A Serious Jest: Rep. Gutierrez Plays the “Who is an Immigrant?” Game

In a recent speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez used gentle humor to raise a serious question: how can you tell who’s an immigrant and who’s not? The question couldn’t be more timely. Late last month, the Supreme Court ruled on Arizona’s controversial immigration law, leaving intact the “show-me-your-papers” provision, and leaving Arizona police with the daunting task of figuring out what, exactly, gives rise to “reasonable suspicion” that a person is here illegally – and therefore subject to pointed questioning about his or her immigration status. (See Luis Gutierrez: Who’s the Immigrant, Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez? by Elise Foley, Huffington Post Latino Voices (27.Jun.2012).

Huffington Post reports that Gutierrez used pictures of Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber to demonstrate how hard it is to get this right, and how racial profiling leads to false conclusions: Gomez is from Texas, and Bieber is from Canada. In another example, Gutierrez asked which of two famous reporters had immigrant roots, Geraldo Rivera or Ted Koppel; it’s Koppel, as it turns out, who was born in England.

Whether or not this catches on as a party game, it goes a long way to prove a simple point: you can’t always tell. Racial profiling may seem like a quick shortcut to the truth, but it’s not fair, and ends up telling you more about the profiler than the profiled. No doubt the Supreme Court has not heard the last of the “show-me-your-papers” law – and sadly, neither have the rest of us.

Copyright © 2012, MURTHY LAW FIRM. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.