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What’s Wrong With Racial Profiling Anyway?

Profiling serves as a valuable law enforcement tool.

On April 23, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed an immigration bill that outlaws illegal immigration in Arizona. The bill’s passage allows state law enforcement personnel to arrest and deport illegal immigrants instead of continuing the practice of capturing them, then helplessly watching federal agencies drop the ball on deportation.
 
Because this law should bring a new level of scrutiny and profiling to bear on Mexicans who have crossed the border illegally, Democrats, “human rights activists,” Hispanic PACs, and the Rev. Al Sharpton are all shouting “racism” from the rooftops. Sharpton, in particular, is promoting a boycott of Arizona and is promising to take his posse there to demonstrate in the streets.
 
Even Fox News’ Shepherd Smith sarcastically referred to the new legislation the “driving while Latino” law.
 
But the fundamental question none of these groups or individuals appear willing to ask is: “What’s wrong with racial profiling anyway?” It is, after all, a valuable tool in solving cases for law enforcement.
 
When law enforcement officials are looking for a serial killer, they don’t bother talking to very many females. Nor do they question many blacks, Hispanics, or Middle-Easterners. Why? Because doing so would be an absolute waste of time: They know the overwhelming odds are that the killer is going to be a male who is white, and who either lives alone or lives with his mom. So they look for men who fit that profile rather than wasting their time investigating those who don’t fit the profile.
 
Imagine how long investigations would last if agents tracking a serial killer were forced to interrogate equal numbers of male and female suspects and equal numbers of blacks, Hispanics, whites or Middle-Easterners. The investigators would have to spend the majority of their time talking to people whom they knew had nothing to do with the crime in order to satisfy guidelines that were out of touch with reality.
 
Yet this is exactly what the opponents of this legislation are seeking. Under the guise of stopping “racism,” they want guarantees that the law aimed at ridding Arizona of illegal immigrants won’t allow law enforcement officials to focus on people who fit the profile of a Mexican national: the nationality most likely to be illegal in Arizona. In other words, they want law enforcement to scrutinize equal numbers of Mexicans, Dutchmen, Eskimos, and ladies who speak French.
 
Such demands are sheer madness because there’s nothing inherently “racist” about racial profiling. It is a viable tool which law enforcement officials should be able use.
 
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made this clear after the Fort Hood shootings last November, when she told Sean Hannity that a little profiling could have prevented Major Nidal Hasan from committing his act of terror. Said Palin: “It was a fear of being politically incorrect to not…profile [Hasan].”
 
Palin’s words do not spring from racism, but from common sense. And the profiling that ought to result from the legislation Brewer signed in Arizona has its roots in common sense as well.
 
Although illegals will not be departed simply because they are of Mexican descent – that would be racism – individuals in Arizona who fit the profile of someone who crossed the border illegally ought to be ready to present documentation if they have an encounter with a law enforcement officer.
 
If they have the documents to show they’re in the country legally, then they have nothing to worry about. But if it turns out that the individual in question is an illegal immigrant, the value of questioning the person who fit the profile instead of the one who didn’t will have paid dividends once more.

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Written By

AWR Hawkins writes for Andrew Breitbart's BIG sites, for Pajamas Media, for RedCounty.com, and for Townhall.com. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal (summer 2010), and holds a PhD in military history from Texas Tech University. You can e-mail him at awr@awrhawkins.com.

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