An op-ed in The Washington Post reads:
Arizona’s draconian new immigration law is an abomination — racist, arbitrary, oppressive, mean-spirited, unjust. About the only hopeful thing that can be said is that the legislation, which Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed Friday, goes so outrageously far that it may well be unconstitutional.
Brewer, who caved to xenophobic pressures that previous governors had the backbone to resist, should be ashamed of herself. The law requires police to question anyone they “reasonably suspect” of being an undocumented immigrant — a mandate for racial profiling on a massive scale. Legal immigrants will be required to carry papers proving that they have a right to be in the United States. Those without documentation can be charged with the crime of trespassing and jailed for up to six months…
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon — who wrote an op-ed in The Post calling proponents of the law “bitter, small-minded and full of hate” — hopes to file a lawsuit against the state…
How are police supposed to decide whom they “reasonably suspect” of being in the country illegally? Since the great majority of undocumented immigrants in Arizona are from Mexico, aggressive enforcement of the law would seem to require demanding identification from anybody who looks kind of Mexican. Or maybe just hassling those who look kind of Mexican and also kind of poor. Or maybe anyone who dares to visit the Mexican consulate.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued the following statement on behalf of Muslim Americans:
(PHOENIX, AZ, 4/28/2010) — The Arizona chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-AZ) today expressed disappointment at the signing into law of Senate Bill 1070. CAIR-AZ and other civil liberties groups say the law legitimizes suspicion based on appearance and will result in racial profiling and discrimination.
“It’s natural for the Muslim community to find this new law appalling” says CAIR-AZ Chairman Anas Hlayhel. “The Quran instructs Muslims to stand up against injustice and racism, which this bill seems to advocate. No matter what good this bill claims to bring, we see that its harm will outweigh its good. We see it as a desperate attempt to legitimize racial profiling in order to hide the failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. It is a reminder of recent attempts to legitimize racial profiling at airports.”
Hlayhel said the new law is a major setback to civil rights accomplishments in America.
LoonWatch agrees. By the passage of this discriminatory law, police are obligated to stop anyone whom they “reasonably suspect” of being an illegal immigrant. Realistically, this means stopping anyone with brown skin, and Hispanics in particular. The good people of Arizona have succumbed to the forces of intolerance, hatred, and xenophobia. This law is quite simply un-American, and those who backed it don’t seem to believe in the ideals of this country.
Right-wingers in general and the anti-Islam camp in specific have pushed hard to legitimize racial profiling at airports, calling for all Arabs or Muslims to receive extra screening. This campaign has met with considerable success, with very little uproar from the public. Justifying racial profiling in one context legitimizes it in another; a bad precedent opens up pandora’s box. Now we find the discussion moved from Arabs/Muslims to Hispanics, and who’s to say it will stop there? Could police officers eventually be granted the right to randomly pull over black Americans driving through white neighborhoods? Where do we stop? If we tolerate discrimination against Arabs/Muslims and Hispanics, then it opens the door to discrimination against everyone that does not look exactly like the majoritorian group.
The right-wing fear factory has created this imaginary boogie man of so-called “stealth jihad”, claiming that “the other” is seconds away from overthrowing democratic rule and enacting a brutal interpretation of Sharia in North America and Europe. Meanwhile, these right-wing fear-mongers are the ones hacking away at the roots of our democracy, pushing their hate-filled agenda in the shroud of rationalized legislation, justifying racial profiling, warrantless wiretapping, torture, the suspension of habeas corpus, secret prisons, targeted assassinations of citizens, and the pursuit of imperial conquest abroad.
Since the creation of our great nation-state, there has been an element in us that has said “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,” and paradoxically another element that has called for some people to be considered only three-fifths human. Throughout U.S. history, the country has wrestled between these two sides: the tolerance inherent in our nation’s ethos on the one hand, and the wretched flame of intolerance on the other. It’s time for Americans of conscience everywhere to stand in solidarity for the ideal of tolerance, and against this repugnant law. This nation was founded and built by immigrants (illegal ones at that). While sensible immigration reform is something desirable, we cannot allow xenophobia to snuff out the country’s legacy of multiculturalism.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breath free…