Arizona Immigration Law, The New INS

I rarely publicly get into politics, it’s just not good business when you work for yourself to take a political side, but I’ve got to chime on this controversial Arizona immigration law—at least from an American of Latin descent observation of things. There is so much information, misinformation, debates, etc., out there where everyone is split over this new law, and that’s what bothers me the most.  If millions of people can’t come to agreement on how to interpret the law, how can an Arizona lawman be smarter than the rest of the world? And I’m just curious if all law enforcement types in Arizona have undergone specialized immigration training in how to define “reasonable suspicion” when it comes to determining if someone is an illegal alien?

According to this new state immigration law, law-enforcement officials in Arizona have the right to determine the immigration status of a person “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” And if that person can’t prove their status, then they “could be arrested and jailed for six months and fined $2,500.”  (Note: It’s been rumored that TMZ hopes to catch Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County at Home Depot—you know, buying saws, hammers and two-by-fours for his new expansion project.)

Now this is where I have a problem, and I’ll explain from my 47-years of being a Texan born in the good ole US of A with Latin descent.  Growing up as a kid, even with my Spanish heritage, European white-skin looks, I was often called a wetback, spick and all those racial names—in Texas. The darker-skinned Latinos would call me a Gringo and once I told them my last name, I was called a Güero. So most people when they see me don’t think I’m Latino until I introduce myself.

Then I’m asked, are you Hispanic? My first response is, “Where is the country Hispain? No, I’m of Latin descent, born in Texas, and served patriotically for over 8-years active-duty in the U.S. Army plus 8-years more as a civil service employee in the U.S. Air Force. So I tell them, “I’m an American and Texan of Latin descent.”

Right after I provide that answer, not surprisingly, I get the next dumb question, “Are you Mexican-American?” My response, “Nope, I’m an American of Latin descent.” Then I ask them, what descent are you from? Usually I’ll get German, Italian, Polish, etc., you get the picture, so then I say (matching the right descent to the person), “Are you German-American, Italian-American, Polish-American?” Get the picture?  And somehow Arizona law enforcement officers are supposed to be smarter than the Texas Rangers and the rest of the world? Don’t get me wrong, I support law enforcement but feel interpretation of the law, especially immigration law, should be left to those trained and specialized in it.  Heck, in Texas we have board certified lawyers in immigration and Spanish Land Grants.

Let me give you a better analogy, would you let a plastic surgeon do your heart transplant because both are doctors and surgeons?  Would you let a divorce lawyer represent you in a murder trial? Maybe if you were Tiger Woods or Jesse James. And you wonder why Sandra Bullock filed for divorce in Texas. Meanwhile back to the ranch.

In my opinion it seems that the Arizona legislators are targeting the “Mexicans” which sounds like racial profiling. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck!  If they are not racial profiling one specific group, then will they stop someone because they look Asian?  I’m willing to bet money, that Officer Brewer, no relation to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, since she is Caucasian (I bet some of you thought Officer Brewer was a man), will never ask a “Caucasian” person in Scottsdale for their proof of U.S. citizenship, though that same officer would ask Juan Valdez immediately when they spot him at Starbucks ordering Columbian coffee. Though I’m wondering how many law enforcement officers in the United States realize that the term Caucasian refers to white-skinned Europeans? (Source, Wikipedia.com)

Maybe as part of the training of law enforcement in Arizona we should include something like a Coke verses Pepsi taste-test trial and place an Caucasian next to an American of Latin descent (dark-skinned) and see how many officers would pick the Caucasian out of the line-up?  God forbid if the surrounding states of Arizona pass the same law. New Mexico will have some serious problems trying to distinguish real Mexicans from new Mexicans—somehow I picture a lot of their lawmen drinking margaritas after work.  Nevada shouldn’t have any problems though if public perception is correct and Area 51 comes to life, just look for green colored skin—now that would be an irony if those green illegal aliens got pass the Arizona police and crossed into New Mexico.  Then you’d have a New Mexican Caucasian police officer calling aliens Greengos.

