Meanwhile In Nazizona: Show Me Your Papers

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What an unbelievably ignorant and oppressive and probably illegal “immigration” law Arizona has just passed.  In its efforts to oppress the Mexican American and immigrant population within its borders, and anyone who might appear to be in that group (some Native Americans?) Arizona has enacted a law that facilitates prejudicial law enforcement and a blatant police state.  Put simply, this law is an outrage passed by and for the radical right, and it’s designed to make life for brown people and those who aren’t very white even more difficult.

The basic provisions of the law:

The law, which opponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in the country in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime. It would also give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have decried it as an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.

According to The New York Times

The Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles called the authorities’ ability to demand documents Nazism. While police demands of documents are common on subways, highways and in public places in some countries, including France, Arizona is the first state to demand that immigrants meet federal requirements to carry identity documents legitimizing their presence on American soil.

And President Obama isn’t exactly thrilled either:

Even before …the bill [was signed], President Obama strongly criticized it.

Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24 active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called for a federal overhaul of immigration laws – an overhaul that Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to take up soon.

Saying the failure of officials in Washington to act on immigration would open the door to “irresponsibility by others,” he said the Arizona bill threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

And the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF} notes:

“Governor Brewer caved to the radical fringe,” said a statement by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, predicting that the law would create “a spiral of pervasive fear, community distrust, increased crime and costly litigation, with nationwide repercussions.”

When is the last time you saw a new state law greeted with such an outcry?  Probably never.  This law is that bad and deserves all of this and more.

Join me below.  

As frightening as the law is, and as likely to be abused by police, Governor Brewer’s facile explanations are even more chilling.  She’s obviously trying to rile up the base rightwing nutjobs, including the Minutemen.  Or she’s completely clueless.  I think it’s the former.

Governor Brewer acknowledged critics’ concerns but sided with arguments from the law’s sponsors that it provides an indispensable tool for the police in a border state that is a leading magnet of illegal immigration.

She said that racial profiling would not be tolerated, adding, “We have to trust our law enforcement.”

I’ll continue when you stop laughing.  Let’s say that brown skinned man wearing a t-shirt waiting for a cross town bus in Tucson. He is reading a Spanish language newspaper while he waits.  It’s early in the morning.  He might be trying to get to work.  Police see him.  They go over to him, and armed with the law, they say in English, “Are you legally in the U.S.”  “Yes,” he responds in English, “Funny you should ask. My family has been living in Arizona for the past 350 years.  Right here near Tucson.  I was born here.  I’m a citizen.”  The police, who of course have not racially profiled him because of his skin or the paper he is reading or the fact that he’s not wearing a blue uniform, decide that this story is at best improbable.  It, they think, simply cannot be true. 350 years?  In America?  None of their families has been in America that long.  The story must be false.  “Do you have any identification with you?”  “No, I left it at home, in my other pants.  All I have right now is my bus fare.”  So they arrest the man.  For not having his immigration papers with him.  The new law says that’s appropriate.  They also charge him with the new, Arizona, state law crime of not having his federal immigration papers with him.  After all, as the Governor says, we have to trust our police.  Really.  We have to.  After all, the Arizona police, including but not limited to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, have no issues as far as immigrants are concerned and have repeatedly demonstrated their fair mindedness.

What a disgrace this is.  This law is completely unacceptable.  It’s no surprise that convention organizers are already talking about boycotting Arizona.  

It remains to be seen what pressure can be found to overturn this awful legislation.  That’s where you come in.  Ideas are needed.


simulposted at The Dream Antilles


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  1. leave all of their papers at home.  No driver’s license. No passport.  No immigration papers.  Nothing.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. I thought we had left this kind of stuff somewhere in the past, or at least in foreign countries.

    I’ve watched and read about this all afternoon. The mind boggles and now the redneck, wingnut sheriffs have freedom to arrest for not being white.

    Goddess help us all.

    • Robyn on April 24, 2010 at 00:45

    …twice in my hippie days:  in Florida and in Louisiana.  Arizona is joining in with some real losers.

  3. and creeps.

    Years ago I was with my ex and we were pulled over, okay long time ago. They took one look at him and said, very snide, “How long’ve YOU been out?” Nasty. Gave him a lot of attitude and also, to me, they were all, oh dearie, you poor thing, gee, how well do you know this guy? I was like, uh, he’s my husband, you dweebs. And he was Italian heritage. It was a real eye opener for me. Very weird. If they’d had the slightest excuse, Im certain they’d’ve hauled him in.

    This AZ law is real police state horseshit.

  4. This is all too reminiscent of a history that we know too well.  Jews underwent just such treatment for supposedly “looking” like(?) a Jew in Nazi Germany.  How does this Arizonan law differ?  Or, maybe, it’s just the private prisons looking for new “heads.”  

    Governor Brewer cannot hear herself, apparently

    racial profiling would not be tolerated.

     Perhaps, she’s on drugs and afraid she might be arrested!  

