Archive for the ‘SB 1070’ Category
Who could possibly hate this baby? Oh, I know -- Republicans.
Last week, I wrote a piece for Change.org entitled 3 Ways You Can Help End the GOP’s War on Undocumented Immigrants. In it, I identified three strategies that Right-wing fundies are using to wage a war on illegal immigration — by attacking the rights of their citizen children. I think this subject is so important, I’m re-summarizing the post here. Learn more about how the GOP is targeting children in their war on illegal immigration, and participate in the linked petitions:
1) Birthright Citizenship: Top Republicans from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham are calling for Congressional hearings on the 14th Amendment. Their hope? Alter the Constitution to put a caveat on birthright citizenship such that citizenship is awarded based on the citizenship status of a child’s parents. However, as I write in my post, the 14th Amendment was penned to eliminate the possibility that one group might be able to determine the citizenship — and thus the political rights — of another group. Prior to the 14th Amendment, citizenship did depend on the status of parents: the children of slaves were not considered American citizens, regardless of birthplace.
As Jeff Yang writes in his Asian Pop column this week, without the 14th Amendment, countless Asian Americans whose families entered the States as “paper sons” would find their citizenship in question today. Birthright citizenship is one of the few, unequivocably brilliant political ideas unique to North America; since its passage, it has helped ensure political and civil equality for all citizens. It’s a travesty for Republicans to even suggest dismantling the 14th Amendment.
Act Now! We need to protect the 14th Amendment from hysterical nativism. Sign this petition targeting GOP lawmakers, urging them not to attack birthright citizenship in this country.
"Being brown is not a crime."
2) The SB 1070 of Public Schools: Here in Arizona, a virtually unknown piece of legislation has snuck its way through the State Senate, and is now being held in the State House. I charitably refer to this bill — SB 1097 / HB 2382 — as the “SB 1070 of public education”. Just like SB 1070 deputizes local and state law enforcement to check the immigration papers of anyone who engages with police, SB 1097 deputizes school administrators to check the immigration papers of any child enrolled in public schools.
Why? Well, the idea is that public funds being used to educate non-citizen children costs taxpayers money, so Arizona Republicans (many of whom authored SB 1070) introduced SB 1097 to require schools to determine the number of non-citizen children enrolled as students, and to report that information to the state. Forget that in Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court determined that the state could not deny a child a public education based on immigration status.
The true effect of SB 1097 goes beyond the mean-spiritedness and misguidedness of the bill. If put into effect, SB 1097 would cause illegal immigrants to pull their children from public schools for fear of being identified and deported. But, since federal money to public schools is dependent on the number of enrolled students, this would actually cause Arizona schools to lose money. And we all know that less money means less teachers, fewer books, less extracurricular activities, and a poorer education for all of Arizona’s children.
Act Now! SB 1097 is currently being considered in the State House as HB 2382. Sign this petition addressed to the Arizona State House, urging our legislators not to pass HB 2382.
I *heart* ethnic studies, too.
3) Attacking Teachers with Accents and Banning Ethnic Studies: In Arizona, the state department of education has fired hundreds of teachers with accents, after recruiting these teachers several years ago as part of English Language Learning classes. State legislators passed HB 2281, which bans the teaching of ethnic studies in public schools. While both actions have most directly affected Spanish-speaking teachers and Chicano Studies, the impact of these policies on teachers of all races and ethnicities is obvious.
The responsibility of teachers is to help students learn, by any means necessary. Sometimes that means connecting with students through a non-English language, sometimes that means engaging students with content that they find relevant to their own lives. A thriving classroom is one that is focused on the needs of students, and that can offer learning opportunities that speak to those needs. The banning of ethnic studies and the firing of teachers with accents renders the classroom less student-focused, thereby reducing learning.
More importantly, this applies to all students, and not just Latino students. Any student who wants to learn about American history from the perspective of Chicano Studies, African American Studies or Asian American Studies cannot do so if they are enrolled in an Arizona public school. They are forced to learn about their history through the lens of only one group — that of the mainstream. Arizona has one of the largest Latino populations in the nation — how does it make sense that this diversity is not reflected in the curriculum of public school classes?
Act Now! Sadly, the ethnic studies ban has passed in the Arizona State Legislature, and the teachers with accents have been fired. However, please sign this petition urging the current candidates for Arizona School Superintendent to make a public pledge that, if elected, they will work with the Legislature to reverse the ban on ethnic studies. Hey, it’s a start…
Please share this post — and my original post over at Change.org – with your friends and families. Arizona is being used as a testing ground for divisive, misguided legislation. Already, some states are considering their own versions of SB 1070. If Arizona empowers school administrators to check immigration status or bans ethnic studies, it won’t be a question of if similar legislation appears in other states, it’ll be a question of when. We need to draw our line in the sand here.
