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What about illegal do you understand?

Fresh off the press is Colorlines superb video with Rinku Sen dissecting why our conversation around immigration is so often driven to extremes. Taking the term ‘illegal’ to task, Rinku shows us how we need to re-examine our stereotypes and the reasons we have grown immune to the hostilities directed at immigrants.

The truth is when we deny due process to some people, we put all of our rights at risk. This is exactly what has happened in our Restore Fairness video with racial profiling spreading its tentacles to affect even legal immigrants like Ana Galindo and Walter Chavez, victims of a warrantless raid, as well as their U.S. citizen son who still has nightmares about the ordeal.

All this ties up neatly into how racial profiling hits immigrant communities. The problem of racial profiling has been acute for African Americans, Latinos, and other minorities who have often complained of unwarranted scrutiny in their cars and on the streets. Come 9/11 and law enforcement has broadened its focus to Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians, including both citizens and immigrants in their purview.

And so today, under the guise of counter-terrorism, we have a culture of aggressive enforcement, increasing detentions and decreasing due process.  What is particularly disturbing is the co-opting of state and local police in the enforcement of immigration laws. Racial profiling has become a major concern, along with a  loss of trust in law enforcement by immigrant communities as they begin to fear immigration consequences, leading to unsafe communities for everyone.

As Rinku makes us uncomfortable when she asks, “That’s not a real American value is it???”