Recently, I wrote about a bill in Arizona that would require police to check the papers of those they “reasonably suspect” to be undocumented immigrants. Tragically, infuriatingly, and unforgivably, that bill has now passed both houses of the legislature and been signed by the governor.
A brief rundown of the law can be found here. Commendably, even the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police has openly opposed it (pdf), while the former police chief of a Phoenix suburb has condemned it as catastrophic. President Obama, too, has spoke out against the law, along with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, though they didn’t go much further than calling it “misguided.” Others worry that the Arizona law could be used as a basis for similar legislation in other states.
It’s useless and cowardly to mince words here: this new law is racist as racist gets. It is without a doubt directly targeting Latin@s. And the arguments that it’s not are pathetic and disingenuous at best. Suspicion is not going to be primarily based on shoes or attire. A Latino man dressed in sneakers, jeans, and an old tee-shirt is indeed more likely to arouse “reasonable suspicion” than a Latino man in a business suit — but the fact that class may sometimes mitigate the effect for some Latin@s doesn’t change the facts that the effect is going to be felt almost entirely by Latin@s all the same, and that enforcement will be discriminatory. Enforcement based on race with a dash of class mixed in is not materially better than enforcement based entirely on race. And while the bill explicitly prohibits against profiling “solely” on race, it does leave the former entirely legal.
A lot of people have written a lot of really brilliant posts about the horrifying passage of this law. Field Negro has a great post, and you should definitely check out both Nezua’s post at the Unapologetic Mexican and Shark-Fu’s post at Angry Black Bitch. But my favorite post I’ve read so far is Problem Chylde’s post Arizona: All Latin@s Carry Papers or GTFO. She writes:
I don’t want to do a first they came chant. They’ve never stopped coming. They come through half-cocked racist philosophies; they come through brutal murders and attacks; they come in board rooms and conference rooms; they reduce humanity and need to numbers and ledgers. They won’t stop coming until we the people as a humane, peacemaking force make them never want to come again. Constant vigilance precludes passivity. When they come, and they always do, let them come knowing every step they take closer to fascism is a hazard to their power, their money, and their sense of morality.
We no longer wait for them to come. First we fight.
Go check out all of the linked posts in full (and feel free to leave more links in the comments, as there have been a lot of posts!).
I want to close this post with a list of actions you can take to combat this law. Sadly, most I’ve come across are little more than symbolic. But at least they’re something. Problem Chylde has a list:
Where do we go from here? There is a Facebook group to join, a petition to sign, a call to boycott Arizona and Arizona-based businesses, a list of organizations to check out, and badges you can use around the internet to show solidarity.
If you’ve got other ideas and actions, do let us know.
MOD NOTE: Since this sadly came up last time, I need to say right now that I’m not going to entertain comments that try to argue that this law is not racist. I’m going to delete them. I have as much time and patience for those kinds of comments in this space as I would have for comments arguing a bill outlawing abortion is not misogynistic. The humanity and human rights of undocumented immigrants and of Latin@s are not any more up for discussion in a feminist space than the humanity and human rights of women, or any other marginalized group. I do not apologize for this, but maintain that it is necessary to a progressive space that is safer for all oppressed and marginalized people.
- Arizona Set to Pass Anti-Immigrant Legislation by Cara April 6, 2010
- Boycotting Arizona by Jill April 27, 2010
- May 1st: March for Immigration Reform by Cara April 30, 2010
- Stop right there, thank you very much by Queen Emily June 22, 2010
- INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence has a new website by Holly May 15, 2008