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Barbaric hunt for undocumented people ensnares even United States citizens

Apr 14, 2009 Barbaric hunt for undocumented people ensnares even United States citizens

Being American or lawfully-admitted to be in the United States does not involve an "American look" or a "documented look". One of the great things about the United States is that it has a great mix of people arrived or descended from around the world.

When cops and immigration agents hunt for people unlawfully in the United States, are they really going to do anything more sophisticated than question people who "look foreign" or "sound foreign" (remember, many citizens are naturalized and do not speak English as a first language, and even more lawful visa holders are in the same boat) or to pursue reports of reported or suspected immigration status from jails, arresting cops and probation agents?

Horrifically, in their overzeal to deport deportable people — an overzeal that I look to President Obama to reverse — immigration authorities are too often getting United States citizens deported, as well. This horror story does not even cover the probably larger number of non-U.S. citizens who likely are being deported unlawfully.

Not long after this horror story ran a few days ago, I came across fellow First Amendment lawyer Andy McCullough’s blogposting about an overzealous sheriff and crew in Arizona who harass and terrorize "foreign-looking" people in a search for people who are not United States citizens and who are unlawfully in the United States. Aside from the injustice of such actions, the immigration laws are too complex for ordinary cops to be enforcing such laws. Immigration authorities violate enough rights and too extensively and deeply as is. We do not need non-immigration authorities messing up the Constitution even more.

President Obama, you promised change during your campaign. Too many non-U.S. citizens have been victims of unjust immigration laws and unjust immigration enforcement for too many generations. The buck must stop here and now.  

ADDENDUM: The Arizona sheriff referenced above is Joe Arpaio. Here is an anti-Arpaio site. The Phoenix New Times compiles article on Arpaio here, and says:

"The self-described ‘Toughest Sheriff in America’ [Arpaio] has fostered horrendous jail conditions, reckless police operations, and carried out personal vendettas against political rivals and members of the press. In the last year or more, he has also appointed himself enforcer of the nation’s immigration laws in Arizona, and a whole new series of problems has emerged. Foremost, he and his deputies have violated the Constitutional rights of brown-skinned U.S. citizens and have committed outright cruelty against the undocumented. This year, the U.S. Justice Department has commenced an investigation of his actions."

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