Saturday, May 01, 2010

One last word about the Arizona immigration law

Read this NY Times editorial by Kris W. Kobach. It addresses most of the points being discussed in this and many other blogs.


Chalicechick said...

OK, the biggest problem, though not the only one, with that editorial is that it is less straightforward than it could have been on the differences between a "probable cause" standard and a "reasonable suspicion" standard.
Had the legislators used the "probable cause" standard, I wouldn't have nearly the concerns that I do about this law.

His very sneaky example of a legal traffic stop where the driver of the car has ALREADY DONE SOMETHING ILLEGAL would qualify under the "probable cause" standard.

He doesn't mention that the sort of cases that are "reasonable suspicion cases" tend to hinge on situations where, for example, a call goes out to look out for a hispanic male abot 5'10" and an officer therefore decides every hispanic male he sees of roughly that height is suspicious.

Or someone is standing on the street corner looking into a jewelry store window. Maybe he is passing time while waiting for a bus, but it looks enough like he's casing the place that the officer has reasonable suspicion and can ask him what he's up to. Young woman in sexy clothes? MAYBE she's a hooker.


The "Terry stop," as reasonable suspicion stops are usually called, has been traditionally pretty liberally allowed since it didn't allow the cop to do very much. People didn't even have to identify themselves and a "Hey kid, quit hanging around outside this jewelry store" or "ladies, you're going to have to move along" was a typical result.

If we're going to add to the things a cop can do to hassle somebody with a Terry stop, then the entire nature of the meaning of "reasonable suspicion" needs to be re-evaluated to take those new powers into account.

But, hey, why tell the poeple all that when you can just imply in the NYT that "reasonable suspicion" and "probable cause" are the same thing? They've seen "Law and Order" and likely recall something about how the police aren't supposed to stop you unless you've done something wrong. Most people will probably be fooled by this editorial.

I'm pretty defensive of my civil liberties already, but the willingness of the people who favor this law to play fast and loose with the truth is making me even more convinced that my position is the correct one.

If this law is so great, why do the people who favor it have to exaggerate the crime rate and play games with what the law means?


Joel Monka said...

"If this law is so great..." That's never been my argument- I said in the first sentence of the first post that this law is unconstitutional, which I still believe despite what Mr. Kovach says. The point I've been trying to make is just that 70% of Arizona are neither racists nor Nazis. Every one of the complaints about the law was considered before it was voted on, with this editorial being typical of the responses- and it doesn't sound, to any layman, very Nazi-like.

As to what will happen, as opposed to what may happen, that depends upon the training and morale of the police, not upon what the law says. That's true no matter what law, where. Police all over the country are using their tasers to punish people for mouthing off, no matter what the law says. I know from personal experience that some police officers will find marijuana every single time they search some goddamn long haired faggot punk for it. If this law survives the court challenges, we'll find out what Arizona cops are made of.

"...but the willingness of the people who favor this law to play fast and loose with the truth... why do the people who favor it have to exaggerate the crime rate and play games with what the law means?"

Gee, you mean as opposed to what either side of the healthcare law, or the financial reform bill, or a hundred other pieces of legislation have done? Or as opposed to what the opponents of the Arizona law are doing, for that matter? The higher the emotions, the farther out on the limb people will go; that's just human nature.

Chalicechick said...

To me it seems like most of the things the opponents of the bill are saying are about interpretation. Sometimes I agree with the interpretation, sometimes I don't. I don't agree that all Arizonans who support the bill are racist, I do agree that the Arizona police's usual behavior leaves very little room for optimism as far as them carrying it out in a reasonable manner goes, and that's taking the border patrol as my standard for "reasonable."

I really haven't seen as many straight-up lies of the "We've had numerous officers that have been killed by illegal immigrants in Arizona." when they've only had one in the last few years variety. Nor have I seen any of the misdirection about what is in the bill that your NYT peice had, except, well, the issues that acted as straw men in the NYT article itself.

Maybe it is because most of the criticism I've seen of the bill comes from law students and most of the support I've seen from the bill has come from random people other places but the lying about easily-verified facts really does seem largely on the other side on this one.