Illegal Immigrants, Police Powers, Soviet Russia, and Arizona SB 1070

Back in 2004, when I visited Russia, one thing more than anything else stood in my mind: the power of the police to “check your papers”. Even after the fall of communism, an agent of the State could, with no provocation, with no reason, with no cause, demand to see your “documentation”. Everyone carried their passports (or their domestic equivalents) around with them at all times. Failure to produce could lead to jail time.

And I remember thinking to myself, “thank God I live in a free country”. Thank God I can walk the streets and not have a policeman demand to know why I’m doing so. Because, despite my (many!) gripes with government, we in the west, to a large degree, are still pretty much free.

Which is why I’m so disturbed by the passage of Arizona SB 1070, which effectively states that members of the police can, at their discretion, demand to see documents proving you are eligible to be in the U.S. if you do not have them on you, they have the power to incarcerate you.  Essentially the law gives members of the police power to stop you at whim, and demand to ‘see your papers’.

Now, it is well known I deviate from many libertarians on the issue of migration. Personally, I feel that whilst we should increase the number of migrants, border protection is a legitimate role of the state, and as such, I have relatively little sympathy for those who cross the border illegally (of course, the situation is somewhat different in the U.S. to Australia, because the legal migration system in the U.S. is just so screwed up, but that is beside the point).

Except this is not about immigration. Rather, it is a matter of the role of the state, and whether or not, in a free society, it is okay for the police, with no probable cause, to demand to see your ID.

This kind of state action was considered perfectly acceptable in the old Soviet Bloc. To have it viewed as legitimate in the United States – the “land of freedom” is disturbing at best.

Let us hope the Supreme Court (rightly) strikes it down as unconstitutional posthaste.

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13 Responses to “Illegal Immigrants, Police Powers, Soviet Russia, and Arizona SB 1070”

  1. Ben Says:

    Like my cop brother, I support paper checks for numerous reasons. In the long run, quicker processes will result in swifter justice for current and future victims of crime. People in Arizona who live in danger zones have every right to assert their state rights, above the rights of Washington’s elites. Of course, this will be a big inconvenience to future rapists and future murderers – but tough.

  2. Tim Andrews Says:

    I don’t know what my brother who is in the AFP thinks, but personally, I am with John Howard on this, and recognise the dangers of a Big Brother state.

  3. Ben Says:

    By asserting their small state-rights, Arizonans are sticking it to Big Brother. No wonder Obama is mad. As for John Howard, he supported anti-gun laws so I wouldn’t take him too seriously on this issue.

    Paper checks (when applied sensibly) can save taxpayers millions. Terrorists will hate this new law, to be sure, but cops on the beat will be safer. Their voices are being suppressed by the Obama-first media.

  4. Tim Andrews Says:

    So Ben, just to check, you will have no problems if a cop comes up to you, says “prove you’re an Australian citizen”, and if you don’t have a passport on you, will throw you into the lockup, until your citizenship/work status can be verified.
    You’re okay with that, right?

  5. Montana Says:

    Arizona can pass race base laws, pass Birthers laws and the state can continue to boycott Martin Luther King Day, well the rest of the Country can boycott the state of Arizona and spank them where it hurts them the most their pocket book. Their phony patriotism is sickening, they are just racists going by another name. We all know you are just itching to put a sheet on their head? Let’s face it the Republicans had eight years to deal with health care, immigration, climate change and financial oversight and governance and they failed. It appears that the Republican Party is only good at starting wars (two in eight years, with fat War profiteering contracts to friends of Cheney/Bush) but not at winning wars as seen by the continuing line of body bags that keep coming home. The Republicans party will continue turned inward to their old fashion obstructionist party (and their Confederacy appreciation roots) because they continue to allow a small portions (but very loud portion) of their party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” to rule their party. I will admit that this fringe is very good at playing “Follow the Leader” by listening to their dullard leaders, Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush, Savage, Sarah Bailin, Orly Taitz, Victoria Jackson, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the Blowhards and acting as ill programmed robots (they have already acted against doctors that perform abortions). The Birthers and the Tea party crowd think they can scare, intimidate and force others to go along with them by comments like “This time we came unarmed”, let me tell you something not all ex-military join the fringe militia crazies who don’t pay taxes and run around with face paint in the parks playing commando, the majority are mature and understand that the world is more complicated and grey than the black and white that these simpleton make it out to be and that my friend is the point. The world is complicated and people like Hamilton, Lincoln, and Roosevelt believed that we should use government a little to increase social mobility, now it’s about dancing around the claim of government is the problem. The sainted Reagan passed the biggest tax increase in American history and as a result federal employment increased, but facts are lost when mired in mysticism and superstition. For a party that gave us Abraham Lincoln, it is tragic that the ranks are filled with too many empty suits and the crazy Birthers who have not learned that the way our courts work is that you get a competent lawyer, verifiable facts and present them to a judge, if the facts are real and not half baked internet lies, then, and only then, do you proceed to trial. The Birthers seem to be having a problem with their so called “facts”. Let’s face it no one will take the Birthers seriously until they win a case, but until then, you will continue to appear dumb, crazy or racist, or maybe all three. I heard that Orly Taitz now wants to investigate the “Republican 2009 Summer of Love” list: Assemblyman, Michael D. Duvall (CA), Senator John Ensign (NV), Senator Paul Stanley (TN), Governor Mark Stanford (SC), Board of Ed Chair, and Kristin Maguire AKA Bridget Keeney (SC), she wants to re-establish a family values party, that’s like saying that the Catholic Church cares about the welling being of children in their care, too late for that.

