Top Ten Reasons To Oppose an Arizona-Style Immigration Law in Wisconsin

16 Nov

We’ve been saying that “what happens in Arizona, stops in Arizona.” That state’s show-us-your-papers racial profiling law inspired boycotts by travelers and athletes and has come at a huge cost to taxpayers in court.

But in Wisconsin, Representative Don Pridemore has drafted a version of Arizona’s law for our state. The ACLU of Wisconsin is concerned that an Arizona-style state immigration enforcement bill will lead to racial profiling, illegal or mistaken detentions, and waste taxpayers’ money – especially if an unconstitutional law sails unchecked through the state legislature.

Here are the top ten reasons why the ACLU of Wisconsin says an Arizona-style immigration law would be bad for Wisconsin. The bill will:

1). …lead to racial profiling – This bill will force police to detain individuals when the officer believes there is reasonable suspicion that an individual is here illegally. But what constitutes reasonable suspicion? Their ethnicity, accent, economic status?

2). …cause illegal or mistaken detention – How will this bill protect non-criminals who won’t be carrying around or have timely access to documents proving their legal presence? When a police officer stops someone with “reasonable suspicion,” what separates a citizen who is a University student who doesn’t have his wallet and proof of citizenship from an exchange student who doesn’t have his wallet? Again, racial profiling will be likely?

3). …be a wasteful expense to taxpayers – Detention costs will rarely be recovered and will never be recovered from individuals found innocent. There will also be those who are detained, but would have been released earlier otherwise. Defending lawsuits from individuals who have been illegally detained will also cost counties and the state.

4). …distract professional law enforcement from actual crime – Our police officers already have enough to do without taking off time from fighting crime to learn how to identify those without proper documents and enforce federal immigration law. Also arrests and booking are long enough processes without going through additional steps to document reasonable suspicion to the satisfaction of supervisors and courts.

5). …strain relations with federal authorities – Is there any reason to believe that ICE would take custody of or at least take notice of these suspects, including those who are legally present but just can’t prove it within two days? Will this impact the head count in local jails? And why should federal authorities allow Wisconsin to interfere with federal enforcement responsibilities, especially when the federal Department of Justice has sued Arizona for doing so?

6). …pre-empt local control in Madison – It is inconsistent to say that the state of Wisconsin can enforce its own immigration laws while at the same time denying the City of Madison its own stance on immigration. We need meaningful, federal immigration reform now.

7). …harm Wisconsin businesses, including agribusiness – While Rep.
Pridemore’s proposal doesn’t currently include Arizona-type penalties on business, it will hurt businesses nevertheless when legal residents and citizens get sick of racial profiling and employment discrimination.

8). …be an affront to Wisconsin citizens – It goes without saying that this proposal is offensive to honest, taxpaying people, particularly the Latino citizens of Wisconsin. Racial profiling is a big enough problem for people of color in Wisconsin.

9). …create a climate of intolerance in our state – At a time when we are trying to improve our state’s economy, Wisconsin needs to lay out the welcome mat for businesses, workers and students.

10). …open the possibility of a costly lawsuit – The racially motivated Arizona bill will likely cost the taxpayers around a million dollars in court costs. Can Wisconsin afford to pass an unconstitutional bill?

Sidenote: Change.org also has a top-ten list on why this would be a bad law. The proposal also had media coverage in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, UW Daily Cardinal and Badger Herald, and the ACLU of WI was quoted on the issue in the Capitol Times. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also published a strong criticism of the proposal.

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