Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez drawn into U.S. immigration debate
Justin Bieber and girlfriend Selena Gomez stand on stage during the 2011 MuchMusic Video Awards in Toronto on Sunday, June 19, 2011. (Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Thursday, June 28, 2012 1:10PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 28, 2012 2:03PM EDT
Who is more American: Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez?
That question was heard around the world on Wednesday as Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) addressed Arizona’s immigration laws and their potential for racial profiling on Washington’s House floor.
“Justin, when you perform in Phoenix remember to bring your papers,” Gutierrez said as he took aim at Arizona’s Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighbourhoods Act.
According to this legislative act, also known as SB1070, all aliens over the age of 14 in Arizona are required to register with the government should their stay in the state exceed 30 days. They must also carry their registration documents with them at all times.
Arizona’s controversial law also gives state law enforcement officers the right to determine a person’s immigration status during “lawful stops, detention or arrest.”
The Arizona law has been called the broadest and strictest illegal immigration measure in recent U.S. history.
Supporters of the legislation say that it cracks down on those sheltering, hiring or transporting illegal immigrants.
Critics, however, claim that SB 1070 encourages racial profiling.
“In Arizona today all that stands between you and a legal nightmare is whether a police officer feels there is a reasonable suspicion to inquire about your country of origin,” Gutierrez said during his speech on the House floor.
Gutierrez used pictures of several of celebrities, including two Supreme Court judges, during his speech to challenge the notion that a person’s citizenship can be discerned by their appearance or the sound of their names.
“Would you know that Geraldo Rivera was born in Brooklyn, or that Ted Koppel was born in England,” Gutierrez asked his colleagues.
The pro-immigration reform congressman then pointed to side-by-side images of Bieber and Gomez, and used the pictures to highlight the pitfalls in Arizona’s act.
"These young people have overcome their very different national origins and became apparently a happy couple,” said Gutierrez.
“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,” he continued.
“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 all about his adopted country."
The overriding point, said Gutierrez, is that it is unjust and un-American to assume knowledge of a person’s country of origin.
“The idea that any government official can determine who belongs in America and who does not simply by looking at them is completely ridiculous, unfair and un-American. Yet is it is the law in Arizona,” he said.