SB1070 Update: NY Times gets it wrong

by David Safier

Look, this is an important distinction. If SB1070 merely "allows" police officers to question people about immigration status, we most likely wouldn't have state and national protests over the law.

But SB1070 mandates that officers check immigration status whenever there is "reasonable suspicion" the person may be undocumented. That's one of the major complaints about the law.

Add the NY Times to those who got it wrong:

The disputed law, known as SB 1070, allows the police to check the documents of anyone they stop whom they suspect of being in the country illegally. [boldface added]

No. Not "allows." Mandates.

Here's the relevant passage from the law:

For any lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or law enforcement agency . . . where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of that person . . ." [boldface added]

Though a few exclusions are thrown in, the basis of the passage is that "a reasonable attempt shall be made," not "an officer is allowed to make a reasonable attempt." Huge difference.

LACK OF INFORMATION ALERT: I'm ignorant about this, so I would appreciate if someone could enlighten me. Is there any place in Arizona where a police officer currently is not allowed to make an attempt to determine someone's immigration status? I believe in some states, police are specifically prohibited from asking about immigration status, but I don't think that's true in Arizona.

0 responses to “SB1070 Update: NY Times gets it wrong

  1. Excellent point! While a law enforcement officer may stop someone in public to question him or her, the Terry Stop is for the purpose of establishing that individual’s identity. For example, if an officer believes an individual is behaving suspiciously or appears out of place, the officer can stop that individual to ask for ID and to ask what the individual’s purpose is in being there. It has never been for the purpose of establishing citizenship, which is well outside the scope of local law enforcement. The law enforcement types who are arguing that an SB 1070 stop is “just like a Terry Stop” are making a slippery slope argument for the expansion of police powers.

  2. John Kavanagh has been all over the TV trying to un-misrepresent SB1070. Going so far as to portray an SB1070 interrogation as being equivalent to a Terry Stop. Well, they are not the same. Terry stops are not about establishing your citizenship in a brief encounter, only your identity. I love how Kavanagh can speak for all law officers because he knows exactly how each one will use SB1070.

    SCC law enforcement students are getting ripped off.

  3. Let see what you “americans” do, when no Mexican is picking your tomatoes!! you better take a look to your little oil spill. Remember it is on the Gulf of Mexico, it is brown and it is entering to your country illegally, it has to be Mexican Oil !!! you will not stop this.

    Atentamente Pancho

  4. David Safier

    John, I appreciate your comment. Let me reply.

    First, you and I agree about the main topic of my post. The law says an officer must try and determine if someone is undocumented when there is reasonable suspicion. I’m glad you confirmed that point. I’m assuming you think that’s a valuable feature of the bill. I think it’s the single most destructive feature, though it’s only one among many.

    I hesitated before I wrote the phrase, “Though a few exclusions are thrown in…” I left it because I didn’t want to misrepresent the law by implying that there are no exceptions to the mandate for an officer to ask for papers, but I also didn’t want to go into a lengthy discussion of the exceptions and veer away from my main point.

    However, I read your comments, and I think you’re misrepresenting the bill. You write:

    “The person must first be stopped for breaking another law (besides being in the country illegally).”

    I think that’s a vast oversimplification. My understanding is, if a car is stopped for, say, a broken tail light, any passengers who look “reasonably suspicious” can be asked to present documents establishing their legal residency, even though they are not in any way responsible for the broken tail light. It’s also my understanding that someone who is being questioned as a suspect in a crime must be asked to present documents if there is reasonable suspicion that person is undocumented, even if that person is completely innocent of any wrong doing in the crime. Any form of contact with a police officer, no matter how innocent, can become a stop or detention and can lead to the officer being required to ask for documentation. It’s also my understanding that if the yard of a home is unkempt and is in minor violation of some city ordinance, the officer may use that as a pretext to ask any “reasonably suspicious” person in the house to present papers.

    To say the people in those situations have broken another law is simply incorrect.

    You also write:

    “Independent facts must be present to create “reasonable suspicion” (see Terry vs. Ohio) that the person is here illegally.”

    I agree. But the first step in looking for those independent facts will often be racial profiling. So, if someone who looks Anglo is acting nervous — “reasonably suspicious” — the officer likely won’t press that person for documentation proving she/he is here legally. But if someone who looks Hispanic behaves in an identical way, the Hispanic profile will more likely lead the officer to ask for documentation.

    That means every Hispanic who is stopped or detained by police will be eyeballed to see if there are further reasons to suspect he/she might be undocumented. Someone who looks white won’t be subject to that kind of suspicion.

    The result of SB1070 is, an ethnic/racial characteristic will lead to a police officer treating one person differently from another. To make that kind of profiling a mandatory part of police work is reprehensible and most probably will create more problems for police than if they didn’t have to fall back on racial profiling as a regular part of their job.

