Immigration and Racial Profiling and the Role of Law Enforcement


Immigration is a very contentious issue. The role of law enforcement in enforcing immigration policy is at times controversial. A lot of debate has emerged. Police and other government agencies have been accused of insinuating racial profiling. These accusations have been evidenced by numerous lawsuits. Numerous minority groups have emerged. Each group claims to represent communities that are unfairly targeted by law enforcement officers. This “unfair persecution” is often inspired by their race. (Muffler, 14)


Racial profiling remains illegal in the United States. The justification for an officer of the law demanding identification documents is known as “reasonable suspicion”. This is in itself vague and quite controversial. Officers of the law should not be allowed to arrest immigrants based on reasonable suspicion. (Kenyon, 12) A justification for this is the fact that many immigrants involve themselves in crime and other illegal activities. Law enforcement officers usually are aware of what is happening on the ground. They are hence best placed to ensure that the law is being followed. (Schneider, 9) They sometimes use race to pull people over but they are right most of the time.

The September 11 attacks led to increased vigilance in the immigration department. People were more interested in who gained access to this country. Immigration policy is contained in a congress document. This is the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The act contains punishment on civil and criminal terms for would-be offenders. (Viklund, 16) These immigrants have thus disobeyed the law and should be subject to arrest or interrogation by law enforcement officials. Law enforcement officials are required to report to the Federal authorities when they discover an illegal immigrant. The Federal government is at times so busy that they arrive too late when the immigrant has already made bail. Empowering law enforcement officials at all levels to deal with such issues will therefore help a great deal. (Viklund, 18)

States should have the power to deport persons living in the US illegally. Congress has received several proposals that wish to increase the role of states in carrying out such duties. The constitution allocates the duty of immigration policy to the federal government. Federal officials control the acceptance and deportation of immigrants. (Holt, 21) Communities are however beginning to evaluate the role that local enforcement plays in enforcing their alien policies. Immigration law is often changing. It is also quite complicated with each state having its provisions that address its specific position.

Law enforcement officials in that state should therefore have more responsibility for their immigration policy as they are more aware than the federal government about their state’s specific condition. The government is in many cases forced to prove if a criminal had willfully refused to leave the country. This is often hard to prove. Most deportation orders are issued in the absence of the deportee. Hence, if the person was not aware the crime is now a civil crime. Several documents fail to specifically state the role of law enforcement agencies. (Holt, 19)


Local law enforcement agencies should not be allowed to participate in implementing immigration policy because they lack adequate resources to fulfill this task. They are also prone to bias. Such enforcement will create a culture of insecurity among both legal and illegal immigrants. There are high chances of wrongful arrest. This is because the law unnecessarily requires immigrants to carry their identification at all times. (Muffler, 46)

Works Cited

Muffler, Steven J. Racial profiling: issues, data, and analyses. Nova Publishers, 2006.

Schneider, Bill. Profiling Arizona’s Immigration Law. (2010) Issues and Controversies on File. Web.

Kenyon, Ross. The 14th Amendment is Going to Cage Us All. (2010) Issues and Controversies On File. Web.

Holt, Sylvia. 2010 Arizona Immigration Law SB1070 – Racial Profiling or Proper Law Enforcement. (2010) Issues and Controversies On File. Web.

Viklund, Andreas. Other States Consider Arizona-style Anti-immigration Statutes. (2010) Issues and Controversies On File. Web.