Going back to my military days, it’s against the law for the U.S. Military to act as “civilian” law enforcement–yes, I spent 26-months in the Latin American drug war during my soldier time in the early 90’s, so I know that law well as it was never left up to our interpretation. So if it’s against the law for a U.S. Army soldier to act as civilian law enforcement, especially immigration law, why then under Arizona law, are they allowing the local yokals–the type that can “flash their tin” to break speeding laws when off-duty, to question anyone “reasonably suspicious” when it comes to citizenship status?

Does suspicious mean the same to Officer Felipe Calderon as it would to Officer Jan Brewer? Would Officer Calderon always pick out a Caucasian and Officer Brewer a Hispanic or Asian?  Get the picture? Just like the Federal government requires it’s workforce to undergo sexual harassment and suicide prevention training, why shouldn’t Arizona require all it’s peace officers, for the sake of peace, to undergo racial profiling training? Just what does an illegal alien look like that makes them suspicious?

Bottom line–let INS do their job. Local police are already overworked and now you’re giving them immigration duties? Doesn’t make sense. The next Arizona law will give police officers the right to question anyone with a cigarette lighter because they could be an arsonist. Even President Barack Obama strongly criticized the law and is calling for Federal immigration reform—our President people.  I wonder where Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa weighs in on this, at least he had the sense to make prisoners pedal to generate electricity to power TV sets in jail.  I’m willing to bet, “America’s toughest Sheriff,” as he’s commonly referred too, is building a whole new tent city in anticipation that he’ll run out of room and the dinner menu I can assure you is not Kung Pao Chicken or enchiladas.

Well I’m in Arizona next month to conduct a photography workshop, guess I’m going to take my U.S. Passport and put it in my briefcase because if my wallet gets stolen, I could be locked up since my last name is Gomez and not McCain, thus suspicious to someone that is not Latino and doesn’t understand the Latin culture. Like Carlos Mancia would say, if you’re drinking a beer or standing outside Home Depot you have provided enough reasonable cause to look suspicious so thank goodness I drink Canadian, Crown Royal Reserve and not beer and I prefer Lowes hardware stores. Speaking of Canadians, I hope Phoenix Suns player Steve Nash (Canadian) gets pulled over (and is not carrying any identification) on the way to the U.S. Airways center tonight when they meet the San Antonio Spurs for round two of the NBA Playoffs—though I wouldn’t wish the same for Tony Parker or Manu Ginoboli.

I close by saying, let’s not go back to WWII where in Europe you had to carry papers. The Arizona immigration law is just another “persecution” of another ethnic group, which is worse than racial profiling. So I’ll agree with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, it’s not racial profiling—it’s persecution. If there is any good news in this for Arizona, the Diamondbacks aren’t changing their name to the Yankees, probably because they got more baseballs than Arizona Tea, which is scrambling to tell the world it’s brewed and based out of New York—seriously. Just my two centavos for what it’s worth.  Thanks to reading my rambles and as I always say, let’s not forget the men and women in the military and their families as they sacrifice more to protect our freedoms than anyone in this great nation.  God Bless, Rolando


  1. Rob Oresteen says:

    Rolando – I hesitate to write a response to this post. I have read your post on Facebook and your post in Advertising Age. I have read this post.

    I hesitate because you are someone I admire as a photographer and for your service to our country.

    The following are where I have issues with the hysteria that surround this “controversial” bill.

    1. It is simply enforcing the Federal law that is on the books. Nothing more, nothing less. It is the fact that Arizona is saying “we are REALLY going to enforce this law” is what has some people in an uproar. It is with in the purview of the cop on the street to do this. The excuse that “they already have too much to do” is not acceptable. Enforcing the laws on the books is their job – local, county, state & federal police officers.

