It’s up to you, New York New York (updated)

There is only one thing of which I am a rabid fan and that is my home city, my ancestral homestead, New York New York. This is where my heart is (although I did leave a piece in San Francisco). It is the place that I feel safest post 9/11, safest from both terrorists and violent bigots, despite the fact that both have been active there. What can I say? It’s home.

Not only is it home, but New York is what I think of when I think of America. In a freudian slip, the other day I said “when I’m in America next” when what I meant was “when I’m in New York next,” particularly ironic since I am currently based in the midwest. And why not? New York was America’s first campital and 40% of Americans are descended from at least one person who came through Ellis Island. Growing up, if somebody told me to “Go back where I came from” I would reply “After you!” We’re all immigrants here.

This is why these two news stories from this month have been sitting in my craw, and I’ve put off posting them. In the first week of June, Assemblyman Hikind introduced legislation that he had been promising for some time, legislation that would allow:

law enforcement officials to “consider race and ethnicity as one of many factors that could be used in identifying persons who can be initially stopped, questioned, frisked and/or searched.” [Link]

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p>Hikind is very clear about who he wants stopped — brown people:

The individuals involved look basically like this,” Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) said … brandishing a printout of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists – all with Arabic names, most with facial hair, some wearing turbans.

“Why should a policeman have to think twice before examining people of a particular group?” Hikind asked. “They all look a certain way.” [Link]

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p>[Hikind's website shows no reaction to recent accusation that seven black men may have plotted to blow up the Sears Tower, nor to the fact that half the London bombers were black, nor to various reports from the US government about SouthEastAsian plots.]

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p>A week later, in Turkmen v. Ashcroft,

A federal judge in Brooklyn ruled yesterday that the government has wide latitude under immigration law to detain noncitizens on the basis of religion, race or national origin, and to hold them indefinitely without explanation. [Link]

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p>Interestingly enough, Judge Gleeson “rejected the government’s argument that the events of Sept. 11 justified extraordinary measures.” Instead, he made a broader argument that the government has:

broad discretion to enforce the law selectively against noncitizens of a particular religion, race or national origin, and to detain them indefinitely, for any unspecified reason, after an immigration judge had ordered them removed from the country.

“The executive is free to single out ‘nationals of a particular country’ and focus enforcement efforts on them,” the judge wrote. “This is, of course, an extraordinarily rough and overbroad sort of distinction of which, if applied to citizens, our courts would be highly suspicious.” [Link]

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p>At this point, this is only a decision by a district judge, so it does not carry a lot of weight. However, it is significant in its scope:

David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University and a co-counsel in the lawsuit, said the ruling was the only one of its kind and made New York “an equal protection-free zone” because the government can detain immigrants wherever it chooses.

What this decision says is the next time there is a terror attack, the government is free to round up every Muslim immigrant in the U.S., based solely on their ethnic and religious identity, and hold them on immigration pretexts for as long as it desires,” [Link]

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p>I hope your month has been going better than mine

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p>A few related Posts: The profiling myth, The profiling myth Muriel’s shredding, A profile of cognitive dissonance, Wanted: Non-descript brown guy

Outside suggested links: Why racial profiling doesn’t work, The Usual Suspects

17 thoughts on “It’s up to you, New York New York (updated)

  1. “Suicide bombers and terrorists fit a very specific intelligence profile, and race and ethnicity is very much a part of that profile”

    Bullshit. This is the way NOT to catch terrorists. Half the London bombers were black (including the failed attempt two weeks after 7/7). White converts will be used to avoid tracking. Do it this way and you miss who you’re looking for. Racial profiling should only be used in specific situations where specific intelligence points to a threat. Lets hope this guys thinking is not effected.

  2. Methinks Hikind doesn’t actually care about strategically preventing terrorism, but simply using the Average Joe’s paranoia towards brown people for political gain.

  3. sez Judge Gleason:

    [the government has] broad discretion to enforce the law selectively against noncitizens of a particular religion, race or national origin, and to detain them indefinitely, for any unspecified reason, after an immigration judge had ordered them removed from the country. “The executive is free to single out ‘nationals of a particular country’ and focus enforcement efforts on them,” the judge wrote. “This is, of course, an extraordinarily rough and overbroad sort of distinction of which, if applied to citizens, our courts would be highly suspicious.”

    I, too, wish that he had gone out on a limb to reach a different conclusion, and I agree that he probably could have. At the same time, one of the problems with our immigration jurisprudence is that Supreme Court decisions dating from the 19th century (upholding, for example, the Chinese Exclusion Act and other race-based immigration policies) remain intact and have never been overruled. Typically, the race-based origins of those decisions have remained beneath the surface when immigration issues have been litigated, and so judges haven’t really been forced to think about the race-based context from which those legal principles arose. So at one level, it’s a good thing that the conclusion by Judge Gleason is so stark — maybe some of the judges up the chain on appeal will be shaken out of their inertia to ask more pointedly why case law that emerged from the same intellectual and moral universe as Plessy v. Ferguson — of course long since discredited — should continue to determine the constitutionality of our immigration laws and policies.

  4. “They all look a certain way.”

    Hmmmm. Calls to mind L.K. Advani’s statement after the attack on the Indian Parliament that the five men who carried out the attack — who by the time of this statement were all dead — “looked like Pakistanis“…..

