For San Diego Latinos who aren’t citizens of this country, racial profiling by the police is a lurking menace in everyday life.
At any time, they could find themselves yanked back to a country many haven’t visited since infancy.
It happens like this:
A woman is driving her child to school one morning. She is pulled over for an expired tag. The officer has her car towed because the woman doesn’t have a driver’s license. Because of her appearance and limited English, an agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is called in to “translate.” The ICE agent arrests her for being in the U.S. without proper documents and deports her to Mexico. A relative comes to care for her U.S.-born child.
A juvenile probationer lives with his foreign-born parents. A probation officer arrives to do a home visit. Based on the family’s appearance, the officer decides to call in an ICE agent, who arrives to question not just the parents, but any other relatives who live there. All are deported, leaving the young probationer at home alone.
Support Independent Journalism Today
I'm having a hard time understanding what the police did that was wrong. If a car has expired tags, then you will get pulled over regardless of your skin color or english speaking ability. On top of that the person barely speaks english, and doesn't have a driver's license. Hmmm. Could that person be an undocumented immigrant? That is simply common sense, not racial profiling. The KPBS poll appears to be totally meaningless. They asked a bunch of people what they think every other San Diego thinks about Latinos. Are they all mind readers?
And just what is the police policy concerning illegal immigrants and how they are handled?
Mr. Torres seems to suggest the policy is geared towards getting ICE involved as a mater of policy in every instance.
Is that indeed the policy based on fear and lack of understanding?
In San Diego?......Please!
Mr. Torres presentation of the survey done by KPBS implies the negatives are predominant in the views of San Diegans or the perceptions of those views by Latinos.Neither is true. In both groups the positive attributes stand out.
While I agree with the article and all the comments, I wish to point out that the term "racial profiling is incorrect. It should be "ethnic profiling."
Please do not continue to use the emotional trigger-word, the "race card", indiscriminately. Just as using the word "holocaust" when it isn't appropriate diminishes the meaning, so it is also true in these cases of ethnic profiling.
As a very white-skinned person of Hispanic origin -- the kind with blue eyes and blonde hair -- I appreciate Mr. Torres pointing to the absurdity of racially profiling the average 'Hispanic-looking' person.
I hope this article helps our entire community advance its dialogue on these critical issues of social justice. I am asked -- to a frighteningly frequent extent -- why I am so passionate about issues relating to "racial justice" -- particularly to the criminal justice issues affecting members of our community who do not look like me. As though we are only expected to advance causes of justice for people who look like us....
Mr. Torres' article highlights the need for the entire community to acknowledge the prevalence of intentional and unintentional discrimination and resolve to evolve, by any means necessary.
I'm proud to be your fellow foot soldier, Mr. Torres.
Racial profiling is a plague on us and a very complicated issue. With fear of crime rising, stereotypes are easy answers and get in the way of reasonable discourse. The author raises some good points even though he is a lawyer.
Very pointed op-ed and unfortunately true. Law enforcement won't bat an eye when it comes to towing a car driven by someone with brown skin and all the while allowing murderers like John Gardner to drive on his merry way despite having no valid driver's license and an open container of alcohol inside his vehicle.
If law enforcement would only concentrate on keeping the peace rather than destroying people's lives and ripping apart families, our community would be much safer.
The problems of racial profiling in the Latino community are
particularly problematic, with many (hopefully unintended) consequences,
as Victor Torres points out. Do we want a crime victim to be afraid of
the police and allow a threat to the community to grow, or a battered
woman to fear reporting her abuse for fear of being detained herself, or
a witness to a crime to remain silent because of the risk of
interacting with law enforcement? As the article's author correctly
points out, this is an issue that goes beyond one of fairness to the
target (although that should be enough to stop the practice). It
ultimately thwarts the goals of law enforcement and makes our community