Sunday, June 19, 2011

Meanwhile, in post-racial America

They have some pretty thin-skinned legislators in Texas.
A Texas state senator angrily criticized a man for giving his testimony in Spanish during a committee hearing in Austin on Monday, telling the man to "speak English." ...

Republican state Sen. Chris Harris told [Antolin] Aguirre that his testimony was "insulting to us."
The "insult" apparently being that Aguirre, who was testifying against a proposed bill to expand police powers to demand information about the immigration status of people they encounter, was speaking in his native language because he felt more comfortable that way. Exactly why that's insulting I'm not sure; perhaps Harris was just embarrassed by the fact that he can only speak one language while Aguirre can speak two.

The bill's sponsor, as you would expect, talked about "freeing up" police in order to "catch criminals or aspiring terrorists who slipped into the country." However, Texas law enforcement officials are against the bill because, echoing the sentiments of immigrant advocates, it could make immigrants afraid to report crimes. Normally, the opposition of cops to a law-enforcement bill would kill it off, but not when yer talkin' 'bout them furriners.

In fact, some people think being afraid to go to police is a good thing. Consider one newly-elected GOPper state representative in the oh-so-liberal state of Massachusetts. His name is Ryan Fattman and when Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick decided about two weeks ago to decline to join the federal Secure Communities program that deports illegal immigrants accused of crimes, Fattman accused Patrick of "siding with criminals."
Mr. Fattman dismissed concerns of some law enforcement officials — cited by the governor — who said using local police to enforce immigration laws could discourage reporting of crime by victims who are illegal immigrants.

Asked if he would be concerned that a woman without legal immigration status was raped and beaten as she walked down the street might be afraid to report the crime to police, Mr. Fattman said he was not worried about those implications.

“My thought is that if someone is here illegally, they should be afraid to come forward,” Mr. Fattman said.
Under the Secure Communities program, anyone arrested in the state is supposed to have their fingerprints sent to federal authorities to check their immigration status. If they are found to be undocumented, they are deported - even if they are convicted of no crime.

Fattman, whose name seems descriptive from the neck up, acknowledged that under the program people could be deported after an arrest even if they are not convicted of a crime, but he just didn't care, saying of the presumption of innocence that “I don’t think that principle extends to illegal immigrants.” He also said he had no concerns about racial profiling by police even though it would be local police who would decide who got arrested and thus who got fingerprinted and had their immigration status checked. Whether his lack of concern was that he didn't think it would happen or that he didn't care if it did - that is, whether it was based on stupidity or bigotry - was unclear.

However, neither Senator Harris nor Rep. Fattman have anything on Kansas State Representative Virgil Peck. At an Appropriations Committee meeting in March, one legislator suggested a solution to the problem the state has with feral swine could be shooting them from helicopters.

Peck responded by saying that if that worked "maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem."

No doubt this equation of undocumented immigrants with feral swine who should be hunted down and shot produced a good chuckle to be shared by all. Of course.

Because, after all, for all these people, it has nothing to do with immigrants! Of course not! They just love immigrants! No, it's about the law and about enforcing the law!

I suppose that does go down easier than ranting about maintaining "the purity of the race."

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