Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Arizona: Becoming a Police State?

The Arizona House and Senate have passed a bill, S.B. 1070, which would require police officers to check the papers of anyone who looks like they could be undocumented. Governor Jan Brewer is expected to sign this bill into law sometime this week, turning Arizona into the closest thing that this country's seen to a police state in many years.

Picture it: Parents terrified to drop their children off at school in case an officer sees their skin tone and decides they could be "illegal." Victims of domestic violence refusing to call the police for risk of being wrongly arrested and deported. Residents, acting out of fear or malicious intent, turning each other in to the police. Anyone with an accent or who "appears" to be foreign-born staying in their homes rather than risking a trip to the grocery store.

This isn't who we are. This isn't what we stand for.

But if we don't stand up now, this could become our reality.

Critics - including members of Congress, police, faith leaders, civil rights groups, immigrant advocacy groups, and more - have been fiercely vocal in urging Governor Brewer to veto the bill. ACLU and others are preparing a lawsuit. Petitions have been circulating and gathering more signatures every hour, vigils have continued around the clock, and countless messages have been sent opposing this horrific bill.

LA Cardinal Mahoney said in the Huffington Post:
"I can't imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation," the cardinal said. "Are children supposed to call 911 because one parent does not have proper papers? Are family members and neighbors now supposed to spy on one another, create total distrust across neighborhoods and communities, and report people because of suspicions based upon appearance?"
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL) also weighed in:
"It is open season on the Latino community in Arizona... 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... I'm afraid we have turned a very dangerous corner in the war on immigrants. And we have heard nothing from the President."
Nine young adults in Arizona have stepped up their advocacy to include acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, by chaining themselves to the Capitol in protest of S.B. 1070.

The situation in Arizona should be a wake-up call for the Obama administration and for the members of Congress who have promised to deliver immigration reform, but have been badly sidetracked by partisan political calculations. President Obama and Congress need to act swiftly to fix the broken immigration system, or else Arizona may only be the start. We don't want to go down that road.


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