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Supreme Court gets it wrong on AZ law

Felicia Persaud | 7/9/2012, 5:20 p.m.
"Reject Racism!" The sign of one protestor outside the Arizona state building in Tucson on...
Letter No. 30: Immigration reform now!

"Reject Racism!"

The sign of one protestor outside the Arizona state building in Tucson on June 25 against the controversial ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court summed up my thoughts exactly as I wondered aloud how a set of supposedly esteemed justices could get it so wrong.

On June 25, the Supreme Court unanimously sustained the most radical part of the state's controversial immigration law, SB 1070--the "Show Me Your Papers Rule," as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) puts it--which requires state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if there is reason to suspect that the individual might be an "illegal immigrant."

In other words, the Supreme Court has now endorsed racial profiling! And not even dear, old Justice Clarence Thomas breathed a word for the people! In fact, in his brief opinion, Thomas actually said that he would have voted to uphold the entire law, as he saw no conflict between the provisions of Arizona's immigration law before the court and "the relevant federal laws."

Really now, Clarence? What Constitution did you swear to uphold? Or are we even reading the same one? The one I learnt as a new immigrant to the United States told me that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

This means my rights and the rights of all in this country to be free are protected from unreasonable search and seizure, and that the police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is occurring before they can stop a suspect. Also, under the Equal Protection Clause to the Constitution, as well as federal and state civil rights laws, the police may not consider race in their enforcement activity, except when they seek a particular person described in part by race.

So this begs the question, how exactly can a police officer in Arizona uphold the clause in the law as upheld by the Supreme Court without violating a person's constitutional right? Won't a simple issue like skin color and foreign accent come into play when considering who to stop and ask for identification like a driver's license, green card or passport?

The U.S. Justice Department also missed the mark in not challenging this aspect of the law on the grounds of racial profiling. Even President Barack Obama agrees that is it racial profiling, so why did Eric Holder not push this line of argument?

Kudos to the ACLU, which has insisted it will continue the battle against SB 1070 and its racist element and invitation to violate the civil rights of an untold number of Arizona residents and visitors, including U.S. citizens. We all need to keep up the protest until this ruling is reversed and states like Arizona finally get the message that they are not a law unto themselves and must fall in line with the federal rules and the entire U.S. Constitution.

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.