Rep Brian Bilbray Says He Can Spot Illegal Immigrants Based on Their Shoes

I was concerned yesterday that Arizona’s new draconian anti-immigrant law might lead to widespread harassment of Hispanics who live in or travel to the state. Chris Matthews explored this topic with Rep Brian Billbray (R-CA) on Hardball last night, and Bilbray assures me I have nothing to worry about:

Chris Matthews: …like what, like what? Give me a non-ethnic aspect that would tell you to pick up somebody.

Rep. Bilbray: They will look at the kind of dress you wear, there’s different type of attire, there’s different type of — right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes. But mostly by behavior it’s mostly behavior, just as the law enforcement people here in Washington, DC does it based on certain criminal activity there is behavior things that professionals are trained in across the board and this group shouldn’t be exempt from those observations as much as anybody else.

As Andrea Nill writes “Bilbray’s comments illustrate exactly what civil rights activists fear will happen,” inquiries into people’s citizenship status are going to be launched based on superficial characteristics and idiosyncratic judgment. And it doesn’t take a genius to see that rather than “attire…right down the shoes” the characteristics of choice will be skin color, your name, and what language you’re speaking.