Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) made a point about the potential for racial profiling in Arizona’s anti-immigration law on Wednesday by challenging members of the House to look at a series of photographs and determine which of the people were immigrants and which were citizens.
In a 5-4 ruling earlier this week, the the Supreme Court found that three out of four provisions of the Arizona law were unconstitutional because they were preempted federal laws. The court upheld that police could be required to inquire about immigration status when they stop suspects, but it left open the possibility of future challenges once that portion of the law was finally implemented.
“In Arizona today, all that stands between you and a legal nightmare is whether a police officer feels that there is a reasonable suspicion to inquire about your country of origin,” Gutierrez explained. “Yet, Arizona politicians will tell you — with a straight face, no less — that they can apply this law without racial profiling, without assuming that someone named Gutierrez isn’t less likely to be in this country legally than someone named Smith. That’s an amazing skill!”
“Maybe with practice we can all become like Arizona politicians and police officers who are able to telepathically determine who to accuse of not belong in America. But let’s take a quiz together this morning and learn how to pick out the suspect.”
The first set of photos compared journalists Geraldo Rivera and Ted Koppel.
“Geraldo’s Rivera’s mustache wouldn’t confuse an Arizona law enforcement professional,” Gutierrez snarked. “They would know that Geraldo was born in Brooklyn, New York and that Ted Koppel was born in Europe, in England, where his parents moved to flee from Hitler and Nazi Germany.”
Round two pitted singer Selena Gomez against her boyfriend Justin Bieber.
“I’m sure Justin helped Gomez learn all about American customs and feel more at home in her adopted country,” the congressman said. “Oh, wait a minute. I’m sorry. Because I’m not a trained Arizona official, I somehow got that backwards. Actually, Ms. Gomez of Texas has helped Mr. Bieber of Canada learn about his adopted country.”
“Justin, when you perform in Phoenix, remember to bring your papers,” Gutierrez warned.
Gutierrez also presented photos comparing Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Antonin Scalia, both of whom are U.S. citizens.
“If these two justices step out to Starbucks, which one do you think is likeliest to be a suspect?” he wondered.
“We could play this game all day, but the point is simple: The idea that any government official can determine who belongs in America and who doesn’t simply by looking at them is completely ridiculous, unfair and un-American. And yet, this absurdity is the law of Arizona.”
Watch this video from C-SPAN via Mediaite, broadcast June 27, 2012.