by Bob Quasius
A common Democratic party narrative told to Latinos, especially in Arizona, is they should register as Democrats and vote a straight Democratic ticket, because those evil racist Republicans want to racially profile them and deport all Latinos. This is a blatant exaggeration, an obvious attempt to keep Latinos on the ‘liberal hacienda’, as few if any Republicans are seeking to deport Latino citizens.
A May 2011 in-depth study by Pew Research suggests a more accurate narrative to describe Republican attitudes on immigration: ‘a majority of Republicans favor immigration reform, including a path to legalization for unauthorized immigrants, and as with Americans in general, a strong majority of Republicans favor more immigration enforcement.’ The Pew Research poll also found that even among the most staunch conservatives, there is a 49%/49% split on immigration reform. Republicans are clearly not monolithic on immigration reform, and statistics like Pew Research’s hardly support any notion that Republicans are anti-Latino.
Contrary to the Democratic narrative, Democratic administrations have deported more Latino immigrants than Republican administrations. Obama has deported 1.5 million immigrants, mostly Latinos, and leading many to dub Obama our “deporter-in-chief.”
Which president has deported the most Latino citizens? Though Obama has deported more Latino citizens than any president in recent history, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt forced out more Latino citizens than any other president in history. During the great depression, a program called “the great repatriation” forced approximately one million “Mexicans” to leave the U.S. either by force or by making discrimination so pervasive that many could not find employment and simply left. Various historians estimate 60% of those who left were U.S. Citizens. The “great repatriation” was authorized by Herbert Hoover, but mostly took place during FDR’s administration.
Who is America’s worst racial profiler? Immediately for most, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio comes to mind. Sheriff Joe has become infamous among Latinos for his trademark immigration sweeps of Hispanic neighborhoods, looking for minor traffic and other infractions as a pretext to investigate immigration status. A recent study conducted by an outside police executive, and authorized by the U.S. Department of Justice, found Latinos in Maricopa County are from four to nine times more likely stopped by police than non-Latinos, and 20% of Latino traffic stops lacked probable cause. However, despite Joe Arpaio’s notoriety he is not America’s worst racial profiler.
However, the title of “racial-profiler-in-chief” rightly belongs to an Arizona Democrat named Janet Napolitano! As Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, she head’s America’s largest law enforcement agency, which includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). ICE and CBP are notorious for the use of racial profiling in immigration enforcement, but these agencies are only part of the reason Janet Napolitano merits this notoriety. Napolitano has very aggressively rolled out the Secure Communities program, in which state and local law enforcement share fingerprint data from local jails, even though this program has generated widespread complaints about the racial profiling S-COMM has fueled.
According to a recent study of Secure Communities, 93% of those arrested under S-COMM are Latinos, while Latinos represent 78% of the unauthorized immigrant community
and 3,600 U.S. citizens have been falsely arrested. One revealing statistic is that nearly 50% of those arrested under s-comm were NOT jailed for committing a crime but rather traffic or similar non-criminal violations of the law, which confirms pervasive complaints that Latinos are being jailed rather than cited for such minor traffic infractions as cracked windshields, broken tail lights (including on bicycles), frost on car windows, expired vehicle registration, speeding, etc. State and local police don’t usually have the ability to check immigration status of those they stop, but jails do. It’s apparent that increasingly Latinos who are stopped for traffic infractions are being jailed rather than cited so their immigration status can be investigated, which is racial profiling because outcomes of traffic stops are different for Latinos, and some police will target Latinos for traffic stops on the suspicion they may be unauthorized immigrants. Less than one in five Latinos are unauthorized, so the result is that thousands of law abiding citizens are subjected to the humiliation of jail for routine police encounters such as traffic infractions!
Secure Communities has become so controversial that some states, including Massachusetts and New York have objected to participation
, while other states already in the program sought to withdraw. In response to widespread complaints about racial profiling, lack of following priorities, etc. DHS created a review panel, but in the end their recommendations
were watered down, and the only change is that DHS agreed not to deport low level offenders for traffic infractions until they had been convicted. Five members of the panel were so outraged at the ‘whitewash job’ they quit the panel in disgust
, while the other 14 panel members who didn’t quit were very critical of DHS.
Secure Communities started out as voluntary, but under Napolitano states now have no option but to participate and remain in the program if they wish to opt-out as they were promised under Bush. Like the great repatriation, which began under Hoover, Secure Communities began under a Republican administration as a pilot voluntary program, but vastly expanded under a Democratic administration.