Monday, May 03, 2010

The Consequences of Arizona

My mother has an accent.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, my mother learned English in school, but the accent stayed with her, even when she moved off the island to Michigan in 1963.

It remains with her to this day. What's so funny about it is that as her son, I never realized my mother ever had an accent until I was well into my 20s. Other people would remark about her accent, but I never noticed it- it was normal to me.

I grew up in a household where English and Spanish was spoken. Several of my mother's relatives moved to Michigan after she did, including 2 uncles and mi abuela, my grandmother. I learned Spanish by hearing my relatives speak to one another.

I'm very proud of my Puerto Rican heritage in addition to my African American heritage. I also consider myself lucky to have been raised in a bilingual household, where I heard two languages being freely spoken.

When I think about the current mess concerning the new immigration law in Arizona, I have to wonder how comfortable my Spanish-speaking relatives would feel down there. Something tells me they would not feel welcome.

In the aftermath of this law, many conservatives have defended it saying that something had to be done. While I agree that something does need to be done to deal with immigration and border security, the law in Arizona was the wrong way to do it. The law is discriminatory towards Latinos and regardless of whether that was intentional or not, it will have the affect of driving Latinos away from the Republican Party.

Why you say? Well, because the law as is written, could allow the police to stop anyone who might look like an illegal immigrant. Since most illegal immigrants in Arizona tend to be Mexican and speak Spanish, I have the feeling that there will be a lot of stops made because someone was "DWH" or "Driving While Hispanic."

Some say the answer to this law is that legal residents should just carry their papers. So, someone who might be born here and raised here, has to keep proof of citizenship on their person at all times because their name happens to be something like "Sanchez" while the guy named "Johnson" can just move along with no id at all? How in the world is that fair?

What has bothered me is how many Republicans have not bothered to even think how this would affect Hispanic Americans and their views of the GOP. It doesn't matter if the intent was to curb illegal immigration, it looks like conservatives have it out for any who has a "funny" last name or talks with an accent.

The passage of this bill has damaged the perception of the GOP in the minds of millions of Hispanic Americans. This law has basically told the fastest growing minority in America that they are not to be trusted. They will respond by not voting Republican.

As someone who is part Hispanic, this law offends me. I am ashamed today to call myself a conservative.


Mike at The Big Stick said...

"...the law as is written, could allow the police to stop anyone who might look like an illegal immigrant."

Dennis - this is not accurate. The law specifically states that the police can only check the status on someone detained for another reason. Yes, that means traffic stops but it also means someone caught shoplifting or involved in a domestic violence situation or picked up at a bar on a drunk and disorderly. Basically, these people are already in situations where the police are going to demand some ID.

J. Thomas Hunter said...

Mike at The Big Stick, Dennis is correct (as long as you don't consider H.B.2162 which passed days after the embattled S.B.1070.)

If you read 1070--something few conservatives did before supporting it--you'd see Section B under Article 8. It says that law enforcement may inquire about someone's immigration status during "any lawful contact." In other words, if it is lawful for a policeman to walk into a supermarket, then he may ask immigration status of people who "look" like immigrants.

Luckily, H.B.2162 closed that loophole, but before then, the Arizona immigration bill was a disaster.

Dennis, I too grew up in a home where my mother spoke spanish, so I speak some spanish now. I was embarrassed to see how conservatives attached themselves to the immigration bill, especially when one considers the sordid history of the bill's author--Russell Pearce. It's no wonder Republicans struggle to attract minority voters.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

So in essence the complaint is about a problem that no longer exists?

J. Thomas Hunter said...

Mike, that is true now. People who are protesting this law can only do so if they ignore H.B.2162. But that's not how this started.

A lot of the protesters were upset--rightfully so--about S.B.1070. I was too.

My problem is that conservatives supported this bill even when it was severely flawed. People like George Will, Jonah Goldberg, and Michelle Malkin--all people I like very much--refused to acknowledge that there were any flaws with the bill when all they needed to do was read it. It is only 17 pages. It's easy to read. But conservatives took and defended a default position as if our responsibility is to oppose liberals instead of oppose bad ideas.

H.B. 2162 proves S.B.1070's detractors right. Will, Malkin, Goldberg and others were wrong, and the Republican governor of Arizona--Jan Brewer--made that clear when she signed the House Bill.

In other words, Dennis was right about his criticism of "the law" referring to S.B.1070, and because of the problems with it and the positions we took as conservatives--siding with Russell Pearce--we have to answer for that.

We can't be too hard on the detractors. The state's Republicans have lost some of the people's faith.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Dennis never specifically referred to the Bill # and given the date of the posting, I'm going to assume he was talking about the second incarnation. Yeah, some conservatives supported the bill even when it was flawed, but a whole lot of conservatives didn't. Now it has been conservatives. Sounds like we should be happy, not still complaining.

J. Thomas Hunter said...

If your only goal is to excoriate Dennis--someone I do not know as it were--then you can assume that he was referring to the amendments to the original bill that caused the initial uproar. I, on the other hand, think that there was good cause to be upset with the first portion of the bill, especially considering that nobody expected amendments to it because so many conservatives supported it.

I would like to ask you which conservatives besides Jeb Bush, Karl Rove, Marco Rubio and Meg Whitman disagreed with this bill. I only ask because you say that "a whole lot of conservatives" opposed it. I did not get that impression at all. If you watched FOX News, read National Review, the Heritage Foundation, and American Enterprise Institute during the initial debate you would be hard pressed to find conservative discontents. Am I wrong? (By the way, I'm very comfortable being wrong. :-) I'm more interested in learning than I am in "proving myself right.")

My next question to you is, now that the amendment to the bill has made Arizona's immigration laws identical to the nation's at large, what was the point of passing it in the first place? Was it worth the bad press for Republicans? Was it worth giving Latinos pause about voting Republican? Was it worth publicly asking mainstream Republicans to align themselves with caustic politicians like Russell Pearce?

It seems to me that there is little reason to be celebrating and more reason to just try and brush this embarrassing debate under the rug.


Mike at The Big Stick said...

I heard Joe Scarborough critizing it. Marco Rubio. Jeb Bush. Fred Barnes. Charles Krauthammer. Megan McArdle. David Brooks.

I don't think it was bad press at all. To the contrary, I think the quick reaction and change of the law into something now that has a LOT more support even from some libertarians was a win for the Right.

G. Orlando Perez said...

You gents will excuse me for interjecting my opinion, but reading Dennis' original post, and then both of yours' I thought I might add a little.

Firstly, it seems to me that HB2162 is only reiterating what case law already states, so I don't see it's purpose other than to satisfy the naysers. I'm a political neophyte, so maybe I missed something.

Secondly, as a Latino, I do not share Dennis' concern about being profiled. I live here in AZ and I love it. Perhaps it is because I do not live in a predominately Latino community, I don't speak with an accent, I don't wear Dickey's, etc., but I just don't see the cause for concern. I don't think my mother (who does have an accent [but doesn't wear Dickey's either]) would have to worry about harassment.

Finally, in response to Mr./Ms. Hunter's comment on the point of passing the law, I would say that it did, and does, what it needed to do; specifically, bring immigration enforcement (and hopefully reform) to the forefront, and allow our front line police to pick up the responsibilities that the Feds are shirking. It may not be politically correct, but out here anyway, it is necessary.

I just hope the radical right doesn't turn this into a three ring circus worthy of the idiotic claims of the radical left ...