Saturday, September 23

Hopefully, Arizona bill will incite wider reform

When refried beans are smeared in the shape of swastikas on a state Capitol’s window, two things come to mind: Someone is mad, but at least refried beans are being put to some use.

This deafeningly loud declaration of disapproval occurred on Arizona windows in response to Gov. Jan Brewer’s “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” (SB 1070), which is an effort to combat illegal immigration that astonishingly solicits racial profiling.

Addressing anti-immigration may seem like progress for a border state frustrated with the lack of federal initiative for such a prevalent issue. But the writers of this bill, its irrelevant language and the fact that such harsh enforcement is being implemented without more structural analysis of a flawed system makes the bill morally and legally corrupt, and people are angry as ever.

SB 1070 will definitely create only more tension for an extremely sensitive and racially charged debate ““ tension that probably won’t be corroborated by lower crime rates and more safety.

Leading up to and since its passage, the bill has engendered intense criticism from a variety of people and groups across the country, including student organizations (such as Bruin Democrats and IDEAS at UCLA), politicians, civil rights agencies and President Barack Obama. Religious leaders from several denominations have also expressed unified concern through an online press release, calling the bill “misguided” and claiming that it is “exacerbating a climate of fear and suspicion that pits neighbor against neighbor.”

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony said that this was the country’s “most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law.”

The bill has become so hotly discussed mostly because of its method of implementation. Local police are mandated to question people about their immigration status where “reasonable suspicion” exists. Of course, it’s all too expected that the bill would set no guidelines for what exactly could and should beget such suspicion. An accent? The color of one’s skin, perhaps?

To further complicate the fact that local police, who are obviously not federal immigration authorities, can decide on a whim who needs to be checked for valid documentation, the bill also allows Arizonians to sue any agency, county, town or official that they believe is not effectively implementing the law.

Just imagine what will result when the power to deem someone reasonably suspicious is given to virtually every citizen of a state already so aggravated ““ of a state already frequently accused of racism. Allowing citizens to step in will snowball the injustice; police will probably question even more undeserving people out of paranoia for personal financial complications.

What with the governor’s public statement on Friday, ridiculously intolerant election campaign commercials lately (by all means, watch Tim James’ ad for Alabama governor), and organizations like the Tea Party running stupidly rampant, it seems that using sensationalism to frighten citizens instead of providing them with accurate knowledge for complex political issues is as hot a trend as ever.

In her public statement, Brewer adamantly stated that citizen safety could no longer be sacrificed to the “murderous greed of drug cartels,” that Arizona “cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life.”

Of course, the issue of drug wars are of dire and pressing concern for those on the U.S. border. And this is especially true for Arizona, which encounters more illegal trespasses and drug transactions over its border than any other state.

But neither this bill nor Brewer addresses the violence that results from drug cartels in a constructive manner, aside from increasing a first-time offense from misdemeanor to felony for gun or drug possession. Her statement only seems to equate criminals peddling drugs in America with all who have failed to achieve citizenship status, which is unfair.

This is simply missing the bigger picture: Illegal immigration is the product of an unintelligible visa system and an overall difficult path to legalization. Furthermore, border violence is a horrible compound occurrence that can be dealt with in other ways. More National Guards on border patrol is one way. The bill also takes away authorities’ rights to ever release guilty prisoners early. I wonder if Brewer has planned for the inevitable increase in incarceration funding.

The true intentions of controversial legislature become exponentially less perplexing when the source is considered. This bill was introduced by Republican Sen. Russell Pearce, whose name is remembered for a 2006 controversy in which he “mistakenly” circulated an e-mail that condemned the media for erroneously “forcing” on the public ideas of racial equality, the Holocaust “tale,” and that “(halting) the flood of non-White aliens” is wicked. A charming man.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform also claims credit for assisting politician Kris Kobach in actually writing the bill. This is an organization widely criticized for accepting prolonged monetary support from The Pioneer Fund, a non-profit group self-described as “pioneers for the Darwinian-Galtonian evolutionary trend, and the eugenics movement.” Intentions are disgustingly unraveling, or at the very least, the political allegiances of those behind such legislature.

In response to a Fox News correspondent’s question about public concern for the racial profiling that will occur under SB 1070, Pearce actually responded by saying, “You know, my ““ I have two children ““ two grandchildren that are Hispanic.” Charming and quick on his feet.

The bill even goes so far as to state that the “attorney general or county attorney shall not investigate complaints that are based solely on race, color or national origin.” I’m glad to see that race as an additive factor is perfectly lawful. In the words of Rachel Maddow, “Would it count if it were, say, based on race AND color?”

Arizona, and to a lesser extent New Mexico, has an incredibly serious issue on its hands. Drug cartels are creating utter disaster in border communities, and the violence has been steadily escalating. Unfortunately, SB 1070 is nowhere near the solution.

The best I can hope for with this draconian legislature is that it is deemed unconstitutional and that it will spur comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level, including a better visa system and employment opportunities where labor is needed. The migrant population of this country provides an incredible number of services that many do not seem to want to address. I hope this debacle will lead the way for that acknowledgment instead of setting the stage for resurgence of a type of blatant racism that this country should be well beyond.

E-mail Moradi at [email protected] Send general comments to [email protected]

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