Arizona: All Latin@s Carry Papers or GTFO
April 25, 2010 11 Comments
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.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 2: Prof Susurro at Like a Whisper offers lists of the negative effects of SB1070, along with videos.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.