Cross-posted: Blog for Arizona
This is Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce. He LITERALLY hates babies.
I’m really not sure if this is pure political saber-rattling or a genuine debate the GOP is looking to engage in, but earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined other top Republicans in raising the question of birthright citizenship.
The whole debate stems from the Arizona illegal immigration debate, which has focused on punitive legislation to make life in the United States so heinous to undocumented immigrants from Mexico as to discourage border-crossing. SB 1070, of course, was intended to use the state and local police force to track down, detain and deport illegal immigrants by institutionalizing racial profiling of Arizona residents; according to federal judge Susan Bolton, the law had the unintended consequence of also legalizing harassment of the state’s legal immigrants.
Arizona Republicans have bandied about other ideas that would use state laws to harass illegal immigrants in order to drive them out of the country. Former state legislator running for re-election to the Arizona Corporation Commission, Barry Wong, has proposed that the Commission (which oversees the state’s utility policies) require electricity providers to check the immigration status of customers, and to cut power to any customer who cannot demonstrate that he or she is legally in the country. HB 2281 has banned the teaching of ethnic studies in the state’s public schools; current school superintendent and Republican candidate for state attorney general Tom Horne was quoted as saying that the bill was intended to wipe out “ethnic chauvinism” he believed was being taught in a Southern Arizona Chicano studies program. The program offered optional classes to students that encouraged reading of Chicano authors and teaching of Mexican-American history. SB 1097, a bill that is currently being considered in the State House, would — in essence — deputize school administrator as immigrations officers empowered to request and verify the immigration documents of public school students, and to report the enrollment of illegal immigrant children in their schools. Failure to do so would result in loss of state money to the school.
Not surprisingly, State Senator Russell Pearce has sponsored many of the state bills targeting illegal immigrants. Pearce has annointed himself the state’s primary champion against illegal immigrants since the shooting of his son, a Maricopa county sherriff, by men who turned out to be illegally in the country.
Along with SB 1070 and SB 1097, Pearce has now turned his attention to an issue described by a pejorative term popularized by anti-illegal immigrant activists in Arizona: “anchor babies”. Pearce and his cadre of nativist politicians believe that America’s Fourteenth Amendment, which grants American citizenship to any child born within the United States or its territories, provides an incentive for pregnant mothers to illegally enter the country so that they can give birth to their child. The child is granted American citizenship, so the theory goes, and than sponsors re-entry of its parents into the country or stays deportation proceedings.
The problem with the ”anchor baby” argument is two-fold.
First of all, Pearce’s hysteria over “anchor babies” is, frankly, preposterous. Children cannot sponsor the immigration of family members until they are 21 years of age. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Immigration and Customs Enforcement can refuse to stay a deportation on account of an underage child with American citizenship. While statistics on how many children are born to illegal immigrants are hard to come by (I spent about half an hour on the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System trying to figure out how to find the appropriate data), ABC reports that approximately 7,500 children are born to non-resident mothers nationwide (compared to 4.2 million total births). We’re not talking about a pandemic, here.
Yet, Pearce would have us imagine that pregnant mothers are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in droves. Considering that thousands of able-bodied people (i.e. people who are not seven months pregnant) die in the deserts along the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s hard for me to imagine scores of pregnant women deciding to embark on a two-week long hike through the harsh Arizona deserts with nothing more than a bottle of water, all in the vain hope that their children could eventually sponsor their re-entry into the United States… in twenty-one years.
Between the morning sickness, the bladder pressure, and the swollen ankles, most pregnant women I know have a rough time walking 50 feet, let alone 50 miles.
Russell Pearce believes this woman is capable of embarking on a two-week long backpacking trip through the Arizona desert in 100+ degree heat. Having actually hiked that wilderness, I call "bullshit".
But, on a more serious note, Pearce’s attack on “birthright citizenship” is also alarming for the effect that it has on our basic understanding of citizenship in America. Citizenship by circumstance of birth was introduced as a means of granting citizenship rights to all children in America, regardless of race or ethnic background; it’s no coincidence that birthright citizenship is included in the same amendment that established political equality for people of colour.
