Council Moves to Reject Profiling | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Council Moves to Reject Profiling

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Chokwe Anton Lumumba expresses support at a recent hearing for the new ordinance restricting municipal police from inquiring on residential status during crime-scene reports or routine public interactions.

An Aug. 19 Jackson City Council Planning Committee hearing on a new anti-discrimination ordinance created a stark contrast to many anti-immigrant rallies around the country.

The new ordinance, which will be before the council in about two weeks, will prohibit municipal law-enforcement officers from inquiring about a person's immigration status during routine interactions with the public.

"What's the point of a police department if immigrants like me must fear them?" asked Jackson resident Tatiana McDonald of a crowd of about 80 in the council chambers. "We need to set an example in the state and the rest of the country. Do we want to follow other states' hate and discrimination in targeting immigrants in the way they look and sound? Citizens and non-citizens should always be able to report crimes and be protected by the police department. We all should have the right to feel safe."

The Planning Committee unanimously approved the new ordinance earlier this year prior to minute language changes and legal insertions that required a new public hearing. It would prohibit police from soliciting information concerning immigration status for the purpose of 
enforcing federal immigration law and from demanding immigration status from a person who is seeking police services, 
including victims or witnesses to a crime.

The ordinance does not restrict police from soliciting immigration status while assisting federal authorities or while looking into "the subject of an investigation," although the ordinance only permits this when "relevant to the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense, or when processing an arrested person."

Ordinance supporters on Thursday considered the ordinance a major step in racial fairness, despite its limitations.

Mississippi Immigrants Rights Executive Director Bill Chandler said fear of police officers submitting residential status to federal immigration authorities prevented many immigrants from approaching police with vital information on city crime.

"There's a perception in the immigrant community that any encounter they have with law enforcement would end them up in detention in Louisiana for weeks until they're deported to their country," Chandler told council members.

"One Latino came forward and reported a recent home invasion, but there were 10 who were to afraid to come forward. This ordinance will change things. There are other cities with African American leadership who are doing the same thing. Many of the people who came here came as children know nothing about their native country anymore. They're Americans. They would have to learn their old culture from scratch."

MIRA Central Mississippi organizer Ulises Hernandez Rincon told council members that by approving the ordinance they were making a stand for the downtrodden.

"Everybody here has memories of elementary school and junior high school," Rincon said. "What I remember most about those years were the bullies: bullies that stole lunch money, the bullies that stole toys and the ones that called names. I also remember the people who stood back and did nothing about that. … We know that members of the community are being harassed and bullied with names like ‘wetbacks' and ‘abusers of the welfare system.' By passing this, we're telling people that it's OK to come forward and talk to the police about violence and crime."

Council members presiding over the hearing included: Chokwe Lumumba, Ward 2; Kenneth Stokes, Ward 3; Charles Tillman, Ward 5; Frank Bluntson, Ward 4; and Tony Yarber, Ward 6. No council member spoke out against the ordinance. Tilman pointed out that many of the people in the room would outlive him and asked that they change the world in a good way when he was gone, while Yarber made clear that the ordinance ultimately benefitted more than just immigrants.

"Smart people who are opposing the kind of things we're hearing about tonight—and I use the word smart loosely—they know that the minority today may not be the minority tomorrow. They need to understand that we're really protecting them tomorrow," Yarber said, referring to Arizona's controversial law that critics say encourages racial profiling.

The Jackson hearing was in sharp contrast to an Aug. 2 Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement public forum in Madison, where guest speakers, including Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, accused organizations like MIRA of committing felonies by offering aid and information to non-citizens. Many participants in the Madison forum also complained that immigration promoted unemployment as non-citizen workers claimed valuable jobs.

Chokwe Anton Lumumba, son of Ward 2 Councilman Lumumba, said the issue all came down to economics.

"The problem is not the people seeking the jobs, but the people controlling the jobs who are trying to get over on everybody," Lumumba said "… We don't have look too far to see that any abuse of anyone's rights is based upon economic interest. The measure to reduce immigration exists to take advantage of people and keep them in fear so that they can be exploited (for low wages)."

