Attempting to justify the one part of the law the Supreme Court deferred judgement on — a provision many agree helps drive racial profiling by police — Pearce insisted that his proposal could have “averted” the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which he said were “apparently okay to the left.”
All of which, of course, is patently absurd. For one, there’s no way of knowing how the officers would have reacted during those stops, even if they had Arizona-like laws backing them up. Another point Pearce apparently missed: the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had an informant living with two of the hijackers in San Diego — at the same time both men were under surveillance by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — but nobody managed to connect the dots in time to prevent the attack.
For Pearce to assume that his law, by itself, could have prevented the attacks is a bit more than outrageous.
He added that it is “demeaning to law enforcement” to suggest that giving officers the power to request immigration documents from anyone who looks out of place might lead to racial profiling. But demeaning to officers or not, racial profiling in Arizona and around the country is a serious problem. Statistics released by the Department of Justice in 2007 revealed that nation-wide, African-Americans and Latinos were roughly three times as likely to be searched during a police stop.
That’s not just a reflection on Arizona, but on the U.S. public in general. Polling in 2010 found that about 64 percent of registered voters said they were in favor of Arizona’s law and would like to see the policy implemented in their own states. Supporters included almost half of all Democrats, half of all independents and about 80 percent of all Republicans.
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.