(Elizabeth Crum/Nevada News Bureau) – Last night on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face, Assemblyman Mo Denis and John Hambrick talked about the new immigration law in Arizona.
SB 1070 states: “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official, where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the Unites States, a reasonable attempt shall be made when praticable to determine the immigration status of the person.”
Mo Denis questioned the definition and after-determination of the word “reasonable,” saying, “It’s going to be different to different people,” and asking about those who might be profiled, “What do they look like? Are we talking Canadian? Are we talking Asian-American? Are we talking Hispanic?”
Denis expressed concerns with the high ratio of Hispanics residing in Arizona, saying, “I think that is problematic because I think you’re then singling out one specific race.”
Hambrick disagreed. “When you have 460,000 and the vast majority happens to be a particular ethnic group, you cannot racial profile, the pool is so large,” he said.
Hambrick defended the Arizona bill based on relatively high in-state support. “When 70% of a state, according to media reports, agree with it, that is not 70% that are Anglo. 70% of the state, that is a good mixture, whether it is Latino or Anglo. They agree it is needed,” he said.
“Unfortunately a rancher died a few weeks ago, and there was a catalyst,” he said.
Hambrick said many voters feel the federal government has let them down on the issue of immigration.
“This administration made promises prior to coming in that certain benchmarks would be met in the first year. That has not happened,” he said. “Hopefully what happens now in Arizona will be a catalyst to force Washington to get off their bottoms.”
Hambrick acknowledged there are issues with enforcement and racial profiling but said training of enforcement officers is the answer.
“The government has said that there will be training,” said Hambrick.
“What is reasonable?” he asked. “Yes, it is in the eye or the mind of the person that is behind the badge that has made that stop.”
“Their life experiences, and the different communities they come from, if the police officer happens to be Hispanic and is dealing with a Hispanic, there is a different reasonable expectation of what will be happening there,” Hambrick said. “If it’s an Anglo and a Hispanic, again, the community will have to judge whether that police offer has done his job adequately, fairly and objectively. And that will be determined by a court.”
Answering a question about fears that the law will become oppressive and that every ethnic person will have to walk around with proof of citizenship in their pocket, Denis said it is a valid concern.
“We are familiar with 287-G, that’s been going on even here, we have been dealing with that, trying to get people to step forward on crimes, and now they are afraid,” Denis said.
(Denis said 287-G permits Nevada authorities to ask about a person’s immigration status when they are in county jail.)
“And, but, you know, people do not trust that,” said Denis. “They think that maybe some of the police officers— You know, we have had meetings with some of the individuals here, and there are some concerns that really need to dealt with, and even with that issue, so I can see where, you know, if you’re looking for somebody reasonable, what is it that somebody looks like… And do we really have to all walk around with papers, so we can prove our citizenship?”
Both Hambrick and Denis agreed immigration reform could be an issue in the campaigns, and that Nevada voters are generally concerned with immigration policy.