While pledging my allegiance to the American flag at a recent chamber meeting, it dawned on me that in Arizona “justice and liberty” excludes my children and me.
Arizona’s leaders seek to placate its citizens by beating out current economic and security concerns with a piñata filled with Latin Americans. This solution to illegal immigration, SB 1070, will not erase those problems. Moreover, this law turns a blind eye to one of our nation’s founding principles, which gives anyone who comes here legally the right to live freely and be treated equally. It violates the civil rights granted to each citizen by the U.S. Constitution.
Gov. Jan Brewer, Sen. John McCain, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and other elected officials contend that the new law helps reduce illegal immigration by allowing police to stop and question suspect individuals about their immigration status. But what information will a police officer be gathering to ascertain a person’s right to be in the United States?
Do you believe police will be approaching white, English-speaking immigrants from Canada or the United Kingdom to check their visa or green card status? No, this law targets Spanish-speaking residents with mestizo and Native American features. Many of Arizona’s longtime citizens fit that description. In executing this law, police will violate those Americans’ constitutionally guaranteed rights.
The territories in the American Southwest were annexed to the United States in 1848, at the end of the Mexican-American War. Before the war, the region was a Mexican territory, governed and settled by Mexicans.
Arizona’s elected officials also claimed that illegal immigrants are responsible for the increase in heinous crimes that are plaguing the state. Yet, there is no evidence to support these claims. Data gathered at the Disaster Center and the Bureau of Justice Statistics show that crime and violent crime rates in Arizona, and other border states, have been steadily declining since 1995.
These politicians are using racial tensions to bolster support and push agendas that will hurt more than the Latinos living in Arizona. That state’s answer to illegal immigration is discriminatory, ill-conceived and paves the way for greater civil rights abuses in the future.
Yet this law has also brought Americans together. People across the nation are speaking out against the recent actions in Arizona. Locally, Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto) is boycotting Arizona. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Shakira and Vanessa Laine (Kobe Bryant’s spouse) have joined with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Latino activists and other Americans to test and kill this uncivil law.
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