Last week Republican Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed a controversial (and some say illegal, but I will leave that to the courts to decide) law that makes it a crime to be an illegal alien within the borders of that state. The law also gives the police powers to stop and demand documentation from anyone they suspect might be an illegal foreign national.
The passing of this law was a terrible mistake that is already getting a lot of flak from civil rights activists, Democratic politicians and concerned citizens. The tourism industry is also wondering how Arizona – which depends heavily on tourist dollars – might fare if foreign visitors or legal immigrants make plans to visit other areas of the country instead. And there are many boycott threats looming as of this writing.
On Wednesday’s edition of the New York Daily News (http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/04/28/2010-04-28_how_arizonas_law_will_hurt_america_mayor_michael_bloomberg_assails_the_new_immig.html) , NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg mentioned that many potential tourists are already cancelling plans to visit Arizona. According to Bloomberg, who would be interested to visit, say, the Grand Canyon “if you could end up getting hassled by the police – or even arrested – if you leave your passport in the hotel?” Earlier in the piece, he also mentioned that the law is “so vaguely written that it may force officers to stop people who look or dress differently, or who speak a foreign language, or English with an accent.”
This kind of harassment is what the constitution states as “unreasonable search and seizure,” from which all citizens and legal aliens are protected from.
I would personally be annoyed if a cop walked up to my Polish-born wife to demand her Green Card (I would end up getting frisked as well, as I speak with a “standard” accent that is unlike any specific region of the US) because he or she found her speech pattern ‘different.” As a result, I have no plans of visiting that state anytime soon, even if I am a regular contributor to the Phoenix New Times and would love to actually get to see Grand Canyon and the various venues where the many artists I write about perform during their tours.
Another problem is that various conservative organizations – including the where angry white conservatives who support the Tea Party traveling freak show are pushing for similar legislation in other Red States. But what many fail to see is that those so-called ‘patriots’ have total disregard on how those measures might hurt our economy. Which makes them traitors, in reality.
I have already mentioned the tourism industry. But let’s also consider the many foreign-owned companies (or businesses owned by immigrants) who do business here. Would they be happy if their executives were routinely frisked by the police? I don’t think so. Would they take their businesses elsewhere in case such laws passed and went on unchallenged? Most certainly.
Xenophobia is no news to this country. The Irish, Italians, African-Americans, Asians and many other groups have suffered discrimination over the years from those who wanted to wanted to keep this country ‘pure.’ However, the levels of distrust and anger (specially towards Latinos) are getting out of hand.
That is why it is so urgent that we pass immigration reform that would end this horrible situation in which we have more than 12 million taxpayers who are stripped of any kinds of rights because of their status – some of them youths in their 20s who came here as toddlers and have no cultural or affectional connection to their nations of birth. We have waited for too long already.