The Senate Bill 1070 was signed into Arizona State Legislation less than two weeks ago. The bill outlines the procedures of law enforcement in cases involving illegal immigrants. Using vague language, the bill allows in any lawful contact, a law enforcement officer to ask anyone they suspect of being in the country unlawfully for documentation.
Supporters claim the bill is crucial in a border state where illegal immigration is high and leads to increased crime. They state it will protect jobs for legal residents by making it illegal to hire an unlawful immigrant. Many even argue, since the federal government has not taken a stance on the issue of immigration, the states had to do so.
I sit here and wonder how such a bill that dehumanizes people was passed? At a recent presentation by professor Alan Gomez, an instrumental argument was made: “In Arizona, Mexicans do not have the right to exist; they do not have the right to be; yet they have the right to be criminalized by our legal system.” It is an unfair balance, and only a certain group of individuals have to pay the price.
Kyle Long, a professor at Arizona State University writes, “This follows a tried and true pattern in American history where first the Irish, then the Eastern Europeans and most recently the Mexicans have been accused of stealing jobs and threatening the dominant culture.” It seeks to remove any opportunity that an undocumented individual may have at financially providing for himself. This is in fact, structural racism at its best. It supports the idea that an illegal immigrant can be identified visually. It promotes racial profiling and alienation, all in the name of protecting jobs.
The bill was modified May 1 to steer away from the fact that it necessitates racial profiling. Now, a law enforcer can only scrutinize someone if they are stopped, detained or arrested. These slight cosmetic changes do absolutely nothing.
The budget crisis within the state of Arizona is being blamed on illegal immigrants, with no mind being paid to a market economy that is erupting upon itself as we speak. While self-indulgent corporations are bailed out, so-called illegal immigrants are being bailed in, into a system that wants to see their demise. As jobs continue to be outsourced by major companies, no one points a finger that way. No one creates a bill in which corporate companies must hire a set percentage of local workers and provide them with a living wage.
We believe we have the right to prosecute those who have been here for generations. The same groups of people are ostracized at the cost of providing legal residents their right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Sounds like history repeating itself in not so subtle forms. In a country that was built off of the concept of immigration, who are we to tell others that they are “illegal”? If that is the case, than the only legal people in this country are the indigenous.
I am truly devastated by this bill. If for one second we believe it only harms a specific group than we are wrong. Everyone and every sector will feel the impact of this bill. Regardless of skin color, you will either be forced to be racist or fall victim to racism. Understanding that this bill is part of a larger social construct meant to keep certain groups down is important. It’s time to learn about the social structures at play.
There will be a rally tomorrow in the Ithaca College Academic Quad. This is an effort to unify several colleges across the country and to stand in solidarity because what’s happening in Arizona is everyone’s problem.
Joyti Jiandani is a junior speech-language pathology major. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.