In truth, Pearce’s proposal — that citizenship be conferred to children based on the citizenship status of its parents — is not new. Prior to the Fourteenth Amendment, the status of parents influenced the rights granted to their child. Although America adopted the tradition of birthright citizenship from Britain, America did not historically grant citizenship to the children of black slaves regardless of birthplace. This practice was upheld in Dred Scott v. Sandford, which found that Scott was not a citizen of the United States by virtue of his race, despite having been born in Virginia. The race of a child’s parents determined the race of a child (re: one-drop rules), which in turn determined whether the child could be granted political rights and American citizenship.
Yet, even in the mid-nineteenth century, America recognized the injustice of such a practice. With the Fourteenth Amendment, White men could no longer deny the citizenship of the children of Black slaves by being empowered to decide whether or not they qualify for protection under American federal law; simply by circumstance of birth, these children were rendered politically equal regardless of their parentage. We reiterated the importance of this basic understanding of American citizenship back in 1898 with Wong Kim Ark vs. United States.
Pearce is operating under a basic — and inflammatory — belief that illegal immigrants are not deserving of constitutional rights. But Pearce’s interpretation of the Constitution attacks legal and illegal immigrants alike, regardless of race or national origin. By virtue of not having American citizenship, Pearce apparently believes that non-citizens (legal or illegal) should not be awarded due process or protected from unwarranted searches and seizures (which, actually, explains a lot of his reasoning for sponsoring SB 1070). Pearce’s suggestion that the federal government once more be allowed to decide who can, and who cannot, be awarded American citizenship hearkens back to a time when certain groups in this country were not protected by the law, and were considered three-fifths of a man.
In essence, Pearce doesn’t believe that the rights awarded by the U.S. Constitution are actually rights. Rather, he sees the Bill of Rights as a ”Bill of Privileges” — or, more accurately, a “Bill of White Privileges”.
Frankly, I believe that’s not an America that I — or anyone — should want to be a part of.
Cross-posted: Blog for Arizona
Last night, while chatting with some friends, I predicted that a federal injunction would block SB 1070 some time today. I should’ve gotten a pool going — maybe I could’ve won some big bucks?
This morning, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton granted a partial injunction against SB 1070, preventing most of the nastier parts of SB 1070 from going into effect tomorrow. Saying that the federal government is likely to be able to demonstrate that SB 1070 pre-empts existing federal immigration laws, Bolton blocked the following provisions in her ruling:
- state and local police officers will be able to determine immigration status of detained suspects based on reasonable suspicion that the suspect is an illegal immigrant.
- legal immigrants or resident aliens will be charged with a crime under state laws for violating federal laws that they have their immigration documents on their person at all times.
- illegal immigrants can be charged with a state crime for applying for, or performing, work.
- stateand local police officers may make a warrantless arrest of any person suspected of a crime that would result in deportation of that person.
As a resident alien, I am particularly delighted that I won’t be charged with a state crime if I am found without my passport tomorrow. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to figure out if I even really oppose the neutered version of SB 1070 that will go into effect, which are:
- motor vehicles picking up day labourers — legally or illegally in this country — cannot block or impede the normal flow of traffic.
- people knowingly transporting an illegal immigrant in their vehicle can be charged with smuggling, if it can be shown they are doing so for profit.
- employers face charges if they knowingly employ an illegal immigrant.
Can I really say I’m against charging a vehicle with a traffic violation for blocking traffic? Not really, no — blocking traffic shouldn’t be allowable under any circumstance. How about charging employers with a crime for knowingly employing an illegal immigrant? Employers should not be allowed to hire illegal immigrants, and thereby skirt existing labour laws and avoid paying a fair wage. Furthemore, an existing Arizona state law requires that all employers use the federal government’s E-Verify system. SB1070, in essence, duplicates that state law, which has been on the books for two years.
As for the smuggling stuff — this part always sounded a little toothless to me. I mean, how would a court of law demonstrate that anyone, other than the members of a human trafficking ring who received payment from someone to illegally cross the border, knows a passenger’s immigration status? I always doubted that the average Joe, who drives his friend to the neighbourhood Boston Market, could be charged with smuggling if his friend turned out to be undocumented.
Now, I understand that the federal injunction is temporary, and that it’s possible (if unlikely) that the courts will allow SB 1070 to come into effect in its full form. And yes, I’m pissed that SB 1070 ever passed in Arizona in the first place.
But, I also think that there’s room here for tempering some of our outrage. SB 1070 is a terrible law, but there are some elements in the bill that need to be reasonably considered. To me, what sometimes gets lost in the anti-SB 1070 side of the argument is the fact that illegal immigrants are illegally in the country.