Previous Comments

ID
159510
Comment

“What’s the point of a police department if immigrants like me must fear them?” asked Jackson resident Tatiana McDonald of a crowd of about 80 in the council chambers. Well, if you're here illegally, you should fear them. You're not supposed to be here. Common sense one would think.

Author
LambdaRisen
Date
2010-08-25T11:53:47-06:00
ID
159513
Comment

Common sense has gone right out the window for those who support open borders.

Author
bill_jackson
Date
2010-08-25T13:04:42-06:00
ID
159514
Comment

But do we want to subject all Hispanic Americans to a review of their documentation, regardless of whether they have committed a crime? Note that the police can still review the immigration status of someone who is arrested. The question is whether it makes sense for the police to check the status of anyone they think might be an undocumented immigrant. That was one of the problems the federal court cited with regard to the Arizona law. Local police have no business enforcing immigration law, anymore than they should cite companies for violations of the Clean Air Act. The police should focus on preventing and solving actual crimes rather than status offenses. To succeed, they need people in the community to come forward and help create safe communities, regardless of whether those people have the proper documentation. There has been much hysteria over illegal immigrants and crime, but it is clear that turning the police into untrained INS officers will not reduce crime.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-08-25T13:10:29-06:00
ID
159517
Comment

Brian, police set up roadblocks checking documentation, driver's license, insurance, warrants, etc., all of the time. I don't see why they can't be allowed to check for citizen documentation too. You don't need special training to check one more piece of identification.

Author
LambdaRisen
Date
2010-08-25T15:19:01-06:00
ID
159518
Comment

There has been much hysteria over illegal immigrants and crime, but it is clear that turning the police into untrained INS officers will not reduce crime. Very nicely put. Frankly, you'd think law enforcement would make a similar argument when laws like this get passed -- (a.) the law itself straight-up political grandstanding and (b.) it makes the cop's life more difficult (more crap to enforce) while (c.) eating away at civil liberties. Meanwhile, whenever someone (Republican or Democrat) introduces meaningful immigration reform, the bulk of the GOP locks arms with the John Birch Society and starts screaming about "amnesty"... and demagogy wins again.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-08-25T15:29:22-06:00
ID
159519
Comment

Who the hell said anything about "open borders," bill? Can you really not hold a thought in your head that isn't black or white, this or that?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-25T15:45:30-06:00
ID
159520
Comment

I don't see why they can't be allowed to check for citizen documentation too. You don't need special training to check one more piece of identification. Really, Lambda? What about immigrants who are here legally? Do we arrest every person that just "looks" like they might be an undocumented immigrant because they don't happen to have proof of citizenship or legal residence on their person? There are undoubtedly millions of people of Mexican, South American and Spanish decent in the U.S. who also happen to be citizens, or who entered the U.S. legitimately/legally. Does that mean they all need to carry proof of citizenship at the risk of being hauled off to jail?

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-08-25T16:43:02-06:00
ID
159521
Comment

And then there are all the people from other places who are born here and are American citizens (the ones that bigots call "anchor babies.")

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-25T16:45:09-06:00
ID
159522
Comment

Ronni- Temp. immigrant workers are required to carry their green card at all times and permanent residents are required to "Carry proof of your permanent resident status at all times." http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/M-618.pdf page 8 If they don't have proof of legal residence on them they have already violated immigration codes.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2010-08-25T17:09:02-06:00
ID
159524
Comment

Ronni, do we arrest everyone who "looks" like they may be driving drunk or don't have a license or insurance? Of course not. And so to answer your question, of course we don't arrest every person that just "looks" like they might be undocumented. But officers should still have the right to check for such documentation just like they have the right to check for your vehicle insurance proof and your driver license. I'm of course reminded of the illegal from Bolivia I believe it was that ran over the nun a couple of weeks ago. He needed not only his documentation checked but his driver license too! Checking for documentation isn't profiling. It's no different than checking any other form of identification. When people start raising as much stink over being stopped at a roadblock to have your license looked at, then maybe I'll change my mind.

