New Bill Encourages Racial Profiling

by Daniel Cooper
Columnist

So, let’s start off with some basics. Kentucky Senate Bill 6 is a Republican-led effort in Kentucky’s legislature that will permit a police officer’s asking of a Hispanic individual for his or her documentation of citizenship (or worker’s visa, as the situation may be).

Now, typically I try not to be one to presume, but we all must acknowledge the fact that, in order to request proper documentation for someone who is suspected of being an undocumented immigrant, police officers will be forced to practice racial profiling.

As there would be no reason to ask a member of the racial majority to provide documentation of his or her citizenship, only members of specifically targeted minorities will be questioned. With no real way of discerning their citizenship status without asking them, police officers will be forced to ask all of them or none of them, thus creating a sense of suspicion towards all members of that race.

Not only are there social detriments involved, there are financial ones as well. Since I don’t think anyone will deny the fact that Republicans were elected this past November in the spirit of fiscal responsibility and reduced spending, I question their justification for introducing a bill that was said to include “an unfunded mandate,” according to Richard Tanner, executive director of the Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association.

Since Tanner’s comment, there has been a report filed by the Kentucky legislature’s nonpartisan staff that estimates the cost of the bill to state and local governments at around $90 million, while only saving governments $50 million, which leaves a net expenditure of $40 million. However, Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, said that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reimburses jails for detaining undocumented immigrants.

“Well, yeah, I’ve attempted (to collect) that, and I’ve never received anything,” said Shelby County Jailer Bobby Waits, who is also president of the Kentucky Jailers Association.

Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, who is a former jailer himself and the main sponsor for this bill, agreed with Waits that federal immigration officials are slow on making payments or picking up inmates.

However, whether or not the federal government has promised reimbursement for detaining undocumented immigrants, newly elected Republicans who were sent to office for the purpose of putting a stop to what they call “out-of-control government spending” shouldn’t be proposing unfunded mandates that rival entire city budgets.

Here’s my advice for Kentucky’s state legislature. Instead of wasting our time proposing that we waste our money on ignorant and regressive policy like this, why don’t we do something worthwhile that won’t make Kentucky look like it’s frantically running from progress in every way possible? For example, we could use that estimated $50 million on 6,153 scholarships for university students for one year, 871 new elementary school teachers for one year or even 23,317 households with wind power energy for one year. Personally, I would rather see any one of those things, and even a host of other things, happen before endorsing racial profiling and hypocrisy in our government.

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