Saturday, April 24, 2010

Open Letter To Arizona Lawmakers

Dear Arizona Lawmakers,
I didn't plan on writing another politic rant so soon. But then you, dear Arizona Lawmakers, decided to pass SB1070.

Oh America, land that I love! You do keep it interesting with the politics. I think that's part of the reason I <3 you.

One of the major provisions of the above mentioned bill allows the police to check the immigration status of and detain anyone they suspect of being an illegal alien. But what could possibly lead a police officer to suspect that someone is in the country illegally? I’m going to go ahead and guess that folks with brown skin who “don’t speak American” with “funny sounding” names are the main target of this bill. Anyone who would like to argue otherwise is more than welcome to. This is just my opinion after all. However, I seriously doubt if the three white Europeans I personally knew who lived in the US illegally (before I met them) would be stopped if they happened to wander into Arizona.

My first thought on reading the law (and yes, I actually read the whole thing) is that its constitutionality is highly debatable for a number of reason, but in particular because it’s the federal government that deals with things like immigration, not the states. And I'm not even going to touch on the "searches" part of the "unreasonable searches and seizures" bit of the Fourth Amendment (applied to the States via the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment if I'm not mistaken). But let's be honest, it’s been a few years since that Constitutional Law class I voluntarily took in college, so please anyone with a deeper understand of the issue (i.e. a lawyer), feel free to jump in on this point.

Now Arizona lawmakers, I have just a few more minor questions for you (*rolling up my sleeves and taking off the kid gloves*): What were you thinking? Or perhaps to really address the incredible stupidity of this bill, what the F*CK were you thinking? No really, I’m curious as to the thought process that went into this. Please enlighten me. How exactly do you plan on enforcing this law? As in, what criteria need to be met to satisfy the “reasonable suspicion” part of someone being in the country illegally? And how exactly are folks who are stopped supposed to prove either their legal immigration status or their American citizenship? Hell, I’m an American citizen but the only piece of ID I walk around with in any country is my driver’s license, not my birth certificate or my passport (for obvious reasons, both are kept under lock and key pretty much at all times). And if I’m not mistaken, you don’t actually have to be an American citizen (or in some states be in the US legally) to get a driver’s license. So I ask again, how exactly is one supposed to prove their immigration and/or citizenship status?

I’m well aware of the fact that there are folks in the US illegally (like I said, I’ve personally known three) and that countries along the Southern US border seem to be especially effected. I completely understand that Arizona wants to do something to deal with this issue. I understand that and sympathize with that dilemma. I’m not against that. I’m not necessarily against tougher enforcement of current immigration law or a reform of immigration law. I am, however, against legislation like this which is essentially racial profiling rolled up in a nice pretty Birther bullsh*t package.

Sigh…I’m not saying immigration laws shouldn’t be enforced. But maybe, just maybe, this isn’t the best way to go about it Arizona Lawmakers. I can only hope that you come to your senses soon...or barring that a federal court overturns this puppy and sends y'all back to the drawing board. I'm fine with either.

American Black Chick in Europe

Cross-posted from American Black Chick in Europe.


  1. ABCiE,

    I'm no expert on this area, but I can't imagine how they're going to enforce this ridiculous new law without stomping all over the Constitution with their jackboots. It's ridiculous! I think it comes down to skin color and accent, period: if you're in AZ and you look like you might just be from Mexico, they haul you in. On no other grounds than that. What about all those conservatives who were always railing away about how the gubbamint was going to make us all carry a national ID Card? How else -- aside maybe from carrying around a birth certificate (and not one of them phony certificates of live birth like that Kenyan feller Obumuh's got :] ) or a few other highly official docs -- is one supposed to prove citizenship? No, I'd say they're serving up the Cream of Bullsh*it good and hot over in AZ. It's so stupid one just has to hope they're doing it to prod the feds into coming up with a rational and humane national approach to immigration. But maybe that's asking too much....

  2. You know, it sure seems to me as if the goal of laws like the new AZ bill is to make us all feel like we are "always already" at the airport.

    You know -- there you are waiting in line with all the other poor schmucks, feeling that if you say the least little thing they don't like, or don't look a certain way, or just glance sideways at some silly person with a uniform and a bad attitude, the charade of your having any dignity or rights at all will quickly be discontinued.

    Well! Thanks to AZ's legislature and governor, now all Arizonans and visitors to the sizzling state can feel that way all the time! Genius, I tells ya, genius! Privacy? Dignity? That's so twentieth-century!

  3. There is nothing to fear, I hear.

    AZ governor stated that cops -- who are, without exceptions, honest people, always working hard to serve and protect -- will receive proper training to make sure they don't trample on anyone's rights and don't engage in racial profiling. Her assurance should be enough for us all.

    And if that's not sufficient for you, think about it this way: we all know that illegals can be spotted a mile away by their unfashionable and odd clothes and ugly shoes. Take care to dress stylishly, and you'll always be above suspicion. It's a simple and elegant solution.

    (Anyway, if you commit the crime of unfashionable attire, you deserve to be locked up. You get what you ask for -- so don't complain. There.)

