Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

The face of Arizona’s harsh immigration law isn’t just brown

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Would you suspect this person under the new law in Arizona, where police can ask people to prove they are American citizens?

If police had “reasonable suspicion” against this person, should they be able to ask this person to prove he is an American citizen?

This is not a hypothetical person; this person is real, lives and works in the Phoenix area. And this person was not born or raised in the United States. This person may or may not be a U.S. citizen, might just have a work visa or some other legal document. But there is every right to suspect that this person isn’t a U.S. citizen or might be here under illegal circumstances.

The reality is that even in a traffic stop or other such excursion, this man won’t be asked for his papers.

For non-sports fans, you might not recognize Steve Nash, star NBA player with the Phoenix Suns. Nash was born in South Africa and grew up in Canada. You might have seen him during the 2010 Winter Olympics as one of the final torchbearers, or on the TV ad promoting life in British Columbia.

If anything, the police are more likely to ask for Nash’s autograph than his citizenship papers.

The new law in Arizona isn’t designed to stop Canadians, or other athletes from various countries who play for the Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Suns, or Coyotes — or any of the minor leaguers, Arizona fall league players, or Cactus League participants.

What good is the new law if it won’t be applied equally under the law? If the people who want this law passed really feel this is needed, then they should be up in arms over the grave potential that this new law won’t be processed equally, and won’t be equally enforced.

Of course, they aren’t upset by the inactions of the new law they so passionately want for Arizona and other states. Because they know that the law will be used on people of certain backgrounds, legal or otherwise.

Yes, that’s right. The law will be used to upset the lives of legal U.S. citizens of certain backgrounds. And whatever you might think of the new law, this is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. You know, the Constitution of the United States that guarantees certain rights for its citizens.

Those who fought and successfully passed a law making it a state crime to be in the United States illegally are willing to sacrifice the rights of U.S. citizens to make sure there are only U.S. citizens here.

Those who know the least make the biggest decisions: what a sense of democracy.

Standing up for reform, not racism

Standing up for reform, not racism

The “good news” in all of this is that people who hadn’t given much thought to immigration issues are now upset. The protesters in front of Wrigley Field in Chicago before an afternoon contest between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs are proof that concern goes well beyond the borders of Arizona.

And this new law could affect the Senate race for John McCain’s seat in the Republican primary and the general election.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t immigration issues in Arizona and other states. And yes, immigration reform should be addressed. But the alleged impatience of Arizona’s Republican power base is a false reason to pass bad legislation.

Conservatives claim that liberals don’t respect the police over the way they fight crime. But conservatives passed a law that disrespects the police because the police don’t just fight crime. They protect people.

If you are attacked or robbed or otherwise need the police in this country, you want to feel like you can trust the police. In Arizona, thanks to this new law, you can’t trust the police anymore if you fall under certain backgrounds. Remember, liberals didn’t do this; conservatives did.

If people don’t feel comfortable reporting crimes to the police because they fear the police will focus more on their skin color than the crime involved, those of us who aren’t of those races will still suffer. How often do you hear in crime stories — “If only they had been caught earlier, my [relative] would still be [ok/alive].”

Laws that hamper the ability for the police to do their sworn duty should be discouraged, especially by conservatives. But those who are blind don’t know that they can’t see. If only they were color-blind too, then we wouldn’t have had this legislation.

Photo credits: Steve Nash courtesy of this site; protest pictures taken by me with all proper copyrights applying.


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  1. […] of the other MLB teams, but games in Arizona would be a lot less fun if it reflected SB 1070. And Arizona’s favorite professional athlete is Canadian via South Africa (and is […]


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