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Guess What, Arizona? “Reasonable Suspicion” is Already a Reality!

Posted on April 27 2010 11:17 am
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Arizona’s new law to crack down on illegal immigrants is causing quite the stir. San Francisco is thinking about boycotting the state. Lawsuits are forthcoming. Organizations are planning protests. And Jon Stewart is up in arms about how it gives police officers the authority to demand that people show proof of legal residence based on “reasonable suspicion.”

Watch the video after the jump.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Law & Border
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Let’s put this in perspective. “Reasonable suspicion” is vague, but that’s the exact same standard used to pull you over if they suspect you may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If an officer asks to search your car, it’s because they have a “reasonable suspicion” that you may have contraband. American citizens agree to this because there is a certain amount of trust in our law enforcement to use that broad terminology ethically.

There is room for abuse with the new law in Arizona, but it’s the same room that has previously existed. And if a police officer does find an illegal just by picking out a random Mexican, the police report will be pretty awkward to write. He has to describe what caused him to ask the person for their documentation. Saying “suspect looked Hispanic” or “spoke Spanish” won’t cut it.

Stewart also made the point that Tom Tancredo, and I reiterate, Tom Tancredo, feels the bill goes too far. The only problem is that he doesn’t, he actually supports it.

There’s a point to be made about what criterion law enforcement will use to identify potential illegals. If they see someone who is Hispanic in appearance, that’ll likely influence their decision on whether to ask for documentation. But this is a fact of life, even if it does suck. A group of young adults driving late on a Friday night in the “party area” of a town are more likely to pulled over, and they will cry ageism.

If you want to attack “reasonable suspicion,” it can’t apply only to the illegal immigration issue.


Ryan Mauro is the founder of and a regular contributor to FrontPage Magazine.

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