Author
LambdaRisen
Date
2010-08-25T17:23:14-06:00
ID
159525
Comment

MS Ladd, we've a defacto "open borders" policy in effect for some time now. That's what got us to where we find ourselves now.

Author
bill_jackson
Date
2010-08-25T19:05:51-06:00
ID
159526
Comment

Bubba, the point is that citizens are not required to show identification if they are just walking down the street. If it becomes de facto police policy that brown people must have proof of status while white people do not, that will be a horrible step backward for our country. It is an insult to the Constitution.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-08-25T20:52:23-06:00
ID
159530
Comment

This has been a hot potato since it was debated on the senate floor in the 1800s. Wikipedia: During the original debate over the amendment Senator Jacob M. Howard of Michigan—the author of the Citizenship Clause—described the clause as excluding American Indians who maintain their tribal ties, and "persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers." Yeah the author never meant it to cover aliens.

Author
Mark Ellis
Date
2010-08-26T05:47:01-06:00
ID
159535
Comment

We undoubtedly have border problems, Bill, and very bad and unenforceable immigration policy. But your first comment implied that people (like many of us) who don't buy into the "illegals" rhetoric some of y'all put out there are, thus, in favor of "open borders." That is extremely incorrect and illogical. What's remarkable to me is how hard it is to get any of y'all with your position to have a real discussion about immigration law, including the economic impact of suddenly deporting anyone you consider "illegal." You just avoid talking about facts that don't fit your faulty narrative. And that's useless when it comes to solving problems. With due respect.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-26T09:28:55-06:00
ID
159536
Comment

But officers should still have the right to check for such documentation just like they have the right to check for your vehicle insurance proof and your driver license. They should? Your example falls short because there are laws requiring a valid driver's license and insurance. If you want to make it incumbent on police to check for citizenship during routine traffic stops, the law must cover ALL people, Lamda, not just brown people who are the current targets of such ordinances. Just like all people are subject to having their luggage and persons scanned and searched before boarding a plane, to have the law not target an ethnic or minority group, every person in the U.S. must be required by law to carry proof of citizenship.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-08-26T09:33:37-06:00
ID
159537
Comment

Exactly, Ronni. What is funny here is that support for this law makes it very clear that some people think this kind of profiling based on skin tone is OK. Because it certainly doesn't also include people who do not fit the stereotype. There's an Equal Protection problem right there. Oh, but we need to repeal that, too, right? Jeez.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-26T09:41:00-06:00
ID
159538
Comment

Ronni, you said "Your example falls short because there are laws requiring a valid driver's license and insurance." As Bubba has already pointed out, there are also laws requiring Temp. immigrant workers to carry their green card at all times and permanent residents are required to "Carry proof of your permanent resident status at all times." http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/M-618.pdf page 8 Since immigrants are required to carry this documentation at all times, what's the problem with law enforcement being allowed to check said documentation? What's the point in a laws requiring immigrants to be documented and to carry such documentation? The point is to prove they are here legally and the law is to be enforced. By whom? Well, it's supposed to be the federal gov't. But they aren't doing it. So it's up to the states to protect their own.. own borders, own welfare system, own health care system, own infrastructure, etc - especially border states. Arizona did the right thing and other states should follow. I don't care if you're from Canada or Cambodia, which means I don't care if you're brown or white, if you're here illegally, you need to be removed. Why is that such a hard concept. I consider myself a die-hard liberal but I know what "illegal" means and I know a strain on our government resources when I see one.

