Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Blog

In just the latest twist in what’s turning into a virtual immigration roller coaster, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused yesterday a request to suspend Arizona’s now-infamous SB1070 law—the one “hearted” by Congressional candidate Gabriela Saucedo Mercer. Civil rights advocates asked that enforcement—which was just reinstated last week—be stalled until all appeals had been exhausted. The advocates asserted that immediate implementation would necessarily result in racial profiling. The case is expected to go to the Supreme Court, but—since that court already has overturned a previous injunction—most feel that it is unlikely to strike down SB1070 on appeal.

The court’s rationale for upholding the law is that, prior to its enforcement, there is no way to confirm that it will result in racial profiling. The law requires police officers to request proof of legal residency of any individual they have detained, even for a traffic stop, if they suspect that individual may be in the country illegally. Short of an evaluation based on the individual’s name or appearance, it remains unclear how an officer could reasonably assume that an individual is an illegal immigrant. And, of course, any evaluation based on name or appearance would be racial and/or ethnic profiling.

Even while the Arizona courts continue to attest that there is no evidence to support the prediction of profiling, a Department of Public Safety officer in Phoenix is making news for doing just that. According to a report on CBS5, Arizona DPS Officer Michael Dorsett was fired in 2010, after the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (APOST) noticed that—in a single year—Dorsett arrested 100 illegal immigrants via traffic stops during his patrol. He was the only officer in his squad to make any immigration arrests. When the APOST suspected something might be amiss, they tracked his stops. In 12 days, 39 of the individuals stopped for traffic infractions were Hispanic. More troubling still is Dorsett’s assertion that his supervisor instructed him to falsify arrest records and log the individuals as white non-Hispanics “because he didn’t want the statistics tracked.”

It’s worth noting that these stops were made in 2010, the same year that SB1070 passed the Arizona Legislature.

At a 2011 hearing, Arizona DPS Supervisor Robert Halliday said that, were Dorsett reinstated, “We would try to put him in a place where he's not going to have an opportunity to stop people. I don't think this officer can be trusted.”

Today, as Arizona courts continue to debate whether SB1070 will lead to racial profiling on the state’s highways, Officer Dorsett is patrolling Interstate 10 near Casa Grande, Arizona.

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