15 April 2010

Papers please!

So... I can't see this backfiring or being abused by police profiling tactics at all.

I'm sure all those well-meaning Arizona cops will refrain from stopping every Hispanic looking person and demanding identification without any other probable cause (ie...a crime other than "illegal immigration status"). What you say? They've already been doing just that when this strategy has been approved? How strange.

What's that you say? Abuse of prosecutorial and police resources, forfeiture clause abuses...and instead of being prosecuted for abusing their public status as law enforcement, they're running for the State's Attorney General (and possibly Governor as well)? Hmm. Put simply, this kind of crap is the reason I don't vote with Conservatives. Immigration, illegal or otherwise, is small potatoes as a national security or a crime problem or even as a "drain on social welfare policies", and I'm only marginally persuaded that it is a problem in labour markets (ie, "stealing American's jobs"). Quite simply the problems instead as I see them relating to this are as follows
1) Bad education policies resulting in low quality primary education which does not qualify Americans (or people who attend American schools) for decent jobs
2) Dysfunctional drug interdiction policies which serve principally to enrich criminal actors and who also engage in smuggling of people
3) Poorly designed social welfare policies (including health care and old age/retirement). A negative income tax and possibly required savings for health or retirement or a catastrophic health care guarantee would work much easier (the problem here is less that these systems are being stressed by immigration, but that people believe they are because the transfer payments are not transparent when they come in the way they do like food stamps and the EITC. Or otherwise people are just dumb and don't seem to think there's very much money in Social Security)
4) Poorly designed intelligence gathering as it relates to crime and terrorism.
5) Poor public understanding of market rates/behaviors and the minimum wage law. (ie: that only native born "Americans" are entitled to jobs here and that the min wage exists to "protect workers" instead of to functionally prevent workers from getting jobs)

All this crap about having local cops stop "illegals" to enforce federal immigration law, which mostly results in popular backlash from low-income immigrant communities (many of whom are legally in the country on visas or have resided legally or illegally peacefully for years and should not be a cause for concern), and the subsequent abuses of authority that it is bound to result in for other citizens (ie, people who disagree with this as an "effective" tactic or use of police resources), and especially the fucking idiots who want a wall down there for...whatever they think good that will do, tends to be all pretty good filters against which I assess an idea over whether I'm talking to a "libertarian" or a "conservative who claims to believe in a limited government". Whenever I see people proposing these things (along with other things like drug-tested welfare programs instead of means-testing medicare and social security) and engaging in Sheriff Joe worship, I know to get out of the room and check my pockets on the way out because I'm talking to one of the latter and thus being scammed (because none of these are appropriate ends for government power, limited or otherwise).

I realize I'm not down in Arizona to deal with whatever the furor down there is and has become over this issue. But it's not like I've not seen Ohio's labour markets in particular industries (roofing for example) beginning look suspiciously Mexican over the past decade or so. And yet my concern is that it's hard for them to get in the country, to stay in the country without harassment, and to receive legal protections that other residents might take for granted (including workers rights in contractual arrangements). Or perhaps more pressing, the right not to be racially profiled in order to satisfy some disaffected sense of what constitutes the defined persona of an "American".
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