Last night on Fox News, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin criticized opponents of Arizona’s draconian new anti-immigration legislation, SB-1070, for making it into a “racial issue” by “perpetuating this myth that racial profiling is a part of this law.” As usual, host Sean Hannity agreed with her, saying, “It does not encourage profiling. It specifically prohibits it.” Supporters of the law like to stress that police will be able to question people only during “lawful contact,” such as a traffic stop.
However, in Arizona, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, who has been a cop for 52 years, says it will definitely lead to racial profiling. He told local TV station KGUN9 that the law is “racist,” “digusting,” and “unnecessary,” and he won’t enforce it. While the law may not explicitly mandate profiling, Dupnik said that there’s no way to enforce it without doing so; the “lawful contact” provision will become nothing but a “flimsy excuse” to target certain people:
The sheriff acknowledged that this course of action could get him hauled into court. SB 1070 allows citizens to sue any law enforcement official who doesn’t comply with the law. But Dupnik told Nunez that SB 1070 would force his deputies to adopt racial profiling as an enforcement tactic, which Dupnik says could also get him sued. “So we’re kind of in a damned if we do, damned if we don’t situation. It’s just a stupid law.”
Dupnik had harsh words for anyone who thinks SB 1070 will not lead to racial profiling. “If I tell my people to go out and look for A, B, and C, they’re going to do it. They’ll find some flimsy excuse like a tail light that’s not working as a basis for a stop, which is a bunch of baloney.”
Another high-profile law enforcement official who has condemned what Arizona is doing is former Bush Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, who told the AP yesterday that “he’s uncomfortable with Arizona’s new immigration law, saying it allows police to question people without probable cause.” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was also the governor of Arizona, said it shackles law enforcement officials by not allowing them to focus on the priorities in their own communities. There are also now significant concerns that immigrants will be less likely to cooperate with police in other matters. As one officer has said, “How do you police a community that will not talk to you?”