Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | April 28, 2010

The Big Arizona Mistake

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 ( , 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.


  1. “Last week Republican Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed a controversial … law that makes it a crime to be an illegal alien within the borders of that state.”

    How can they make it “illegal” to be an “illegal immigrant”? By definition, if you are an illegal immigrant, you have broken the law and are a criminal. Granted, most of them have the best of intentions, but they are law breakers none the less.

    • Actually it is not a crime. You can be deported for being here illegaly, but you are not actually booked or arrested for a crime. Granted, they have broken the law for either overstaying or crossing the border illegally, but to consider it a crime is a bit too overreaching, dont you think?

  2. I don’t understand everyone’s thinking, if you read the bill, it’s about cracking down on people who have been here illegally and sending the back to force them to take the proper steps. Has nothing to do about random questioning people on the street for green cards.
    I think this bill is a great start because I’m personally tired of illegals being here getting a free ride when it has taken me years to get permanent residency card and I came here legally from the very beginning contributing to this country as a teacher. There was no free ride for me or free cost. Everyone who wants to be here should do it the proper way why favor one person to the next, that is profiling!

    • Yes but this will certainly create racial profiling. Random questioning is one thing… a licence to bully is another. This law is clearly aimed at Latinos, but it will certainly create a lot of problems.

      • I don’t see it as profiling when the facts are 80% of the illegals are Hispanic in Arizona, if you were to go to different parts of the country that percentage would be higher in a different race.
        If police have a previous list of everyone who has been caught there illegally because of traffic violations, or other criminal acts, and they ask for their ids, how is it wrong?
        They, as in illegals no matter what race, are scared because they know they are breaking our laws. NOT PAYING TAXES, living off of our taxpayer dollars, getting FREE EDUCATION and HEALTH CARE and personally I’m tired of supporting them! If they want to be citizens then do it the LEGAL WAY!!!! Just like any other country in the world would make you do!

  3. You see, a lot of illegal immigrants are actually paying taxes without having any access to health care and any other benefits. I push for reform because the situation cannot stay as it is. And as I have said before, it is a Tea Partier’s wet dream to deport 12 million people…

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