Parsing Tom Tancredo

I have read and reread and reread again the following quote, and cannot come up with a cogent explanation. Anyone care to help? Speaking about the awful, draconian new immigration law in Arizona:
Former Congressman Tom Tancredo -- the same guy who said we should send the president back to Kenya and said a Supreme Court nominee is part of the "Latino KKK" -- said this weekend that the new Arizona immigration law goes a little too far.

"If I had anything to say about it, we'd be doing it in Colorado," Tancredo told Denver news station KDVR. But, he said, "I do not want people here, there in Arizona, pulled over because you look like should be pulled over."

Sooo, he wishes they were doing it where he lives, but he thinks they shouldn't be doing it there? I do not understand.

Although, considering the source, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.


  1. First, the TPM quote butchers the KDVR report. It omits a couple of sentences between "we'd be doing it in CO" and "I do not want people here...", including this clarifying "But he questions how police can stop people for any reason." clearly, Tancredo wants stiffer enforcement of immigration law, but he's uncomfortable with the potential for abuse in the specifics of the AZ law.

    I took a look at the AZ law, and it isn't as bad as I thought. Maybe they've changed it a bit, but the bill that passed doesn't permit police to ask for ID unless reasonable suspicion "MAY NOT SOLELY CONSIDER RACE, COLOR OR NATIONAL ORIGIN IN IMPLEMENTING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS SUBSECTION...". Sorry for the shouting, but the original is in UPPERCASE as well.

    Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard; the police must have specific and articulable facts and inferences that a reasonable person would agree that the individual, in this case, is an illegal alien. The law states race by itself isn't enough to trigger reasonable suspicion.

    Reasonable suspicion is the standard of the "Terry stop". In 24 states, including mine, the police can require identification at a "Terry stop", and the Supremes have held that this is constitutional[1]. Additionally, if a "reasonable suspicion" exists that you might be armed and dangerous, the police may frisk you without your consent. So the AZ law isn't IMHO a dangerous departure from current constitutional behavior as blessed by the Supremes. IANAL, YMMV, valid in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    [1] In the specific case, the Supremes said saying your name was enough identification to meet the NV law in question, but some states require more information be given.

  2. Oopsie, change "doesn't permit police to ask for ID unless reasonable suspicion" to "doesn't permit police to ask for ID unless reasonable suspicion exists and explicitly states that the officer".

  3. Uh, GJ, Tancredo's words above are precisely how they appear in the transcript from the original report. He apparently "applauds" the AZ law, but questions that people could be pulled over for the appearance of looking like they should be?

    The AZ law is patently about racial profiling, with pretty words about reasonable suspicion thrown in. They may not SOLELY consider race, etc, but they sure as hell PRIMARILY can. What else counts? The music you're listening to? The language you're speaking? The food you're eating? That you're working a crap job for a pittance?

  4. Where did you see a transcript of Tancredo's interview? I can't find it.

    OTOH, I can find the TPM quoting parts of KDVR's report, including Mr. Tancredo's words, but as I said, TPM omits parts of that report that give context to Mr. Tancredo's words. No doubt the interview consisted of more than the quotes given, because in the video, Mr. Tancredo says things not in the quotes. If you want to understand what Mr. Tancredo said, you'd be better served reading the KDVR story rather than the summary in TPM.

    The AZ law is about illegal immigration, which is largely an ethnic, not racial, problem in AZ. The AZ law doesn't use "pretty words", it uses legally significant words that have a legally specific meaning. "Reasonable suspicion" is a legal test that a court can evaluate. Yeah, national origin counts, but it can't be the only fact in evidence when an officer requires ID. In other situations, race or national origin can be the sole consideration for a Terry stop. Suppose you are walking through a predominately Asian neighborhood -- AIUI, if the police have a report of a crime committed by a white male, they are constitutionally permitted to detain you, and in 24 States (not including Maine, but perhaps you were visiting Vermont) you would be legally obligated to identify yourself. Of course, refusing to identify yourself, even in Maine, becomes a fact that could elevate reasonable suspicion to probable cause (another set of pretty words with specific legal meaning), in which case the officer can legally arrest you. Please notice I said "could", and judgment is involved (was it at 3 am? did you fit other characteristics of the description? and all that stuff that makes lawyers wealthy).

    Don't you think all Americans would be better served by looking for the "root causes" that makes 7 of 10 AZ citizens, including half of AZ Dems, support the law? Maybe, just maybe, there is a serious problem that deserves a serious response.

  5. I misspoke (as it were) when I described it as a transcript. However, I was referring to the same summary appended to the video report that you mention. The sentences you describe are the reporter's take on Tancredo's quote, not Tancredo's explanation. Regardless, it still makes little sense, given that Tancredo praises the law but seems to walk back from the effects thereof. He is trying to have his xenophobic cake and eat it too.