  4. Elizabeth,

    How right you are! Crimes of fashion are among the worst of all offenses. Didn't know you were such a Wildean, but am glad to hear it's so. As The Oscar would say,

    In all unimportant matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential.

    In all important matters, style, not sincerity, is the essential.

  5. Dino, I'm glad to hear that Oscar agreed with my lifelong motto,

    If you must live, do it gracefully.

    Sincerity is seriously overrated.

    Now I'm off to look for my naturalization papers, but first gotta order a new pair of sandals so as not to draw too much attention to myself this summer.

  6. The State of Arizona has declared:
    Every Ramona in Sedona is suspect.
    Innocent or not, the law takes effect,
    And no Pepe in Tempe will be spared.

  7. In the first (and really last) place, I think this whole thing is nasty, wrongheaded and unconstitutional.

    Having said that, if Arizona is anything like SoCal, then initially they will have no problem finding illegal immigrants. Crowds of Mexican day-laborers are not hard to spot. A group of Hispanic men, all 5'4" or shorter, in long sleeve shirts in 100 degree weather is pretty easy to spot. Note that this is not stereotyping, when I lived in San Diego these groups were a common sight, and being easily visible by necessity means they will be the first targeted.

    What I really don't get is why anyone has a problem with them. How can anyone who comes to America to work and earn a better life for themselves and their families be a problem? The solution is to make it easier for the ones who want to be productive citizens to succeed. Then the bad apples in the group will stand out and can be dealt with.

    Amnesty + eased legal immigration + improved border security = win.

    Pissing on the constitution to hassle brown people = lose.

    Not complicated, and ooh look! We don't even have to live like a bad cold war movie "Show me your papers!"

  8. Elizabeth,

    That Brian Bilbray is my congressman! He's probably the only one who could make me nostalgic for Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Somehow graft and corruption for personal gain, even in the selling of weapons systems, seems more palatable than spreading fear and lies about an entire class of people. Your quote from Hardball sounds like a parody. How could anybody say that with a straight face? After leaving San Diego City Council, Brian found his niche in the right-wing reactionary, paranoid, racist crowd by remolding himself as an "immigration consultant." That's actually what he listed as his profession in the 2006 election. Hopefully he can provide us with a list of Mexican leather shoes, Guatemalan serapes and home-made Costa Rican shirts and pants ASAP.

    American Black Chick,

    Jump on in. It's okay to support amnesty and a path to citizenship. It's certainly alright to give our tacet support to the status quo of laissez-faire. These people don't need to be deported. Their lives are hard enough already. Most of them are willing to work very hard. They're mostly good family people who send money back to their parents, cousins... I would feel just terrible if all of a sudden there were no workers for hire in my neighborhood. Just awful! Remember, we're all God's children. We're all put here on earth for a reason.

  9. OMR,

    Yes, I think you're right that they'll target the Home Depot scene -- I see lots of workers out front of those stores where I live, too. And the operative word there, as you imply, is WORKERS. They're here just trying to find some work, and there seems to be a need for the work they do. Why -- aside from racism -- everyone is so uptight about it, I don't get. Immigrants aren't causing our social or money problems -- they contribute much and they take somewhat, and the balance is almost certainly in our favor as a nation.

    I've long thought that even our harshest immigration policies probably don't much lessen the number of people coming here -- there are probably about as many people coming here illegally as want to come here and have the capacity to do so. I honestly doubt that if we loosened those policies, we would suddenly see a massive influx of immigrants. The question is how to deal humanely and constructively with those who arrive so that everyone does well.

  10. Flying Junior,

    I'm sorry about BB being your rep. You can always move, I hope, or, if that fails, try to vote the oaf out of office.

    Immigration consultant -- yes, that suits him fine, I suppose. Not as fine as that ugly brownish suit he wore on teevee, for which he should have been arrested on the spot. In my stylish opinion. Cuz if it works for the immigrant goose, it should work for the allegedly native gander too, no?

    I say allegedly, because I wonder if anyone has checked his birth certificate? I didn't think so. With a suit like that, there is a strong possibility he is really an illegal Canadian. Just sayin'.

    Anyways, I expect that, as such an expert on all things immigrant-y-ish, BB will continue coming up with ingenious ways to identify illegals for the glorious benefit of our nation. Judging them by ugly clothes and shoes is all dandy, but it still leaves room for error. One excellent and fool-proof method would be to require them to wear some clearly identifying mark -- for example, a yellow star, or maybe a taco, fastened to a sleeve. It worked in the past with much success.

  11. For people who purport to be all about protecting our "freedoms" and upholding the constitution, the GOP administration of AZ is enacting a pretty heavy-handed, repressive policy.
    This is a good example of why we need a federal government to protect our democratic system. Not unlike the days when we needed federal intervention to uphold civil rights.
    If this is allowed to stand without challenge, AZ will set a very dangerous precedent.

  12. The "logic" here is that by pandering to nativist ignorance, Republicans get re-elected. Think George Wallace.


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