Arizona: All Latin@s Carry Papers or GTFO

I remember one time a few years ago I got into an argument with a white sex worker on a friend’s blog because we were upset over a proposed bill in a state legislature that threatened abortion rights. She kept asking us why we were so worked up about a bill that wasn’t even passed, especially since if it were successfully passed, it wouldn’t be constitutional. We kept saying the bill shouldn’t be considered in the first place, and it needed to be killed regardless of whether it were constitutionally sound. The abortion measure never succeeded, and each of us went back to our respective corners with smug confidence about why that measure never succeeded, the foam returning to the insides of our mouths and our bile settling into our livers once more.

Now, we see the dangers of assuming that everyone automatically gets it and bad stuff will just go away because it’s illegal and bad with the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona — a horrifying anti-immigration measure that criminalizes all Latin@s living in Arizona and places the burden on them to prove their citizenship to law enforcement in all encounters. If Arizona police have any suspicion that you are illegally in the United States (because we know that can be determined by sight), you can be held for investigation. Despite protests, petitions, public statements and entreaties after the bill passed both legislative houses, Governor Jan Brewer signed the law into existence as a giant slap in the face to her state’s communities and a giant handshake with her state’s bigotry and racism. And former presidential candidate and Senator John McCain has joined her campaign to march in the wrong direction.

Nezua at The Unapologetic Mexican describes what happens when you roll over the racist pig in the middle of immigration and leave it on its back:

This bill makes the racists happy. Just dig the comment threads on any videos on this topic. Sweet lord, these vile, selfish, thoughtless creeps who cluster to threads on immigration oughtta be shipped out to their very own island as far as I’m concerned. Judging by 90% of the noise they make, they simply are not fit to share a community or society with other people. They should be airlifted to an island and stuck there with a library of history books and made to work their own land and wait on their own damn tables and watch their own kids and chop up their own steers and otherwise bootstrap their asses to their own private, ridiculous destiny and leave the rest of us out.

There are going to be ample opportunities for this law to be challenged in courts if police officers do as they are now told at traffic stops, according to the Tuscon Citizen:

There is no way to determine citizenship status by just looking at someone. So the officer must ask. And, in order not to run afoul of the equal protection clause, police will have to ask everyone.
So now what if our white driver, who does not speak with a foreign accent, refuses to answer the question? What will the officer do? The law says an Arizona’s driver’s license or state-issued ID card suffice as proof of citizenship. But what if the driver doesn’t have a driver’s license in his or her possession?

Can you imagine any scenario in which the officer would develop a “reasonable suspicion” that the white driver is in the country illegally? I can’t (if this was Vermont, I could).

Now change the white driver to a Hispanic driver. Is refusing to answer the question “reasonable suspicion?” Or is failure to have a driver’s license?

In a state with several hundred thousand illegal immigrants entering it every year, and several hundred thousand more living here, a reasonable person would have to argue that it is “reasonable suspicion.” But it’s reasonable suspicion based on race and that’s just not Constitutionally viable.

And what about the merits of “harboring” a person in the state illegally? Again, I return to brownfemipower’s piece at Feministe, where many commenters point out to her the presence of nonimmigrant visas for women and children who face sexual assault and intimate partner violence. If they weren’t planning on calling law enforcement in Arizona before the passage of this law, they surely won’t be moving forward with that move now. Also, think of situations where non-citizens are family members — husbands, wives, children, cousins, parents and grandparents. The law is forcing people to choose to send them away or to keep them home. The law is driving a population of people who WANT to be citizens of this country further underground and out of the public eye, increasing the strain on public service organizations who attempt to reach these populations with assistance, and creating an impetus for other southern border states to follow its lead.

Brown Skin Is Not Probable Cause

Where do we go from here? There is a Facebook group to join, a petition to sign, a call to boycott Arizona and Arizona-based businesses, a list of organizations to check out, and badges you can use around the internet to show solidarity.

President Obama has called the bill “misguided.” But if he fulfilled his early promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform, Arizona would have had clear guidance on the nation’s immigration policy. There is a lot on his plate. It has to be done right. But Arizona has now proven that we cannot afford to wait.

