The “Border Beat” (June 20, 2008)

The “Border Beat” is back in its traditional format today. We end the week with a cornucopia of articles on immigration, foreign relations, and, of course, the 2008 election.

  • The European Union cracks down on immigrants–U.S. style (San Francisco Chronicle);
  • Death, life, and medical attention on the U.S.-Mexico border (Tucson Citizen);
  • Proof pundits don’t know what they’re talking about, Obama’s Latino troubles have turned into a “Latino edge” (Hispanic Business);
  • The Economist (of all publications) warns the U.S. of “Mexico-bashing”; and
  • Rogue Arizona Sheriff detains all brown people, makes them prove they aren’t illegal immigrants, and then arrests them if they can’t–oh, and he’s running for reelection (Reuters).

The last article is insane. It tells the story of Joe Arpaio, Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Arpaio–who has made a name for himself as a tough guy when it comes to cracking down on illegal immigration–has been using his office to do more of the same. What they do is send groups of officers into the Latino barrios of his county and stop people who “look” like they might be “illegals,” force them to prove they are not, and then–if they can’t prove they are citizens or legal residents–they arrest them.

There is probably not much of a defense to what he is doing. It is a clear case of racial profiling, a practice that is largely illegal. It blurs the line between federal and local jurisdiction, arrests people even if they have not committed any crime (how do you prove a negative?), and, worse, creates a clear climate of fear among Latino communities in his county. But he’s just that kind of law man!

Arpaio is no stranger to the headlines. He makes them and he attracts them. He fancies himself a maverick who is cleaning up a bankrupt system. He is an author of a book about his hardline stances and, coincidentally, he is running for reelection this fall.

When you look past all the hype and bluster, this is a tragedy. Latinos are residents of the same county he is sworn to protect and, yet, he has no compunction about creating a different standard for them in terms of deserving respect, protection, and safety. Sadly, this is more the norm than the exception when it comes to Latinos and their daily interaction with law enforcement in their communities. If you don’t believe that…well…read more.

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