A May 4 New York Times article reported: “Although the respondents broadly agreed that the Arizona law would result in racial profiling, overburden local and state law enforcement agencies and decrease the willingness of illegal immigrants to report crimes for fear of deportation, large majorities said it would reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the state, deter illegal border crossings and, to a lesser extent, reduce crime.”
This is a very disturbing revelation. Because here’s what this poll says to me about the attitude among 51% of Americans:
- Racial profiling of innocent Hispanics: OK with me.
- Overburdening of local law officers with enforcement of victimless crimes: OK with me.
- Reducing the ability of police to investigate serious crimes: OK with me.
- Having undocumented workers earn an honest living: I’ve got a problem with that.
Don’t get me wrong. The issue of illegal immigration is a serious problem. But the solution offered by this simplistic law seems more about spite than reason. Surely there were Japanese spies in California at the outset of WWII. But was that justification for interning every single Japanese? This law is little different. It says we are willing to trample the rights of a minority group to placate the fears of the majority. That tyranny by the majority is why the Founders insisted on a Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. (By the way, where is the outcry from the Tea Baggers about “defending the Constitution” on this one?)
There are over 45 million Hispanics in the United States today. The overwhelming majority of them are here legally. I think it’s also a safe bet most of those Hispanics find this law punitive and petty. I certainly do.
If these poll numbers represent an accurate portrayal of mainstream attitudes, this nation is in for a long and divisive time ahead.
Raul Ramos y Sanchez