As an Arizona native, the Phoenix Suns have been my favorite basketball team, and even after I moved out of Arizona, Steve Nash’s prolific style of play kept me following the Suns. While I’m happy they won their playoff game against the Spurs Wednesday night, I’m disappointed in the way Nash and “Los Suns” have reacted to Arizona’s new immigration law.
It’s not unusual for teams to wear Spanish jerseys on special occasions, especially in the Southwest.Wednesday night was different; the Suns decided to enter the political arena by wearing these “Los Suns” jerseys with an intended purpose.
Suns owner Robert Sarver went above and beyond celebrating Latino culture when he said this in a team statement: “The frustration with the federal government’s failure to deal with the issue of illegal immigration resulted in passage of a flawed state law. However intended, the result of passing this law is that our basic principles of equal rights and protection under the law are being called into question, and Arizona’s already struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the state can ill-afford them.”
Comments like these prove that sports people ought to stick with sports.
Sarver implies that Arizona’s economy will suffer from its employers following the laws of the United States. If you’re hiring illegals, you’re breaking federal law. The new Arizona law doesn’t miraculously change that.
The Suns owner also incorrectly suggests that S.B. 1070 violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Not to be outdone, ESPN commentator J.A. Adande concurs that, “It is the potential racial profiling and abuse of the reasonable-suspicion clause that make this law suspect.”
The new law is black and white (pardon the pun) when it comes to racial profiling. “Reasonable-suspicion” echoes the Bill of Rights language of banning “unreasonable searches and seizures” in the 4th Amendment. Case-law refinement has interpreted “reasonable” not to include racial profiling.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has also redundantly signed an executive order and an amendment to the bill specifically banning racial profiling. If a cop profiles on his own, he will be held accountable for breaking the law, including the 14th Amendment. Every time a cop asks for papers, he can be legally forced to prove probable cause for the search, and if he has no other reason besides race, the charges will not stand.
Adande—following the lead of another sports-turned-political commentator Keith Olbermann—says this doesn’t matter. Here’s his convincing legal analysis: “It’s not too hard to guess who will be asked to provide their papers (Hint: They’re more likely to look like Leandro Barbosa than like Steve Nash). If Americans are regularly stopped and asked to prove they’re American, then America feels less like America.”
Sarver and Adande either haven’t read the bill, or they just don’t get it.
After, and only after, a legal stop for some other offense can police officers ask for proper identification under this “reasonable-suspicion” clause. No one can be stopped, much less “regularly stopped,” to prove their citizenship. Once an officer has made a legal stop (for something other than immigration status) and has reason (besides race) to be suspicious, then he can demand papers.
Unlike sports celebrities, Arizonans and the majority of Americans are not falling for the rampant misperceptions being spread about this bill. They get it. The polls show that more than two-thirds of the state support S.B. 1070.
Arizona has had enough of the kidnappings and drug-trafficking crimes committed by illegal aliens. This bill helps with enforcement and sends a strong signal to Washington that they need to step up.
We are a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. We need to allow more people to legally immigrate, but we must secure the border. If it is easier to jump the border than to file immigration paperwork, we will continue to see problems.
“Los Suns” would do themselves well to stay out of controversial political issues, especially the ones they don’t understand. Politics and sports do not blend well. I don’t watch ESPN for politics, and I don’t watch Fox News for sports. As a loyal fan, I recommend that if you want to keep supporters like me happy, stick with basketball.
Sign up to the Human Events newsletter