Fox Downplays The Likelihood That Arizona Will Engage In Racial Profiling


Fox News attacked the Justice Department for setting up a hotline for Arizonans to report civil rights violations by Arizona authorities enforcing the "show me your papers" provision of the state's immigration law. But commentators from across the political spectrum have acknowledged that Arizona's immigration law could lead to civil rights violations such as racial profiling.

Supreme Court Allows AZ "Show Me Your Papers" Legislation To Go Into Effect To See How It Will Be Enforced

Supreme Court Strikes Down Much Of AZ Law, But Allows Show Me Your Papers Section To Go Into Effect For The Time Being. On June 25, the Supreme Court struck down three sections of Arizona's controversial immigration law. The Court also provisionally allowed the so-called "show me your papers" section to go into effect. The Supreme Court experts at SCOTUSblog explained:

The Court didn't rule on the health care cases today, but it still issued a blockbuster: its decision in Arizona v. United States, the federal government's challenge to Arizona's controversial immigration law. And although Arizona prevailed last year at the Court in a case involving a different effort to regulate immigration (in that case, by punishing businesses that hire illegal immigrants), it did not fare as well this year. Instead, the decision was largely (but not entirely) a victory for the federal government: the Court held that three of the four provisions of the law at issue in the case cannot not go into effect at all because they are "preempted," or trumped, by federal immigration laws. And while the Court allowed one provision -- which requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone whom they detain or arrest before they release that person -- to go into effect, even here it left open the possibility that this provision would eventually be held unconstitutional if not applied narrowly in Arizona. [SCOTUSblog, 6/25/12]

SCOTUSblog: Show Me Your Papers Provision "Could Eventually Be Invalidated" If Stops Are not "Consistent With ... Civil Rights Laws." In a June 25 post on SCOTUSblog, Kevin Russell noted that the Supreme Court's ruling meant the "provision could eventually be invalidated" if law enforcement stops are not "conducted consistent with ... civil rights laws." From SCOTUSblog:

Police Checks. Section 2(B) of the law requires the police to check the immigration status of persons whom they detain before releasing them. The Court held that the lower courts were wrong to prevent this provision from going into effect while its lawfulness is being litigated. It was not sufficiently clear that the provision would be held preempted, the Court held. The Court took pains to point out that the law, on its face, prohibits stops based on race or national origin and provides that the stops must be conducted consistent with federal immigration and civil rights laws. However, it held open that the provision could eventually be invalidated after trial. [SCOTUSblog, 6/25/12]

SF Chronicle: Show Me Your Papers Provision Could Be Thrown Out If It "Is Enforced In A Discriminatory Manner." In a June 25 post on its Politics Blog, the San Francisco Chronicle also pointed out that the "show me your papers" provision may be struck down if it results in civil rights violations:

The court did not strike down the state's right to permit police to routinely check the immigration status of people stopped for other reasons.

However, today's ruling left open the possibility that this provision could be reviewed later if it is enforced in a discriminatory manner. [San Francisco Chronicle, 6/25/12]

Justice Department Sets Up Civil Rights Hotline To Monitor Enforcement Of "Show Me Your Papers" Law

AP: Justice Department "Set Up A Hotline For The Public To Report Potential Civil Rights Concerns" As Arizona Enforces Its Law. After the Supreme Court's decision, the Justice Department created a hotline allowing people to contact the federal government if Arizona officials violate their civil rights. From the Associated Press:

The Justice Department has set up a hotline for the public to report potential civil rights concerns regarding the Arizona law that requires police to check the immigration status of those they stop for other reasons.


In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy also said the law could -- and suggested it should -- be read to avoid concerns that status checks could lead to prolonged detention.

He said detaining individuals solely to verify their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns. But he did not define what would constitute excessive detention. [Associated Press, 6/25/12]

Fox Calls Civil Rights Hotline "A Wanted Poster For Law Enforcement" In Arizona

Fox's Doocy: "The Federal Government Is Asking The People Of Arizona To Narc On The State." On the June 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy reported that the Department of Justice is setting up a hotline to report civil rights violations as a result of enforcement of Arizona's anti-immigrant law SB 1070. Doocy reacted by complaining "the federal government is asking the people of Arizona to narc on the state." From Fox & Friends:

PETER JOHNSON JR. (Fox News legal analyst): At the same time, they said listen, we're setting up a hotline and the hotline is please call us if you believe that your civil rights are being violated by police officers in the state of Arizona.

DOOCY: The federal government is asking the people of Arizona to narc on the state.

JOHNSON: They set up yesterday a hotline, and in essence have set up a wanted poster for law enforcement in the state of Arizona whereby they say "listen, we believe in our hearts that these folks, police officers, sheriffs, corrections officers, others are going to engage in civil rights violations. Not only against Americans but against people who don't belong here and they're going to act in a way that's inconsistent with American principles and laws. And so they need to be reported. You need to call that -- those folks in."

And so the Supreme Court has spoken on this issue but federal policy seems to say otherwise. That seems to be part and parcel of what we're seeing about the balance of power between the state and the federal government and what rules and laws should really apply.

DOOCY: So the Supreme Court said yesterday, 8-0, what Arizona is doing is absolutely legal and yet, the administration said OK, it might be legal but we're just not -- we're backing away from it. Unless somebody is a felon we're just going to tell them let them go--

JOHNSON: we won't give you the computer access to find out whether someone is actually here properly. We're not going to look that up for you, and we're not going to respond to the scene of a crime where you believe you're detaining people who don't belong here in the United States except under certain circumstances. On top of that, a new hotline: Turn in the cops in Arizona because obviously, they're racist. Why don't we just open the borders and not have any enforcement at all? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/26/12]

But Law Enforcement Officers Say The AZ Law Will Likely Lead To Racial Profiling

Phoenix Police Chief: "[V]ery Difficult Not To Profile" In Implementation Of This Law. On May 17, 2010, theAssociated Press reported that Phoenix Public Safety Manager and Police Chief Jack Harris said "it's very difficult not to profile" when implementing "a law that leads a state down this path, where the enforcement is targeted to a particular segment of the population":

Several Arizona police chiefs and sheriffs say, as hard as officers try not to profile, enforcing the law will inevitably lead to it. They say it will end up taking time away from solving crimes in their cities and towns.

