An Arizona republican, Carl Seel, recently introduced legislation that would make it a crime for a ‘person in the state illegally’ to use any public resource or facility. This would include sidewalks, roads, parks and yes, even public restrooms.
House Bill 2192 would make a crime to do anything, without proof of citizenship.
The 22 lines Seel wrote as part of AZ House Bill 2192 (2014) would allow the state to charge any person found to be ‘unlawfully using public resources,’ with a misdemeanor crime, for a first offense. A second offense would result in felony charges. The bill would also allow the state to seize cars found to be driven on a public road, by a person deemed to be ‘not lawfully present’ in the state of AZ.
But why stop there? Seel’s proposed legislation would throw out those pesky little rights of the accused, namely, the right to present a defense. Seel’s addition to HB 2192 reads:
“Any record that relates to the immigration status or illegal presence of a person in this state is admissible in any court without further foundation or testimony from a custodian of records if the record is certified as authentic by the government agency that is responsible for maintaining the record.”
While it’s hard to get an estimate of how many mistakes are made by the US Office of Customs and Immigration, the agency itself admits to systemic problems, which can involve errors, lost paperwork, lengthy delays and more. These kinds of problems are common in the immigration process.
Seel’s bill would allow any record from a recognized agency to be presented in court, and taken at face value. It would eliminate the rights of the accused to show more recent records which could prove citizenship or show case history.
The bill conflicts with US law.
Seel also wants to make sure that the children of immigrants don’t get an education, even though that idea is contrary to federal law. The language of the bill specifies that the ‘unlawful use of public resources’ would include:
“driving on a public road or highway, accepting any public benefit, attending a public school or using the services of any public entity in this state.”
Seel was involved in drafting Arizona’s controversial HB 1070 , which was another attempt to bring back racial profiling. Parts of that law were struck down in federal court, where it was determined that states have a limited role to play in immigration policy and enforcement.
That ruling didn’t seem to dissuade Seel in the least. The new bill would allow citizens who don’t fit the stereotypical picture of white America, to be stopped in parks, hospitals and schools, not to mention while they are trying to use the bathroom. It would also make it a crime to drive a car or take a bus. And forget about walking, since using a public sidewalk would also be a crime.
Seel says that the law would only apply to those who have “had their day in court.”
Do AZ police have special powers that allow them to be able tell who has had their day in court, just by seeing that person on a sidewalk or in a park? Of course they don’t. Which means that if you happen to look like a person who has ‘had their day in court’, you can be stopped by the police.
Will the GOP ever stop legislating hate?
While federal courts have routinely struck down state laws that violate or extend beyond the scope of federal law, some AZ lawmakers are still set on drafting laws from a perspective of hate.
Republicans are always looking for the scapegoat, a group on which they can lay the blame for their failed policies. Whether it’s the immigrant or the black guy, the low income senior citizen or the struggling single mother, the desire to find the weakest member of society and then lay the blame for economic problems, high unemployment rates, poverty, injustice, not to mention storms and mud slides, is irresistible. It’s always the fault of the “other.” And the “other” always turns out to be the person that has the least amount of power and the fewest number of resources, making them the easiest target for bullying and blaming.
As long as members of the GOP voting base allow themselves to be manipulated into hating, maligning, mistreating, stereotyping and blaming the current “guilty party,” we’ll keep seeing politicians like Seel in positions of power. We’ll also keep seeing bills like Seel’s horrific HB 2192 introduced, and even passed in red states like Arizona and Alabama. We’ll keep wasting millions of taxpayer dollars challenging unconstitutional laws all the way to the Supreme Court, where they’ll be thrown out or altered, to look like laws that belong in the US, not Russia or Iran.
In 2011, Arizona voters recalled the author of the state’s anti-immigrant HB 1070, Russell Pearce. President of the Arizona Senate, some claim that Pearce was the most powerful politician in the state. Arizona voters who are tired of watching their elected officials scapegoat a vulnerable segment of the population, might want to consider going after Seel next.