Here’s something to chew on.
Remember Arizona’s immigration law? It was the one that apparently gave state law enforcement officials the ability to profile. It was the hot news item for a long time and you still see a story pop up here and there. I always thought I had a good handle on where I stood, but today I happened to think about it and started looking at it a little differently.
Those against the law typically argued that law enforcement officials would be instructed to profile people for immigration status. The implication would be that they would be checking anyone of Hispanic heritage a lot more than any other ethnicity, which violates the idea that government is required to see everyone equally under the law. Those in favor of the law said that it would only be enforcing federal law already on the books and that profiling is the only way to catch those breaking the law.
Here’s the thing: I think both arguments are correct.
People who commit crimes usually fit a certain profile. An 80 year old woman usually doesn’t fit the description of a bank robber, so it’s probably not worth checking them out too much if a bank’s been broken into. It’s perfectly reasonable to pay closer attention to the groups of people who usually commit certain crimes. And yes, illegal Mexican immigrants are usually Mexicans.
But justice is supposed to be blind and everyone is supposed to have equal protection under the law. Is it right for the government officials to seek out Mexicans near the border to question them on their immigration or citizenship status? Is it right for any other group to be singled out that way? If the government is truly supposed to treat everyone equally, I would say no, it’s not right.
So what are we supposed to do? This isn’t just about immigration—you can apply this to many, many realms of law enforcement. We know how to catch crooks, but the way we know how to should be illegal. Do we break the law of the land for security or do we follow the law and have people break the law with impunity? It’s a bit of a catch-22.
Or is it? So many times we frame our thoughts around what the government can do to fix a problem, but here’s a case where it really doesn’t work. So why not open up the available solutions?
Could private defense agencies, i.e. private police forces, be the answer? They would not have to be connected to any government body; their services would be purchased by individuals or groups of individuals. They would be free from the restrictions that a “just” government would have to impose upon itself.
Think about it. Would it work better? Would it turn out worse? Give it an honest chance to try to see how private police forces would work. Would several organizations designed to protect their customers’ rights result in chaos and violence or would they achieve a higher degree of order and peace than our current system does? Why do you think that?