    2. Why are you against deporting people who are here illegally? For me and most middle of the road Americans, this will include all white European as well. I really don’t care. But let’s face it, it is people that are Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans (I was born in Tegucigalpa), and so on are the majority, by millions, of illegal aliens in this country. The dirty truth is that many of the illegal aliens (European & Mexican) take advantage of the generosity of this country. They have anchor babies born on our soil and immediately that child is qualified for thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars worth of health care, for starters. That is something I don’t feel like paying every time I book a portrait session for $100.00 + prints.

    3. If an American is caught in Mexico without papers, he/she is put in jail immediately, end of story. Where is the outrage on that? It is almost comical the stark differences between how the United States treats illegal aliens – we practically roll out the red carpet – vs. the way Mexico treats anyone in their country who is “undocumented”.

    4. I understand those who are of Latino or Mexican decent feel discriminated against because of their ethnicity and or skin color. Well, there are 15 million illegal people from Mexico and Central/South America – most of them have brown skin – that’s a fact – no one is being racist. I have worked out of Home Depots for over 10 years. I have worked on job sites with many people who are here illegally – white Europeans and Mexicans – they both pissed me off. Hard workers or not – they force the market down for pay and talented and skilled individuals like me have to settle for much less because a group of people who will work for cash at 50% of what I would charge. I have to pay taxes, payroll taxes, this and that while many who are here for a quick buck take the money and run. Many in the entertainment industry – movie stars, talk show hosts, and celebrity photographers never have their gig pulled out from them from an illegal alien. That’s why so many in Hollywood have come out against this bill because it’s easy to take that side – it doesn’t hit home to them – yet.

    In your posts, and that of most who are against this law, never say that people who are here should go back home – today. I can not understand that. I really can’t. If a couple crosses into our country illegally for the expressed purpose of having babies so they can get citizenship someday is crap. When they get caught, and many do, it IS an outrage that the family has to get broken up. The responsibility of this heart beak rests solely on the shoulders of the man of that family. He should have thought about the circumstances first. It is not the United States fault.

    I’m am sure there will be someone who will have his civil rights abused because he/she will look like a Mexican and not have papers to prove their citizenship. But I am willing to bet that for everyone who’s rights who been abused, there will be thousands of illegals that will be sent home because of it. There isn’t a perfect way to do this but we have to do something now.

    With sincerity and respect,


  2. Cullen Bennett says:

    Rolando, Bobbie shared your sentiments regarding the new Arizona Immigration Law. I like to try and look at BOTH sides of any controversy before forming my opinion. Here is something that you might want to read. I will cut and paste it onto this email.
    ~~~~~~~~~start of cut&paste~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Subject: Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen. I want to explain SB 1070

    I’m Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen. I want to explain SB 1070 which I voted for and was just signed by Governor Jan Brewer.
    Rancher Rob Krantz was murdered by the drug cartel on his ranch a month ago. I participated in a senate hearing two weeks ago on the border violence, here is just some of the highlights from those who testified.

    The people who live within 60 to 80 miles of the Arizona/Mexico Border have for years been terrorized and have pleaded for help to stop the daily invasion of humans who cross their property . One Rancher testified that 300 to 1200 people a DAY come across his ranch vandalizing his property, stealing his vehicles and property, cutting down his fences, and leaving trash. In the last two years he has found 17 dead bodies and two Koran bibles.

    Another rancher testified that daily drugs are brought across his ranch in a military operation. A point man with a machine gun goes in front, 1/2 mile behind are the guards fully armed, 1/2 mile behind them are the drugs, behind the drugs 1/2 mile are more guards. These people are violent and they will kill anyone who gets in the way. This was not the only rancher we heard that day that talked about the drug trains.

    One man told of two illegal’s who came upon his property one shot in the back and the other in the arm by the drug runners who had forced them to carry the drugs and then shot them. Daily they listen to gun fire during the night it is not safe to leave his family alone on the ranch and they can’t leave the ranch for fear of nothing being left when they come back.