Illegal immigrants should not be harassed or mistreated (as Barry Wong suggested by cutting their utilities) or racially profiled or warrantlessly detained, but neither do they have a right to work in this country without paying income taxes. They do not have a right to federally-subsidized healthcare and education. They do not have the right to cross this country’s borders without abiding by this country’s immigration laws. Activists against SB 1070 sometimes seem to lose sight of this in their zeal to rail against the law.
So, I really can’t say that I’m terribly pissed off about the parts of SB 1070 that will become law tomorrow. I still have questions as to whether or not these portions still preempt federal law, but in spirit, I don’t find them particularly noxious. In fact, I’m remarkably optimistic that we’re well on our way to finding a good compromise on this whole matter. Perhaps we might even build some political momentum behind wholesale immigration reform.
And maybe even with a minimum of rioting?
This is a picture of me at the Tucson Festival of Books. SB 1070 would require that even here, while taking a picture with the wombat-cat, I could be "spot checked" for my immigration documents.
I am not Latina. I am not an illegal immigrant. All the same: SB 1070 terrifies me.
One of my biggest pet peeves about the national debate over SB 1070 is how the bill has been painted, by many who either support or oppose it, as an anti-Latino piece of legislation. Without a doubt, SB 1070 is intended to target illegal immigrants in Arizona, who arrive predominantly from Mexico; this can be deduced just from the preamble of the bill. It reads:
The provisions of this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.
However, SB 1070′s passage won’t just change the lives of illegal immigrants in Arizona. SB 1070 stands to seriously undermine the civil liberties of all Arizonans, regardless of whether or not we are (or look) Hispanic.
I am a Chinese-Canadian doctoral student at The University of Arizona, who is legally in the United States on a student visa. I am a well-educated, well-meaning, and contributing resident of Southern Arizona, who works in cancer and diabetes research. I pay state and federal income taxes to the United States of America. I own a house. I bring federal grant dollars to Southern Arizona via my work. I help raise the profile of the University as an academic institution through my research and teaching activities.
But, I am not a citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S.
I am in this country only at the mercy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. To maintain status, I must be exceptionally careful to play by their rules. I find that it’s very difficult to convey the intricacies of navigating the American immigration system to someone who has never done so; but, imagine if the IRS had the power to detain or deport anyone who incorrectly filed their income taxes or who failed to maximize their deductions, and you’ll get some sense of what it’s like.
That’s not to say that I resent the procedures and paperwork associated with being a non-permanent resident alien residing in the United States. As an undergraduate student, I once was interrogated by a U.S. Border Patrol officer for accidentally allowing one of my travel signatures (which verifies that I am a full-time student and am allowed to travel away from campus) to lapse just past the allowed time. Consequently, I was denied reentry to return to school from Winter Break. Seeing the frustration on my face because my signature was approximately 2 days expired, the Border Patrol agent retorted, “Being in the United States is not a right. It’s a privilege.”
As harsh as the statement sounds, it is true. Since that day when I was granted a tourist visa to return to school and have my papers signed (and then return to the border to re-enter with the proper documentation), I have treated my presence in the United States as a privilege, and have worked diligently to maintain my status.
The requirements to maintain legal status include a mandate that I carry my immigration documents whenever I am within American borders (8 USC Sec. 1304(a)). Failure to comply results in a fine or imprisonment. However, resident aliens like myself are reluctant to carry our passports everywhere: these papers are our lifeline. If any of these papers are lost, we face a hefty fine and a 3-month waiting period to have it replaced, during which time we are unable to travel far from home (or conduct some of our daily business). As a resident alien, I simply cannot lose my paperwork. Consequently, I struggle with this inherent Catch-22: how do I reconcile what is required of me by federal immigration law against the threat of having these documents lost or stolen?
Furthermore, we are sometimes simply unable to carry these documents around. My documents consist of a passport (containing my I-94 card) and my I-20 (two or three sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper). None of these documents are conveniently wallet-sized; in fact, I carry mine in a dedicated document holder approximately the length of my forearm. Federal law requires me to have these papers on my person at all time: even while I’m jogging at 5AM, walking the dog, hiking, swimming, at the movies, barbequeing with friends, or patronizing a bar or club during a night on the town. If I am doing any of these activities, I am required to have personal possession of my immigration papers. Being found without them (such as, for example, if I forgot them at home, or if my passport doesn’t conveniently fit into my swimsuit while I’m swimming laps) may be grounds for a misdemeanor charge under federal immigration law.