  5. law enforcement officials to “consider race and ethnicity as one of many factors that could be used in identifying persons who can be initially stopped, questioned, frisked and/or searched.

    If it’s good enough for an Supreme Court aff. action decision it’s good enuff for us. It’s okay since race and ethnicity is just one of the factors.

    It’s funny cuz Hikind is so hyper-protective of Jewish interests he squashed an article about Holocaust-deniers rather than try to refute it:

    As part of his ongoing efforts to combat intolerance, Assemblyman Hikind blocked the publication of an article highlighting the activities of Holocaust-denier teenagers in the widely-read Teen People© magazine. He has also challenged the United States Coast Guard regarding its policies about wearing religious headgear during active service. Link

  6. I did not want to mention Hikind’s religion / ethnicity. But since PoorMan brought it up, I will comment upon this peculiarly blinkered and I should add, dangerous Israel driven paranoia among certain Jewish law makers. It is particularly ironic because Hitler / Goebbels’ vicious propaganda hinged quite a bit on the so called Hebraic phenotype of European Jews.

  7. The links that you provided at the end of your post have consumed the last hour, because they’re brilliant links. Is this the beginning of Ennipedia?

  8. Unfortunately, New York is where I feel LEAST safe by far. I have been mugged twice in the past year, in plain sight. NYPD were utterly helpless (sat me in front of a computer with 2,500 pictures of black men with mustaches between 6’1″ and 6’5″ with outstanding warrants for arrest after I was held at gunpoint) The 2nd time I was mugged, I was encouraged by the police not to report it. I fear that we have all been duped by the NYPD, who has somehow been asked to reduce the crime rate in the city. They have done so by not reporting the actual rate of crime. Many of my friends have been mugged or had other problems recently, and I absolutely refuse to believe that these are isolated incidents.

    Just my 2 cents. I did see an article by some economist with some data to this effect but can’t find it now. In any case, I would say don’t feel as safe as you do in NY.

  9. pitdesi -

    wow, that’s horrible. i lived in NYC for a few years and never ran into anything even close to what you described. if you don’t mind my asking, would you tell us where these incidents took place?

    again, sorry to hear of your less than bad luck.

  10. As a brown person, I am expected to be appalled by all this racism, but I’m for it. That’s right, I said it, I believe in racial profiling. Let’s be honest here, all the terrorists are Arabs and they have a very distinct look to them. I understand that sometimes I’ll be pulled aside, but I’m ok with it. I’ve got nothing to hide. Hell even my white boyfriend who sometimes looks Lebanese gets sopped, but we understand it. It’s for the saftey of us all.

  11. And while they’ve stopped you, black members of Al-Qaeda (like 50% of the London bombers), or East Asian members (like the ones that the White House keeps warning about) and even light skinned members (like the European looking Arabs that Bin Laden used before) will waltz right through security with narry a second look. Please examine the two outside links at the bottom of the page. They say what I’ve heard from one of the top security professionals in America – profiling is for show, to keep people happy, but it’s ineffective.

  12. And while they’ve stopped you, black members of Al-Qaeda (like 50% of the London bombers), or East Asian members (like the ones that the White House keeps warning about) and even light skinned members (like the European looking Arabs that Bin Laden used before) will waltz right through security with narry a second look.

    Amen, Ennis! Profiling, once detected, can be easily circumvented, and detecting it is simple when you see all of the white officers in the subways only asking people of color to open their bags.

    But back to Judge Gleeson’s statements. People not in NYC may be unaware of the Brooklyn Detention Center (second, third), that housed 1200 Middle Eastern immigrants post-9/11. I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect that the difference between the justification for the post-9/11 roundup and Judge Gleeson’s statements is that the clients are different; i.e., that the residents of the BDC were illegal immigrants and the new law justifies the roundup of legal immigrants. Is that right? Anyone? Buehler? ;-)

  13. Judge Gleeson’s statements is that the clients are different; i.e., that the residents of the BDC were illegal immigrants and the new law justifies the roundup of legal immigrants. Is that right? Anyone? Buehler? ;-)

    Two points:

    1) The line between a “legal” and an “illegal” immigrant is increasingly being blurred by creating laws that apply retroactively that put someone out of status. For example, the new legislation from Congress is likely to contain a provision to make DUIs a deportable offense, specifically to reverse a Supreme Court decision that said they weren’t. I’m not sure if it’s retroactive, but many provisions since the 1996 overhaul of immigration laws have been. Basically this is to say that although there are, broadly speaking, different statuses of documentation (green card, h-visa, overstay on a tourist visa, etc.), many people in these categories can be targeted with the implementation of laws on the books (e.g. Ashcroft a few years ago announced that the government would start enforcing a provision that mandated noncitizens to report any change of address within 10 days to the government).

    2) The way that immigration law generally works, to the extent that I understand it, is that the courts give broad discretion to Congress as to how they want to treat people and will defer to it whenever possible. So, the same rights that apply to citizens don’t apply to noncitizens, though they do have some protections and the level is different from people who are documented vs. those who aren’t about some things. I tend to view the rights of people interacting with the U.S. government on a spectrum from U.S. citizen to documented and undocumented noncitizens to people who are not in the United States (who can often have a bomb dropped on them with few reperccussions).