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viernes, abril 23, 2010

Meanwhile In Nazizona: Show Me Your Papers

What an unbelievably ignorant and oppressive and probably illegal "immigration" law Arizona has just passed. In its efforts to oppress the Mexican American and immigrant population within its borders, and anyone who might appear to be in that group (some Native Americans?) Arizona has enacted a law that facilitates prejudicial law enforcement and a blatant police state. Put simply, this law is an outrage passed by and for the radical right, and it's designed to make life for brown people and those who aren't very white even more difficult.

The basic provisions of the law:

The law, which opponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in the country in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime. It would also give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have decried it as an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.

According to The New York Times

The Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles called the authorities’ ability to demand documents Nazism. While police demands of documents are common on subways, highways and in public places in some countries, including France, Arizona is the first state to demand that immigrants meet federal requirements to carry identity documents legitimizing their presence on American soil.

And President Obama isn't exactly thrilled either:

Even before ...the bill [was signed], President Obama strongly criticized it.

Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24 active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called for a federal overhaul of immigration laws — an overhaul that Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to take up soon.

Saying the failure of officials in Washington to act on immigration would open the door to “irresponsibility by others,” he said the Arizona bill threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

And the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF} notes:

“Governor Brewer caved to the radical fringe,” said a statement by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, predicting that the law would create “a spiral of pervasive fear, community distrust, increased crime and costly litigation, with nationwide repercussions.”

When is the last time you saw a new state law greeted with such an outcry? Probably never. This law is that bad and deserves all of this and more.

As frightening as the law is, and as likely to be abused by police, Governor Brewer's facile explanations are even more chilling. She's obviously trying to rile up the base rightwing nutjobs, including the Minutemen. Or she's completely clueless. I think it's the former.

Governor Brewer acknowledged critics’ concerns but sided with arguments from the law’s sponsors that it provides an indispensable tool for the police in a border state that is a leading magnet of illegal immigration.

She said that racial profiling would not be tolerated, adding, “We have to trust our law enforcement.”

I'll continue when you stop laughing. Let's say that brown skinned man wearing a t-shirt waiting for a cross town bus in Tucson. He is reading a Spanish language newspaper while he waits. It's early in the morning. He might be trying to get to work. Police see him. They go over to him, and armed with the law, they say in English, "Are you legally in the U.S." "Yes," he responds in English, "Funny you should ask. My family has been living in Arizona for the past 350 years. Right here near Tucson. I was born here. I'm a citizen." The police, who of course have not racially profiled him because of his skin or the paper he is reading or the fact that he's not wearing a blue uniform, decide that this story is at best improbable. It, they think, simply cannot be true. 350 years? In America? None of their families has been in America that long. The story must be false. "Do you have any identification with you?" "No, I left it at home, in my other pants. All I have right now is my bus fare." So they arrest the man. For not having his immigration papers with him. The new law says that's appropriate. They also charge him with the new, Arizona, state law crime of not having his federal immigration papers with him. After all, as the Governor says, we have to trust our police. Really. We have to. After all, the Arizona police, including but not limited to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, have no issues as far as immigrants are concerned and have repeatedly demonstrated their fair mindedness.

What a disgrace this is. This law is completely unacceptable. It's no surprise that convention organizers are already talking about boycotting Arizona.

It remains to be seen what pressure can be found to overturn this awful legislation. That's where you come in. Ideas are needed.

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