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

More articles by:

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).

November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
Rick Baum
While Public Education is Being Attacked: An American Federation of Teachers Petition Focuses on Maintaining a Minor Tax Break
Paul C. Bermanzohn
The As-If Society
Cole A. Turner
Go Away, Kevin Spacey
Ramzy Baroud
70 Years of Broken Promises: The Untold Story of the Partition Plan
Binoy Kampmark
A New Movement of Rights and the Right in Australia
George Ochenski
Democratic Party: Discouraged, Disgusted, Dysfunctional
Nino Pagliccia
The Governorship Elections in Venezuela: an Interview With Arnold August
Christopher Ketcham
Spanksgiving Day Poem
November 22, 2017
Jonathan Cook
Syria, ‘Experts’ and George Monbiot
William Kaufman
The Great American Sex Panic of 2017
Richard Moser
Young Patriots, Black Panthers and the Rainbow Coalition
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness
Lee Artz
Cuba Libre, 2017
Mark Weisbrot
Mass Starvation and an Unconstitutional War: US / Saudi Crimes in Yemen
Frank Stricker
Republican Tax Cuts: You’re Right, They’re Not About Economic Growth or Lifting Working-Class Incomes
Edward Hunt
Reconciling With Extremists in Afghanistan
Dave Lindorff
Remembering Media Critic Ed Herman
Nick Pemberton
What to do About Al Franken?
November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail