By Keish Kim | New Organizing Project blogger
Two weeks have passed and most have caught at least some of the buzz surrounding the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decision concerning Arizona immigration bill SB 1070. Whether it was positive, negative, the standing provision of section 2(b) more commonly referred to as the “show me your papers” provision of SB1070, has created more questions than answers in our communities.
Many blogs and articles have described section 2(b) as the provision that opens opportunities for local law-enforcers to communicate with ICE to ascertain the immigration status of an individual they “lawfully” stop, arrest, or detain, if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that they are undocumented. What many do not see is that these incidents happen everyday even before the Court ruling and will continue to happen, maybe even more so after this decision.
If two cars are pulled over by an officer for speeding at the same time and one driver is Caucasian and the other a person of Latino decent, who would the police officer raise suspicion as an “illegal alien” in this incident? The answer could easily be the latter. What we may not know is that the second driver is a US citizen, whose ancestors have been residing in Arizona since the 1800s. The first may actually be an undocumented immigrant from South Africa. Who knows? Actually, right after I wrote the draft of this post, I started seeing this meme going around social media. Funny, huh?
What I am stressing is that racial profiling happens everyday in our communities, not just in Arizona.
Georgia was one of the first states to implement an Arizona copycat bill: House Bill 87. Our Governor even recently replied to the SCOTUS decision as a victory. HB 87 includes similar language to SB 1070, including text akin to section 2(b). And while SB 1070 was going through the circuits to be decided by the Supreme Court and many of Georgia’s HB 87 provisions were put on hold, because section 2(b) is so vague and difficult to provide evidence for, immigrant activists and organizers and lawyers alike must be prepared with strategies to combat how HB 87 will be practiced in Georgia.
Since HB87 was signed last July 2nd, Georgia saw the loss of immigrant communities all over the state. This was very apparent within small business owners and farmers across Georgia. And aside from the economic backlashes, I also saw so many incidents of “racial profiling” in immigrant communities. Through Secure Communities and 287g, it was and still is the unspoken reality that happens every single day. Local law-enforcers only need a reasonable suspicion to stop and arrest someone; they could say it was because the individual came to a “rolling stop at a stop sign” or that their headlights that went out. But these small reasons can bring about questions that reveal one’s documentation status. Secure Communities and 287g mean that the local government has direct connection with immigration (ICE).
While most cases I have seen and worked on were of people of Latino descent, APIA’s are no exception from alerting foreignness and “suspicion” to the local law enforcer’s radar. A police car, for example, followed my mother all the way to the entrance of our neighborhood for no reason at all. The police followed her for 30+ minutes and waited for her to make any mistakes in order to lawfully pull her aside. I also witnessed roadblocks that are set in one-lane streets that lead up to immigrant apartment complexes or trailer parks. That means residents who are largely Latino will have to drive through the roadblock in order to get home.
When community members are fearful of being wrongfully targeted because of their skin color or nationality, not only do economic supports dissipate and businesses suffer but our human rights could be violated at the very same time.
So what can we do?
Reach out to your policy-makers and let your voices be heard. Through voting, we can make sure to let them know that a healthy economy means being immigrant friendly, too. And we need to make sure the civil rights of all communities of color are protected.
This impacts us all, whether we realize it or not.
Photo Credit: startribune.com