  6. Ben Says:

    Your interpretation of the law is not what I’ve read and heard from law and order advocates – but from the White House’s men in suits. Again, I’m a federalist. Small states need to defend their rights (especially when Washington has failed them). But to answer your question, “Yes, to save a life.”

  7. Hmm Says:

    Ben I’m just putting this out there, but you’re a bit of a dick. Yeah Arizona is defending states rights by copying several federal laws and placing a bit of racial profiling on top. Yeeha!

    This will not make Arizona safer as illegal migrants will now no longer report crimes or cooperate with law enforcement in their investigations. Contrary to what John McCain may (newly) think – this will arise in more incidence of motorists failing to stop as there will be an even greater risk for them that a routine traffic stop will end up with one of their relatives will end up being flown back to the Mexico Civil War.

    Yay! Now go to hell or our closest equivalent – a third world country where you would like to see the less fortunate remain.

    One last thing. Fuck you.

  8. Ben Says:

    “F**k You”? That’s classy. Guess I won that argument. Put your real name on here coward.

  9. Hmm? Says:

    I actually a greater number of points related the actual form and function of the law passed in Arizona. I did not use vulgarity in my previous comment as rhetorical tool. Its presence was purely a consequence of the revolution I felt in reading your perversion of the ideal of decentralisation (States Rights) and disregard for the plight of others.

    … you even brought terrorism into things! That alone makes me suspect you are a troll. That is such a obvious non-sense. The Detroit bomber, and the 9/11 hijackers all entered America by normal legal methods. Perhaps, some of them committed minor offenses such over staying their Visas, but there is nothing to say they could not have committed their attacks within the span of time legally given to them. Additionally, these laws do nothing to protect against this means of illegal migration.

    A better approach to countering terrorism would be to look at mitigating contributing factors such as blow back from American foreign policy.

    These laws are targeted towards Mexican migrants in a state that is a major entry point for them. Mexican migrants make a wonderful contribution to America’s economy and to create laws that target them is a travesty. Studies have shown that efforts by local law enforcement to counter illegal migration, such as those by Sherrif Arpaio, are detrimental to the enforcement of other laws.

    More to the point how can you dare cite something as fundamental to the ideals of the founders as the federalised system of government in the same breath as proposing something so antithetical to their ideals as the system you are currently proposing.

    I reiterate, fuck you.

  10. Matt Says:

    Good post. This is a much more significant infringement on freedom than obamacare. Why is there a reluctance from tea party acivists to speak out in public. Why does the Arizona tea party support this law? Republican frauds. They should stop with the obama is a communist rhetoric and look at the shit that they’re supporting. This is a very communistic law.

  11. LMC Says:

    Just catching up on my Tim blog reading… and I see this was posted about a month ago.

    Tim, what you forgot to state is that HB1070 only allows cops to ask for papers if a person has made an offense against the law. Yes, the offense could be something as minor as speeding 5 miles above the limit or jay-walking at an intersection. Yet it isn’t like cops can ask for papers with no provocation, as you seem to make it.

    I haven’t read HB1070 in full. I don’t want to make assumptions, but it seems like not many of you here have either.

    I feel the need to say this: my family is from south Texas. My grandparents’ farm is along the Rio Grande. Whether someone likes or dislikes HB 1070, I don’t think they can fully comprehend the bill and its implications unless they have lived in a southern state that borders Mexico. Yes, illegal Mexicans definitely benefit Texas’ economy (and the American economy too). But this issue goes further. This is an issue about safety. Growing up near the Mexican border is much different than growing up anywhere else in the U.S. It is especially unsafe for children – most parents I know near the border don’t allow their kids to trick-or-treat at Halloween because kidnapping is not rare. I don’t believe Gov. Jan Brewer or any other person supporting this should be called a ‘Republican fraud.’

