Friday, April 30, 2010

By the Time I Get to Arizona

Would police in Arizona pull over my mother?

My mom was born in raised in Puerto Rico. She came to the mainland in 1963 and settled in Michigan, where she met my dad. All of my uncles on my Mom's side tend to be dark-skinned, reflective of the African heritage that is part of what makes up modern Puerto Rico. But my Mom and my late Grandmother are lighter skinned, blessed with a rust colored skin that is common among many Puerto Ricans.

But would a cop in Arizona know that? Would they realize that she is and has always been an American citizen? Would they even know Puerto Rico is part of the United States? Or would they look at her skin and her accent and assume that she might be an illegal immigrant?

As you've probably guessed, I am not in favor of the current law in Arizona signed by their Republican governor. I think it could lead to racial profiling of Hispanics; putting them up for suspicion simply because of the color of their skin. Meghan McCain couldn't have said it any better:
Let me say upfront that I do not support the bill that was signed by Governor Jan Brewer. I believe it gives the state police a license to discriminate, and also, in many ways, violates the civil rights of Arizona residents. Simply put, I think it is a bad law that is missing the bigger picture of what is really going on with illegal immigration. The concept that a law-enforcement official can stop an individual when “reasonable suspicion exists that a person is an alien, who is unlawfully present in the United States” is essentially a license to pull someone over for being Hispanic.

I'm not someone who favors "open borders" believing anyone should just come into the United States. As Travis noted, we want to make sure that no bad guys are coming in along with all the good people. I also believe we are a nations of laws, and those who enter the country illegally have broken the law and have to pay for that.

But this law is the wrong way to try to solve this issue. I can't say that if it is intentional, but I believe the law is at least in application, racist. It is based on fear instead of reason.

We need an immigration policy that is based on security and enforcement. That said, we also need to do something about the 12 million who are in the country illegally. It is not feasible, nor is even ethical to try to round up all of these folks and send them back where they came from. So, that means trying to find ways to get them to come out of the shadows and create a process that allows them to become Americans.

I can already hear the cries of "amnesty!" coming from some conservatives. Nevermind that some of the more recent attempts to reform our immigration laws included having these immigrants pay a fine for coming into the country illegally. Anything short of putting these people on a bus headed South will be called "amnesty" by these folks and says speaks volumes about their hearts.

This law also will ruin chances of the GOP reaching out to Latinos. President Bush was not my favorite president, but he at least tried hard to make the party more inclusive to Hispanics. He tried to reform immigration in way that would be more inclusive, but was rebuffed by the hard right. That might please whites in the GOP who seem afraid of brown-skinned persons, but in the long run, as America becomes more diverse, it will be Republican Party that will be on the losing end.

If there are any Republicans left who believe in fairness and justice, we must speak out against this law and call for real reform. This is a slap in the face to a party founded on equality and civil rights.

1 comment:

J. Thomas Hunter said...

"If there are any Republicans left who believe in fairness and justice, we must speak out against this law and call for real reform."