Marshall, MN – Today’s decision is a mixed bag for Latinos, but a political victory for Obama. Three of four provisions under consideration were struck down, while the centerpiece “papers please” provision remained largely intact.
As we said in April, the Obama administration did a particularly poor job of arguing the case before SCOTUS, leaving out racial profiling, the most powerful argument against state and local police enforcement of immigration law. During oral arguments, Chief Justice Roberts even opened the door with the question “No part of your argument has to do with racial or ethnic profiling?” and yet Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. still declined to raise the issue.
There can be little doubt that involving police in immigration enforcement results in racial profiling. Numerous studies nationwide prove statistically that racial profiling is a problem even without immigration enforcement, with blacks and Hispanics typically 1.5 to 3 times MORE likely to be stopped by police for traffic infractions, substantially MORE likely to have their vehicle searched, and substantially LESS likely to be found with contraband. A 2008 poll by Pew Research found 9% of adult Latinos reported they had been stopped by law enforcement and asked legal status during the previous 12 months. Not surprisingly, 81% of Hispanics do not want police involved in immigration enforcement. A recent study found that Latinos represent 93% of those arrested under secure communities program are Latino, versus 77% of the undocumented population, and nearly 50% of those arrested under secure communities are NOT arrested for criminal offenses but rather traffic infractions, which suggests strongly that Latinos are being arrested rather than cited so they can be funneled through secure communities at jails.
The best example of the impact of immigration enforcement can be found in Maricopa County, which placed great emphasis on immigration enforcement, even at the expense of its core public safety mission. The U.S. Department of Justice invested considerable resources into investigating widespread complaints of racial profiling by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, headed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and based on Arpaio’s own records concluded that Latinos are 4-9 times as likely to be stopped by police for traffic violations, and 20% of the stops of Latinos lacked probable cause for the stop. The 287(g) program, which authorizes designated state and local police officers to enforce immigration law, also has been the subject of widespread complaints about racial profiling, the failure to follow priorities, etc., as reported by ICE’s own Inspector General. Amazingly Obama’s solicitor general never raised racial profiling with the Supreme Court in this case!
We predict eventually the “papers please” provision will be struck down in its entirety due to racial profiling that will likely result, and clear contradiction with federal law. Section 287(g) of the INA provides for police immigration enforcement through agreements with ICE, requiring supervision by ICE, 4-5 weeks of training, background checks, etc. SB1070 prohibits racial profiling but then fails to provide any remedy if that section is violated, while providing that anyone can sue police if they are not enforcing SB1070.
SB1070 and similar laws clearly contradict 287(g) by not providing any federal oversight over immigration enforcement, no training requirement, and no accountability except through costly litigation. Indeed, when SB1070 became law, Arizona’s training plan consisted of having police officers watch a 90 minute video, versus 4-5 weeks of intensive training. Immigration law is very complex, and without a basic understanding of immigration law it is very easy to make mistakes and arrest law abiding citizens or legal immigrants. Thousands of U.S. citizens are mistakenly arrested as undocumented immigrants every year just from Secure Communities alone, according to a recent study.
In our opinion, Obama wanted the centerpiece police enforcement provision left intact as a powerful wedge issue, which explains the failure to raise the most powerful argument in this case. SB1070 is extremely unpopular among Latinos, who are already experiencing racial profiling. In losing on this “papers please provision” Obama wins politically, at the expense of Latinos and others who are often perceived as immigrants.
Mitt Romney made some excellent points in his statement today, though we disagree about states fashioning their own immigration enforcement solutions:
Today’s decision underscores the need for a President who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration. This represents yet another broken promise by this President.
Obama’s recent actions are stop gaps intended more to shore up flagging support among Latinos than long term fixes to our broken immigration system.
About Us – Cafe Con Leche Republicans is a national organization of Republicans who welcome “New Americans”, defined as immigrants and family of recent immigrants. Our mission is to make America and the GOP, more welcoming to “New Immigrants” through political activism, “in-reach” and education within the Republican Party, and lobbying government to adopt more immigrant friendly policies. We also seek to bring more conservative and moderate “New Americans” to the Republican Party. These efforts will strengthen the GOP, and lead more Republicans to embrace welcoming policies for immigrants and their families. We have chapters in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Our members and leadership are predominantly Hispanic, though we define ourselves by mission and guiding principles, not ethnicity, and we welcome all who share our goals. Our leadership is 100% Republican.