April 28, 2010

In Praise of Profiling

Arizona's law targeting criminal immigration has drawn tremendous amounts of fire for giving law enforcement officers in that state the procedural tools to require citizens prove who they are, and that they are in the country legally, if (and only if) they are stopped for suspected law-breaking.

Criminal immigrants, their support organizations, and various groups that seek to profit from these criminals are trying to claim that the law is illegal and unconstitutional "racial profiling," and that it will unfairly focus law enforcement on minority populations by targeting the criminals that reside in or transit this nation illegally.

Jamelle Bouie provides us with a typical anger-filled example of this thought pattern:

One of the most objectionable things about Arizona's law is the blatant racial profiling, but that doesn't seem to phase most conservatives. Jonah Goldberg doesn't see a problem with it. George Will doesn’t see a problem with it. Byron York doesn't even understand that it is racial profiling (note to Mr. York: the difference between flashing your ID at the DMV and being asked for your papers is that the latter will only happen if you're brown). There's a straightforward explanation behind this tacit support for racial profiling in Arizona; simply put, conservatives have long been defenders of racial profiling in law enforcement.

You only have to look back five months — after the failed "underpants bombing" — to see conservatives voice their enthusiasm for anything that would give extra scrutiny to brown people. Tom McInerney, a retired Air Force general, proposed that we "be very serious and harsh about the profiling," especially if "you are an 18 to 28-year-old Muslim man," in which case "you should be strip-searched." The National Review's Andy McCarthy endorsed the view of the Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens, who argued that profiling was necessary given that "suicide bombing is a purely Islamic phenomenon." Even conservative elected officials are willing to voice their enthusiasm for profiling. In an Armed Services Committee hearing on Fort Hood, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) declared that he "believes in racial and ethnic profiling."

In fact, the conservative enthusiasm for racial profiling goes beyond national security and immigration. Conservatives tend not to see a huge problem with the fact that African-Americans are disproportionately stopped and searched by law enforcement.

There is a simple reason that humankind has used profiling techniques for thousands of years: they work. And there is another unpleasant fact that some would rather ignore:

This nation has been in a long emotional discussion concerning the use of profiles by law enforcement officers. Unfortunately, this debate has been entitled, "racial profiling." There is a saying in debating, "If you can define the terms, you win the contest." Utilizing the term, "racial profiling," ensures that the debate will be negative in tone and divisive in nature. I propose that instead of inflaming emotions, we take a look at what actually is being done in this area of enforcement. This issue is so important to law enforcement and its efforts to interdict drugs and terrorists that a dispassionate examination is essential.

No government agency or law enforcement association, in their interdiction training, teaches that race is a characteristic of criminals. Not the Drug Enforcement Administration, United States Customs, The International Association of Chiefs of Police or any national police association, period. Officers are taught to look at the individual for characteristics or indicators of criminal activity. These characteristics, when seen in clusters by trained officers, have been recognized as a valid investigative tool by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those who purport to be shocked that ethnic groups are over represented in the population arrested for certain criminal activities must have been in a prolonged coma. The fact is that ethnic groups control the majority of organized criminal activity in the United States. They also tend to hire as their underlings and couriers others of their same group. Why? Because these are the people they grew up with, feel comfortable around and because it's human nature.

The truth is, if you work criminal interdiction in this country, you will not arrest the same percentages of ethnic groups as represented in the U.S. general population. People may not like it but that is the reality.

Profiling certain groups for certain types of criminal activity is legal, justified, and proven under fire in the justice system.

Jamelle Bouie may not like reality, but reality doesn't change based upon what is convenient or easy, or because the community-based reality would rather not address empirical truths.

It is an unquestioned statistical fact that black males are more likely to be arrested, incarcerated, unwed fathers, school dropouts, and victims of violent crime than any of their peers in any other significant ethnic group not because of some bias against them, but because they drop out of school more frequently, embrace cultural norms that devalue the family structure, fatherhood, emotional maturity, and responsibility, and they commit a disproportionate number of violent crimes (often at the expense of their peer/victims) with weapons that can lead to serious injury or death.

Likewise, because of our geography and sociopolitical dynamics in this hemisphere, is it far more likely that criminal immigrants will be from nations in Central and South America, and therefore, of the native and/or Hispanic ethnicities that dominate those regions. Obviously, ethnicity is not the only criteria that law enforcement officers use in building a profile. They also look for indicators and characteristics that may indicate illegal behavior or criminal affiliation, and it these additional markers that often make the difference between a simple speeding ticket and a more detailed investigation that may lead to criminal arrest.

But to pretend that there is anything wrong, immoral, or unconstitutional in recognizing ethnicity as part of an overall profile is absurd.

Profiling—think of it as characteristic clustering—has been used and refined around the world for thousands of years, because it is an effective tool that catches criminals and cuts down time wasted interrogating law-abiding citizens who have done nothing wrong.

If one didn't know better, one might think these liberals were champions of criminal behavior. But that couldn't be right. Could it?

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 28, 2010 08:31 PM

This has gotten to a real stupid stage. The legal immigrants I know do not like the Illegal flow. They have brought in some relatives, like moms and dads, but care for their own families, even buying houses for them. They help them on the path to Citizenship.

