To the editor:
Steve Sebelius’ Jan. 8 column quite accurately depicts the dilemma that Sen. Dean Heller faces with regard to his stated positions on illegal immigration. The senator’s views seem to parallel those of Sharron Angle, the Republican who ran against Sen. Harry Reid in 2010. Her association and support of the Arizona legislation caused many Hispanic Republicans in Nevada to vote for the Democrat, Sen. Reid.
Some conservative Republicans regard illegal immigrants as law-breaking criminals and are insensitive to the fact that they are also human beings and have families like the rest of us. Those of us who are Hispanic are sympathetic to the cause of illegals, just like non-Hispanics would be for members of their ethnic group if they were being cattle-carred out of the country. This causes many critics to view the Republicans as having a tinge of racism.
From a Hispanic point of view, any legislation that requires a person to show proof of American citizenship for a minor legal infraction is unconstitutional. When an individual is stopped on suspicion of a law violation, the law enforcement officer must make an assessment whether that person is an illegal immigrant. There is very little difference in physical appearance between a Mexican illegal immigrant and a Mexican-American. The law enforcement officer would require proof of citizenship in order to determine whether that person was a citizen.
But if a person of white, European descent was stopped for a law violation, that person would be presumed to be a citizen based upon his physical appearance. Therefore it is unlikely that proof of citizenship would be requested. This makes enforcement of the law an issue of racial profiling and forces Mexican-Americans to carry proof of American citizenship in order to avoid possible deportation. To require that a certain segment of citizen carry proof of citizenship violates the constitutional concept that all Americans are created equal. Those who support the law are the ones who aren’t affected by it.
If Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and her state’s legislators feel that bills such as SB1070 and HB2162 are required, then in all fairness, the laws should be amended to require that all people — regardless of skin color, accent or social status — furnish proof of American citizenship. This change would insure that all American citizens are treated equally, because it would require that Gov. Brewer, the Legislature, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and all Arizona residents carry proof of citizenship with them and not just Mexican-Americans.
Sen. Heller’s opposition to the Dream Act, and legislation that would enhance an immigrant’s quest for citizenship, will be a factor in his election. While the senator can be commended for not being a flip-flopper, a slight change of course may prevent a disaster. Look at what happened to the Titanic.