    The border patrol is not on the border. They have set up 60 miles away with check points that do nothing to stop the invasion. They are not allowed to use force in stopping anyone who is entering. They run around chasing them, if they get their hands on them then they can take them back across the border.

    Federal prisons have over 35% illegal’s and 20% of Arizona prisons are filled with illegal’s. In the last few years 80% of our law enforcement that have been killed or wounded have been by an illegal.

    The majority of people coming now are people we need to be worried about. The ranchers told us that they have seen a change in the people coming they are not just those who are looking for work and a better life.

    The Federal Government has refused for years to do anything to help the border states . We have been over run and once they are here we have the burden of funding state services that they use. Education cost have been over a billion dollars. The healthcare cost billions of dollars. Our State is broke, $3.5 billion deficit and we have many serious decisions to make. One is that we do not have the money to care for any who are not here legally. It has to stop.
    The border can be secured. We have the technology we have the ability to stop this invasion. We must know who is coming and they must come in an organized manner legally so that we can assimilate them into our population and protect the sovereignty of our country. We are a nation of laws. We have a responsibility to protect our citizens and to protect the integrity of our country and the government which we live under.

    I would give amnesty today to many, but here is the problem, we dare not do this until the Border is secure. It will do no good to forgive them because thousands will come behind them and we will be over run to the point that there will no longer be the United States of America but a North American Union of open borders. I ask you what form of government will we live under? How long will it be before we will be just like Mexico , Canada or any of the other Central American or South American countries? We have already lost our language, everything must be printed in Spanish also. We have already lost our history it is no longer taught in our schools. And we have lost our borders.

    The leftist media has distorted what SB 1070 will do. It is not going to set up a Nazi Germany . Are you kidding. The ACLU and the leftist courts will do everything to protect those who are here illegally, but it was an effort to try and stop illegal’s from setting up businesses, and employment, and receiving state services and give the ability to local law enforcement when there is probable cause like a traffic stop to determine if they are here legally. Federal law is very clear if you are here on a visa you must have your papers on you at all times. That is the law. In Arizona all you need to show you are a legal citizen is a driver license, MVD identification card, Native American Card, or a Military ID. This is what you need to vote, get a hunting license, etc.. So nothing new has been added to this law. No one is going to be stopped walking down the street etc… The Socialist who are in power in DC are angry because we dare try and do something and that something the Socialist wants us to do is just let them come. They want the “Transformation” to continue.

    Maybe it is too late to save America . Maybe we are not worthy of freedom anymore. But as an elected official I must try to do what I can to protect our Constitutional Republic . Living in America is not a right just because you can walk across the border. Being an American is a responsibility and it comes by respecting and upholding the Constitution the law of our land which says what you must do to be a citizen of this country. Freedom is not free.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~end of cut&paste~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  3. Fred Gerhart says:


    I am married to a peace officer who has worked INS in web county and she is of Mexican descent. Her viewpoint it that its high time something was done. We are not talking about just Mexicans crossing the border illegally. We are talking about Mexicans, Hondurans, Salvador, and on and on. Our boarders are wide open and we are in an unofficial war with the drug traffickers and other equally evil people including some of the most ruthless Salvadoran gangs in existence.

    The requirement to show ID in Arizona upon demand by a peace officer might be new for Arizona but here in Texas that law has been on the books a very long time. It is law in Texas that one must show ID to any law enforcement officer upon demand. Do we all go down the street looking over our shoulder. No we don’t.

    I look upon most of the folks that are opposed to the Arizona law as having a knee jerk reaction.

    I am glad Arizona is cracking down. They have had enough and the Mexican government has had plenty of time to do something about it. No action on the part of the Mexican government requires action on our part and I am not talking about a fence either. Redirect our military and allow them to protect our borders with guns, tanks, aircraft, and unmanned predator drones.

