Author’s Note: Thanks to reader “GraRiv” for correcting me on Rep. Gutierrez’s home state and district.
This news seems to be passing under the radar — at least outside of the affected region — and it needs to get a lot more attention. A Congressman from Arizona — Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) writes in The Huffington Post that a draconian bill currently in the Arizona legislature and already passed by that state’s lower chamber, would give state and local police in Arizona enormous powers to deport anyone they think is an illegal immigrant, with no due process and very little if any oversight. Rep. Gutierrez writes that the Latino population in Arizona — legal or not, it doesn’t matter — are terrified and afraid to go outside anywhere for fear of being arrested:
It is open season on the Latino community in Arizona. In Phoenix, Tucson, and across the state, people in Latino neighborhoods are afraid to leave their houses, afraid to be apart from their children for even a minute, and afraid to walk the streets because they feel their arrest on suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant could happen at any moment. It is a horrifying glimpse at what our future holds across the country if we continue down the path the Obama administration is leading us on immigration.
President Obama, who promised immigration reform but has failed to make it a priority or use his office to make good on his campaign promises, is now able to see what lies ahead. The Obama administration has escalated mass deportation as our singular approach to immigrants and this has combined in Arizona with anti-immigrant hysteria that is festering to the point that state and local elected opportunists are taking matters into their own hands – with complete federal acquiescence.
We are now deporting people at a rate of 1,000 per day — with nearly half of the arrests in the state of Arizona — and now the state legislature is on the verge of escalating that pace dramatically. A law (SB 1070) that passed the state House this week and is probably headed to Governor’s desk for signature, authorizes state and local police to round up anyone “suspected” of being an undocumented immigrant. As if that weren’t bad enough, the law throws in a bounty of $500 in fines and a possible misdemeanor conviction on criminal trespassing if the particular lawman involved happens to guess correctly and the person they arrest cannot prove they are here legally.
As we know from experience in Arizona and elsewhere, giving police such a broad mandate to arrest and book people “suspected” of looking a certain way isn’t just an invitation to racial profiling, it’s like waving a green flag and saying “gentlemen start your engines.” It is an insult to American justice and one of the harshest assaults on basic civil rights in recent American history.
This is not about addressing or solving the problem of illegal immigration in the United States. It’s about addressing it in just about the most wrong way — “wrong” both in the sense of inhumane and in the sense of ineffective — that it could possibly be addressed. Opening the door wide to brutality and violation of human and civil rights on a massive scale is NOT going to solve this problem. It’s only going to make it worse. Centuries upon centuries of human historical experience, and we STILL don’t know this?
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