"When you get a law that leads a state down this path, where the enforcement is targeted to a particular segment of the population, it's very difficult not to profile," said Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris, a critic of the law. [AP, 5/17/12 via MSNBC]

Pima County Sheriff Reportedly Said Law "Encourages" Racial Profiling. In a May 14, 2010, Orange County Register column, David Whiting reported that Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik "says his department already arrests undocumented aliens, and that the law could lead to racial profiling and costly lawsuits by both advocates and opponents." Whiting also reported that Dupnik said that "the bill will encourage citizens to sue police departments for not enforcing the statute while, at the same time, it will prompt others to sue because it encourages racial profiling." [Orange County Register, 5/14/10]

Tucson Police Officer: "There Are No Race Neutral Criteria Or Basis To Suspect Or Identify Who Is Lawfully In The United States." The Arizona Republic reported on May 15, 2010, that Phoenix police officer David Salgado and Tucson police officer Martin Escobar separately filed lawsuits to stop the immigration law. According to the Republic, Salgado "says that to enforce the law, he would violate the rights of Hispanics," and that "Escobar's suit claims the new law compels him to engage in racial profiling to prove legal status." Escobar's lawsuit was subsequently dismissed for lack of standing. [Arizona Republic, 5/15/10, Los Angeles Times, 9/1/10]

For more law enforcement officials noting the Arizona's law could lead to racial profiling, click here.

Legal Experts Say Racial Profiling Is Inevitable Under The Arizona Law

UC Davis Law School Dean: "My Fear Is That" Law Enforcement Officers Will Rely "On Racial And/Or Class Stereotypes." reported that Kevin Johnson, dean of the law school at University of California-Davis "said he worries that local police inadequately trained in immigration law could engage in profiling, either unwittingly or intentionally. 'My fear is that, with the new addition to the law or not, racial profiling will result, with untrained local law enforcement officers - perhaps unconsciously - relying on racial and/or class stereotypes' when determining whether there's 'reasonable suspicion' about one's immigration status.'" [, 4/30/10]

National Immigration Law Center : "It Leads To The Racial Profiling That Is Inevitable." The AP reported on May 17, 2010, that Linton Joaquin, general counsel of the National Immigration Law Center, which is supporting a challenge to the legislation, said that the law "is a greater and more explicit intrusion into the regulation of immigration" and that "[i]t leads to the racial profiling that is inevitable." [AP, 5/18/12 via CBS News]

AZ Democratic State Representative: Law Open To Broad Interpretation, Potential For Racial Profiling. The Arizona Republic reported on May 17, 2010, that "Kyrsten Sinema, a Democratic state representative and an attorney who opposes the law, said the law does not state what officers can consider when determining reasonable suspicion, which opens the door to broad interpretation and the potential for racial profiling." The Republic further quoted Sinema as stating: "Arizona courts describe (reasonable suspicion) as requiring only a minimal, objective justification based on the totality of circumstances. These can include such basic factors as a person's conduct or appearance, the characteristics of the area, the time of day and the experience of the officer." [Arizona Republic, 5/17/10]

For more legal opinions that the law could lead to racial profiling, click here.

Conservatives Have Also Said The Arizona Law Could Lead To Profiling

Krauthammer: AZ Law "Could Lead To A Lot Of Civil Rights Abuses." During the April 21, 2010, edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said that laws such as Arizona's "could lead to a lot of civil rights abuses:

KRAUTHAMMER: They're trying to pass laws where you catch somebody already in the U.S. and it's really hard to discern who is and who is not illegal. Look, if you're at the border and somebody is climbing over the fence, you have a pretty high certainty it's an illegal. Now if somebody is standing outside a Home Depot who doesn't speak English, well he could be or he could not be. So it could lead to a lot of civil rights abuses. But the problem is ultimately that the feds haven't acted." [Fox News, Special Report, 4/21/10, via Media Matters]

Marco Rubio: AZ Law Could "Unreasonably Single Out People Who Are Here Legally, Including Many American Citizens." GOP Senator Marco Rubio, while a candidate for Florida's U.S. Senate seat, in a April 27, 2010, Tampa Bay Times article expressed concerns about Arizona's legislation:

From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don't believe Arizona's policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with 'reasonable suspicion,' are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens." [Tampa Bay Times, 4/27/10]

Hume: "Some People Are Going To Have To Endure Inconvenience As Opposed To Everybody." On the April 19, 2010, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume appeared to dismiss concerns about racial profiling, stating that "if it's an effective law enforcement technique done in good faith, people may have to endure some inconvenience. What we're saying here is that some people are going to have endure inconvenience as opposed to everybody having to endure it." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 4/19/12 via Media Matters]

Steven Crowder: "I Don't Think There's Really Anything Wrong As Far As Racial Profiling." During the April 23, 2010, edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox News contributor Steven Crowder said that there's racial profiling in the law and "I don't think there's really anything wrong as far as racial profiling, stopping people who are coming in illegally. I mean, you're not looking for a blond haired, blue eyed Swede most of the time." [Fox News, Hannity, 4/23/10 via Media Matters]

Posted In
Immigration, Enforcement
Fox News Channel
Steve Doocy, Peter Johnson Jr.
FOX & Friends
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