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Two years after leading the nation into a new era of racial profiling, Arizona’s controversial law SB1070 is finally being heard by the US Supreme Court. Early indications are that the conservative leaning court appears to be siding with a state’s right to govern within its’ autonomous borders. If that proves true, this law will be the catalyst for all the other states like Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, to name a few who have already passed their own immigration laws, to take immigration matters into their own hands despite the Constitution clearly stating that immigration matters fall under Federal jurisdiction.

Most alarming about SB1070 are the provisions that force police to inquire about a person’s legal status if they “suspect” the person is in the country illegally, as well as the provision that makes it a crime to not have your federal identification papers with you at all times. Seriously, this sounds like something taken from Nazi Germany 70 years ago. The “Show Me Your Papers” state will, if SB1070 is upheld by the Supreme Court, give rise to legal racism.

How is it that a city or state police officer, untrained in immigration matters, will be able to “suspect” a person is in the country illegally? How many Latino Americans or legal residents will be forced to prove their nationality over and over again? What will become of the successful Latino American construction foreman who, stopped for a traffic violation, is “suspected” of being undocumented because he is wearing worn out boots and his clothes are dirty, both commonly found on undocumented immigrants crossing the desert? I’ll tell you what will become of him. He will be questioned, detained and possibly deported (for not having his papers with him), a violation of the civil rights afforded us all in this country despite the color of our skin.

Short of stopping someone with a bale of marijuana strapped to his back hiding behind a cactus, there is practically no way to determine a person’s legal status by looking at them. Enacting laws that allow for certain civil rights abuses is something I thought this country left behind a half century ago. Apparently not.

Todd Bigelow Photography

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