Howdy pal! Are you an immigrant? Non-white? Kinda tanned? Speak another language? Wear Fobby slippers? Well, if you said yes to any of the above and you’re in Arizona, you’re shit outta luck!
Thanks to SB 1070 and Gov. Jan Brewer, if you arouse “reasonable suspicion” of being an illegal immigrant in the eyes of local AZ law enforcement, you can be stopped, asked to prove your legal status, and arrested. Now what, you may ask, on Jeebusez green earth qualifies one as being suspiciously illegal? What cues could police possibly be looking for? Speaking Spanish, wearing dish gloves and an apron, having mad cuzins, sporting brown skin…The sky’s the limit here folks! Let’s get creative with this harassment!
Is there anything really, that can “arouse suspicion”, that isn’t tied to race, ethnicity, and skin color? People generally don’t wear signs around their neck declaring their status. Nor do undocumented folks act different than legal residents. So what indicators do you think cops will use as a proxy?
SB 1070, at its core, has nothing to do with immigration status, which it claims to address. It actually don’t matter if you’re a citizen, a permanent resident, or undocumented. If you’re not white, you ain’t right. Meaning if you ain’t white, law enforcement has full authority to assume you are a criminal.
Now, everyone in Arizona is required to carry papers with them at all times, especially important if you are a person of color. Sound familiar? Gestapo-run Germany? South African apartheid? Jim Crow?
But that ain’t all. SB 1070 also criminalizes knowingly transporting an undocumented person. But 85% of immigrant families (those with at least one non-citizen parent) are mixed-status families. So it’s not unlikely that a US-born citizen would be prosecuted for driving their undocumented mom to the grocery store or doctor’s appointment. Also awesome: private citizens can sue police officers for not harassing suspected illegal immigrants enough, further empowering your charming neighborhood Minuteman or Teabagger.
Bottom line — AZ ain’t down with the brown. This law is out-and-out racist, no matter how many pundits try to rationalize or talk their way around it. It’s also unconstitutional, undermines the trust between the community and police required for the public safety of everyone, and will likely wreak havoc on AZ’s already-struggling economy (San Francisco’s City Attorney has called for a break of business contracts with the state, and others urge a boycott of Arizona Diamondbacks games).
And if you think this law only concerns the Latino community, guess again. Last time I checked, Asian Americans also have a long history of being stereotyped and harassed based on our appearance and language, and we are included in the populations being smuggled across the border (arrests of Chinese crossing the AZ border increased tenfold in the last year), and subsequently who law enforcement will be profiling. What affects one community affects us all, and we need to stand up together to fight it.
The silver lining of all this is, hopefully the national attention garnered will put pressure on federal administration for Comprehensive Immigration Reform — something Obama promised to deliver during his first year in office. It’s up to us to hold him accountable. May 1st is National Immigration Day. Go here to find a rally or here for more info on boycotting AZ (did you know P.F. Chang’s is headquartered in Phoenix? Delicious). Text “Justice” to 69866 to join the campaign for immigration reform. NOW is the time to put government’s feet to the fire. Otherwise, we continue our downward slide towards becoming criminals in our own country.