Arizona

The first thing you should know is that DJ Spooky and Chuck D remixed By the Time I Get to Arizona in response to SB 1070.

The second thing you should know is that’s not what’s in the video above because that’s a different remix by the Evolution Control Committee.

The third thing you should know is that it’s just a coincidence that this is Cinco de Mayo. I didn’t plan that out.

One thing that’s always bothered me about the American left/right political discourse is how it’s often framed as if the left were the ones that are driven solely by their emotions while the right is supposed to be the ones who are pragmatic realists who want to stand up for the rule of law. And in most cases, including this one, the reality of the situation is the exact opposite.

The new immigration law in Arizona is not a practical way to deal with illegal immigration, largely because in today’s age of international travel it’s not possible to tell where someone happened to have been born just by looking at them. If you just go around detaining anyone without their citizenship papers, you’re going to end up with tons of false positives which is going to just end up wasting more police and legal resources. That’s why city councils are preparing lawsuits against SB 1070 and even Arizona’s police are divided over the issue and one sheriff even went so far as to call it “stupid,” amongst other things. The efficient and practical way to address the problem of illegal immigration is to go after the employers of illegal immigrants, especially in large companies that employ them en masse.

It’s also pretty questionable that the proponents of the legislation are standing up for the rule of law. See, in America we presume that those accused of a crime are innocent until the State proves them guilty. Our legal apparatus is set up in such a way because as a whole we’d rather err on the side of letting the guilty go free instead of erring on the side of imprisoning the innocent. Maybe you don’t like that and wish it were the opposite like it is in England, but if you’re to do that then you can no longer be said to be advocating the rule of law – at least not in America, anyways.

Another basic civil liberties issue arises with the Fourth Amendment. For reasons I’ve already explained the search and seizure of individuals based on their race is an unreasonable grounds for charges of illegal immigration. That’s just unconstitutional.

So the lesson here I would encourage would be to not let people on either side of the issue frame this as if the proponents of SB 1070 were practical and legally-minded, while the opponents have their heads in the clouds and just want to be nice to everyone. It’s pretty clear here who is basing their position on their childish emotions and who is basing their position on the rule of law. Don’t let people confuse the issue by switching the roles around.

UPDATE: The controversial parts of SB 1070 have been blocked (NY Times).

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