The people who violate the law and are here Illegally are the ones that holler the loudest. Of course! They are the low side of society and can't be here legally because they don't believe the law applies to them. Free ride.

If you apply for Citizenship here you are required to learn enough English to pass the entry test. If you are totally Illiterate you don't even get to apply.

Illegals can not understand enough English to even talk to a police officer if apprehended. Ethnic profiling...I call Bull Hocky. You don't understand English at all, You need to provide proof that you belong here.

Every Legal Immigrant I know has at least a drivers license or a TX res ID. This really needs to be re framed as ID profiling. Let's do it.

Posted by: Marc at April 28, 2010 11:20 PM

Very well said, past time to reclaim our country.

We need a wall and armed guards to keep these illegals out of America. We could close military bases abroad and put those soldiers on our boarders .

Posted by: duncan at April 29, 2010 01:13 AM

"Jamelle Bouie may not like reality, but reality doesn't change based upon what is convenient or easy..."

Obviously not the opinion of many Liberals. Their reality seems to come straight off the pages of the New York Times. Possibly the comics page...

Posted by: Georg Felis at April 29, 2010 07:28 AM

There are many obvious reasons to despise the old segregationists. However, there are less obvious reasons. Because of the way they used identity and other tests to deny genuine civil rights, it is now virtually impossible to insist on even the most basic identification in civic activities. It is hard to find an activity, from boarding an airliner to renting a motel room in many states, which does not require basic identification. When voting, arguably the most important act of most individuals, is now virtually impossible to verify qualifications. The same is being seen in areas which are points of entry for illegals. Showing you are legal, and a citizen, is something I have done in the SW, and done with pride.

I think we should take a page from Tom Clancy. We should enact exactly Mexico's laws, and treatment, concerning illegals in their country. The problem would solve itself rather quickly. ;)

Proud son of a naturalized parent.

Posted by: Tregonsee at April 29, 2010 08:18 AM

What people fail to realize is the history of illegal immigration into our country. This is not the first time that we have had to deal with the issue. As far as I can tell, the first big amnesty was in the 50's. Then there have been several since under both Republicans and Democrats. The latest effort is the biggest. Each time the government says they will do something different and they don't. I think the anger on the side of the conservatives reflects the fact that we are sick of the way our country is being governed. We have had enough and it is being reflected in our taking a stand to tell Washington this fact. The problem is that Washington does not listen.

The other issue that I have is why are people fighting so to return illegals to Mexico. The only people that stand to financially gain from their being here are the businesses that hire them at significantly reduced wages. So why are the labor unions fighting to keep them here? It would seem to be the opposite. Why are blacks fighting for them? They are taking the jobs that blacks would be able to hold, possibly at higher wages (the only reason I am picking on blacks is that is were the greatest unemployment is and there leaders are in the mix demanding rights for these criminals). Why does the left want these people, they don't seem inclined to vote liberal tickets? So what is in it for the people protesting deportation of illegals?

Posted by: David at April 29, 2010 10:15 AM

David - You raise some good points and ask some good questions. The simple answer is: VOTES-VOTES-VOTES. The demos figure they have in their pocket 95% of the black population, 85% of the jewish vote - so if they could control 65% - 75% of the LARGEST growing population in the USA - then they will be in power for ever. Scary plan, but one that NEEDS to be defeated!!!!!

Posted by: mixitup at April 29, 2010 11:48 AM

I agree, votes seems to be the motivating concern. But consider this, 70% of Americans back the Arizona plan and want illegals targeted. Also, does Obama really still control the Jewish vote? He has done everything possible to piss them off. As to main stream Hispanics and Blacks, do they really want all these illegals running around? If the Dems are counting on votes, I am willing to bet they have made a mistake.

Posted by: David at April 29, 2010 12:03 PM

I am unsure of this "conservative" word you use. They must be rather horrible people, people who would eat their own children. They should not be allowed in the public square, much less in public service. They should be shut up and locked away if "conservative" means what you say it means.

Posted by: TimothyJ at April 29, 2010 01:12 PM

I admit that even though the Arizona law does little more than copy US Code into a State law, I have some concern that it may be quite prroblematical to apply, given that [with some exceptions, such as buying alcohol] US citizens are not required to carry ID: deciding whether lack of ID indicates possible non-citizenship needing further checking, or just normal practice for an individual, can be difficult/

But I am far from as upset as all that. Many laws can be misused: if you are wearing shoes, you are in physical possession of a "deadly weapon" - at least, that is one of the charges that may be brought if you kick someone. Has anyone ever heard of someone being jailed for wearing shoes? Stealing them, perhaps, but merely wearing?

Posted by: John A at April 29, 2010 01:51 PM

John A - You are so wrong. Don't know what state you live in, but here you MUST have your drivers license(read:"papers") on you when driving. If you get stopped for speeding with no license you are going to local jail!!!!/0r a nasty ticket at best. Secondly - I would like to see you get on a plane without your ID - good luck!!! Lastly, in my state you can't vote without an ID - they will turn you away, and a utility bill won't cut it!! To bad all states don't have that law - think it might cut down on voter fraud???? hmmmmmmmmm

Posted by: mixitup at April 29, 2010 02:55 PM

Please read the laws that are passed by elected officials. Rhetoric will not impact the law. Good day.

Posted by: johnny a at May 1, 2010 04:44 PM