Denying the Profile

The ways in which communities congeal are comprehensible, and although we should lament the development unto primacy of identity politics, it is understandable that people get sucked into them. That said, I still have difficulty empathizing with this sort of thing, said (this time) in response to the governor’s recent moves against illegal immigration:

“Are people now going to take the law into their own hands? He didn’t answer that when he was asked,” said Pichardo. Rather than tamping “the heated rhetoric” on this issue, the governor “has increased the fear among the immigrant community — among both documented and undocumented immigrants,” and served to “more deeply entrench the encampments on both sides of this issue.”
Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, predicted that the governor’s executive order “is only going to increase the problem of racial profiling in the state. The governor can ignore all the data and statistics out there that document the problem that already exists, but this executive order will only exacerbate it, to the detriment of any person in Rhode Island who looks and speaks a certain way. This has nothing to do with whether anyone is legal or illegal — his order is going to affect everyone based on their national origin, color of their skin and their accent and it’s very unfortunate.”

Racial profiling is certainly wrong and ought to be addressed, but that would be easier to do if legal immigrants were more clearly interested in establishing a distinct profile from illegal immigrants. A central reason for the us-versus-them nature of this dispute is that, no matter how clear citizens with legitimate concerns and complaints about our poorly enforced immigration laws are about whom they see as the “them,” the immigrant community — or at least their public-square representatives — seems only more tightly to wrap its arms around the subset intended.

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joe bernstein
joe bernstein
15 years ago

The basic fallacy being promoted by Sen Pichardo and the abominable little steve brown is that “racial profiling”will result from the Governor’s initiative.Nothing could be further from the truth. In the case of the ACI the practice of INS was to use place of birth as an indicator to initiate further inquiry -absent a criminal history indicating a previous”red card”(FD249) fingerprinting of a person by INS,which is a good basis to continue on.The Board of Immigration Appeals has held that admission of birth abroad is a prima facie indication of alienage.There are many people born abroad who are US citizens at birth,or through naturalization-a brief inquiry is usually sufficient to determine this,although there are some individuals who falsely claim US citizenship,a serious felony(18USC911). ICE has the ability to investigate these violations.Legal resident(“green card”)aliens are subject to deportation upon conviction of a wide variety of crimes and ICE should be following up on these people in order to deport them. The advocates don’t want anyone deported,regardless of criminal background.How does this constitute “racial profiling” as it would be applied to all foreign born individuals in the ACI? When I was an INS agent in Chicago I spent a lot of time on the common carrier detail,which was basically identifying and arresting illegal aliens using various forms of public transportation-it was a volatile situation at best and we were never seriously accused of violating the rights of any US citizen or resident alien.When we worked the domestic terminal at O’Hare checking the “smuggler’s special”flights from the west and southwest we profiled behavior and other articulable facts rather than just racial appearance-men wearing 2 pairs of pants was a dead giveaway(the old pair outside to preserve the newer pair while crossing the border);dental work on younger people that hadn’t been done in the… Read more »

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
15 years ago

The whole “racial profiling” thing is a red herring to derail attempts at immigration law enforcement.
On the one hand, the “advocates” tell us that we’re racists for considering the possibility (likelihood in RI) that someone of Hispanic appearance / accent is an illegal alien … yet ignore the figures of 40,000 minimum here in RI, and forget about last year’s (illegal) “immigrants rights” rallies across the country in which flags of Mexico and other Central American nations were far more prominent than American flags (at least at the first series – after which they recognized their PR mistake and started waving American flags).

Erik Dufresne
Erik Dufresne
15 years ago

We here in the Ocean State have fallen into the error of scapegoating some of the weakest and most down-pressed members of our community.
Rhode Island has a long history of accepting immigrants from all over the world, both documented and undocumented, including many “wops” (meaning “with out papers”), undocumented Irish, undocumented French and many others.
For us to attempt to slam the door now on these new immigrants at the very bottom of our socio-economic hierarchy, and cause them and their now shattered families unnecessary fear and trauma, while not even making a dent in the serious financial and social problems we face here in Rhode Island, is dangerously misguided policy.
I ask each of you to reconsider your perspective on this issue, and resist the urge to scapegoat this recent round of undocumented immigrants, most of whom are living hand to mouth (or week to week if they are lucky), and struggling to survive and better themselves.
I hope that you will join the effort to cease this historically selective persecution of these new immigrants, and instead redirect our efforts to working together to make life here in the Ocean State better for all Rhode Islanders.

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