    I also have traveled and worked in Mexico. I was required to have my papers with me at all times by the Mexican government and was asked for them on more than one occasion by various types of police officers as I was doing my daily work. Did I look over my shoulder all the time? No – but I did follow their laws and produce my documentation when requested.

    If someone is in the United States illegally then that person needs to be jailed instead of deported. Deporting is simply a never ending merry go round as long as our borders are wide open. As soon as they hit the other side of the border they are back again.

    We are also in POST 911. With wide open boarders this country is open for attack. Thank God for ICE and their efforts since 911.

    A clear message that is understandable in any language needs be sent to those coming across any of our borders. America only welcomes those who abide our laws. Those who try to get around the system will be dealt with accordingly.

    Tough luck Illegals. This time around your going to jail.

    I suggest the illegals go back home now and then reapply for legal entry into the United States. No Amnesty either. Leave and reenter properly.

    My $.02 on the matter,


  4. rg sends! says:

    First, I am not for illegal immigration and firmly believe in legal immigration. I believe Federal immigration laws need reform and border states need help, but the only ones that can do that is Congress. I don’t believe state police or local police should be immigration officers. I am not against anyone in Arizona, just their basketball team 😉 but the Arizona legislators should put pressure on Congress–that’s what Congressional hearings are for. Arizona has members in the Senate and Congress and that’s where it needs to start, not at the local level. Just my two centavos worth. Thanks for all your opinions, this is great discussion. Rolando

  5. Cliff Tyllick says:

    Rolando, I agree wholeheartedly with Arizona’s immigration law. I just think it doesn’t go far enough. You see, our society is crippled by the underground economy — the various ways people avoid paying their legal share of income tax. If these slackers were not depriving our federal government with the resources our representatives have agreed are needed to do its job, then ICE would have the people and equipment it needs to protect our border.

    So Arizona should pass another law requiring its peace officers to assist in the enforcement of federal tax law. Whenever they stop somebody with cause, they should use their training to determine whether the person fits the profile of a tax evader. Now I haven’t checked with the IRS about this, but if I did I would not be surprised to find that the typical tax evader is a male Caucasian over the age of 40 who can afford an accountant and an attorney. So whenever a peace officer in Arizona pulls over male Caucasian wearing either business attire or really spiffy casual attire (“spiffy” can include clothes that are old and worn but just a little too cool) and driving a late model car, and especially if the person is a member of a country club, the peace officer should demand proof that this person has paid his income taxes. Until that proof can be obtained, they should hold the person and anyone found with him until the federal authorities can come look into the situation.

    Enforcing tax law has been proved to be effective in battling organized crime. After all, they didn’t nail Al Capone, the most notorious gangster of the Prohibition era, on charges of bribery, corruption, or murder.

    They got him for tax evasion.

    Yes, the lawmakers of Arizona have it right. They just haven’t gone far enough. For all our sakes, let’s hope that they see the light and finish their work.

  6. mao says:

    Hey guys, while trying to get photo tips from your website, I came across this interesting discussion.

    I was born and raised in Mexico and while I’ve lived in several countries, I now reside in Los Cabos Mexico.

    In this area, we have literally thousands of people from the US and Canada living AND working illegally selling timeshares inside the big hotels and even on the marina. Nobody likes to recognize it, but it is a sore issue here.
    Just like in the States with the illegal immigrants, these people take what they’re not entitled to, so what’s you take on that?
    Most developed countries have solved their immigration problems with proper laws at proper levels, in Europe mainly.

    If I was asked, I would say this whole controversy was created because electoral times are coming in the States, and once they pass, the issue will be dropped again. It happens every time, until votes are needed.
    It my own personal view.

    By the way, I know people who live in California illegally and taxes get deducted from their paychecks before they even get them. So they do pay taxes, except they have no rights of any kind, not even to get a driving license to go to work.
    It reminds me of Poland in 1943..

    cheers from Mexico fellows

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