Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Legalized racial profiling in Arizona.

Hispanic Community Fears Immigration Bill
It Could Reduce Number of Crimes Reported, Activists Say
Jason Barry
The KPHO News (Phoenix), April 19, 2010

Phoenix -- There is growing concern among the Valley's Hispanic community that if Gov. Jan Brewer signs a proposed immigration bill into law, it will create widespread fear and panic.

State lawmakers approved SB 1070 Monday, sending the bill to the governor's desk.

The bill would allow police officers across Arizona to stop and question anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

'Victims will run away and not come forward,' said community activist Carlos Garcia. 'Anyone who looks to have brown skin will be asked for documentation. It's going to create fear and divide the community and police department.'

Carlos Castillo, of Phoenix, said he doesn't like the thought of being stopped by police when he's done nothing wrong.

'If they see an actual crime going on, I prefer them to do what they've got to do and leave me alone,' said Castillo. 'It's like being targeted because you're Mexican, or whoever they're targeting.'

Castillo is one of many concerned citizens among the Valley's Hispanic community worried about the effect of the immigration bill moving through the state Capitol.

Garcia said if police are allowed to question people about their citizenship it will have a negative effect on crime across the Valley.

According to Garcia, victims will be afraid to come forward to report a crime while witnesses will be reluctant to tell officers what they know.

'It might be someone that is a U.S. citizen or resident, but doesn't want to go through the hassle of being investigated for being in the country documented or not,' he said.

However, Mark Spencer, with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, does not think the proposals in the immigration bill will affect the way officers do their job.

Spencer said he does not think it will suddenly get tougher to solve crimes.

'This legislation does not alarm us as far as putting victims and witnesses at risk,' said Spencer. 'Concerns need to be based on evidence or track record or past history, and we just don't see it here.'