    As you know (and I do think this plays a part), since Obama (and probably before) got in, the Republicans have been at work behind the scenes — going after governorships, where they figure they can.  I make mention of this, because if this sick law is not quickly rescinded, then I suspect many of the Southern States would be the next to adopt such tactics.

    Republicans have long, long had a sense and self-deemed notion of being the “elite,” the “entitled,” the “real” Americans — WASPS.  But the Bush Adm. succeeded in attempting to imbue that same sense in the “bible belt” and elsewhere.  Thus, we have seen increased racism, religious intolerance in some areas, an attempt to put “religion” back into the State, an attack on hard-working immigrants — who, more often than not, have had false promises made to them by unscrupulous employers and, then become subject to further abuse as a result.

    Now, with the advent of a “black” President, the foundation for “hatred” that was lain down before his Presidency, has now gained great momentum — as what we have seen continuously onward is increasing, rampant hatred in this country, permeating just about every fibre of our existence.

    Just think, for a moment, about the existent hatred that has been spewed, via media, via “Teabaggers,” via the rampant hate-mongering just about everywhere you can think of, including our “hate-mongering” of citizens in other countries. “Killing, maiming, torturing is O.K.”  Because they just might become terrorists.

    NO, the fact is that the goals — set out before the Bush Adm., and the “gas pedal” hit to the floor by Bush, Cheney, et al., were simply the foundations of which are being “lived” and “realized” today.*

    Frightening “patterns” before our eyes!

    *Make no mistake, the complicit or “weak-knee” Democrats have their fair share of the blame for not “fighting” these efforts.  

  5. Let’s see how America responds. My fingers are crossed.

  6. legitimizing your existence to the cops.  If you don’t have them, the cops make up some kind of stuff about what you’ve been doing.  

    The Arizona law merely displays the police state which has already arrived.

  7. unfathomly vast universe and then have the nerve to call our fellow humans alien or illegal? It is hard for a sapient being to grasp.

    Planet Earth is where protoplasm has been slowly stewing  for the last four billion years; and as far as I know, there isn’t any special organism that has an exclusive claim to where sunlight hits the earth. And I don’t know any people who are trees (other than myself).

    I wonder if the lizards and other critters who go back and forth over the border can prove who they are? Anybody checking for birds or pollen? I certainly recognize the border violence caused by drug organizations and the need to eradicate it. But using it as a tool of fear in order to justify a discriminatory law that subjects anyone to a police search is wrong.

    The notion that it requires the police to merely suspect somebody of not “being” legal is too Kafkaesque for me. It is likely constitutionally too broad and, from what I’ve heard from its supporters, may violate the 1st and 4th Amendments e.g. if your suspicions are based upon clothing and/or behaviour, it may be a violation of the 1st Amendment. And if a person is detained for being suspected of a crime, it certainly violates the 4th Amendment.

    It also probably violates the 14th Amendment: I don’t see how two people similarly situated (say waiters in a restaurant doing the same work)can be treated differently based on clothing, language, acquaintances etc. (meanwhile cleverly pretending that race is irrelevant).

    Will the constitutional law professor president stand up?

    He’s allowed to talk, there’s no criminal trial. The statute is fair game. So what does the executive really have to say? He loves these teachable moments, doesn’t he?

  8. of a real “progressive” movement.  

    What do I mean?  Well, you know, the Teabaggers have their thing, the hate symbols, signs, language, you name it.

    I think it’s time to start wearing “black armbands” on a regular basis.  No words, no signs, just “black armbands” — to be worn daily (we can get a movement going in this way).  Easy to do.  Buy a small piece of black felt, measure the girth of your upper arm muscle, cut a piece of felt about 3″ by your arm measurement girth and add an inch or so.  Add Velco, and voila, you have a black armband.  Wear it daily — wear it proudly! When people ask you why you are wearing this black armband, you respond, “I’m mourning the death of America.”

    I really think something like this would really work — no rhetoric, no hatred, just a silent expression, with a terrific response, if asked why the black armband!  Yes?

  9. such a passionate discussion. However, as a lawyer, I would do everthing possible to attack and destroy the Arizona statute. In referencing the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments, I was brainstorming. I haven’t even read the law, but I think I have the rotten core of its principles understood: It allows the police to use a different standard, less than probable cause, to detain and possibly restrain. And I would also argue that being in the U.S. without legal papers is not even a crime.  

    Anyhow, the best argument is probably that the law is too broad and would cast a large discriminatory net over innocent people, thus inviting violations of equal protection.

    To tell you the truth, I don’t much like law anymore. I prefer art and poetry. In fact, I don’t even know why I became a lawyer in the first place. I was most active in law during the late 80’s trying to legalize immigrants in our county under IRCA. But I spent most of my career as a bilingual teacher, ending the last 8 years teaching high school English and History.

    I have the same spirit I did in the 60’s, but my old, sore body is definitely not the same.    

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