Consciousness allows people to feel and acknowledge pain which leads to a foundational knowledge of right and wrong. Due to this, government was established to minimize pain and enforce justice, but throughout the observation of politics, we all form the fundamental question about the subject: are the government’s actions and laws just to all of society? The US government’s behavior to certain parts of society and the fairness of policing are concerns that reveal the answer to this question
Though the art of justice has been perfected over the many years of humanity, not everyone has been able to enjoy it as well as others. This is apparent in one of the most common forms of discrimination: a distaste for immigrants and people of color. One example of this widespread belief is the use of racial profiling and other mistreatments to “weed out” illegal immigrants in the US through programs such as 287(g). According to issues & controversies and opposers of the program, 287(g) and other attempts to find illegal immigrants has led the police to use racial profiling to track illegal immigrants as seen by a majority of searches only being in communities of Hispanics and other colors. This has led to an abuse of power and mistreatment of Hispanic citizens and other legal immigrants, an enforcement in the belief that Latinos in the US are mostly illegal and shouldn’t have the same rights as other citizens, and that there is a strong relation between crime and immigrants which all point to a negative impact on the immigrant society in the US. On the other hand, the usage of this program has led to the discovery of over 140,000 illegal immigrants in the US which helps underfunded government agencies enforce national immigration policies and protects the US from foreign, immigrant related crime such as narcotics and gang activity from entering the nation. Along with these programs, immigrant discrimination can be observed in immigrant detention centers and the immigration legal system. Many immigrant detention centers repeatedly display poor quality of facilities, boarding, education, and programs for immigrants. The treatment of immigrants in detention centers is like, if not worse than, the treatment of prisoners as detained immigrants are stripped of their belongings, forced to wear uniforms, abused by guards, overcrowded, and are given worse legal aid than prisoners as they are not given a court-appointed lawyer and are only allowed legal aid via phones which sometimes isn’t given. These detention centers are, in many cases, worse than prisons and they are where legal immigrants and immigrants that had lived in the US for years could be detained for minor charges and be held for months or even years regardless that such action is illegal. Alternatively, prior to immigrant detention facilities, many illegal immigrants legally skipped their court hearing and lived in the US. Immigrant detention centers deter and prevent this from occurring. Also, the ICE report that claims of malpractice in detention centers only covered 5 sites out of the hundreds of national centers, and the immigration system shouldn’t be held accountable for illegal immigrant parents that brought their children into the US illegal immgigration system.
Along with immigration, homelessness is also heavily prejudiced. For example, laws criminalizing homelessness violate the rights of the homeless and panhandlers and also put them in a cycle where they are incarcerated and released with no solutions to reform. Also, many of these laws don’t address the individuals suffering homelessness as displayed by the law defining the homeless as those “whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive assistance” which discriminates against appearance and doesn’t take into account their mental, economic, or substance usage state. Nonetheless, others argue that the homeless negatively impact the economy as they deter customers from entering stores and disrupt the liveliness of those with homes by staying in public areas. Also, they claim that there are no laws criminalizing homelessness and that the laws are only meant to promote the use of homeless shelters which puts the government’s money to use.
Another example of the divided perception towards certain groups in society are the usage of US policy to bully frowned upon social groups. This is made apparent best by the War on Drugs. Supporters of the war on drugs claim that the war on drugs and banning of certain drugs helps maintain the general public health and stop drug related crime in America. But in terms of the law, the war has led to extreme sentences for first time drug users such as 5 years for first time cocaine users, and the oppression of minorities from the war was admitted by former key Nixon advisor John Erhlichman’s that,“… by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.”
Hand in hand to this, the enforcement of laws and rights in the US needs to be examined for its equality. Examples of police malpractice are rampant as seen by the case of Micheal Brown, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Justine Damond, and many others. All the cases were wrongful shootings, but in the cases where the victim was black and the shooter was white, the victim’s family got close to no reparations and the officer was rarely prosecuted for wrongdoing while in the case of Justine Damond, a white lady that was shot by a black officer, the Damond family received one of the largest police killing settlements with $20 million, and the officer was charged with a 12.5 year prison sentence showing the racism in police brutality cases. Along with that, the fundamental act of persecuting cops is flawed. This is due to the fact that the police are given qualified immunity which states that a lawsuit cannot and will not be allowed if there was no violation of a “clearly established” right, but for a right to be “clearly established, it needs to have been the subject of a prior allowed lawsuit that had won proving that right. Although many agree that qualified immunity is necessary for government officials to be able to act for the greater good, this causes a cycle where new lawsuits to establish rights cannot be pursued as there were none relating to it prior to its date. This is apparent in the Corbett v. Vickers where the officer was not even put on trial due to the fact that there had ever been a case before relating to an official accidentally shooting a child while aiming for a dog. Along with this policy, the law allows the police to withhold police records which has led to, as claimed by USA today, that, “… There is no public database of disciplined police officers.” Though this policy is part of the basic freedoms police departments get and is justified as such, it has led to the destruction of hundreds of police shootings and questionable investigation records, and the combination of these two policies leads the continuance of racist and discriminatory practices and an obstruction of progress towards a more just political apparatus.
Through the observation of the government’s behavior to different communities and its policing system, we can hopefully answer the question of fairness in other aspects of law and order.
“Homelessness: Is the “housing first” approach the best way to fight homelessness? Are laws criminalizing behavior like panhandling fair?” Issues
& Controversies, Infobase, 24 Feb. 2014, 3/recordurl.aspx?ID=14184. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.
“Immigrant Detention: Are immigrant detention centers fair and effective?” Issues & Controversies, Infobase, 23 Feb. 2007,
https://icof.infobaselearning.com/recordurl.aspx?ID=2557. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.
“Immigrant Profiling by Local Law Enforcement: Does the 287(g) program, which gives local and state police the authority to
enforce federal immigration laws, lead to racial profiling and civil rights violations?” Issues & Controversies, Infobase,
Kelly, John, and Mark Nichols. “Search the List of More than 30,000 Police Officers Banned by 44 States.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite
Information Network, 17 Dec. 2019,
“Panhandling Laws: Should local governments restrict panhandling?” Issues & Controversies, Infobase, 9 Mar. 2007,
https://icof.infobaselearning.com/recordurl.aspx?ID=2276. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.
“Qualified Immunity.” Legal Information Institute, Legal Information Institute, www.law.cornell.edu/wex/qualified_immunity.
WNYC Data News. “Is Police Misconduct a Secret in Your State?” Project.wnyc.org, project.wnyc.org/disciplinary-records/.
Urbina, Ian. “Blacks Are Singled Out for Marijuana Arrests, Federal DataSuggests.” New York Times. New York Times Company, 3 Jun. 2013. Web.
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