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UA Law School prof says racial profiling legal in immigration enforcement

Gabriel "Jack" Chin

UA law professor Jack Chin and University of California-Davis professor Kevin Johnson wrote a guest opinion for the Washington Post today saying U.S. courts have upheld racial profiling in immigration cases.

But having said that, they end with the assertion that the federal suit claiming the Arizona law is unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause – federal laws trump state laws on federal issues – will likely prevail.

Given the conservative majority of the current SCOTUS and the Brignoni-Ponce case, it’s unlikely civil rights challenges to SB 1070 will succeed. Apparently the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to Americans of Mexican ancestry living near the Mexican border. So preemption wins or SB 1070 becomes law.

A key excerpt of the opinion piece:

Supporters and opponents of S.B. 1070 assume that racial profiling is unconstitutional, largely because many Americans believe that it ought to be. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has approved the racial profiling permitted — indeed encouraged — by S.B. 1070.

In a 1975 case regarding the Border Patrol’s power to stop vehicles near the U.S.-Mexico border and question the occupants about their citizenship and immigration status, United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, the high court ruled that the “likelihood that any given person of Mexican ancestry is an alien is high enough to make Mexican appearance a relevant factor.” In 1982 the Arizona Supreme Court agreed, ruling in State v. Graciano that “enforcement of immigration laws often involves a relevant consideration of ethnic factors.”

To read the entire piece, read it at WashingtonPost.com.

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