Florida state Rep. William Snyder, the slow-drawling ex-Miami-Dade Police officer who has drafted Tallahassee’s version of the hotly debated Arizona immigration bill, is adamant that his law would not lead to racial profiling.
“Race, ethnicity, and national origin cannot be used in making arrests. It’s immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional,” he said in a recent radio interview.
So why does his bill explicitly offer a free pass to Canadians and Western Europeans, who need only show a passport to be “presumed to be legally in the United States”?
“That language makes it clear that police are targeting only a specific minority,” says Susana Barciela, policy director at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center.
If you’ve somehow missed the months of heated bickering over Arizona’s bill, called SB-1070, it allows Grand Canyon State cops to demand papers from anyone detained lawfully whom they have “reasonable suspicions” of being an illegal alien.
Critics ask how anything other than skin color or a Hispanic name could lead to such “reasonable suspicions.” But constitutional questions aside, the bill’s appeal to xenophobes has led politicos nationwide to craft their own states’ imitations.