Arizona Immigration Law: A Real Threat to Human Rights

Filed in Gather News Channel by on April 23, 2010 0 Comments

The governor of Arizona signed into effect perhaps the most aggressive immigration law in the history of the country today.  Under the new law, immigrants must carry papers at all times or risk being detained, or even facing other potential criminal charges.  The law gives police broader power to detain immigrants or suspect immigrants, encouraging racial discrimination against the general Hispanic population.  The law would be effective in 90 days unless opposed in the courts.

This sounds like a headliner from an early 1900s fascist regime but it’s real and it happened today.  President Obama described it best, stating it may “undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”  Obama is only one of many voices of dissent against the new law, which has been compared to Nazism by the Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles.  The bill makes history as the first ever requiring immigrants carry papers on American soil to prove their status. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/us/politics/24immig.html?hp).  Ironic that such discriminatory politics are coming out under our first ever non-white president. What it’s asking is so absurd it’s almost surreal, as if we’ve turned the clock back decades, negating all of the progress we’ve made in civil rights.

The bill has, quite obviously, outraged the Hispanic community.  I checked out the comments on Hispanic website, www.univision.com, to get a better understanding of their sentiment regarding the event.  Most offer their support to the Hispanic community of Arizona, letting them know that they aren’t alone in fighting this bill.  They’re rather undaunted by the law, saying that human rights organizations won’t allow it to pass.  Quite appropriately, they call the law unacceptable and unconstitutional.  I agree with them on all counts and also can’t imagine that the law will go into effect.

Unfortunately, with politics you just can’t be too sure.  I’m shocked that the law was signed and got this far in the first place.  Why did no one give Governor Brewer a reality check before signing this rubbish?  Did she not read the fine print? – I ask these questions most uselessly.  Brewer knows exactly what she’s doing and feels the law is necessary, giving police the tools they need to manage a border state that attracts many immigrants.  Apparently, the protection of the rights of the legitimate Hispanic population went overlooked.  The basic human right to live without fear of harassment by police went overlooked.  I’d also like to point out that immigrants, whether legal or illegal, deserve basic rights.  There are many who wouldn’t hesitate to hire illegal immigrants at extremely low wages, taking advantage of their unfortunate situation, and would of course just as easily allow for this kind of discrimination.

I’m shocked the law was signed.  I don’t think it will go through, but we can’t sit idly by just hoping.  I was also shocked when California passed legislation against gay marriage.  At a time when so many of us are anxious and eager to move forward toward an even more equal and just community, the opposition is reacting harshly and outlandishly.  The new law is a reminder to all of us that the fight isn’t over, we can’t let up, we can’t stop and we can’t fool ourselves into thinking that it will be easy.

I’m glad the Hispanic community is hopeful and optimistic, but the optimism could be dangerous.  The bill has been met with appropriate outrage and dissent from leaders and officials, but that’s not sufficient to ensure that it doesn’t pass.  Our hope and optimism must result in action to stop this nonsense and make it clear that there is zero tolerance for discriminatory legislation.

 

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I grew up in California, always knowing that I'd travel the world, teach and write. This is now my goal in life. I've lived in Spain and Italy, teaching ESL in both countries- high school in Italy and 1st grade in Spain. I traveled Europe extensively dur

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