Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pew, another poll

Another poll about the Arizona ID law, this time a national one from The Pew Research Center, and recent, conducted from May 6-9. Plus, on page two, it explains methodology, which is a help in considering these things.

"Fully 73% say they approve of requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status if police ask for them. Two-thirds (67%) approve of allowing police to detain anyone who cannot verify their legal status, while 62% approve of allowing police to question people they think may be in the country illegally.

After being asked about the law’s provisions, 59% say that considering everything, they approve of Arizona’s new illegal immigration law while 32% disapprove."

This suggest a course of action to me. The boycott resolution that will be voted on at GA next month calls for an amount of money to be raised equal to the penalties we must pay for the Standing On The Side Of Love campaign. I propose that if the resolution fails, that provision be submitted separately, with the money to be used to place a series of articles in major publications delineating the Constitutional issues involved. Appealing to emotions clearly isn't working; perhaps appealing to the general reverence for the Constitution will. This course of action has the following advantages:

That is the argument that will appeal most to conservatives, Republicans, and those over 50- the groups that currently most strongly support 1070. Splitting off the more libertarian minded conservatives will erode support for 1070 more than any amount of protests would.

We may be able to partner with a legal organization such as the ACLU, or another church to split costs. There will probably be famous name lawyers who will submit such articles at reduced cost or even pro bono, as it's an educational effort.

An educational program like that can be used for other social justice issues in the future; some of the partnerships we might form putting this together may become long term.

It would be a great thing to have our name attached to. We are proud of being the church where reason and religion meet; what better way to show it?


Steph said...


First, I must admit, I much prefer the cool and assertive logic of your course of action to the reactionary and emotional - and often inaccurate - responses that others insist upon regarding the subject. Frankly, I find it amusing how the UUA seems all hell-bent to defend one principle to the exclusion of another (that being the democratic process).

That being said, I do think I need to ask for one explanation from you, which I admit I am failing to clearly see: In what way precisely is the Arizona law unconstitutional? After all, it does not demand anything of immigrants or citizens that Federal Law already demands (in fact, as you've noted, it requires less than federal law); therefor, it does not set any guidelines for immigration status - what I suspect your angle is - that Congress did not already set; further, any apprehended by this law would be immediately turned over to the federal authorities, if I understand it correctly. Their sole "interference" is regarding their removing the middle-man, as it were, to the process. (Or possibly inserting themselves, depending on how one views it.)

There are a couple arguments I think could counter the interference thing I think you're targeting, in fact. For one, state & local law enforcement agencies get federal funding, and if I am not mistaken (and I fully admit, I very well may be) part of that funding is for their assistance in enforcing federal laws, is it not?

For a second, should local & state enforcement of federal laws be considered unconstitutional, there could be unintended consequences. For example, hypothetically speaking, if the local police had someone pulled over in a traffic stop, would they - by your argument - be permitted to run that person's identifications through any national or federal lists, to see if that person were wanted in connection to any crimes or investigations outside of that jurisdiction or state? I suspect that, if the Arizona law's enforcement were overturned, it is a very similar circumstance and thus could also possibly be considered unconstitutional. (Now, I fully admit that I do not know whether this constitutes a slippery slope fallacy or not; in my mind, it is the next logical step, if not the same one, but others may disagree.)

Joel Monka said...

Steph- your assumption is correct; the primary Constitutional question is separation of powers. The states do not enforce federal laws, nor the feds state laws. They are separate entities. A federal officer has no more police powers outside of the federal bailiwick than any other citizen- and the same goes for state police and federal property. For example, if a federal officer sees you commit murder, all he can do is hold you under "citizen's arrest" until the local police arrive- there are no federal laws against murder. (except on federal land or if the victim is a federal officer) And he would be subject to the same limitations of powers (citizen's arrest does not give you full police powers) as any other citizen while doing so.

For your example of running a suspect's name through a federal list, that list is a service provided to the state, a convenience. Legally, any action taken is between the two states- say, Indiana extraditing a suspect to Texas... the feds served only as the bulletin board upon which the wanted posters were tacked.

Another Constitutional sticky wicket is inadequate definition- or even vague guidelines- of "reasonable suspicion". Local police aren't trained in the federal guidelines and procedures, or the normal ICE policies, and there's no requirement or provision that they get that training in the law. One could- and no doubt someone soon will- argue that requiring officers to perform duties they are demonstrably not trained to perform amounts to callous disregard of the rights and safety of the public. Not to mention that of the officers.

There are other issues as well, but these are good starters.

Steph said...

Just a thing regarding my hypothetical. You responded as a question of it being 2 states. My example was actually meant to be State to Fed (or, for that matter, vice versa). Say Deputy "Strait" were to pull over someone for a seatbelt violation. Said person was on an federal wanted list. So you have a federal fugitive in the temporary custody of a state/local enforcement arm. If I understand your argument against constitutionality of the illegal immigrant law, would not the same situation arise?

Secondly, I disagree with your last argument; as a target of their initial interviews on more than a couple of occasions, I believe that they can be far more perceptive to when someone is doing something illicit, and when they are not, than people seem to want to give them credit for.

Steph said...

Not adding anything new to my position, just a couple new things I've heard about on the radio the past two days...

(1) Eric Holder, who was tasked by Obama back in April to determine the Arizona law's constitutionality (and stated he was having Justice & Homeland lawyers looking it over back then as well), still hasn't read the law (as of yesterday).

(2) Meanwhile, we in Georgia have apparently found the new poster child for illegal immigration.

Joel Monka said...

The situation with deputy Strait would be akin to an extradition- that fugitive has committed no crime in Strait's jurisdiction. The fugitive would be held for the FBI, but Strait would have no arresting charge of his own to hold the fugitive for any length of time if the FBI did not respond in a timely manner. And, no, I'm not lawyer enough to give details on the procedures.

As to the last argument, it isn't a matter of perception, it's a matter of law and precedent. Local police are trained in the procedures that must be followed in the course of their normal duties- the types of stops allowed, etc., but they are not trained ICE officers.

Steph said...

"Local police are trained in the procedures that must be followed in the course of their normal duties- the types of stops allowed, etc., but they are not trained ICE officers."

Based on their track record in general thus far, I'm not certain that ICE officers are what you are defining as trained ICE officers.... ;)

Elz said...

Most of this discussion is way beyond my comprehension, but I object to the way this just adds pressure to police departments to claim to "see" criminals more clearly. This country has a long history of people being arrested, jailed, tried and convicted because they fall outside some local stereotype of "respectable citizen." I suspect the issues are murkier than you are hoping, Joel.