Palin distorts Arizona law: ‘No opportunity for racial profiling’

By David Edwards
Wednesday, April 28, 2010 12:34 EDT
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When former half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was asked for her reaction to Arizona’s new immigration law, her first response was to defend it against charges that it will lead to racial profiling.

“Thankfully, Byron York, he hit the nail on the head,” Palin told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Tuesday. “There is no ability or opportunity in there for the racial profiling. And shame on the lamestream media again for turning this into something that it is not.”

“Governor Jan Brewer did what she had to do as the CEO of that state to help protect the citizens of her state,” Palin continued. “I think it’s shameful too that the Obama administration has allowed this to become more of a racial issue by perpetuating this myth that racial profiling is a part of this law.”

In a column for the conservative Washington Examiner on Monday, York had described the Arizona law as “a reasonable, limited, carefully-crafted measure” that merely “requires police to check with federal authorities on a person’s immigration status, if officers have stopped that person for some legitimate reason and come to suspect that he or she might be in the U.S. illegally.”

Despite York’s claims, however, the new Arizona law offers every opportunity for racial profiling, since it influences who will be chosen by the police for a “lawful stop.” As explained at Commonweal Magazine, the “assurance that the ‘law does not authorize unlawful stops’ is only comforting if you ignore the breadth of the category of ‘lawful stops.’ It is perfectly lawful for a police officer to simply approach you on the street or in the grocery store or enter a bus you are riding and, for no apparent reason, engage you in conversation. Once he does, anything you say or do that gives him ‘reasonable suspicion’ that you are an illegal immigrant requires him to force you to show your proverbial ‘papers.’”

Hannity, however, was apparently unaware that the law would not apply merely to criminal suspects, insisting that the police “can’t go out and pick somebody out and say, “All right, I suspect you’re here illegally.’ You first have to be under suspicion for another crime.” He then suggested to Palin that the media were deliberately misinforming the public.

“This is the problem with that lamestream media,” Palin agreed. “One of the media outlets the other day just was killing me on this one, Sean, where they had a caption across their screen that said this Arizona law will make it illegal to be an illegal immigrant. Some bizarre type of headline like that, where it was just this illustration that they just don’t get it.”

The caption as described by Palin would have been accurate, however, since the law now makes it an Arizona state crime for any non-citizen to be “present on any public or private land in this state” without having “in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card.”

Hannity, who appeared to be attempting to develop a coherent narrative in which the left was deliberately distorting the nature of the Arizona law, went on to suggest that the Obama administration has been deliberately refusing to enforce existing immigration laws. Palin responded, “I think that President Obama is playing to his base on this one, and I think that’s quite unfortunate.”

“This is quite the illustration of President Obama not understanding the Tenth Amendment to our Constitution,” Palin added, launching into a diatribe about “Obamacare … forcing the states and the states’ citizens to take action … and yet not respecting our Constitution when it comes to the rights, the responsibilities too, of the federal government, and making a state take over a national security issue like protecting our borders. He has no concept, it seems, of that tenth amendment.”

It is hard to disentangle Palin’s logic here, but it appears she is charging the federal government with unconstitutionally compelling Arizona to adopt its new immigration law in violation of the tenth amendment, which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

‘It’s really to incite and energize some of Obama’s base, hoping that they’ll show up at the polls in the midterm elections,” Palin concluded, describing the Democrats as “a sinking ship [that] have to have a couple of lifeboats out there.”

This video is from Fox News’ Hannity, broadcast April 27, 2010.

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David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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