A proposed Arizona law would allow police to question and arrest people who can’t provide proof of legal residency. Civil libertarians claim that a side effect of the bill would be the harassment of Latinos. Faux Comedy Central pundit Stephen Colbert says that harassment is not a side effect. It’s the “entire point.”
Colbert devoted his “The Word” segment to examining the bill Wednesday. “We’ve tried everything to keep illegals out, from volunteer Minutemen to lining the border with our crappiest states,” Colbert joked.
Under the proposed law, Police would be able to question people if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally. The Arizona legislature has passed the bill and now Governor Jan Brewer has until Saturday night to veto the bill or let it become law. It would be the strictest anti-illegal immigration law in the country.
Jennifer Allen, Director of the Border Action Network, calls the bill an “affront to the basic rights and dignities every person has in the State of Arizona, in the United States and around the world.”
Allen believes the law is designed to make the State inhospitable to all immigrants. “Tire people. Hit them left, hit them right, from in the front and from the back until people are literally exhausted, and run out of the state and run out of the country,” she said.
Isabel Garcia, an attorney in Arizona, told ABC News that the bill was causing people to want to move away from the state. “We have not seen this kind of legislation since the Jim Crow laws… Stopping all of us who are brown-skinned, legalizing racial profiling,” Garcia said in an interview with CNN.
But Colbert disagrees with civil libertarians who say that a side effect of the bill would be to institutionalize the harassment of Latinos. “It’s not. It’s the entire point of this law,” said Colbert.
“This legislation gets to the heart of the problem. Illegal immigrants have it too cushy,” he said. “At least in Arizona the free ride is over because no illegal immigrant is going to want to be pulled over all the time or, for that matter, legal immigrants because they look the same so you have to pull them over too,” Colbert explained.
“Or Americans of Hispanic dissent or Italians because, you know, the olive skin. And let’s face it, ravioli is just a wet empandada,” Colbert reasoned.
Once the law takes effect, “no immigrants of any kind will want to live in Arizona,” he said. The Arizona immigrant population has already dropped 18% since 2008 because of the bad economy and this bill will make the economy even worse, predicted Colbert. “Because immigrants account for $29 billion of Arizona’s economy. And when they leave, that hit to the economic cojones will make sure no one will want to live there,” said Colbert.
And once there’s no people, there’s “no problemo,” Colbert concluded.
This video is from Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, broadcast April 21, 2010.