287G: Obama Opposes Yet Sanctions Racial Profiling
The president complicit in expanding programs that legalize and authorize racial profiling, other abuses nationwide
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
In Cambridge, Mass., a prominent African American professor gets
Published on LatinoLA: July 31, 2009
arrested in his own home, and many conservatives ÔÇô of all colors ÔÇô are
befuddled because they can't seem to comprehend the outrage. More
outraged is the fanatical right wing, which bristles at the thought
that the president actually suggested that racism might still exist in
the United States.
Ironically, in Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is proof
that racial profiling still takes place and that President Obama
himself officially sanctions it. After the spectacle of the Sonia
Sotomayor hearings in which southern senators questioned her
integrity, we again have been treated to national theater where
persons of color are supposed to apologize to unrepentant bigots.
Leading this charge are wealthy talk show hosts and wealthy talking
heads that have little in common with the listeners that they herd
around daily. They are the same ones that hold sacrosanct the Second
Amendment and the idea that one's home is one's castle and that the
Constitution permits homeowners to defend themselves and their home
with lethal force, against anyone and everyone.
In regards to the particulars involving Harvard professor Henry Louis
Gates and Sergeant James M. Crowley of the Cambridge Police
Department, it is true that no one should have rendered judgment
before all the facts were known. However, because the president
commented on the situation, this incident has helped to bring the
topic of racial profiling to the fore.
Seemingly most conservative whites speak [on talk radio and the
internet] with venom in regards to this topic, not simply denying the
phenomenon, but also condoning it or redefining it when impossible to
deny. Minimally, it has to be acknowledged that racial profiling has
always been a problem in this country. Driving while black or brown is
one thing, but to be arrested in one's home ÔÇô one's sanctuary ÔÇô
touches a sensitive chord.
It has been surprising to hear the president speak up on the topic. On
virtually everything else ÔÇô such as illegal spying, transparent
government, illegal wars, signing statements, etc, he has actually
continued the Bush polices of the past eight years. However, in
regards to racial profiling, he has actually weighed in, albeit
clumsily. However, it has not been improper for him to point out that
in general, anyone getting arrested in their own home, after
identifying him or herself, is disturbing. Talking back or defending
one's dignity (as opposed to meekly complying) is not a punishable
What is more disturbing about this topic is that the president has
actually been complicit in greatly expanding programs that legalize
and authorize racial profiling and other abuses nationwide. The
primary program is the Bush-era federal 287G program that authorizes
local police departments to carry out immigration enforcement duties.
Arizona's Sheriff Arpaio ÔÇô who believes it is an honor to be
associated with the KKK (Nov 2007, on CNN's Lou Dobb's Program) and
who actually pals around with racial extremists ÔÇô is the face of this
program. His well-publicized dragnet raids and checkpoints in
Mexican/Latino neighborhoods have garnered national attention. His
antics and practices have also been regularly denounced by Phoenix
Mayor Phil Gordon and by human rights organizations nationwide. The
287G program itself has been denounced by many of the nation's police
chiefs as an impediment to good law enforcement. Nationwide, this is
but one program that permits practices unheard of anywhere else in the
world; such as mass show trials (Operation Streamline in Tucson,
Arizona) that last but one hour, trials in which migrants are charged
with smuggling themselves and detention centers for children, run by
private corporations (Corrections Corporation of America).
It is truly a mystery as to why the president has not denounced these
Bush-era programs or Arpaio ÔÇô the Bull Conner of this generation.
While it is true that Arpaio is under federal investigation, it is
also true that the Obama administration has greatly expanded, rather
than suspended the 287G program nationwide.
This nation's dirty little secret is that racial profiling has always
been a major component of federal immigration enforcement; Cesar
Chavez used to refer to the migra as the "Gestapo of the Mexican
people." It is only logical that as the 287G program expands to local
jurisdictions nationwide, so too will racial profiling expand.
It is uncertain how the Gates-Crowley-Obama drama will end. Yet,
systemic racial profiling policies ÔÇô authorized by the president
himself ÔÇô can end, not by sharing a beer on the White House lawn, but
through an immediate executive order. An end to apartheid practices
can't wait for the much-promised comprehensive immigration reform.
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez:
Rodriguez is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona
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