by David Safier
Before I quote Ed Supe Tom Horne, it's important to remember he's a Harvard educated lawyer, and chances are he's read SB1070. That makes this quote, talking about students and SB1070, somewhere between a purposeful misstatement and a lie.
“If they don’t commit a crime, [police officers] won’t be asking them. If a student commits a crime, it’s always been the case that they could inquire about their legal residence,” said Arizona Superintendent of Education Tom Horne.
Horne knows full well that a "lawful stop, detention or arrest" can happen even when someone doesn't commit a crime, and all it takes is a "lawful stop, detention or arrest" for an officer to be required to ask for proof of immigration status if the officer has "reasonable suspicion" the person isn't in the country legally.
The most obvious example is, if someone is a suspect in a crime, that can lead to a "Show me your papers" situation even if the person is completely innocent. If there have been a string of locker thefts at school, a police officer might call in a number of suspects, some of whom have done nothing wrong. But if any of the innocent suspects are brown and speak with an accent, and especially if their clothes are a bit raggedy, the officer will have "reasonable suspicion" that student is here illegally.
I'm going to label Horne's statement, "If they don't commit a crime, they won't be asking them" a lie. A flat out lie.
When Horne says "it’s always been the case that they could inquire about their legal
residence," that's a purposeful clouding of the issue. Yes, officers "could" inquire about legal residence before. But under SB1070, they're obligated to to inquire.
The difference between an officer exercising discretion and officer being mandated to check immigration status when there is a "reasonable suspicion" someone is here illegally is huge.
I would imagine most officers assigned to schools are more interested in keeping order by establishing a relationship with the students and taking care of serious problems than in busting kids for their immigration status. SB1070 will make students — even citizens and non-citizens who are here legally — consider the officer an enemy, which will mean his/her ability to get student cooperation will be stifled. And officers will be forced to put the lives of some students and their families in jeopardy simply because the families decided their children should go to school. [Clarification: By "put their lives in jeopardy," I don't mean in the life-or-death sense. I mean that sending a child to school can result in arrest and deportation for the child and/or the family. Sorry if there was any confusion.]
Under SB1070, an officer is an officer is an officer and "reasonable suspicion" is "reasonable suspicion" — in a school, in the mall, on a sidewalk or on the highways. It makes no difference.
The learning environment in a school will be seriously damaged if students with brown skin and Hispanic facial characteristics know they always have a extra cloud of suspicion hanging over their heads thanks to SB1070.