As the largest immigrant rights organization in the state, Voces de la Frontera Action unequivocally condemns the passage of any racist, anti-immigrant legislation in Wisconsin.
Yesterday Representative Don Pridemore (R-Hartford) introduced a bill requiring law enforcement officers in Wisconsin to interrogate people they detain about their immigration status if they have ‘reasonable suspicion” that the person is undocumented. However, the vagueness of the term “reasonable suspicion” is exactly what gives cover to legalizing racial profiling.
“We will not tolerate this vicious bill, designed to lead directly to racial profiling and the criminalization of innocent people. Voces Action is prepared to mobilize widely in opposition.” says Primitivo Torres, president of Voces de la Frontera Action.
The bill is modeled after Arizona’s SB-1070, the controversial anti-immigrant law which prompted mass boycotts and cost that state hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business revenue. The Center for American Progress estimates that boycotts against Arizona in response to SB 1070 could cost the state more than $250 million in taxes, tourist spending and wages. Pridemore’s bill is designed to do the same to Wisconsin, a state already facing economic challenges.
The bill also requires people to carry certain documents available to prove their immigration status or else risk being arrested, jailed, and deported. People of color are more likely to be racially profiled and more likely to be interrogated; this also violates their rights to be treated as equals under the law.
This legislation also violates US Constitutional rules, including the denial of Fourteenth Amendment equal protection guarantees, because it encourages racial discrimination against Latinos and other people having foreign appearance or who sound foreign. By interfering with the federal government’s authority to regulate and enforce immigration law, it also opposes the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.
Pridemore’s legislation claims that it is designed to avoid racial profiling, but it clearly encourages police officers to base their actions on people’s appearance and characteristics as race, ethnicity, language, and social class.
This law would greatly harm the trust that authorities need from the public to protect Wisconsin residents. The law would also compel law enforcement officers to assign scarce resources to investigate false threats instead of solving serious crimes.
Voces de la Frontera Action and our allies will fight to ensure that Wisconsin does not inherit the moral and economic burden that has devastated Arizona.
- - - - - - - - - - -