Senator Tony Bisignano had choice words for Senate File 406 on Tuesday. It’s a bill that provides each state or local law enforcement agency must collect data relating to the commission of public offenses by nonresident aliens as defined in Code Section 9I.1.
It went through subcommittee and committee last year and was rebirthed in a subcommittee yesterday.
“We did do this bill last year. Nothing has changed — it’s still a bad bill,” Bisignano said. “It still shouldn’t be before us.”
That was just the beginning. Midway through the subcommittee, Bisignano got even more heated.
“I can’t allow Senators to say things that are not true,” he said. “And we know are not true. We had the very first person who spoke, Karen, say she was stopped for a reason that she found to be less-than-honest because her taillight wasn’t out.”
Karen claimed to be pulled over due to the color of her skin. She said the officer’s first question was regarding her legal status. And, she added, her brake light was not out, which is the reason the officer gave for pulling her over.
Bisignano then took issue with Sen. Julian Garrett saying the information would only be gathered if someone is arrested. He referred back to Karen’s story, which had nothing to do with a bill that didn’t exist at the time of her traffic incident.
“Oh, I can tell you, if you’re pulling out of Glen Oaks, if you’re pulling out of Des Moines Golf and Country Club, and you’re driving a Cadillac and you’re pulled over, most times you won’t even be arrested for OWI. But I don’t think they’re going to ask you for your birth certificate or passport.
“I’m sorry. Any senator who would say that we’re all treated equal doesn’t know what it’s like to not be treated equal. Sen. Carlin, you started this out when you said that there’s no intent to target anybody, you started out by pointing at Mexico. To say we’re not looking at anybody, how do you say that? You pointed at Mexico and you said 99 percent of the meth comes from Mexico.”
Bisignano said he met earlier in the day with egg producers who have concerns with the lack of workers.
“Iowa’s growing with immigration, it is not growing with the traditional population,” Bisignano said. “So, I leave a meeting where we’re talking about how are we going to get more workers in Iowa, and at the same time, we’re basically telling a race of people you’re a suspect.
“You’re a suspect by your broken English, by your brown skin, by the way you look, or where you live. Welcome to Iowa, because we need you to help Iowa grow. I hear these mixed messages all over this building all of the time. To say we’re not racially profiling, my God, she was racially profiled.”
Bisignano then said his father was a nonresident alien in 1929. He said the Irish arrived first.
“And they’re still immigrating illegally, but you don’t find them because they look like everybody else,” Bisignano said.
The criticisms then took aim at Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District, where Carlin represents.
“I didn’t come from western Iowa,” Bisignano said. “I didn’t come from where Steve King blurts his racist garbage on a regular basis in Washington, talking about cantaloupes for calves. Talks about western civilization being so much better than the rest of the world.
“I have a real problem, because I’m European, but I don’t think that I’m really better than anybody else and I don’t think the Hispanics, Latinos, are causing our problems because they’re bringing in 100 percent of meth. Probably 90 percent of it is done by white people, suburban kids. So, if I want to start cracking on the meth problem, I’d start squeezing on the rich kids. They don’t like jails. They’re used to nice facilities at home. You get people to talk when they’re uncomfortable. We’ve already made the Mexicans uncomfortable. They’re suspects everywhere they go.
And then came another pivot.
“We haven’t even started talking about African Americans and what we see on the news by them going into a Starbucks or walking down the street with their hands in their pockets,” Bisignano said. “I can do it, they can’t. This bill is the most divisive bill and it’s here again and it makes me sick.
“Iowa’s a welcoming place — for who? Not if you’re brown, you’re not welcome. If you’re black, you’re not welcome. We tolerate it. If you’re educated and you move up, we’ll treat you like a king, but if you’re just a working stiff in this state struggling like any other white person, you’re a suspect everywhere you go, everywhere you shop.”
Bisignano returned his criticisms to Carlin.
“We may really believe our own denial, because Senator, I would not call you a liar,” Bisignano said. “I would not say what you’re saying you don’t believe. But I’m saying there’s a lot of people that look at this on its face of what it is and it’s a target. We call it profiling because they’re not doing this to every white person who is getting stopped. They’re only doing it to people of color.
“She’s exactly right. If she needs to carry a passport, so do you and so do I. This bill is an insult. It’s an insult to every decent Iowan in this state. We’re not an accepting state anymore. We don’t look at people equally and we’re always looking for somebody else to blame.”