this man was released back into the public and is once again a potential threat to public safety. Had the man became intoxicated again and killed someone in a fatal accident, people would have screamed at how the system failed, and the police failed to do their job. The reality was however, we did not have the tools in place to detain the man. This very situation happened in San Francisco in 2008 when an illegal alien, Edwin Ramos, gunned down a father and two sons. Edwin was found to have been arrested several times without being turned over to immigration. If California had a law in place like Arizona’s recent passing of 1070, this horrible crime may have been prevented the first day they discovered his legal status.
The outcry against Arizona’s law is not only silly, but is a complete demonstration of ignorance of the already existing laws of this nation. Before the passing of bill 1070 it was already illegal to be in Arizona illegally. The only difference was it was an offense and a felony on the federal level. Now, it is both a federal offense and state offense. It is nothing more than mirroring the federal law and providing our officers with the tools necessary to keep Arizonians safe. This is absolutely no different than many other laws already on the books. For example, it is a federal offense to rob a bank. However, it is also a state offense to rob a bank. If you rob a bank in any state, you will face both federal and local state charges for the crime. You can even be charged both locally and federally in two different court systems and no, this is not the same as double jeopardy. Just like it’s both a federal and state offense to rob a bank and is illegal, Arizona’s new immigration law has made being in Arizona illegally both a federal and state offense. The question can be asked, “What’s all the fuss about?” The real answer is simple- enforcement. Illegal aliens and their supporters have long lived comfortably in the United States relying on the complacency and lack of enforcement of the federal government to thrive. Now that a border state like Arizona has made a stand to enforce the law the federal government chooses to ignore, they have no more economic collusion that came with sanctuary policies. They are angry because in Arizona, the gravy train has made its final stop, and the tax payers have had enough. There will be no more free meals; no more living in comfort while law abiding immigrants patiently wait for their legal papers to enter this country the respectful and correct way. The message here is that we reward those who follow the rules, and tell people who cut the line and break the rules to get in the back. The first step has been taken and hopefully, many other states will soon follow suit.
Nick is a former Arizona police officer and deputy. He is a Kaplan University Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security graduate, graduating with highest honors. Nick is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Golden Key International Honor Society, Alpha Betta Kappa Honor Society, and Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society. He has appeared as an expert commentator on Fox News Radio, and has been published in academic journals as well as Police One. Nick Can be reached on his public Facebook page or at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Dialn0911 – See more at: https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/2015/09/14/should-off-duty-police-officers-drive-marked-patrol-vehicles-for-personal-use-the-consequences-of-doing-so-may-be-grave/#sthash.0tvtkT2i.dpuf