FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Razing Arizona

by ALVARO HUERTA

Immigrant bashing, like baseball, has become a favorite American pastime. The draconian, anti immigrant bill (SB 1070) in Arizona only adds credence to this reality.

This pernicious bill not only targets undocumented immigrants in this desert state, but also punishes Latinos in general, both legal residents and citizens.  Apart from criminalizing undocumented immigrants with misdemeanor and felony charges, not to mention imposing monetary fines and imprisonment for deportation purposes, the bill allows for the police and other authorities to stop and interrogate individuals “suspected” of lacking legal documents in this country.

In other words, the bill, if upheld on constitutional grounds, allows for the police to single out individuals of Mexican decent, along with other Latinos, and interrogate them due to the color of their skin.  Apart from skin color, what will prevent the police from randomly questioning the legal of brown-skinned individuals simply for speaking Spanish in public?

Apart from skin color and language, what about clothing?  Will the police question individuals for wearing a soccer jersey from the Major Soccer League or El Tricolor, the Mexican national team?  This seems to fall under “reasonable suspicion” since “everyone knows” that immigrants love soccer.  Don’t they?

This very broad concept of “reasonable suspicion” provides the police and others with too much power to make subjective judgments against individuals based on phenotype, linguistic and clothing characteristics. Where are the national Republican leaders, who argue vehemently against government intrusion on individual rights, when we need them?  Or do individual rights only apply for Americans of European descent?

This statewide bill—which undermines federal jurisdiction of immigration regulation, commonly enforced by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—inevitably leads to racial profiling.  We’ve witnessed racial profiling against Arab Americans after 9/11 and now we see it in Arizona against Latinos.  It seems like racial profiling only occurs against racial minorities.  If not, we would have seen it against whites after Timothy McVeigh, a young white male, blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City.  Whites, after all, also represent a racial group.

Essentially, this bill represents a violation of civic rights against American-born Latinos and permanent residents.  Speaking of permanent residents, under this bill, any individual who fails to carry his or her legal document, proving their status in this country, will be subject to harsh consequences, such as financial fines and imprisonment.  This type of policy goes back to the dark days of Germany in the early 20th Century.

This anti-immigrant hysteria goes beyond Arizona’s borders.  Conservative politicians, talk-show hosts and average Americans frequently scapegoat undocumented immigrants for this country’s financial and social ills.  For instance, many Americans commonly argue that undocumented immigrants represent a threat to the American way of life by taking jobs away from citizens, depreciating wages, depleting social services and causing financial havoc.  While these simplistic arguments make for good sound bites on mainstream television, radio and print media outlets, whereby fueling anti-immigrant sentiments and laws throughout the country, they are rarely substantiated with hard facts.

It’s dumbfounding to hear these self-righteous arguments especially when Americans, both employers and consumers alike, benefit from undocumented immigrants and their willingness to perform jobs that most Americans reject due to meager wages, low social status and hazardous work conditions.  For example, one doesn’t see long lines of unemployed Americans applying for jobs as farm workers, performing back-breaking tasks such as picking grapes, lettuce or tomatoes.  Nor do we see hordes of unemployed Americans in front of The Home Depot and other stores, chasing down eager employers / homeowners in search of temporary cheap labor.

In addition, the notion that undocumented workers lower wages represents another falsehood.  Immigrants don’t control wages; employers do.  No rational worker argues for lower wages and no benefits.  Lower wages in the market place result from employer greed and the bottom line.  For instance, by lowering operating costs, such as wages, employers may increase their profit margins.

Moreover, by paying undocumented immigrants lower wages, employers can afford to sell their products and services at lower costs to the public, whereby American consumers ultimately benefit by saving money.  Thus, instead of appreciating immigrants when purchasing a garden salad, going to the dry cleaners, getting their homes remodeled and lawns mowed, hiring a nanny or domestic cleaner at reasonable prices, many Americans blame these honest, hard working individuals for everything that goes wrong in America.

This hypocrisy must come to an end!  Americans who blame undocumented workers—the same workers who make their lives more comfortable and affordable—need to appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that immigrants go through on a daily basis in this country.  This goes for all of those in Arizona who support this draconian bill and federal authorities, under the Obama Administration, who conduct daily raids against human beings who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity instead of like pariahs.

ALVARO HUERTA is a doctoral student at UC Berkeley. He can be reached at: ahuerta@berkeley.edu

 

WORDS THAT STICK

Dr. Alvaro Huerta is an assistant professor of urban and regional planning and ethnic and women’s studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is the author of “Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm,” published by San Diego State University Press (2013).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Dave Archambault II
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline Decision
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail