Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Arizona immigration law prompts bigots to come out into the light of day

So I haven't blogged about this yet, but it has been a topic of many conversations in my daily life for a good few days now.

I'm talking about the Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

The law is the strictest immigration law in the country, and even before it was signed into law, the proposal received heat from critics about its potential impacts. According the The New York Times:

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

Well, in further news about why Arizona fails, read here (Arizona legislators try to pass bill that says Obama must prove citizenship), here (Arizona grades experienced teachers on fluency), and here (legislators take issue with ethnic studies programs). Feel free to debate these topics thoughtfully and carefully in comments. I'll be moderating the thread pretty closely.

I have had people debate with me about whether or not this law and its implications are racist. They have all been debates with white people. For example, on May 1 I posted a status on my Facebook account that read: "Do I look 'illegal'?" and quickly I had a white friend of mine respond. I debated with him for a time, and eventually he said, "Also, as cliche as this may be... STEREOTYPES EXIST FOR A REASON!"

To put it briefly, it was his justification for racial profiling. And it disgusted me. He has always held problematic, racist beliefs, but generally he keeps them to himself. It was as if he took this status of mine as an opportunity to let loose all of his hatred.

For this reason, the Arizona law, at the very least, is prompting racist individuals to be loud and proud about their bigotry in a new, heightened manner. As an Hispanic American (born in the states) whose father was born in Mexico, and an individual who is deeply against racism directed at any people, this disturbs me deeply. Go ahead and argue the legality of the law. What can't be denied is that this has prompted a fresh wave of attacks against a group of people based on their legal status as related to their skin color.

And that's called racism.

EDIT 4:17 pm, 5/4/10: via Feministing, "The Far-Right Movement Behind Arizona Copycat Bills"

EDIT 5/5/10: I'm going to put a trigger warning in effect for the comments. I had moderation off and some got through before I was able to get back at my computer. They will stay up because people have responded to them.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100%!! I share your beliefs in that this IS racial profiling & it disgusts me. I can't understand the human race, it shouldn't matter the color of your skin, your legal status, or anything like that because in the end we're all equal under gods eyes (sorry if this offense anyone).

Mike said...

Where to start?? First of all, there is nothing in the bill that requires law enforcment to profile based on race. They cannot be questioned on their status unless they are already being questioned in regards to another offense i.e. traffic stop, etc. We have to do the same on a daily basis. When you get pulled over you are aksed for your license, registration, and proof of insurance...if you can't do this or provide phony info, to the back of the police cruiser you go. When you go to the bank to make a withdrawal you have to provide ID.

You ASSUME that this will lead to racial profiling. You have offered no proof to back up your claims.

I am a former Arizonan, I know first hand the situation down there and it is bleak. The federal government has refused to do anything about it, they forced Arizonas hand. Government services, healthcare and law enforcement are stretched thin having to deal with all of the illegals down there. Something had to be done.

And where was your outrage when Arizona rancher Rob Krentz was brutally murdered on his own property by an illegal border crosser?

Where is your outrage against the Mexican drug cartels filling our streets with illegal narcotics? Did you know that because of the influx of drugs from across the border the street price for heroin has dropped by about 50%? My father-in-law is a narcotics officer in a major midwestern city, he was saying that when he started working narcotics, he was "absolutely dumbfounded" by, not only the amount of illegal narcotics on the streets, but by the fact that about 98% of all of it is here thanks to the mexican drug cartels.

Phoenix is 2nd in the world when it comes to kidnappings, thanks once again to our open border policy...outraged yet? Think of all the third world rathole cities out there in the world and only Mexico City trumps Phoenix in kidnappings per capita.

I am not against immigration whatsoever. As an American I gladly welcome all immigrants here from every country in the world. But come here legally and abide by the law, that is all we ask. If you can do this, you can enjoy the greatest country on the face of the earth.

Anonymous said...

Immigration laws are necessary.

Especially consider the irony that the president of Mexico secures their southern border and is strict, and harsh against people that enter Mexico illegally.

12+ million citizens of another country, that aren't citizens of ours, are currently here, using our roads, our police, our fire, and many of our resources, and sending the majority of the money they earn back out of the country.

It's not racist to say that this is bad for the US. I don't mean it in an "Oh no brown people!" way, either.

