by Kiara Covarrubias
My sister and I were buying pan dulce downtown at a Mexican store. The cashier initiated the conversation in English which was no surprise considering we do not look Mexican. My sister replied in Spanish but the cashier continued his chopped English.
“Why would he do that?” asked my sister. “Why would he speak English to me when I am perfectly capable of speaking Spanish?”
It makes perfect sense for immigrants who want to assimilate forget about the culture that is discriminated against in this country.
Illegal immigration is a problem. But it is not worse than discrimination. Arizona Senate Bill 1070 brought attention to Arizona’s problems, but most importantly it brings attention to the problems in the federal immigration policy, or lack thereof.
In San Diego, the ICE raids in the Latino communities are the only representation of a federal immigration policy and they are hardly beneficial. Parents keep their children at home instead of sending them to school for fear of losing them. Cases of students being deported on their way to school have spread in the area. I fail to see the threat of people educating themselves, and it is time for the authorities to realize that brown skin is not a threat.
Senate Bill 1070 states that under “reasonable suspicion” the police can to request proof of citizenship or residency. Thus, it now is necessary for Arizona residents to carry papers at all times due to state law, similar to fascist laws in Nazi Germany.
“Reasonable suspicion” remains to be defined. But it is difficult to believe that such a process will not include racial profiling. Having brown skin, speaking Spanish, or going to buy a paleta could be categorized as “reasonable suspicion.” Latinos fall under these categories.
This provides “reasonable suspicion” that the bill is not anti-illegal immigration, but anti-Latino.
Nowhere in the bill does it allow racial profiling, but it definitely encourages it. Instead of looking for criminals and deporting them, the police will be looking for immigrants and waiting for them to commit a crime.
241,000 illegal immigrants crossed the Arizona-Mexico border in 2009 according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, a drastic decrease compared to the 600,000 reported nine years ago. The problem with immigration is evident. The lack of intervention from the federal government is frustrating. The subject of immigration is inevitably emotional. But the complexity of this situation can be remedied with logic whereas SB 1070 seems formulated from desperation.
The isolated cases of violence highlighted in the media cause the public to draw conclusions about the role of illegal immigrants in the violence. Politicians feed off of this effect. By making the focus of the bill a way to combat violence, politicians gain the support of the public by labeling illegal immigrants the aggressors and citizens the victims.
It is comforting for the public to know that whites are the law-abiding citizens, that they are exempt from the “criminal” label.
Emotion, discrimination, and racism aside, FBI statistics report that violence in Arizona fell by 1,500 and reported property crimes fell by 10,000 from 2005 to 2008. In that same time period, the population of Arizona increased by 600,000. According to the nonpartisan Immigration Policy Institute, a century’s worth of research has demonstrated that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native-born.
This emphasizes that the over representation of minorities in prison is due to discrimination. Minorities are more likely to be detained by a cop and delegated longer sentences.
Presently, any illegal immigrant convicted of a crime must prove legal residency, and if there is no proof, the authorities can immediately deport the person. But this new legislation labels all illegal immigrants as criminals.
It is no coincidence that this bill has presented itself at the time of economic crisis. Arizona is using illegal immigrants as scapegoats. Arizona needs to realize that this Senate Bill creates more problems than solutions, that discrimination is not a solution.