Author
LambdaRisen
Date
2010-08-26T11:03:33-06:00
ID
159541
Comment

Lamba, I don't see why this is hard to understand. There are about 20 million citizens of this country who are Latino. Should they also be required to carry identification at all times? If not, how will the police be able to distinguish between undocumented workers and citizens? If so, why should Latino citizens be required to carry identification at all times while people of European descent are not? I wouldn't agree that you're a die-hard liberal if you're indifferent to the civil rights of a huge segment of the population. Finally, please remember that being in this country without proper authorization is not a criminal offense. It is a civil offense. Generally, we expect the police to deal with criminal matters.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-08-26T13:38:03-06:00
ID
159543
Comment

Lambda, I find it truly amazing that you can not understand that having a law that only applies to some people arbitrarily is not good law (or Constitutional in the U.S.). I'm not arguing that some immigrants who have not achieved citizenship must carry documentation at all times. I am saying that a law that mandates police check for proof of citizenship TARGETS people who look a certain way or talk a certain way REGARDLESS OF THEIR STATUS. If you don't believe that's true, answer some questions for me. Exactly what standard would you set to have police know when to demand proof of citizenship or immigration status if you're not going to require that everyone carry proof? How do you (or the police or anyone else for that matter) spot someone who isn't in this country legally? Is it by the color of their skin? Is it by the way they talk? How about their socio-economic status or the number of people in the car? And what if police decide someone "should" have proof when they don't? Then what? Put them in jail until they can come up with the proof (also unconstitutional)? Probably 90 percent of American citizens couldn't come up with proof of citizenship on a moment's notice. If you don't believe me, go apply for a passport later today. A law that doesn't apply equally to all people across the board is discriminatory on its face, which is why the Arizona law was largely overturned. It's overturned because it's unconstitutional for LEGAL citizens. Here's a few theoretical situations not involving immigrants: Let's pass a law requiring that all gay men must carry proof of their health status because they might present a public health hazard. Because, after all, they may have AIDS, that "gay" disease. Or, let's pass a law that all African Americans have to pass a poll test to vote. Because, after all, everyone knows black people aren't smart enough to vote, right? See how that works? See how absurdly discriminatory and bigoted those laws are? (I am not proposing that we pass such laws, BTW, so please spare me your ire. I'm only trying to illustrate a point.) You are repeating hard-core right-wing talking points about "illegals" and the "strain on government resources" and all the rest that numerous studies have proven not to have any basis in fact. It's irrational xenophobia.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-08-26T15:35:03-06:00
ID
159544
Comment

Ronni- I think you are very off on your 90% of citizens couldn't come up with proof of citizenship. Have you even looked into what it takes to get a passport? To get a passport all you need is a certified copy of birth certificate, which most people had to get when they started to school and valid driver's license or current government ID nothing that is very hard to come up with and most people have already. Been there, done that.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2010-08-26T16:37:05-06:00
ID
159548
Comment

Have you even looked into what it takes to get a passport? To get a passport all you need is a certified copy of birth certificate, which most people had to get when they started to school and valid driver's license or current government ID nothing that is very hard to come up with and most people have already. Been there, done that. So now conservatives want everyone to walk around with their passport on them?

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-08-26T17:13:46-06:00
ID
159549
Comment

Todd- Did I say that? I was just pointing out Ronni was wrong about it being hard to get a passport, or to come up with proof of citizenship.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2010-08-26T17:18:32-06:00
ID
159550
Comment

Bubba, as usual, you're reading only part of what I wrote. I said: "Probably 90 percent of American citizens couldn't come up with proof of citizenship on a moment's notice." Like: "Hi honey, the police have detained me for looking like an immigrant and not having proof of my citizenship. Go fetch that certified copy of my birth certificate from my desk, would 'ya, and bring it to the station." Ridiculous.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-08-26T18:01:52-06:00
ID
159552
Comment

Clearly, the only way this policy *might* not be unconstitutional is to require the police to constantly ask everyone they see, regardless of the way they look, to prove that they're citizens. Just spot check every day randomly. Everyone has to carry a passport at all times. And we all have to have one in order to prove our citizenship whenever anyone asks. We could make it easier and require national ID cards on each of us at all times. Otherwise -- and listen carefully Bubba et al -- the policy is unconstitutional toward "legal* immigrants of any citizen thought to possibly look "illegal" (thus, the racial profiling component). Y'all really can't be so dense on this one that you can't understand that being against this law is about protecting the rights of citizens as much as anything else, can you? You can be completely and totally anti-any immigrant and see that this is totally un-American.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-26T18:06:43-06:00
ID
159553
Comment

