Arizona’s Immigration Law (SB1070) – Is It Racist?

Well, yes and no. The law does not explicitly state that “all those of brown skin or accented speech shall be detained and asked to demonstrate their legal status in this state”. Anyone who didn’t sleep through their freshman history class would know such explicit statutes are not necessary for a law to be overtly racially targeted. Remember poll taxes and literacy tests. Neither stated that a pollster was required to test and tax every black person or that the law was passed in order to keep blacks from voting, but those were the realities of the laws’ implementation.

So while the law does not say that those of hispanic origin shall be targeted, that seems the reasonable prediction given the situation in Arizona. Consider the following:

We’ve already watched Sheriff Arpaio launch massive racially targetted “crime-supression sweeps” in the name of combating illegal immigration (even as illegal immigrants are repeatedly shown to commit less crimes than white citizens). We’ve already seen a widely supported governor of the state refuse to recognize MLK day as a holiday. We’ve already seen ethnic studies banned in the state’s public schools and teachers with accents fired.

In other words we’ve seen actions taken by this particular state and its political class that seem to indicate a certain…defensive reaction to a perceived ethnic crisis. It is not that they hate Hispanics per se. Rather it seems that the politicians in question -and presumably their constituents or at least their subordinates – are of the opinion that the immigration question is a racial one.

That being the case, how are we to react to the current law? When law enforcement individuals in the state have already set precedent for grouping legal hispanics in with illegal ones in enforcement actions, how are we to expect liberties to be protected?

The fact is that this law does not provide for the fairness and equality before the law that is the foundation of our nation. Our pride in our liberty begins with our freedom from unwarranted and arbitrary invasions by the government.

When walking down the wrong street being the wrong color becomes probable cause for detainment, we’ve ceased to command the ethical heights demanded of us by our founding fathers. We cannot, as defenders of liberty here and throughout the world, allow ourselves to be overcome by fear or selfishness when deciding what is right. We must be better than that, we prove ourselves to be those proud and determined americans who did not surrender to fear when the world was threatened but stood up as its strongest protectors. We must recognize that the laws are the means by which we have secured our own liberty from past oppressions and never fail to uphold that tradition.

My grandfather fought for the freedom of people he had never met who spoke different languages then he did, believed in different gods than he did, and looked very different than he did. Instead of leaving them to those who would use the law to discriminate and harm he took up arms so that they could.

We’ve seen all of these things in the name of an American identity based in amnesia and xenophobia.

This is an America that I want nothing to do with. I want an America whose laws aren’t knee-jerk politicized grandstanding. I want an America whose police aren’t modeled on the gestapo and the committee for state security. I want an America that understands how the law must limit the powers of police so that we may all remain free.