June 01, 2010

How is the AZ Immigration Law Racist?

With all the discussion over the new and controversial Arizona Immigration Bill, and multiple requests from at least one demanding and, I suspect, mentally unstable troll on Twitter, I have decided to put some time into answering the question, "How is the Arizona Immigration Law racist?" because it cannot be answered in 160 characters or less.

It's true that the Arizona Legislature has amended the law (after a public outcry) with a specific rule that racial profiling is not permitted as a way to single out people to target with this law, and as we all know, because it says racial profiling is not allowed, no one will do it, right? Because, that would be unheard of. LOL! But...for the sake of argument, let's make the assumption here that all law officers in Arizona are above reproach and would never cross the line in some sort of megalomaniacal exhibition.

So, "racial stereotyping" is forbidden in the text, it's true; but class-based stereotyping with racial connotations is apparently permitted and even encouraged. How, you ask?

As part of the immigration bill, a police officer responding to city ordinance violations would be required to determine the immigration status of an individual they have reasonable suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant. How does that translate into racial stereotyping against Hispanics?

Well, in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 50% of Arizonans living below the poverty line were Hispanic, which is the highest percentage of any race living below the poverty line in Arizona.

An email from one of the activists who helped draft and modify the law (Kris Kobach) clarifies: "Police are able to use violations of property codes (i.e., cars on blocks in the yard) or rental codes (too many occupants of a rental accommodation) to initiate queries" into someone's immigration status.

So, a poor person (and don't forget, most of the poor people in Arizona are Hispanic) that must work on their own car at home because they cannot afford to pay, often outrageous, garage fees is at risk, and a family who cannot afford the rent on a large apartment or home for their large family is also at risk if they have, say, many children sharing a bedroom.

Also, the law states that an officer has reasonable suspicion to check the immigration status of anyone "soliciting work in a public place" (§ 5(C), page 5) such as in front of a Home Depot, where the majority of day workers seeking day labor jobs are Latino.

It also "authorizes (§ 6(A), page 6 7) law enforcement officers to arrest an individual without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe the individual has committed any public offense that makes him/her removable from the U.S." ...you know, such as, being in the U.S. illegally.

So, who takes credit in drafting the language of the AZ Immigration law? Click on the links for more information.
  • Kris Kobach - A birther who's running for Kansas Secretary of State. He’s also an attorney for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of an anti-immigration group called FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
  • John Tanton - Founded FAIR in 1979 and is still listed as a member of their board of directors. In 1986, Tanton wrote this, “To govern is to populate. Will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile? As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night or will there be an explosion?”
  • The Pioneer Fund - Funders of FAIR and is self-described as based “in the Darwinian-Galtonian evolutionary tradition and eugenics movement.” For the last 70 years, the Pioneer Fund has funded controversial research about race and intelligence, essentially aimed at proving the racial superiority of white people. The group’s original mandate was to promote the genes of those “deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original 13 states prior to the adoption of the Constitution.”
Now, let's spend a little time on Russell Pearce, the Arizona state Senator who sponsored the immigration bill.
  • Alleged wife beater - In divorce papers, his wife, LuAnn had claimed that he has a violent temper and had hit and shoved her, including an incident in which he grabbed her by the throat and threw her down to the floor.
  • Tea party supporter. 'nuf said.
Sure, those two things make him a jerk, but does that mean he's a racist? No, but the things below might.
  • Friend to J.T. Ready, an AZ state precinct committeeman who just happens to be an exposed Neo Nazi (he's the one holding the image of Hitler).
  • Pearce is the author of HB 2631, which amends current AZ marriage law to require that a prospective bride and groom provide both their social security numbers and proof of citizenship before a marriage license is issued. So, only American citizens can wed American citizens. If your boyfriend or girlfriend has a greencard, you can forget about getting married in Arizona.
  • In October 2006, Pearce forwarded an email from National Alliance, a white separatist group, to a group of supporters. The email titled "Who Rules America? The Alien Grip on Our News and Entertainment Media Must Be Broken," which criticized black and white intermixing, Jews in the media for promoting multiculturalism and racial equality, for depicting "any racially conscious White Person" as a bigot, and for presenting the Holocaust as fact.
  • He has declared his intention to place a referendum on the November ballot that would prohibit AZ hospitals from issuing birth certificates to children born of illegal parents. So, I guess as a tea party supporter, he loves the Constitution, except for the parts that he doesn't love...like the 14th amendment.
Even though many Americans claim to be in favor of the AZ immigration law, most of them have not read any version of the bill. Many supporters are also largely unaware of what the law is regarding checking the status of illegals, which according to Federal & state laws, already allows law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of someone who is placed under arrest.

In addition, they may not understand the lengths to which this bill's authors have gone to hide their intentions within the legalese of the bill's text; intentions, which based upon the authors' previous records of anti-immigrant rhetoric, are suspect at best.


  1. Thanks for delineating this law's supporters and their ties. When the president calls a governor to account for a rogue law, I'd hope the citizenry would wake up and see how egregious the law is and how broken the thought processes here must be. These are some scary folks you've listed here! -- Peter Burris (@harperpb)

  2. The sad thing is that you felt a need to write such an article; of course the AZ law is racist AND xenophobic. It opens the door to the 'forbidden' racial profiling - something that will be practiced with great gusto in Maricopa county by the minions of Sheriff Arpaio (apologies if I spelled his name wrong - all those white guys look and sound the same to me).

    To say that profiling won't take place is hubris - and an outright lie. The law will be an opportunity for racist pressure to be applied to a vulnerable sector of the populace who need more laws to protect them rather than opening up opportunities to single out people because of their skin color and possible country of origin.

    The passage - and enactment - of this piece of legislation shall go down as a blotch on the history of the United States - yet another blotch on a history replete with blotches and blemishes stretching back through time.

    Remember, the phrase 'the ugly American' doesn't exist out of chance.

  3. My letter to one of the nutjobs involved:

    Christopher L. Jorgensen
    P.O. Box 93042
    Des Moines, IA 50393

    May 3, 2010

    The Honorable Jan Brewer
    Governor of Arizona
    1700 West Washington
    Phoenix, Arizona 85007

    Dear Hon. Jan Brewer,

    Happy Cinco de Mayo! Any way I can get an autographed photo?

    I realize a lot of people are pretty upset with you for signing S.B. 1070 "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" into law, but what did these people expect you to do? Veto the bill? Like you could do that! It would be anarchy if Governors had this power!

    I'm sure you will agree this is a sad time for Arizona, what with the economic boycotts and people refusing to send their children to Arizona's Universities, but so what! If we continue to allow life to be easy in these United States more immigrants will want to live here! And if people decide to keep their kids home from school that's their loss. Who needs an education?

    You've publicly stated that this law will be enforced civilly, fairly, and without discrimination, which brings up a concern. My grandmother is a resident of your state and is quite elderly. I am uncertain what documentation I need to bring with me in the event she dies or becomes gravely ill. Is my Iowa driver's license sufficient, or should I bring along my birth certificate? I'd hate to be deported to Norway, since I don't even speak the language!


    Christopher L. Jorgensen

    She didn't respond.