    You used the majority of your comment to try and take apart an aside in my post, then at the end, you agreed with the substance of what I’ve written. Normally I consider that kind of response nitpicking and won’t take the bait and respond, but in this case, you gave me a chance to expand on my comment and refute some of your assertions..

    If you’re reading this, I would be very interested in your response to what I’ve written.

  5. David Safier

    I considered pulling Richard’s comment, not so much because of his vile racism as because he was attempting to hijack the post. Now I’m glad I left the comment, because of the people, both conservative and liberal, who have spoken out so clearly against his views.

    But a comment to Richard. If you continue to try and hijack a post to promote your agenda, or if you begin to sound like a broken record, I’ll delete your comments. Stay on topic if you want to participate in the discussion.

  6. So what if the NY Times was a Jewish paper?


  7. Well said! I respect your comments, however some of your right wing colleagues have this argument and it is ruining our country! I volunteer in TUSD elementary schools and the kids work and play together regardless of the color of the their skin!

  8. Richard…Please do us conservatives a favor and stop trying to represent us. You’re wrong in several of your comments. Many whites have close Black, Jewish or Hispanic friends, myself for one. The only reason you don’t is because of your obvious racism.
    My best friend is hispanic (and supports sb1070) and I have several Jewish friends, very close friends, not just acquaintances. My grandchildren are black and I love them dearly along with their black father and his family. Since I left Chicago in 1992 one of the few friends that I still have regular contact with is black and she is one of the best friends I have. I also have Asian friends and Cuban friends. One good friend of mine is South African (skin color is white but she is South African. I wonder where she would fit in your “all white society”
    Your other comment about whites and blacks not mixing in schools. Wrong again. I work in a school and I have yet to see any type of segregation going on. There may be some groups of kids who sit together and hang together of the same race but it is certainly not segregated. You speak such foolishness that you diminish the credibility of anyone who has legitimate arguments in favor of SB1070.

  9. I cannot stand by and let this guy claim that the NY Times is a Jewish newspaper. That is ridiculous. If you want an European White Society, how about socialism and universal health care. It sounds like you belong in the old apartheid South Africa when the Afrikanners ruled the black majority with a white cruel minority. Are you afraid that you will become the minority in this country? Also, many white people trash neighborhoods!

  10. Francine Shacter

    The New York Times is not a Jewish newspaper – The Jewish Daily Forward is a Jewish newspaper. Just thought you would appreciate the correction.

  11. This is a Jewish newspaper. They will distort the truth to divide us, Whites. Our problem as a race or a European White N.A. society, is that we need not be ashamed of what we want. We should not be violent but must use our votes to do what is right. Through legal means we will eventually have a United States pure White society that will not be ashamed of what it does for the good of the White people. SB 1070, though it may be controversial (for most of the minorities), it is a good start for us. Our neighborhood’s are increasingly being trashed by minorities and rather than being angry about it, we should simply vote for conservative White officials who will help draft laws that will favor a rule of law that will advance us towards an European White society. You may call us racist and whatever else you want. But this is about being truthful about what we want, and what most of us talk about in the back rooms. We would like to challenge you legally and prevail.

    How many Whites really have close Balck, Jewish or Hispanic friends? I would say a handful ones. In our schools Whites and blacks hardly mix. And that is not by any calculation or design, but that is the truth in the differences of our nature. We work with the other races and sometimes work for them without liking the idea of it. Wouldn’t it be best if we just have a white society that is not afraid to say what it wants for its people? We hope you’ll vote in support of your race and not be ashamed of it. Support SB 1070, it is a start. It is mobilizing us and will help get us there. Yes as it is written police are mandated, and beyound that for every White officer it is his moral duty to protect his race/society. As we stand we are the majority. This is not about hating minorities or wanting to harm them. This is about protecting our White society from being adultrated.

    Vote for the White People’s Party. Most of you know which party it is, not the Democartic party. Moderate or not we have no need them. If they are so on our side why don’t they switch party and let it be known.

  12. You misrepresent the law by dismissing some significant limitations on enforcement of SB1070 with your use of the phrase, “Though a few exclusions are thrown in…” SB1070 requires police officers to reasonably attempt to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a lawful stop, detention or arrest in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance, where reasonable suspicion exists regarding the immigration status of the person, when practicable, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation. That is a fair representation of the law.

    The significant hurdles that must be overcome before a police officer can question someone about his or her immigration status are:

    1. The person must first be stopped for breaking another law (besides being in the country illegally).
    2. Independent facts must be present to create “reasonable suspicion” (see Terry vs. Ohio) that the person is here illegally.

    In addition, if it is not practical to ask the immigration question at that moment due to more pressing demands on the officer’s time (robbery down the street) or if asking the immigration question would hinder an investigation (such as scaring a victim or witness into not cooperating), the police do not have to perform the immigration inquiry.

    I agree that police MUST ask the question when the law requires it but the exceptions to the MUST cannot be dismissed with a cavalier “Though a few exclusions are thrown in…” aside.