I’ve already seen people invoking the poem from Martin Niemöller, the First they came for… poem that makes people feel the grip of fascism around their throats. People are readily likening this to Nazi Germany during the early part of the Third Reich, when all Jews were ordered to carry identification with them and wear stars identifying them as Juden. I wish that invoking the specter of the most popular genocide were enough; but considering the numerous genocides in other countries since the 1940s, I’m not sure if we underestimate the brutality of genocide or if we’re inured to its existence around the world until our own bathtubs are boiling hot. Even our president fails to call genocide what it is, when the evidence of what happened is apparent. Genocide no longer describes the systematic extermination of groups of people; genocide is now a politically loaded term that hurts the perpetrators’ feelings.

I don’t want to do a first they came chant. They’ve never stopped coming. They come through half-cocked racist philosophies; they come through brutal murders and attacks; they come in board rooms and conference rooms; they reduce humanity and need to numbers and ledgers. They won’t stop coming until we the people as a humane, peacemaking force make them never want to come again. Constant vigilance precludes passivity. When they come, and they always do, let them come knowing every step they take closer to fascism is a hazard to their power, their money, and their sense of morality.

We no longer wait for them to come. First we fight.

Update: Arizona rapper Swindoe makes a powerful song and video about crossing the border that you’ve gotta see: “Phony People.” Thanks to The Southern Shift for sharing and Davey D for tweeting.

Update 2: Prof Susurro at Like a Whisper offers lists of the negative effects of SB1070, along with videos.

Update 3: Kai provides some more actions for people to investigate/do in a comment on Feministe‘s Arizona immigration law round-up:

From what I heard on a conference call yesterday about SB 1070, hosted by RI4A, with local, state, and national organizers and advocates, right now organizers in Arizona are making “3 asks” of people outside their state: (1) hold solidarity vigils and actions in your own community, and send pictures or video to rlopez@communitychange.org; (2) escalate May Day demonstrations into a vocal protest against SB 1070; and (3) put pressure on President Obama and your Congressional representatives (House; Senate) to seek a federal injunction against the implemenation of SB 1070 because local and state police are not authorized to enforce federal law, and to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform.

There will surely be more targeted actions and campaigns, seeking to apply economic and political pressure on key points, as peeps get some more time for research and strategic deliberation.

About problem chylde
"In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:6

11 Responses to Arizona: All Latin@s Carry Papers or GTFO

  1. JP says:

    “Can you imagine any scenario in which the officer would develop a “reasonable suspicion” that the white driver is in the country illegally?”
    Yep!…many scenarios. I can easily see this law as being used as an harrassment tool against citizen/non-citizen drivers of any color. Anything but total and complete submission to authority upsets that authority. Failure to completely submit will lead to “obstruction of justice” and your ass gets hauled down to the pokey. “Long haired hippies need not apply”. I can certainly envision some Interstate travelers (especially truckers!) running afoul of this unwritten “attitude” requirement.

  2. Tiffany says:

    I find this measure horrible. We see all the problem with the illegal profiling of others and don’t know how we can allow it to be justifiable. If they are committing a crime that is one thing, but to just ask because you can, psssh, you might as well make everyone do it or hell, make a woman prove that she is a woman and a man a man. WHile measures do need to be taken, these is far from what needs to be done and I forsee it backfiring in a horrible way.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  3. Well, tangentially Tiffany, transgender people are asked and sometimes forced to prove their gender on a regular basis. Nevertheless, I understand and share your point — that this level of policing on any front is horribly intrusive and only signals worse policies to come. Plus it doesn’t cut to the heart of any problem.

    JP, I definitely see more cops being pigheaded towards anyone that gives them lip with this kind of power. Regardless of citizenship, the hassle of being arrested is humiliating and onerous enough. It’s not as if cops don’t have enough liberties with detaining people; Arizona just kicked it up multiple notches for the sake of its racism and xenophobia.

    Thank you both for commenting.

  4. humbleinaz says:

    You have to be joking right? It is time for you to put the crack pipe down ok. Crack kills brain cells and you don’t have enough to spare. The bill in AZ is the same as the Federal law GET IT. If you took the time to read it would know that.Now as for your argument about the police, border patrol has this authority and has had it for a long time. I am in AZ and have first hand knowledge of the situation. We all work together we meet several times a week as a matter of fact. This law was passed and we will be enforcing it. That is for sure.

  5. The federal law needs to be overhauled as well. This country’s immigration law is racist, and Arizona just proved why.

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  8. SwinDoe says:

    This bill will be bad for people of color as well for the state of Az financially! When conventions, Gem show, and Mexicans that travel here legally to shop every weekend decide to boycott AZ, we will definitely feel how important they are to the economy. Then i’m sure a change will come! Thanks for watching my video -Woowoowooo

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