The controversial Arizona Senate Bill 1070 introduced by State Sen. Russell Pearce is stirring up controversy and giving a rebirth to the immigration debate.
Action on the issues facing Arizona’s southern border have been heating up since the death of longtime Arizona rancher Robert Krentz over two weeks ago, leading to the state take a serious look at the link between crime and illegal immigration.
SB 1070 has passed through the Arizona Senate and is now sitting on Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk for signature. The bill would allow local police to ask individuals about their immigration status, and would give them the authority to arrest those who do not have the legal paper work to be in the United States. The bill also punishes citizens transporting people who they know do not have proper immigration status.
The main argument of opponents to this bill is the belief that the legislation will lead to racial profiling, however, the language in the bill specifically states authorities “may not solely consider race, color or national origin,” when enforcing immigration laws.
Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code: Improper Entry by Alien, states that any person who enters the United States without proper documentation will face penalty, meaning they have committed a federal crime. This has lead supporters of SB 1070 to argue that those who have come legally, won’t have a problem and that those who are here illegally have already committed a crime and should be prosecuted.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 400,000 illegal immigrants currently living in Arizona, costing the state over $1 billion per year and a new Rassmussen poll shows that 70% of Arizona residents support SB 1070.
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Coalicion de Derechos Humanos marched and protested in downtown Tucson on Tuesday, April 20 to voice their opposition to the bill. Pima County Legal Defender and co-chair of the Coalicion, Isabel Garcia, was in attendance and told me that she believes Border Patrol is a military force on the border, that she wants all undocumented individuals granted amnesty and compared SB 1070 to Jim Crow laws. She also called for a boycott on Arizona so the people and the government of the state will feel economic blow back.
My main observations of this protest were this:
-“The real criminal is I.C.E.!”
-“VETO SB 1070”
-“I.C.E. y D.E.A. ‘Operativos’ RACISTAS”
-“No Militarized Border”
-“Build Just Policy Not Prisons”
-“Mobility is a RIGHT not a CRIME”
-Waving of Mexican flags and chanting of various statements including: -“What do we want? JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!”
-“Si, se puede!”
There was also an alarming misunderstanding of the difference between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants. “Immigrants” was used as a general term for all people who move to the United States (a sovereign nation, might I add), which quite frankly is an insult to those who stood in line, followed the rules, entered the country legally, learned English, and worked their way to becoming a proud legal citizen. Waving Mexican flags on U.S. soil is more than a step back for the argument of amnesty. If these people want American rights and privileges, they should embrace the United States instead of trying to turning it into the country they came from. After all, they came here for one reason, things in America are better.
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Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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