Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jose Crow? Seriously?

I have come across an article in The Houston Chronicle by Garnet Coleman, a Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives, with regard to the Arizona immigration law.

Coleman likens Arizona's immigration law to the old Jim Crow laws of the South and praises the Obama Administration's decision to challenge the law in court. He states Arizona's immigration law is "ushering us into the Jose Crow era."

Frankly, Coleman is engaging in defamation. The comparison to Jim Crow is simply odious. Coleman cheapens the meaning of racism and cheapens himself in the process.

It is also clear to me that Coleman has not read S.B. 1070. Coleman writes:

By declaring "reasonable suspicion" grounds for detainment, such laws not only overstep their boundaries, but they ensure that people of a certain ethnicity are born suspects.

Coleman has put the cart before the horse. Aside from the fact that S.B. 1070 explicitly forbids racial profiling, reasonable suspicion is not grounds for detainment under this law. First comes detainment. Then comes reasonable suspicion if the individual in question does not have identification on his person or his property. At which point a law enforcement officer would have to call ICE. From that point on it would be left to ICE to determine the person's immigration status.

It's worth noting that the Department of Justice isn't challenging S.B. 1070 on the grounds of racial profiling. Rather it is challenging the law as a matter of jurisdiction. The DOJ argues that Arizona cannot establish its own immigration law.

If Coleman disagrees with Arizona's immigration law so be it. But he should at least have the courtesy to actually read the legislation before raising the spectre of Jim Crow and Jose Crow and all the ugliness associated with it. To quote the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Coleman is entitled to his own opinion but he is not entitled to his own facts.

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