Why Can’t We Just Round ‘Em Up and Ship ‘Em Home?


The Immigration 101 series tracks my immigration law course at Hofstra University School of Law.

I remember a village had a meeting about their “immigrant problem” some years ago. An official from the old INS was on hand to hear what folks had to say. They told them the INS officer that they expected a roundup of “illegals” to begin immediately. He responded that they had told him where the Latinos were, but not the undocumented aliens.

A lot of immigrant-haters want race to be a stand-in for immigration legal status. Brown=Illegal in their calculus. But the courts have held the opposite to be true. Most Latinos in the U.S. are U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents. This means that when the police encounters a person who is Latino, that person is much more likely to be here legally than to be here illegally. So, brown skin is actually a marker of lawful presence, not, as the bigots would have it, of illegality.

This is why ICE can’t just roll through Hempstead and stop and question all the Latinos about their legal status.

Now a lot of the unbiased Hispanophobes tell me that “Legal” Latinos should have no objection to being singled out by ICE because of the color of their skin, being questioned about their very right to live here because of their accent, and having to produce evidence of legal status, even if they were born here. Of course, these are often the same folks who complain about having to have their shoes inspected before boarding a plane!

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