AFTER A TWO-YEAR struggle, a federal judge this week authorized Arizona law enforcement agencies to require officers to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. Wearing the wrong clothes, speaking with the wrong accent or having the wrong skin color could land you in hot water in Arizona.
The state’s “show me your papers” provision — one of the most bitterly contested parts of the obnoxious immigration law enacted in 2010 — is the second such measure to receive a green light from federal courts. The first was from Alabama, where a similar policy was implemented about a year ago.
There, according to a recent report by the National Immigration Law Center, an immigrant advocacy group, law enforcement officers have created an “environment of racial profiling” that has encouraged private citizens to discriminate and abuse people they regard as foreign. The report, based on thousands of calls to a hotline, recounted instances of Hispanics, including legal residents, who were repeatedly stopped by police on flimsy pretexts and, in some cases, subjected to prolonged roadside detentions.