Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 9:37 a.m.
Arizona state House Representative Russ Jones has penned an opinion piece for CNN, offering excuses for Russell Pearce's bigot bill SB 1070, which now sits on Governor Jan Brewer's desk awaiting action.
I also penned an opinion piece for CNN on SB 1070, lauding the nine students who chained themselves to the Capitol's doors Tuesday. You can read my commentary, here.
Jones' piece is disingenuous on many fronts. His most misleading comments have to do with the so-called "civil rights" provision of the bill, as Pearce has dubbed it.
"Critics say this bill will lead to racial profiling," writes Jones. "The amended language makes this untrue. Racial profiling is something I would never have supported. Police may not solely consider race, color or national origin when stopping and interviewing an individual to determine his or her immigration status."
The key word there is "solely." Police, therefore, can consider any combination of those factors: race and color; race and national origin; color and national origin.
In other words, if you're Mexican or you look Mexican, the cops have "reasonable suspicion" to detain you, perhaps even arrest you until they sort you out. Jones says racial profiling is "something I would never have supported," but that's what he did by voting for this bill.
Jones mentions a "trailer bill" he's working on to address other concerns. The question naturally arises that if there are problems with the bill as it is, why did he and Pearce have to jam it through? Moreover, the legislative session is almost over.
What was the rush on SB 1070? Republicans know that state Attorney General and Democrat Terry Goddard has a good shot at being our next governor, and Goddard would surely veto Pearce's bigot bill. Their hopes rest on the belief that Governor Brewer will sign this "papers please" legislation into law.
The law presumes that you are an illegal alien unless you have one of several forms of I.D. on you. If you're an American citizen out for a stroll sans papers, and you happen to be brown, the cops may be holding you up for a while.
This will, of course, result in costly civil rights lawsuits. On the other side, the law establishes a private right of action, allowing Arizona residents to sue if they believe police agencies are not running after illegal aliens to the full extent allowed under federal statutes.
Did Jones and his crowd wait on studies to be done to see how much this could cost the state in manpower, training costs and legal fees? No, they just passed the damn thing, even though the state's suffering from a dramatic loss in revenue.
This is the height of irresponsibility. Jones mentions that "many in law enforcement support this legislation." Many also do not. The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police has spoken out forcefully against the bill, as has Sheriff Ralph Ogden of Yuma
Yesterday, several police chiefs from different localities denounced the bill, including current San Francisco Police Chief and former Mesa Police Chief George Gascon.
"Quite frankly, I think it will have a catastrophic impact on community policing," Gascon said of the bill, later adding, "People who appear to be of Hispanic descent, people who may speak with an accent, or perhaps [speak Spanish] are going to be targeted."
Jones and other Republicans rolled over for Pearce on this legislation, and in doing so have done terrible damage to this state's reputation. Jones is one GOPer who happens to know this is a bad bill, but voted for it anyway out of fear of Pearce and the racial McCarthyism that's rampant in the state Republican party.
One day, he'll be ashamed of what he's done. Though that time is not now.