As to whether or not I've looked into what it takes to get a passport, I have, Bubba. First of all, I'm a naturalized U.S. citizen. I was not born in the U.S. I became a citizen when my parents did (I was 6). To get my passport, I needed my naturalization papers, which I lost in some move years ago. I applied for a replacement of those papers; however, I use my married name, which is different from the last name on my naturalization papers and birth certificate. So, I had to provide my marriage certificate, my divorce papers and a slew of other documentation to get it. I applied just before Katrina hit the coast. The paperwork was locked in a vault and no one could get to it for months and months after the storm. So, you see, it's not always as easy as you think. God help me if the U.S. ever goes to war with Austria ... I'll be on the next immigration hit list for blue-eyed blonds. (Which actually happened in America, BTW, during WWII)

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-08-26T18:12:26-06:00
ID
159554
Comment

Brian said, "There are about 20 million citizens of this country who are Latino. Should they also be required to carry identification at all times?" Umm, yes, they should be required to carry identification at all times. I am. You are too. Why shouldn't they be?

Author
LambdaRisen
Date
2010-08-26T18:15:51-06:00
ID
159556
Comment

Check out Matt Taibbi on RollingStone.com: But this summer’s media hate-fest is different than anything we’ve seen before. What we’re watching is a calculated campaign to demonize blacks, Mexicans, and gays and convince a plurality of economically-depressed white voters that they are under imminent legal and perhaps even physical attack by a conspiracy of leftist nonwhites. They’re telling these people that their government is illegitimate and criminal and unironically urging secession and revolution. Read full post. In the future, books are going to be written about the era of U.S. history when bigots wigged out and "good" people (and media) did nothing. I've read the same kinds of books about the Jim Crow era and Hitler Germany: lots of hang-wringing after the fact. America, we're being tested. We have to overcome this.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-26T18:51:03-06:00
ID
159557
Comment

More from that post: I’m convinced that none of the key actors here – the Wall Street banks shrieking about government takeovers and advertising on Rick Santelli’s CNBC, the Republican Party’s career hacks who have been scheming for a new horse to ride ever since Bush imploded, and the right-wing TV and radio networks – none of these actors is pushing this crazy movement out of any real desire to stoke a race war. For these institutional leaders and patrons of the Tea Party movement, this is all about material expediency: overcoming the real threat of new financial regulations after the crash, winning elections, and making TV profits. It’s just our bad luck that driving frustrated/broke white suburbanites into a race-hatred frenzy happens to be good business for these folks. And all of this is race-baiting-for-cash is borne out of the same short-term, indifferent-to-consequence thinking that we saw from the Wall Street guys in recent years -- who created mountains of deadly leverage capable of destroying the global financial system for the sake of a few one-year bonuses. The fact that Fox and co. are doing what they do for these dreary commercial reasons makes it even worse, of course; at least Hitler really hated Jewish people.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-26T18:53:24-06:00
ID
159558
Comment

Ronni- I read your everything you wrote, was just addressing one part of it. :) I knew your parents were naturalized citizens (finally got your father's book haven't read it yet though), thought you were born here. What you need to get a passport,because you lost your naturalzation papers and used the wrong name,is vastly different than for the average person needs, most of the time it is easy to get a passport and if you did have those papers it would have been easy for you.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2010-08-26T18:54:03-06:00
ID
159559
Comment

[T]hey should be required to carry identification at all times. I am. You are too. Why shouldn't they be? Lambda, what parallel America do you live in where you're "required" to carry identification with you at all times? You're required to have a valid driver's license when operating a motor vehicle. You're required to show a photo ID when you get on a commercial airplane. You might need an ID to get into a club, or when you pay for an item with a check. Required at all times? Hardly.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-08-26T19:10:45-06:00
ID
159560
Comment

Not "wrong" name, Bubba, different name. As in "not the name I was born with," a scenario that any woman who has married and changed her name has to face at some point. I'm just using my own experience to illustrate the fact that it's not always as easy as you think to get your hands on that proof of citizenship.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2010-08-26T19:18:03-06:00

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