Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Scapegoating Immigrants in AZ

The tide of anti-immigrant bias and discrimination has reached a new low with the new law in Arizona which criminalizes illegal immigration and provides for police and other law enforcement officials to profile, stop and demand proof of citizenship or legal residency from those they suspect of being in this country illegally. Although the Arizona governor denies that this law will lead to racial profiling, no rational human being can possibly believe that Arizona police will be stopping Celtic looking men and women looking for illegal immigrants from Ireland or any other individuals other than those of obvious Hispanic origin. In short, what this law has done is to create and apartheid system where people of Latino origins will have to carry their "papers" with them at all times to satisfy the demand of police officers who in turn are now expected to add to their duties, acting as immigration agents.In this blatant pandering to the hysteria surrounding the issue of illegal immigration, Arizona has undermined the most basic tenets of our constitution: the right to equality before the law as it quite obviously singles out Latino-Americans for special scrutiny and government harassment.

That is not the only problem with this Jim Crow law for Latino Americans. Besides usurping duties constitutionally assigned to the federal government, it will make Arizonans less safe as those who are hired to protect and serve are burdened with enforcing this policy in a state with a huge Hispanic population, composed at least in part by people who have lived in Arizona long before it became a part of the United States. It will serve to effectively disenfranchise Americans because of their ethnicity and it could blow a serious blow to the economy of a state which is dependent on agricultural workers, many of whom are in this country without documents. But perhaps most importantly, it is blatant persecution of people because of their heritage-an insult to everything this nations stands for. It is an outrage to people of faith as it sets apart a group of human beings as less equal and less worthy than other human beings and it puts bigotry before compassion. The Rev. Al Sharpton is right when he reminds all who will listen that just as too much of our history has been marred by racist laws and customs against African-Americans, the same is true with laws like this for Latino-Americans. It is time for patriotic people of faith and good will to stand up and condemn this racist and anti-American legislation. Shame on you Arizona, like the states of the deep south during the years of Jim Crow, you will not easily live down your bigotry!