Rep. Luis Gutierrez pointed to pop stars – and celebrity couple – Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez on Wednesday as an example of how difficult it can be to tell who’s an immigrant to the United States.
A Democratic member of Congress has turned to pop culture to convey his concerns over Arizona’s immigration law.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez took to the U.S. House floor on Wednesday with poster-size photos of teen pop stars and real-life couple Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez as part of a quiz the Illinois legislator called “Pick Out the Immigrant.”
Gutierrez, who chairs the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, pointed to Canadian-born Bieber and Texas-born Gomez as examples of how difficult it may be for Arizona police to constitutionally carry out a requirement they check the immigration status of those they arrest and find suspicious.
The U.S. Supreme Court let the provision stand in a ruling Monday, despite arguments from opponents of the law it will promote racial profiling.
“These young people have overcome their very different national origins and become apparently a happy couple,” Gutierrez said as stood beside the photos of Bieber and Gomez. “I’m sure Justin helped Gomez learn all about American customs and feel more at home in her adopted country.”
“Oh, wait a minute. I’m sorry,” Gutierrez added. “Because I’m not a trained Arizona official, I somehow got that backwards. Actually, Ms. Gomez of Texas has helped Mr. Bieber of Canada learn about his adopted country. Justin, when you perform in Phoenix, remember to bring your papers.”
Gutierrez’ quiz also included paired photos of NBA stars Jeremy Lin and Tony Parker — Lin was born in Los Angeles and Parker in Belgium — and journalists Geraldo Rivera and Ted Koppel, who were born in Brooklyn and Europe, respectively.
For their part, Arizona officials are scrambling to put the high court’s ruling into practice. The board responsible for training law-enforcement personnel in the state compiled a video-training program that reportedly was sent to police departments on Monday after the Supreme Court released its ruling. The video makes clear that language and ethnicity alone do not provide an officer enough reason to contact federal officials regarding someone’s immigration status.
“It’s important to point out that it’s not the one factor, it’s the totality of the circumstances,” Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a Phoenix police spokesman, told The Arizona Republic. “I honestly don’t think you’re going to notice much of a deviation in the way we do business: We run a records check on someone and if we develop reasonable suspicion that they’re here illegally, we’ll call (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)”
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