Finally, an Immigration Bill that Embraces Racial Profiling!

Florida State Representative William Snyder, a former police officer from Miami, drafted his own version of Arizona’s SB 1070 for the state—a bill has the potential to be even more offensive. The bill mimics SB 1070—allowing officers to stop persons based on a “reasonable suspicion” that they are undocumented in order to check their immigration status. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Rep. Synder’s bill actually goes a step further by providing a caveat that the person stopped will be presumed legal if they have a Canadian passport or a passport from a country which participates in our visa waiver program—the majority of which are Western European countries. Naturally, this caveat has groups enraged over the potential for racial profiling.

Of course, Rep. Snyder does not believe that the law will lead to racial profiling:

“Race, ethnicity, and national origin cannot be used in making arrests. It’s immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional,” he said in a recent radio interview.

Miami NewTimes writer, Tim Elfrink, disagrees:

Even if an officer has “reasonable suspicions” over a person’s immigration status, the bill says, a person will be “presumed to be legally in the United States” if he or she provides “a Canadian passport” or a passport from any “visa waiver country.” What are the visa waiver countries? Other than four Asian nations, almost all of the 32 other countries are in Western Europe, from France to Germany to Luxembourg. In other words, Snyder’s bill tells police to drop their “reasonable suspicions” of anyone hailing from dozens of countries full of white people. How is that not racial profiling?

So how does Rep. Snyder explain the special clause for Canadians? In a radio interview, he explains: “What we’re doing there is trying to be sensitive to Canadians. We have an enormous amount of… Canadians wintering here in Florida… That language is comfort language.” Comforting for Canadians, perhaps, but probably less so for many of the other tourists and residents of Florida. As Gabriela Garcia of points out:

Ah, yes tons of Canadians winter here in Florida … along with MILLIONS of South Americans. In the biggest tourism destination in the state, Miami, people from South America comprise 52% of the visitors alone… These are people with plenty of disposable income, and plenty of tourism options. If Florida became a state suspicious of Latinos, they would just take their billions of dollars elsewhere. For a state whose economy relies so heavily on tourism, especially from Latin America, you’d think politicians would be a little bit more worried about making everyone feel comfortable.

Morally, constitutionally, and economically, this law would be bad policy for Florida. Amazingly, Rep. Snyder seems to be not only blind to the economic and political controversy SB 1070 is stirring in Arizona, but blind to the potential strife caused by racially profiling Florida’s many non-white citizens.

Photo by Ðariusz.

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  • K-PASA

    Iam glad he is no longer a police officer!

  • There is a reason for this, though; Visa Waiver visitors especially those entering through Canada often do not have anything more than a passport, and usually a stamped I-94W, which is just a piece of plain paper. VW countries also include Japan, Singapore, Australia and the Republic of Korea. They are pre-screened through online system called ESTA before departure, and they are entered into US-VISIT biometric database at arrival.

    Interestingly visitors from the Republic of Ireland is also eligible for VW, even though it has been known for many years that Irish undocumented immigrants number very high and often undetected due to their race and similarity of names with many American citizens (O’-this, Mc-this, Mac-that).

    Since Florida police does not have automatic access to US-VISIT, there is not much they can do other than assuming that statistical probability of “illegal Canadian” or “illegal Japanese” are far lower than those of “illegal Mexicans” or “illegal Chinese”.

    Of course all this is racist and must be scrapped, not just “fixed.”

  • “’Race, ethnicity, and national origin cannot be used in making arrests. It’s immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional,” he said in a recent radio interview.'”

    Each time a police officer is about to utter a political statement, beads of sweat tumble down my face. I have had the luck of hearing sound, well-thought out responses from a handful officers, but the rest have been disappointing.

    Officer Snyder has clearly not “Driven While Black”. Philosophers, moral theorists dripped gallons of ink on feathers in an attempt to reconcile reason, truth and justice. It was after numerous volumes of these works that the phenomenon of “Driving While Black” was born.

    Rep. Snyder,dear, Please read:

    “Federal laws prohibit discrimination based on a person’s national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and familial status. Laws prohibiting national origin discrimination make it illegal to discriminate because of a person’s birthplace, ancestry, culture or language. This means people cannot be denied equal opportunity because they or their family are from another country…”

    Deciding who makes it through the checkpoints on the basis of passport classifications is profiling by NATIONAL ORIGIN. This is against the United States Constitution which my eroding memory reminds me that YOU are SWORN to preserve.

    “Race, ethnicity, and national origin CANNOT ( in caps for emphasis)…” be used Dear Rep Snyder I would like you to read your first text book in Philosophy or Introduction to Logic. I will read with you as well so that we stay together.

    When you say something “CANNOT” you are setting up yourself for a huge battle because it is almost impossible to prove that something is not, without first acknowledging that IT IS. In other words you must first agree that “Race, ethnicity, and national origin” CAN be used for arrest before you negate the CAN to CANNOT. Yes? NO?

    So my question to you would be, if these parameters have been used for arrests in the past, what stops arresters from using them today?