Arizona immigration law: A civil rights catastrophe


The signing last week by Arizona's Republican Governor, Jan Brewer of SB 1070 should be a signal for action by everybody who cares about human and workers' rights.

The Arizona law criminalizes not only undocumented immigrants but anybody who helps them or who fails to carry paperwork proving legal status at all times. Further, it will encourage frivolous lawsuits against state and local government agencies and officials who somebody claims are not cracking down on undocumented immigrants. Clearly, this law will be enforced only against people who appear to be Latino or foreign, leading to a great increase in racial and ethnic profiling.

The Arizona law is only the latest in a series of state and local measures aimed at persecuting immigrants by subjecting them to harassment and repression and denying them basic human services. Some of these laws have been withdrawn when it was found how much their enforcement would cost the taxpayers, or have been found to be unconstitutional. But political demagogues are undaunted, as is their motive is to get votes and campaign contributions instead of solve problems.

With straight faces, Governor Brewer and other Arizona politicians have assured us that they will not let this new law lead to profiling. The fact is that such profiling is already an everyday reality in minority communities in Arizona and across the country. This law will encourage such profiling by giving it full legal sanction. There are now efforts in several states to pass similar laws.

Demonstrations were quickly organized all over the country, and the Arizona law will surely give an additional spur to immigrants' rights marches being organized for May 1. President Obama denounced the law, as did the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. There is talk in both the United States and Mexico about trade sanctions against Arizona. There will be legal challenges. All of these things are promising.

However, until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform legislation which allows for the legalization of the estimated 10.7 million undocumented immigrants in the country and a rational plan for managing the inevitable future labor migration (with full legal protections for both immigrant and US born workers), the issue of undocumented immigration will continue to be used in this unconscionable way. Studies show that the legalization of the undocumented would be an economic boon to the nation, adding up to $1.5 trillion to the GDP over 10 years.

The time has come to act.

Photo: / CC BY 2.0




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  • I was looking for information about Governor Brewer and was a bit surprised to read this article about Arizona immigration law. It's totally wrong to deny people their basic rights, and I learned from the article about the possibility of a great increase in racial and ethnic profiling - which is definitely disturbing. like the picture above says: "Humanitarian Aid Is Never A Crime" it pretty much sums it all up.

    Posted by griddle, 02/19/2011 1:03pm (5 years ago)

  • I agree that the aim of this law is flawed. Targeting immigrants is sloppy and doomed to failure, not to mention making them even more prone to labor violations.
    Target the employers hiring them. Just run the SSN through the database. If the employer doesn't comply, fine him.
    What a nation; the "solution" is always violence and superficial.

    P.S. Bring back a newspaper forum. Even if it's electronic, I like the idea of a full issue, instead of this New Left blog.

    Posted by lenin, 05/01/2010 12:57am (6 years ago)

  • It is easy for those of you who live elsewhere to condemn Arizona for its actions, but as an Arizonan, I can tell you we are fed up with the current situation. Being in the US without permission is illegal. You may call it what you want, but the fact is that it's against the law. No other country would allow people to walk across their borders without proper documentation. Period. Here on the border, we deal with illegals breaking into our homes on a regular basis. Probably 50% of the homes in our area (and that's a conservative number) have been broken into in recent years, some over and over again by Mexicans either coming here or going home. I doubt any of you would accept that statistic in your neighborhood. I am a Democrat and generally a liberal, but the US government has failed to protect and secure our borders. It's time it did, and if it won't, I guess the individual states will have to step in. Amnesty isn't the answer. A decent work program is. Every time we offer amnesty, we simply exacerbate the problem for the next ten years. If you don't like what Arizona's been forced to do, come walk in our shoes. Oh're boycotting us. Too bad.

    Posted by Joy Mendez, 04/29/2010 8:50pm (6 years ago)

  • As a long time civil rights, anti-war and labor activist I think it is time to turn on the street heat. I think that we need to mobilize people to demonstrate at the Arizona capitol building, we folks (who are willing) to block streets and create such an upheaval that the good governor will have to rethink her position.

    It is clear that the far right has no use for us. It is even clearer that they only respond when their pocketbooks are affected. Boycott Arizona and let's shut the state down any way we can!

    If we don't come together on this issue now, we will all be regretting it later when the neo-fascists have us all locked up for "looking the wrong way!"

    Posted by Pancho Valdez, 04/27/2010 5:54pm (6 years ago)

  • @Tommytoons

    This is real smart. Boycott AMERICAN run businesses for something that our governor passed without support. We're just coming out of a recession, and you want to boycott furthering our turmoil?

    All Arizona business are required to follow I-9 immigration laws and don't hire undocumented workers. Our (Arizona's) economy is just starting to rebound.

    Way to help out your fellow AMERICANS.

    I don't necessarily agree with the legislation, but BOYCOTTING ARIZONA BUSINESS IS NOT THE ANSWER.

    Posted by Jon, 04/27/2010 12:44pm (6 years ago)

  • According to this Arizona Governor's law, anyone who is not Anglo automatically becomes a suspicious character... and government offices that do not persecute non-Anglo populations will face legal action. Unbelievable.

    One of the biggest causes of many of these issues is the inability of the corporate or capitalistic system to truly provide sufficient decent long-term jobs to all those who need them. This happens mainly because, as it is now, the system is primarily organized and tailored in such a way that it mostly benefits a mere 1 to 10% of the population. In other words, 40-50% of resources end up in the hands of 1-10% of the population. Immigration and out-migration are closely related to this very issue.

    This exclusivity of the corporate system is perhaps one of the biggest problems we all face.

    Along with it, there are many other little antiquated laws still roaming around which, at this point, do nothing but create additional problems. For example, the legalization of marijuana. And so on, and so on...

    but... change can and needs to happen. We just have to keep spreading sanity everywhere we go.

    Posted by Calo, 04/27/2010 4:13am (6 years ago)

  • what are you going to do for those on the wait list for 20-25 years???

    what about the FIRST NATIONS??


    Posted by j. h, 04/26/2010 9:18pm (6 years ago)

  • When will we start letting states run their own business as the Constitution origanlly intended.

    Posted by R. Little, 04/26/2010 6:19pm (6 years ago)

  • Its time to co-sponsor boycotts against the State of Arizona, cancel visiting the State, cancel conventions, stop using or visiting any company that has their headquarters in Arizona, such as PF Chang's or going to any baseball game that has as your opposing team the Arizona Diamondback's.

    Perhaps, we need to bring back the Underground Railroad to protect and defend those whose documentation would run counter to the "law" in Arizona. Protest directly to the Governor's Office in Arizona.

    Posted by Tommytoons, 04/26/2010 5:51pm (6 years ago)

  • While I do agree that the signing of this may lead to racial profiling etc... I do have to say that something must be done in the border states. Arizona's economy as well as the quality of life there has gone down over the last few decades as the state is being flooded with illegal immigrants. Drug trafficking has exploded, violence has exploded, and people that have lived there for several decades are leaving the state because of the negative change.

    There needs to be a complete and just overhaul of the immigration laws. There has to be social programs put into place for these people to integrate them into the US. Otherwise you get what is happening right now... an increase in drugs and violence.

    Posted by Travis, 04/26/2010 5:02pm (6 years ago)

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