This is where SB 1070 comes into play. In practice, SB 1070 would empower state and local police officers to enforce federal immigration law against legal resident aliens, and request proof that we have maintained our legal status. In essence, they are performing the work of U.S. Border Patrol agents, whom resident aliens expect to encounter while traveling. But, in this case, we now live in fear of being “spot checked” for our immigration papers on a daily basis, during routine encounters with state and local police officers. Any officer who finds us in violation of 8 United States Code Section 1304(e) could cause us to face misdemeanor charges and jeopardize our legal status.
Furthermore, in practice, SB 1070 would require that state and local police officers who have doubts about a suspect’s immigration status (because they cannot present their papers or act ”suspiciously”) detain that suspect — perhaps indefinitely– until their immigration status can be verified federally. As a working graduate student and a legal resident alien, I am horrified by the prospect that a routine traffic stop might cause sudden imprisonment, without warning, for a day, a week, or longer as state or local police officers, virtually untrained in federal immigration law, struggle to figure out if my documents are legitimate (which they are). This threat of indefinite detainment would exist under SB 1070 for illegal immigrants, legal immigrants and bonafide citizens of the United States.
If the purpose of SB 1070 is to eliminate illegal immigration, why is it that legal residents of Arizona — both citizens and legal immigrants — are facing harassment and deportation under this bill? How is it that I, as a Chinese-Canadian legal resident alien who calls Arizona my home – and, who works and pays my taxes in this state — am facing a culture of veiled suspicion and open hostility towards my very presence here?
The message that Arizona sends with SB 1070 is that people like me – highly-skilled foreigners who want to assimilate and work in America (and who are potentially on a path to citizenship) — are not welcome here. SB 1070′s intention is to curtail illegal immigration into this state, but in so doing, it also discourages legal immigrants from naturalizing and making Arizona our permanent home. SB 1070 sends the message to people like me that the services that we provide, the technologies that we invent, the jobs that we create, the education that we command, and the money that we spend in this state are simply not desired.
How long, I wonder, will it take for us legal immigrants to get the message? Being in America, and indeed, Arizona, is a privilege that we currently treasure — but, given this intolerant legislative climate set by bills like SB 1070, how long will that continue to be the case?
Cross-posted: Blog for Arizona
Jim Shee, a 70-year-old American of Chinese and Spanish descent, claims he has been profiled by cops in Arizona twice since the passage of SB 1070 in the State Legislature.
In May, the board of the Japanese American Citizens League voted 8-6 to join lawsuits that have been filed challenging the constitutionality of Arizona’s anti-immigrant bill, SB 1070. This past week, attendees of the JACL’s national convention reaffirmed the group’s opposition to SB1070, drawing comparisons between the bill and and the history of institutionalized racism experienced by Japanese Americans during World War II.
Some Japanese Americans at the JACL convention compared Arizona’s immigration law to Executive Order 9066, which ordered the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
“The issue with JACL is as it was in 1941 that is that innocent people can be reasonably suspected of being an illegal immigrant,” said Floyd Mori, JACL national director. “In 1942 all Japanese Americans were suspected regardless of their citizenship, regardless of what they did, of being criminals, and they were sent to prison.”
Mori added that SB 1070 has nothing to do with immigration reform, but due process and equal protection rights.
SB 1070 requires that Arizona law enforcement officials uphold federal immigration laws. The law does not specify what police officers should do if a suspect is determined to be an undocumented citizen.
Immigration advocates say the law will only perpetuate racial profiling against people of color.
Those who supported the resolution challenging SB 1070 agreed with the resolution’s wording that, “JACL was founded during times of anti-Asian and anti-immigrant sentiment similar to the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-undocumented sentiment seen in the 21st Century immigration debate.”
One of the most prominent faces of the JACL’s opposition to SB1070 has come in the form of Jim Shee (pictured above), a member of Arizona’s JACL chapter who is of Chinese and Spanish descent. Shee claims that since the passage of SB 1070, he has twice been pulled over by Arizona police officers and asked to “show his papers”.
Jim Shee, an Arizona JACL member, is a plaintiff on the case, Friendly House et al. v. Whiting et al. Shee, a U.S.-born 70-year-old American citizen of Spanish and Chinese descent, told the Pacific Citizen that he was pulled over twice in April and asked to produce his “papers.”
In the complaint, Shee says that he will be more vulnerable to racial profiling under the law.
“I see how current actions have alienated the Brown-skinned people in Arizona because of the persistent lies that our lawmakers insist on perpetuating,” said Shee.
Cross-posted: Blog for Arizona