Oppressive Migrant Profiling South and North of the Border

Maria MustafaEquity

Written by Sharlee Reimer

On April 23, 2010, some deeply disturbing racist legislation was passed in Arizona: Senate Bill 1070. The new legislation, allegedly intended to curb illegal immigration, makes it law that police officers must ask for immigration papers from anyone who they suspect might be in the state illegally. If a person cannot produce these papers, they can be detained. How, you might be wondering, would the police know who might be ‘an illegal’? Though the Arizona government is saying that it will not be racially profiling people, many of the people who oppose the legislation argue that the police will inevitably racially profile, judging people by looks and accented speech.

There have been widespread protests about and criticisms of this legislation—it has been criticized for encouraging racial profiling, for being racist, and has been likened to Nazi practices. There have also been a number of boycotts of Arizona. This legislation exists in conjunction with a new education policy, House Bill 2281, that will likely eliminate ethnic studies departments and programs in schools and universities. And just so that we don’t forget the role of Canada in terrifying racist practices, there have been a number of anti-immigration raids in Toronto of late (see No One Is Illegal).

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