Lewis University Racial Profiling One of the Major Social Injustice’s in America Gregory Aaron Hargrove Cultural Diversity 200 M-W-F 1-50pm Thomas Brignall May 8, 2013 According to the U. S. Department of Justice, racial profiling can be defined as “any law enforcement initiated action that relies on the race, ethnicity, or national origin rather than the behavior of an individual that leads law enforcement to a particular individual who has been identified as being, or having been, engaged in criminal activity” When examining racial profiling from a sociological prospective there are several theories and concepts that can be used to do so.
In this paper the concepts of institutional racism, labeling theory, and conflict theory will be used to examine bill 1070 an instance where racial profiling is prevalent. Richard T. Schaefer, the author of Racial and Ethnic Groups with Faculty Readings explains institutional racism as “The denial of opportunities and equal rights to individuals and groups that result from the normal operations of a society” (Schaefer 63). The concept of institutional racism was introduced by civil rights activist Stockley Carmichael and political scientist Charles Hamilton.
In their book Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America Hamilton and Carmichael state that institutional racism is when non-minorities (whites) participate in covert acts that negatively affect minorities. 1 This notion is even further expressed later when Carmichael and Hamilton say, “Institutional racism relies on the active and persuasive operation of anti-minority attitudes and practices. ”(Carmichael, Washington 5). This ideology can be applied to odern day issues such as laws on immigration. The bill SB 1070 can be seen as a covert act of the “superior” group to get rid of the subordinate group (immigrants), because law makers aren’t just forcibly kicking legal immigrants out their just making them go through so many loop holes as a deterrent for them staying and trying to gain citizenship. On April 23, 2010 the state of Arizona passed act SB 1070. This act is seen as one of the strictest immigration policies in U. S. History.
According to Arizona’ State Legislator SB 1070 requires, “All law enforcement officers of the State, counties, cities and towns in Arizona to determine the immigration status of every person “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States” except if doing so “may hinder or obstruct an investigation. ” This bill has been received with a lot of criticism from the Hispanic community, because some feel that the bill primarily targets them. One of the hotbeds of this controversial matter lies in Maricopa County; AZ.
Joe Arpaio is currently the sheriff of the county, and has been for over twenty years. Arpaio is the self-proclaimed “America’s toughest sheriff”. Many residents of Maricopa have issues with Arpaio, because of his apparent stern stance on anti-immigration policies. Many have accused Arpaio and his subordinates of racial profiling, and claim Arpaio has used bill SB1070 to harass the Latin community. Under Arpaio’s leadership there has been nine hundred and thirty two arrest of potential aliens, and only one hundred and eight have led to convictions. This is a dismal eleven percent success rate for the county’s “immigration sweeps” implemented by Arpario. It became more evident that racial profiling was a bigger problem in Maricopa County when the Department of Justice reported its findings to the Supreme Court. The D. O. J found that drivers of Latin decent are four to nine times more likely to be stopped than similarly situated non-Latinos. When referring to examples like these it is hard to deny the presence of racial profiling within Maricopa’s law enforcement.
The characteristics of institutional racism and racial profiling can be seen in bill SB 1070, because the state of Arizona is using the institution of government to pass laws that discriminate against one group of individuals. If you are currently an immigrant and reside in the state of Arizona it has been made clear that you’re unwanted with this bill being upheld. The idea that an individual can be discriminated against and subjected to this type of treatment depending on whether they possess papers of legal citizenship is immoral, unjust, and unacceptable.
In 1963 sociologist Howard Becker introduced the concept of labeling theory in his book titled Outsiders. Howard goes on to say, “deviance is not inherent to an act, but instead focuses on the tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from standard cultural norm. ”(Howard, 92) When examining SB 1070’s purpose it directly correlates to Howard’s ideology of majorities (Arizona’s lawmakers) trying to negatively label minorities (immigrants).
When officials refer to immigrants or illegal immigrants they usually refer to them as aliens. This is an obvious attempt by them to give the idea being an immigrant is a bad thing. The terminology that is being used to describe certain individuals is appalling, because now individuals are receiving titles are less than any human being. In relation to racial profiling, labeling theory can show how certain individuals are classified as being “deviant” or “normal”.
While putting SB 1070 into action officials are told to look for people looking as if their partaking in any form of criminal behavior. Having this type of mindset has led to some officers pulling people over because they fit a certain description or stereotype of what an illegal immigrant would look like. http://www. justice. gov/crt/about/spl/documents/mcso_findletter_12-15-11. pdf http://www. azcentral. com/news/articles/joe-arpaio-crime-sweeps. html#ixzz0tr0BsVNn http://www. azleg. gov//FormatDocument. asp? inDoc=/legtext/49leg/2r/laws/0113. htm;amp;Session_ID=93