I wasn’t planning on blogging today. Then I saw an interview with Mayor Stothert. Beyond the generic double-speak in which many words are spoken and very little is said, I was surprised at her cavalier, nonchalant, potentially sneaky comments on immigration detentions in Omaha. Skip to the 4:30 mark in the video for the full question, which is kind of rambly but asks the Mayor what the current policy is towards undocumented persons and what she thinks needs changing. Here’s her answer:
The existing policy with OPD is that OPD will not stop anyone or arrest anyone if they are suspected of being [un]documented or found to be undocumented. They don’t arrest them for being undocumented. That is their current policy. If they cite someone, and they find out when they cite someone for committing some kind of crime, whether it be a misdemeanor or felony, they they will treat them like they will anyone else. They will bring them down to central station, they will fingerprint them, they will try to ID them, and if they are found at that time to be undocumented, than an information report will be filled out and it will be filtered through the proper channels eventually leading to ICE, which is part of Homeland Security. So that will happen if they’ve committed a crime. But their current policy if they find them to be undocumented and they have not committed a crime, they will let them go. My opinion was, in lieu of what is going on now, because this policy has been in effect for many, many years, perhaps it is time to revisit it, like we do all policies frequently. Or we should do it frequently and routinely. Because what if, for example, we have a 10-year-old child that they find is undocumented, do they just release them out into the community, not knowing where they are going to go? So we have a different set of circumstances now. So I think it’s time that we look at the current policy and see if it is still adequate for today.
Taken as a collective verbal dump, it’s hard to see what the real danger/problems are here. It sounds potentially reasonable. It isn’t. What she is proposing is very, very bad.
Before I tell you why, I want to remind you that Jean Stothert inexplicably carried South Omaha. That area has the highest concentration of Latinos in the city. It’s so important that they understand the nature of the person they elected to represent them.
Jean Stothert is implicitly calling for racial profiling.
Let’s examine the evidence:
Exhibit A – “suspected of being [un]documented”
Exactly what behavior does one exhibit to be worthy of suspicion for being undocumented? What could you DO that would suggest that? Is there an action you can think of that would lead a police officer to think that a person may be undocumented.
There is not.
When she says that police cannot currently stop or arrest someone who is “suspected of being undocumented,” she means the police can’t stop someone for being brown. That’s what she means. That simply APPEARING to be Latino cannot result in harassment by police.
This was the first part of her answer to what she thinks should be changed.
Exhibit B: “But their current policy if they find them to be undocumented and they have not committed a crime, they will let them go.”
If you’ve ever been spoken to by a police officer as a white person, you’ll know how infrequently they ask you to see your papers. There’s a gap in Mayor Stothert’s logic that is super telling.
If the person in question has not committed or is not suspected of a crime, WHY WOULD THE POLICE BE ASKING THEM FOR DOCUMENTATION? According to the status quo, WHICH THE MAYOR WANTS TO CHANGE, you cannot harass an innocent person for their country of origin.
Exhibit C: Because what if, for example, we have a 10-year-old child that they find is undocumented, do they just release them out into the community, not knowing where they are going to go?
How do you find out a 10-year-old is undocumented? I mean, the only way that would happen under the current law is for the 10-year-old to commit a crime or his/her guardians commit a crime. So if that’s being changed, it’s pretty obvious what the Mayor is suggesting: That the police should be able to ask people not believed to have committed ANY crime to produce their papers.
And, again, PLEASE ASK YOURSELF: What would lead a police officer to suspect such a thing, especially in the absence of any crime.
Exhibit D: We have a different set of circumstances now.
We do not. Actually, if anything, the numbers are dropping. Other than that, no new Federal legislation has changed. The conditions in other parts of the world haven’t changed. The only thing that has changed our “circumstances” is that we have a Mayor who seems to think it’s okay to harass innocent people for their skin tone.
I know that many of you will say I’m putting words in the Mayor’s mouth. I am. I’m putting the invisible ones found between the gaps in her logic right into her mouth because that’s what she means.
It’s a simple, three-part logic:
- If current law says you have to be suspected of a cirme for the police to ask about immigration status
- and the mayor wants the policy to be changed
- then the mayor wants the policy to allow police to stop people not suspected of crimes to ask about immigration status.
And what characteristic indicates this “suspicion of immigration status?” The color of skin.
Considering that the Mayor has an actual crime problem on her hands, why would she divert resources to something so ugly?
Violent crimes are up. Overall crime is up. And the Mayor wants to focus on the OPD’s ability to detain people NOT suspected of crimes?
I put it to my friends in South Omaha, who are affected the most by something like this: Does this sound like someone leading the whole of the city, or does this sound like someone with a personal agenda, willing to allow race to be a factor in police work.
I’ve been upset with Mayor Stothert for many things. This is fast approaching the top of my list. Shame on any person in a position of authority who would persecute others. Her term can’t end fast enough.