Past Statements Tell Present Truth About Immigration Law's Goals
critics who say the legislation does just that, she, like many conservatives,
insisted, "I don't know what an illegal immigrant looks like"—the
implication being that Republicans are colorblind.
reassuring, but methinks she doth protest too much, and I say that because one
of the Republican Party's leading law enforcement voices has already disclosed
the true objective of precisely this kind of legislation.
admission came in November 2001, when the emotional aftermath of 9/11
momentarily removed politicians' rhetorical filters. There on the floor of
Congress, GOP Rep. Scott McInnis delivered an address about "the need for
profiling for the national security of this country."
Brandishing his past
experience as a police officer, he implored lawmakers "to quit being
politically correct" and let authorities make "ethnic background a
legitimate component" of law enforcement investigations—just as Arizona's new statute
companies profile for risk. That is what I am asking that we continue to do—we
need to profile for risk," he thundered, adding that using ethnicity as a
risk factor "is very legitimate—I think it is smart."
In other words, we
should do to civil rights what insurance firms have done to, say, health
care—namely, deny people rights and privileges based on their ascribed
Had McInnis' career
been buried in the political graveyard, Republican apologists could easily
pretend his kind of bigotry is irrelevant to today’s fears that the Arizona law
will both encourage prejudice and appear in other states. But McInnis is now
the Republican gubernatorial frontrunner in Colorado,
and this week he became the first major GOP candidate in America to pledge to replicate Arizona's statute in his state if elected in
candidate's pedigree as a former state House Majority Leader and six-term
congressman, and considering his views on what a law like Arizona's is really
all about, McInnis' promise is not an inconsequential outburst from some
nobody, nor is it likely to be just an isolated campaign plank in an
unimportant backwater. On the contrary, this is a far-reaching signal from the
national Republican Party establishment, for it comes from that establishment's
hand-picked poster boy in a state that GOP guru Karl Rove said will be
"ground zero" in the upcoming elections.
For his part, Rove
acknowledges that the Arizona
law aims to let police use racial and ethnic cues to profile
individuals—exactly the way McInnis envisions.
going to (target suspects) on the basis of reasonable suspicion that these
people are here illegally," he said, "like they're driving a car with
a Mexican license plate or they can't speak English"—in short, cultural
metrics that even anti-immigration activist Tom Tancredo has said could unduly
result in people getting "pulled over because you look like you should be
David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books
"Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning
show on AM760 in Colorado
and blogs at OpenLeft.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.