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Tom Head

Latino Immigration and Ethnic Profiling

By August 4, 2009

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Standing up: May Day 2009 protesters organize against anti-immigration laws, ethnic profiling of Latinos, and labor rights violations. (Photo: David McNew / Getty Images.)

The arrest of Henry Louis Gates has brought more mainstream attention to the racial profiling of African Americans, but police profiling of Latinos, ostensibly grounded in "immigration enforcement," has generated equally disturbing, and bizarre, results.

Even native-born citizens are affected by the nativist movement. According to a 2007 study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Forum, 42% of native-born Latinos report being victimized by discrimination, with 12% of native-born Latinos reporting that they have been forced to prove their immigration status to an atypical extent and 22% of native-born Latinos indicating that they are more reluctant to travel outside of the United States, or use government services, due to the public climate surrounding Latino immigration. But it gets worse.

As I wrote last year, U.S. immigration authorities have been detaining and deporting U.S. citizens of Latino ancestry; we have no way of knowing how often this is done, though early indications are not promising.

And as former About.com: Civil Liberties Guide J.D. Tuccille writes, there is also evidence that immigration enforcement agents are conducting illegal, armed searches and seizures against citizens, legal immigrants, and undocumented immigrants alike. In particular, he notes a new report (Adobe PDF) from the Cardozo School of Law's Immigration Justice Clinic documenting illegal SWAT-style ICE home raids:

[F]requent accounts in the media and in legal filings have told a similar story of Fourth Amendment violations occurring during ICE home raids. From these accounts, the picture that emerges of a typical home raid depicts a team of heavily armed ICE agents approaching a private residence in the pre-dawn hours, purportedly seeking an individual target believed to have committed some civil immigration violation. Agents, armed only with administrative warrants, which do not grant them legal authority to enter private dwellings, then push their way in when residents answer the door, enter through unlocked doors or windows or, in some cases, physically break into homes. Once inside, agents immediately seize and interrogate all occupants, often in excess of their legal authority and even after they have located and apprehended their target — though in the large majority of cases, no target is apprehended.
The report documents immigration raids during the final two years of the Bush administration, but early indications suggest that the Obama administration has decided to continue strict Bush-era anti-immigration policies. This is entirely in keeping with the selection of tough-on-immigrants former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security Secretary. As I wrote last November:
... I would have preferred to see her in a position other than director of homeland security due to her spotty record on immigration policy ... Still, I'm willing to give Napolitano the benefit of the doubt; she vetoed the more punitive immigration bills that reached her desk, at great political risk, and may turn out to be much better on this issue when she doesn't have to worry about getting reelected statewide in Arizona.
So far, there's no indication that she is interested in turning over a new leaf--or that the Obama administration is, either. But the Cardozo report, which was just issued last week, could help put pressure on the administration to clean up its act.

See also:


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Why should the children, that are brought here by their parents, when they are babies, they go to school here, andlive here all of their lives. Have a social security number, but are not considered a citizen. If they live here all of their lives, the schools should educated them into becoming citizens. Shame on the states and the parents that have done this to their children.

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why should the us citizens(tax payers) carry the burden of an illegal couple giving birth to a child while they are here? the child has grown and the parents are still here? seems to me that the burden and guilt should be the burden of the illegal parents who should not have been here in the first place.

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