By MJ Lee
June 27, 2012
Teen celebrity couple Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez made a surprise appearance on the House floor Wednesday morning.
Granted, they were there in the form of a prop used by Rep. Luis Gutierrez to help demonstrate the congressman’s opposition to a controversial provision of the Arizona immigration law that was upheld by the Supreme Court this week.
“This is for our young C-SPAN [viewers]: Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez,” the Illinois Democrat said as he pointed to a poster of the stars’ faces. “These young people have overcome their very different national origins and become apparently a happy couple. 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. Because I'm not a trained Arizona official, I somehow got that backwards,” the congressman continued. “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, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico, used other familiar faces from the media and pop culture to make his case that it’s difficult even for trained law-enforcement officials to determine — simply through a person’s looks or speech — his or her immigration status.
His remarks came days after the high court announced its decision to uphold what is widely known as the “show me your papers” measure of Arizona’s SB 1070, which mandates that police officers check the immigration status of an individual who has been stopped for questioning if there is reason to believe that they are in the country illegally. Critics of the law argue that it promotes racial profiling.
Other celebrity pairings Gutierrez presented on the floor Wednesday included journalists Geraldo Rivera and Ted Koppel (“At a traffic stop, to the untrained eye, we might guess that Geraldo Rivera, for some reason that clearly has nothing to do with the way he looks, might not be from America. ... They would know that Geraldo was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and that Ted Koppel was born in Europe”) and NBA stars Jeremy Lin and Tony Parker (“Clearly Lin sounds kind of foreign, while Tony Parker sounds American to me. But I'm not an Arizona police officer who would know that Jeremy Lin was born in Los Angeles and Tony Parker, oops, you're up. Belgium.”)
The congressman argued that the idea that a government official could determine who belongs in America simply by looking at them is “completely ridiculous, unfair and un-American.”
“And yet this absurdity is the law of Arizona,” he said. “The court signaled that it would be watching this law closely, and it should. Because we count on the court to protect our liberties, not restrict them, and because in America, people should always be judged by their actions. No person, not one, should be judged by the way they look, the sound of their voice or their pronunciation of their last name. Not in Arizona, not anywhere, not ever.”