I mean it in the sense that people here starve, need work, need healthcare, communities need schools, roads, and many other things, and I don't think we need to pour millions of dollars into people that don't even have a stake in this country except to use it for making more money than they can in their own.

Why are we always so eager to try to assist everyone else? Is it so wrong, so selfish, to put our own people ahead of the people of other nations?

Plenty of people right here at home need help. I think they need it first, and I think taking on 12 million citizens of another nation is more than our fair share of assistance.

Deanna said...

Consider, Mike and anonymous, the situation of a native American in Arizona, or a citizen of Hispanic descent. They don't carry immigration papers. They may not own a passport. How do they prove their citizenship if required to? You don't need to be a citizen to get a driver's license.

For that matter, I'm white. If I moved to the US, I could be illegal. My accent is not noticeably different than many Americans - would anyone even think to ask me to prove my immigration status?

This is why this is racial profiling. White people without accents will not be required to prove their status. Non-white citizens will be required to prove their status (as law enforcement will deem non-white people as more likely to be illegal) but the ID they normally carry - that any US citizen normally carries - does not prove citizenship status.

Rock and a hard place for non-white US citizens. This law punishes and puts undue requirements on people who aren't breaking immigration law but will be deemed to be more likely to be breaking the law based on their appearance.

And don't even get me started on how difficult it is for US citizens who are homeless or otherwise live in poverty or have no fixed address can prove their damned citizenship on request.

Deanna said...

And before some nitwit says that native Americans wouldn't be required to prove citizenship, I have first person anecdotes of First Nations Canadians having trouble entering the US from Mexico because officials didn't believe they were Canadian - despite carrying a Canadian passport. They "looked Mexican" and were presumed to be Mexicans trying to enter the US under false identification.

Amelia said...


Once again, I encounter a commenter who is putting words into my mouth by, apparently, not taking the time to read the post I wrote before spewing hatred all over the comments.

You ASSUME that this will lead to racial profiling. You have offered no proof to back up your claims.

I said nothing about racial profiling in this post regarding the Arizona law. I made a remark about Arizona "failing" in regard to some of its other legislation, and I made a comment about my male friend justifying racial profiling by saying that stereotypes exist for a reason (without saying anything specific to the Arizona law). If you took that as me speaking about the law, well, that's your problem for reading into my words what is not there.

Do I believe the law leads to racial profiling? Yes. Did you have grounds for saying anything about it in a comment based solely on my post? No.

First of all, there is nothing in the bill that requires law enforcment to profile based on race.

Who said that racial profiling was required by this law? Not me. Or anyone else I have heard speak out against it. Your arguments would do well to not put words in people's mouths and assume you know people's reasons for being against things you appear to hold so dear.

While racial profiling may not be specifically into the law, it may very well be a huge consequence of the law. Such a high profile law would make it easier for law enforcements officers to act out even the slightest of racist inclinations, leading to profiling and perhaps other problems, because officers could sight the talked-about law as supporting their behavior.

Saying that "They cannot be questioned on their status unless they are already being questioned in regards to another offense i.e. traffic stop, etc." means little, considering that racial profiling (according to an experience I had on a police ride along, and talks with several family members in law enforcement) determines who is pulled over, anyway. For example, ideas that a group of Hispanic-looking people "must be up to no good" could get them pulled over for some arbitrary traffic violation, and give an officer cause to ask for their documentation.

The whole point of this post was my anger that because of this law, racists (from officers to regular men and women) feel emboldened to be publicly bigoted.

I think Deanna covered the rest of the documentation issue pretty well.

Also, don't ask me about my outrage. If you're so outraged, write your own blog. I can't write about everything, and I definitely won't tolerate other people accusing me of anything in my own space.

One last thing: blaming society's problems on a minority group is the foundation of the racism that has plagued other groups for centuries in this country (and other). Just saying.

Anonymous said...

In the interest of provoking more discussion, what could be done to make this bill more fair but still effective?

Amelia said...

@Anonymous (12:27pm, May 13):

Could you define what you mean by "fair" and "effective"? What do you mean by those terms? I'd be happy to discuss with you.

Anonymous said...

By "fair," I mean that it won't lead to targeting people just because of what they look like, etc. By "effective," I mean that it would accomplish the aims of the current law, which are to deal with the problem of illegal immigration.