    Moreover, with the amount of tax-payer money that is being spent on homeland security, it only makes sense for legislators like Gov. Brewer to take a more serious stance and demand papers from citizens. …. the wall being built along the Rio Grande cost $1 mill per foot (it runs 20 feet underground). Such physical and financial efforts are futile when if legislators are afraid to offend people of questionable background.

  12. nreyn Says:

    It is apparent to someone who has actually read the law as written, amended, and signed (namely me) that most of the responders to this post (and most likely the original poster, LMC being the obvious exception) have not actually taken the time to read said law. Strict guidelines are laid out, and penalties laid on for not meeting these guidelines. What’s that? There are always ways around that? Welcome to big government.

  13. LOVE SB1070 Says:

    I am an American of hispanic decent and I applaud Governor Jan Brewer for her great leadership to take command of a problem of this magnitude. I feel it is a slap in the face to the naturalized citizens that struggled hard to earn their way into this country legally. As a Mexican I am embarassed that Mexico is the only nation that seems to believe it is above the law. The people that are against this law are like minded to the individuals that want something for nothing. The individuals that believe that government is there for handouts and not handups. The type of individuals that had no problem like Sotomayor ruling for individuals that did not pay their dues to earn promotions. I make reference to the firefighters that studied hard for promotions being robbed of their hardwork. The reasoning was that it was unfair to the minorities even though they were given the same opportunity, but unfortunately did not successfully pass the exam. Although, one of the firefighters suing was hispanic this was percieved as racist and not as indiivdiuals that earned the right to those promotions. I am tired of the “Free Loading Mentality” my Grandfather came from Mexico and did it the right way, he earned it. Other nationalities do it the right way, they earn it. Yes, as mentioned above the terrorist were also able to comprehend how to get into this country to fulfill their hidden agendas, THE RIGHT WAY! So, why is it that mass quantities of Illegal Mexicans think they are entitled to enter our country and not have to do it the RIGHT WAY! It is embarassing to see the outpour of support for people who break the law and treating Americans like second class citizens. I don’t see an outpour of compassion when our citizens are profiled in Mexico or the Mexican government providing humane accomodations for jailed citizens. I don’t see an outpour of concern for American Citizens that visit Mexico on Spring Break and have the Mexican Police engaging in profiling to shakedown and extort money. Trumping up bogus charges to incarcerate to make money off of students knowing good and well their parents will send the money. I don’t hear anyone crying racial profiling in that country nor any Mexican citizens taking up for our defense or trying to protest against their government. I know that Caulderon like Obama (Master Divider) will claim he inherited that problem, but he sure has done nothing to address or eliminate it. If he does not like how his people are treated then control your borders and coddle your precious aliens in your own country. I look at him as a hypocrit and like Obama you have two leaders that look like Amatuer Hour with inept administrations. They both are talented at diverting the focus and looking at what others are doing wrong deflecting from thier inablilty to lead. The only talent Obama has is an organizer, he creates divisions among American people and has perpetuated the problem of racism. We have regressed rather than progressed since he has came into office. I am an American that will not give up my country freely to free loaders that are a drain on our economy. The cry of how inhumane it is to break up families does not work with me, it is their fault for illegally being here and knowing it. I cannot feel sorry for people who premeditate to break the law and know the consequences of doing so. No, this is not profiling what do people not understand about the word “ILLEGAL”, I wonder if the protestors also feel compassion for all the lawbreakers in the prison system. After all they broke the law, they did something illegal and I am sure they were being profiled before being arrested. THEY BROKE THE LAW TO EARN A COT AND THREE HOTS! Yes, we have other minorities that come into our country illegally, but not mass quantities like Mexico. It is felt that it is not right for anyone to come into this country without earning it and they should all be deported. In closing, I don’t understand how other citizens or naturalized citizens arent’ waving their countries flags around, only the mexican american citizens and illegals do this. It is obvious that everyone else seems to know the flag of our nation and respect it by flying or flag first and theirs below. I feel if you want to wave the Mexican flag go to Mexico and pay your respects and homage to their country, don’t disrespect ours. Funny how the Russian spies were here as sleeper spies and when discovered I didn’t hear an outpour of outrage from Russian citizens. No, there was no protest about how these people were being profiled for the last 10 years. Yes, there were no protests because naturalized Russian citizens and citizens of Russian decent understand one word “ILLEGAL”! Earn your way here and then I will embrace you or listen to your gripes, if not go home or make your way to the end of the line and earn it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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