Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be an Arizonan. Indeed, I think I would be a far more vociferous defender of state’s rights were I a citizen of some other state. Today is one of those days:
Arizona lawmakers on Tuesday approved what foes and supporters agree is the toughest measure in the country against undocumented immigrants, making it a crime to be an illegal immigrant in Arizona and allowing local police to determine whether people are in the country legally.
Indeed, now police officers can act on a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that someone is an illegal immigrant – as though one can tell one’s immigration status simply by the color of their skin! Did you know that illegal immigrants from Mexico actually look different than their legal Mexican immigrant counter-parts?
Well, it’s true in the fictional world the Arizona state legislature is fashioning for itself. Everywhere else this is what we call a ‘police state’.
I recall friends of mine who lived illegally in Spain for a year or so. They taught English off the books. They finally left because they were afraid they’d be booted anyways. They couldn’t leave the country to travel because they wouldn’t be allowed back in. In Spain, the police can ask you for your papers at any time, for any reason. The interesting thing was that my very white friends were never asked for their papers. That was reserved for Africans and Arabs, who were hounded regularly by la policia.
Here in Arizona, I doubt I will ever be mistaken for an illegal Swedish immigrant either. I very much doubt I will ever be stopped and asked to prove my citizenship, nor do I imagine that would happen even if my accent were as thick as my grandmother’s was fresh off the boat from Norway.
But my darker-skinned friends may not be so lucky – especially the many valuable foreign and yes, illegal, workers who work in our restaurants and warehouses and fast food joints and as janitors and other hard workers in the service and manufacturing and agriculture industries.
This is the governance of fear in action. The petty populist and reactionary forces in this state have finally scored a real victory. And while our budget rests on a precipice, our so-called lawmakers – those we have entrusted with our governance – would rather legislate to the popular sentiment than make the hard decisions necessary to actually run a damn government. Far better to go after the Mexicans than to actually balance the bloody budget.
Oh, and soon we may have this ludicrous man as our Senator. Hell in a hand-basket. That’s where we’re going.
P.S. – this bill was passed by the state House of Representatives. It had already passed the state Senate earlier this year. Why on earth do we need two houses in our state government? Isn’t this just a tiny bit much? Aren’t we a little over-represented to be left with such terrible representation?