Yeah! Let’s all jump on a bandwagon!
Ok, seriously. This country is hurting for cash right now - more specifically, individual communities, states, counties, cities, and the like are affected. Arizona happens to be one of those states struggling to stay afloat, fretting over budget woes. A supremely controversial state bill (pdf) has just been passed, requiring local law-enforcement agents to request proof of citizenship/legal presence if it is suspected that an individual is not a citizen when stopped by police.
Now, how exactly can you tell if someone is not a citizen (using a simple traffic stop situation – there are many other occasions where this new rule could apply)? Maybe they have a Mexican (common around these parts – any foreign country will do) license plate on their vehicle. But there are flaws in that: what if they stole the car on this side of the border; what if the vehicle is owned by a visiting Mexican relative, but is being driven by the citizen counterpart? If the license plate is from AZ or another U.S. state, then maybe they have darker skin? I don’t even need to discuss the problems with that one… The safe bet would be to ask everyone to provide proof of citizenship at any time; it worked great for the Nazis!
The bill has been called an answer to the U.S. government’s inaction regarding the violence at the U.S./Mexico border, but I fail to see how requiring proof of citizenship is really going to address that, especially given that many of the provisions are already federal law. It’s already illegal to knowingly hire an ‘unauthorized alien’ to work for you. It’s already illegal to traffic ‘unauthorized aliens’ across the border. The law simply restates many of these already existing federal laws, so the only new thing to add is this ability for any and all officers to request proof that an individual is here legally.
For those ‘illegals’ at the border causing this problem, there should be no change in current practice: Avoid being pulled over by not breaking traffic laws, and avoid other police contact by generally behaving according to our rules. If they’re going to kill someone, chances are it’s not going to happen in a crowded clear area with police present. Instead, what will happen is the non-violent immigrants will be subject to this new enforcement of immigration law. That part at least seems reasonable to me for this reason: if you’re going to have a law in place, then enforce it, otherwise, get rid of it. However much that logic holds, it still does nothing to fix the violence. I want to also clarify that statement by adding that if a good law is in place, enforce it, but if a crappy law in effect, then get rid of it.
Unfortunately for me and many others in this state, I’m now labeled a racist by association. People all over the country are now talking about ‘backwoods’ Arizona and its crazy, redneck, gun-wielding, racist citizens. The passing of the bill even got an SNL mention in a very short time span. Great for us. One of the people talking about the situation also happens to be an Arizonan. Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva’s (unofficial transcription for pronunciation ‘ra-OOL gree-HAHL-vah’) got a great idea: Boycott Arizona! Because nothing says we disagree with the decision of a state’s government more than cutting of revenue for the state that would potentially go to helping those racist citizens like me.
From the official government website:
“Grijalva called on national organizations of all kinds to reject Arizona as a convention destination unless the bill is vetoed. A Super Bowl ban by the National Football League Players Association after the state refused to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. day was effective in changing the policy in 1993.”
While this may actually be effective in undoing what has happened, if it’s not immediate, this could be a huge blow to us the citizens. This is like a sucker-punch to the state, considering the man proposing this action is supposed to be representing the needs of those same citizens. We’re already strapped for cash when it comes to paying our police/fire/education workers. We’re even considering raising sales tax rates to help the situation, so why would anyone from this area consider encouraging anything that would further reduce the amount of money available for these critical services?
Agree with the new state law or not, Mr. Grijalva’s plan is egregious, and shouldn’t earn him any votes come election time. Unfortunately, I suspect many people will see this as a single issue, rendering irrelevant any corresponding effects his proposal may have, and as such will see him as a hero. There’s nothing like a controversy to help people forget about other issues that (used to) plague them. Thanks, Representative Grijalva for showing us you really care about the people you work for.