Friday, April 23, 2010

Oh. My. God.

Are you aware of the new immigration bill that has been passed in Arizona and it now waiting for the governor's signature?

Jim Wallis tells us about it in an article entitled "Arizona’s Immigration Bill is a Social and Racial Sin".

This literally made me sick to my stomach. I'm still queasy from it. Here's how the article gets started:

I got up at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning to fly to Phoenix, Arizona, to speak at a press conference and rally at the State Capitol at the invitation of the state’s clergy and other leaders in the immigration reform movement. The harshest enforcement bill in the country against undocumented immigrants just passed the Arizona state House and Senate, and is only awaiting the signature of Governor Janet Brewer to become law.

Senate Bill 1070 would require law enforcement officials in the state of Arizona to investigate someone’s immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person might be undocumented. I wonder who that would be, and if anybody who doesn’t have brown skin will be investigated. Those without identification papers, even if they are legal, are subject to arrest; so don’t forget your wallet on your way to work if you are Hispanic in Arizona. You can also be arrested if you are stopped and are simply with people who are undocumented — even if they are your family. Parents or children of “mixed-status families” (made up of legal and undocumented, as many immigrant families are out here) could be arrested if they are found together. You can be arrested if you are “transporting or harboring” undocumented people. Some might consider driving immigrant families to and from church to be Christian ministry — but it will now be illegal in Arizona.

For the first time, all law enforcement officers in the state will be enlisted to hunt down undocumented people, which will clearly distract them from going after truly violent criminals, and will focus them on mostly harmless families whose work supports the economy and who contribute to their communities. And do you think undocumented parents will now go to the police if their daughter is raped or their family becomes a victim of violent crime? Maybe that’s why the state association of police chiefs is against SB 1070.

This proposed law is not only mean-spirited — it will be ineffective and will only serve to further divide communities in Arizona, making everyone more fearful and less safe. This radical new measure, which crosses many moral and legal lines, is a clear demonstration of the fundamental mistake of separating enforcement from comprehensive immigration reform. We all want to live in a nation of laws, and the immigration system in the U.S. is so broken that it is serving no one well. But enforcement without reform of the system is merely cruel. Enforcement without compassion is immoral. Enforcement that breaks up families is unacceptable. And enforcement of this law would force us to violate our Christian conscience, which we simply will not do. It makes it illegal to love your neighbor in Arizona.

I had the great privilege of hearing Jim Wallis speak at the Cathedral in Oklahoma City about ten year or so ago. Afterwards he and I had a conversation that I found enormously helpful and encouraging. He is a thoughtful, reflective man with a keen sense of responsibility and never sees matters in reductionistic or overly simplistic terms.


  1. I am, unfortunately aware of that piece of shit hatred spewed out from the right wing Arizona legislature.

    Totally disgustipated, I am.

    Wouldn't it be nice if the Native American tribes had the authority to do that to the white folks of Arizona?

    Sigh, rant over. If you want to delete this comment then no worries. I'm not usually over the top like this on someone else's blog, but damn this shit really pisses me off.

  2. I would not dream of deleting your comment, Dave. I completely agree with you.

    I don't think you're "over the top". I actually think you're rather restrained.

  3. Anonymous9:09 AM

    This law is about illegal aliens entering our country illegally. It would be no different if Canadian's, Europians, etc, attempted to do the same thing.All they need do is enter legally and become citizens of this great USA.

  4. No one is suggesting that illegal activity be condoned, Anonymous, but this law is draconian to the point of turning Arizona into a police state. It's truly unAmerican to require people to carry papers to prove they are citizens. The racial profiling implicit in this law is very troubling. And you know what? Race isn't necessarily a good indicator. I have some friends from Mexico who are utterly European looking and you'd never guess they were hispanic by looking at them. I also know some brown people who "look" hispanic but are born and bred citizens of the United States.

    The other problem is that this bill makes it against the law even to associate with someone who is undocumented at all. So if you go to church and there are undocumented immigrants in the congregation, that makes everyone there a lawbreaker.

    It's a badly written, poorly conceived law and it goes against what this country has always stood for.

    I think it's really interesting that even the state association of police chiefs is against this law.

    I've said for years on this blog that the folks law enforcement needs to go after are the employers. If greedy business people are deterred from hiring illegal aliens (which they do, of course, in order to increase the bottom line and exploit cheap labor), the problem will clear up by itself.

  5. well said, Ellie

  6. Anonymous10:26 AM

    Arresting the employer is a good idea but would never work. The people of the USA would be outraged over the price increase for fruit and vegetables.

    The question is what do we do with illegals entering our States and then draining the States in health care,etc. The new health care bill does not address this issue.

  7. Anonymous3:44 PM

    To alaskan Dave,

    I too am "totally disgustiated". I really like your new should become "dictionariated".

    annie in no. cal.

  8. "dictionariated"

    That's funny, Annie! :-)

    (And, I agree!)

  9. Well, Anonymous, the new health bill is actually deeply flawed on a number of counts. I am opposed to it, personally - mainly because it's such a giveaway to the insurance companies from our tax dollars and I'm very much against that.

    I don't have them at hand right now but I've seen some statistics that indicate that undocumented immigrants as a whole pay more in taxes than they ever get in benefits - including health care. They pay sales tax, property tax and often withholding income tax (unless they're paid "under the table" and that truly is the employer's fault - not theirs). Many are due refunds on their income tax but don't ask for it because they're afraid of calling attention to themselves.

    But I'll have to look that up for you another time.

    It's just more complicated than it seems on the surface is all I'm saying.

  10. Here's a good summary about misconceptions out there regarding undocumented immigrants:

    Myths and Reality

    Please particularly note #6.

  11. Here's something else I just found:

    Falsehood #5: Illegal immigrants consume large quantities of health care resources.

    Fact: Illegal immigrants are already ineligible for Medicaid and Medicare and will remain so under current proposals. In fact, even legal immigrants—in one of our most astonishingly regressive federal health care policies—are ineligible for Medicaid for a five-year period. Immigrants across the board use fewer health care resources—from fewer office visits to fewer emergency room visits—than U.S. citizens. The argument that illegal immigrants are the cause of our health care woes is simply untenable.

    You can find the above excerpt right here.

    I would add that the real drain on our health care system is huge corporations like Wal*Mart that keep prices unaturally low by refusing to pay a living wage and by making it virtually impossible for their workers to buy health insurance. Wal*Mart even gives direct advice to its workers on how to apply for food stamps and Medicaid. That's why I will not darken the door of that place. They are essentially subsidized by the American taxpayer.

  12. Anonymous2:33 PM

    Thanks Ellie, for the clarity with which you have responded to the questions and impressions so many people continue to have regarding this issue...very helpful indeed!

    annie c

  13. Anonymous9:01 AM

    There is, has been and always will be, some form of “profiling” be it racial or any other type.
    If you are driving around in a high end neighborhood in your ’72 Olds with rust more abundant than paint…….you’re gonna be suspect.
    If you are white and in a Caddy driving through Harlem slowing down at every street corner…’re gonna be suspect.
    If you’re wearing jeans and a T-shirt at the Trumps wedding reception….take a guess.
    And if you are Latino, living in the Southwest and standing around the corner next to Home Depot first thing in the morning……you got it, you’re gonna be suspect.

    For something.

    If you get stopped for anything, even walking along the street, and don’t have I.D. of some sort, you’re in for a problem.

    So…..what’s the problem?!?!?!

    If you are a U.S. Citizen, or you have the proper documentation, then there is no problem.
    The folks that have a problem are the ones that have friends or relatives in country that shouldn’t be.


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