    And yes, I grant that there are words in the law that appear to make it less horrible. I find them unconvincing. Again, the police may not be allowed to stop someone SOLELY on the basis of their race, but nothing says it can't be the primary and overarching reason.

    And yes, I realize that there is judicially-sanctioned precedent for using race as a factor in stopping someone for questioning. However, this law for all intents and purposes creates a shiny new criminal class who can be forced to stop and identify themselves based almost entirely on race. You can try to convince me that my last sentence is not supported by the wording of the law, but I will not believe you.

    And I don't give a tin whistle how many people in AZ support treating the people who do their dirty work like criminals. I do not now, nor have I ever, understood what makes people so very, very anxious about illegal immigrants, and the presence on the other side of the argument of a great many Arizona Democrats does nothing to sway my opinion.


    Ha ha. Yes, and just who will be stopping the police? Who doesn't permit the police, are roving gangs of Judges going to stop police from stopping people? Reasonable suspicion is so broad a loop hole I could pass a stellar object through it.

    The law is a farce, if they don't profile, then they would have to stop a lot of people and bother them, even accents are not enough, can't there be illegals from Canada? But they won't be stopping white males anytime soon, they will be stopping hispanics, and if they don't they can be sued. Remember, merely being an illegal in Arizona constitutes trespass under the law. Essentially, Arizona is mandating all Hispanics carry identity papers (including birth certificates).
    All the GOP has managed to do with this law is to drive Hispanics into the Democratic party for another generation, and doing it nationwide. The bill itself will soon enough be struck down as unconstitutional so it has no long term effect, and it will cost Arizona billions in lost revenues as millions of people will now boycott Arizona.

    The solution has always been clear, make employment contingent on a valid Social Security Card, and use data mining to verify the validity of the Social Security information. If Eduardo Velez is working in New York, how can he also be working in Phoenix? If the card is invalid, jail and fine the offender, then deport him. If companies hire people without verifying Social Security cards, fine or jail the owners.

    And during Jim Crow south, the overwhelming majority of whites supported those laws. It is beyond stupid to state a popularity of a law has any validity. The law is neither Constitutional nor humane.

    A serious problem deserves an effective response, not one based on ignorant white trash hysteria. Passing an unconstitutional law is not a serious response, mandating police perform identity checks is not a serious response.

    And, of course, there is the argument that Arizona just legalized rape and robbery of all illegal immigrants because if they report it, they can be deported. And anyone who has a relative who is illegal will also now be loathe to have any contact with the police, since by their association they can be accused of harboring a felon.

    Way to go Arizona, you have now outdone the Jim Crow South in stupidity.


  7. Dr. Dan, I agree that race or national origin, by the very nature of the immigration problem, will be a major component in reasonable suspicion. I see no way to avoid the fact that illegal immigrants from Mexico are very likely to have a national origin of Mexico. I believe the circumstances of the problem put the police in a difficult position.

    I live in a city that has a significant problem from drugs and gangs out of Mexico[1]. I'm sure it is much worse in Arizona, plus the economic issues associated with lots of illegals working off the books. Maybe you don't understand the clamor for enforcing our immigration laws because you live in Maine, far away from the gritty reality of immigration. Where I live, men gather in vacant lots and gas stations, looking for day work. And almost all of the illegal crowd are decent, hardworking people just looking for a way to put food on the table for their families. But at some point the sheer numbers make it hard on everyone, including the legal immigrants who play by the rules. The illegals work for less, under the table, outside the rules, are easily exploited, and the system can't help them because they are afraid of the system. We need to get serious about reducing the illegal problem because it is unfair to citizens, legal immigrants, and double unfair to illegal immigrants.

    [1] A problem that we could largely solve tomorrow by ending the War on Drugs and decriminalizing drug use.

  8. While I currently live in Maine, I have only done so for the past five years. Before that I lived in Manhattan for six years, during which time I worked at major medical centers where many (in some settings, nearly all) were illegal immigrants. I am aware that illegal immigrants create problems for the communities where they live.

    1) Given the benefit they provide in cheap, exploitable labor, I find it deeply hypocritical (not you personally, GJ, but in general) when opponents to illegal immigrant protections cry about how much they "cost." If they were paid fair wages, we'd all pay a lot more for our produce, among other things.

    2) If people are serious about solving the problem of illegal immigration instead of finding some dark-skinned "other" on which to pin their gripes with the world, they would go after the (white) people who exploit them for cheap labor.

    3) We are agreed about the idiotic, counter-productive War on Drugs, which accomplishes nothing beyond filling our jails, generally with the minority poor, and not the white and affluent.

  9. 1) I buy free range chicken and eggs, because I don't like animals to be mistreated and exploited on my behalf. You think I want cheap food from someone else's misery? Farm workers should be paid a decent wage, but if they are immigrants, I want them to be legal immigrants.

