Driving While Latino (DWL): More Racial Profiling

Over at the Texas Observer the savvy Melissa del Bosque has more details on the extreme racial profiling that Latinos face in Texas, and not just being arrested in Dallas for speaking Spanish:

In Dallas, she notes:

At least 38 people have been cited for not speaking English since 2007. Almost all of them were Hispanic and none of the officers who issued the citations were Hispanic.

Interesting how speaking Spanish, or not speaking English, has become a common excuse for discrimination. ‘Tis now central to the white racial framing of Latinos. (Leading anthropologist Jane Hill has researched well much of the language of white racism, and Spanish-English language issues.)

Del Bosque next describes what it is like on the border, data that are often confirmed to me by numerous Latino students here at my university, who often get stopped for no good reason and often searched without a warrant:

While I’ve never heard of anyone being ticketed for not speaking English along the border, residents, who are mostly Hispanic, get the Dallas treatment all the time. They get pulled over and their cars are searched by the police. Last March, the ACLU released a report on the State-Federal funded Operation Border Star. . . . The ACLU found that an enormous number of border residents are pulled over for no reason. They cited the Hidalgo County cities of La Joya and Sullivan City as examples of the excessive number of traffic stops: “The Cities of La Joya and Sullivan City, which have between 4,300 and 4,700 residents, and their police departments combined to make 9,576 traffic stops as part of Operation Border Star. The result? 3,314 citations and 5,387 warnings issued. That’s roughly one traffic stop per resident.”

One stop per resident! Yet more signs of the naïveté of arguing for a “post-racial America.” And of the sad US reality of weak or no constitutional rights, in too much everyday police and other institutional practice–especially if you are not white.