    2) I'm all for it. But. If we had serious penalties for hiring illegals, it would make businesses reluctant to hire even legal workers who appeared to be immigrants. How can a small business owner be sure everyone's paperwork is genuine and up-to-date so she doesn't go to jail? You think the police stopping Hispanics is bad, wait till they can't get jobs.

  10. "I'm all for it. But. If we had serious penalties for hiring illegals, it would make businesses reluctant to hire even legal workers who appeared to be immigrants. How can a small business owner be sure everyone's paperwork is genuine and up-to-date so she doesn't go to jail?"

    Oh for heaven's sake, that is just ridiculous. As I said, if the Social Security number is listed as valid with the Social Security office then for all intents and purposes the person is legal. No one will punish an honest employer for such an event. The person who will get nailed is the violator who is using someone elses id. It is called id theft. Honestly, short of having a national DNA data base nothing is foolproof, but basic data mining and common sense should take care of most of the problems. The few who do use social security numbers generally use a relative who has returned to Mexico's social security number.
    That really is not that high a number. And as to other id theft, the government should take it far more seriously, but don't throw up your hands and say it is useless, lets deport all brown people.


  11. You have no clue.

    The credit reporting agencies have a handle on total numbers and have a lot of information on specific individuals. So members of the gray economy are, for the most part, not invisible at all, just difficult to identify as individuals. But thanks to data mining down at the credit bureau, it is getting harder and harder to hide. A lot of this sleuthing comes down to a surprising artifact, the Social Security number. One would think that surprising for an economic class of people best known for not having Social Security numbers. Ah, but they do have Social Security numbers, just not their own. You need a Social Security number to sign up for utility services, for example. No Social Security number, no electricity, gas, phone, or satellite TV. So what’s a poor alien to do? They go down to some local hangout and buy a Social Security number to give to the utility. This has to be a legitimate number or it won’t fly with utility computer systems, but does it have to be the customer’s own number? Good question. Here’s where we have an interesting business ethics issue. Say you are the electric company and someone tries to set up service using a Social Security number that already exists in your database and is clearly borrowed, bought, or stolen. What do you do? Most utilities go ahead and set up the account, because to them what counts is whether the new customer will actually pay that bill and it turns out that people operating on such borrowed numbers are more reliable bill payers than the rest of us. They can’t afford to get in trouble with the electric company because that would draw attention to them. So there is a tacit agreement between the parties that a Social Security number must be provided because that’s the rule, but if it happens to be someone else’s Social Security number, well that’s okay. The funny thing about this is the impact it has to have on the person who was originally assigned that Social Security number by the U. S. government. Rather than hurt their credit it actually helps because there is so much evidence that they are good at paying their bills! Of course the credit bureau notices something and that’s why they are so able to estimate numbers in the first place. They know what Social Security numbers are being overused and can probably even trace the genealogy of that number as it makes its way across the country. Here’s an amazing fact: some individual Social Security numbers are in use right now by up to 3,000 people and it isn’t at all unusual for a borrowed number to be used by 200-1,000 people at the same time… ”

  12. "Say you are the electric company and someone tries to set up service using a Social Security number that already exists in your database and is clearly borrowed, bought, or stolen. What do you do? Most utilities go ahead and set up the account, because to them what counts is whether the new customer will actually pay that bill and it turns out that people operating on such borrowed numbers are more reliable bill payers than the rest of us"

    In that case, make it a crime akin to receiving stolen property and throw any electric company employee who knowingly provides electricity to a customer who has an invalid Social Security number. How hard is this? Do you really think what you copied and pasted is a rebuttal, hell it only reinforces my point, but you are forever too stupid to realize this. I say data mine and red flag and prosecute, you don't say it doesn't work, you simply say they don't prosecute as a rebuttal? Man are you an idiot.

    If you are working in customer service, are you really willing to go to jail so your employer can get a few billable hours?

    So obviously gj, are you honestly saying you are in favor of criminality? Again, what I am advocating is strict enforcement of these laws (which have not been strictly enforced) not doing aimless racial profiling. Honest to God, how f-ing dumb are you to be opposed to this?

    And when I say data mining I am also talking about payroll. If a person has a job in two places, red flag it and send some agents to investigate, enough fines can be generated to pay for their salaries.

    In fact, you have no damn solution except monkey brained yelping, and please, try to summarize instead of cutting and pasting. Can you for once think for yourself? Oh wait, I have seen when that happens and you are invariably wrong.

    I really don't know why I bother with you. You are perpetually too stupid to ever get any real idea. I am stunned you bothered to post information that confirms my belief in the validity of data mining and then say I have no clue. You really are too stupid for words and you simply have no idea of the truth of this. Maybe I should write in ways you understand.

    What (oh wait) WAT u say show me rite, u tink agin an say sumpin els.


  13. Aaaand, I think that should do it for this thread, fellahs.