Arizona Immigration Reform Requirement: Nix Six Month Wait

Arizona has a different reality for the undocumented than in most parts of the country.

So there are different demands the pro-immigrant community should make on the U.S. Congress in regards to comprehensive immigration reform, if any positive effect is to be felt soon in Sand Land.

See also: -Jan Brewer's Bigoted Policy Denying Driver's Licenses to DREAMers in Federal Judge's Hands -Bill Montgomery Is No Immigration Moderate

Here, self-deportation remains an article of faith among the GOP's grassroots.

Senate Bill 1070's author, former state Senate President Russell Pearce, may be recalled and disgraced, but he is also First Vice Chair of the Arizona Republican Party, and he is still popular among the party's rabid base.

Governor Jan Brewer's administration continues to defend SB 1070 in court, and Brewer cruelly continues to deny driving privileges to DREAMers who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office persists in raiding restaurants and other places of work, hunting for undocumented dishwashers, waiters and laborers.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery ensures that these mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are held nonbondable, and coerced into pleading guilty to charges that will make them deportable.

Section 2(b) of 1070 -- the law's apartheid section, which essentially makes every brown person in the state subject to search and seizure -- remains in place.

And, "Attrition through enforcement," 1070's intent, is public policy. The phrase is enshrined in Arizona statute.

So when I read in the New York Times about the elements of the "delicate compromise worked out over weeks of negotiations" by U.S.Senators on a pending CIR bill, I wonder if it will affect positively the human rights crisis that continues to separate families and keep those who would benefit from CIR in jail or in the shadows.

There's a lot, at first whiff, that stinks about this "broad outline" -- the further militarization of the border and the throwing of billions more into the black hole of the U.S.-Mexico line, for instance.

Or the proposal that it may take 10 years before the undocumented can take advantage of any pathway to citizenship, which seems far too long to wait for many people who have been here for decades.

Even after another decade, there's a possibility of glitches that could block that pathway. It's almost as if these Senators are hoping a good portion of the 11 or 12 million here will die off while waiting.

I accept that we on the pro-immigrant side of the equation will not get everything we want. But the worst part of this plan from the perspective of those of us fighting a daily war against a highly virulent strain of nativism, is a particularly nasty catch.

"As drafted, the legislation would provide as much as $3.5 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to set up a five-year border security plan," reads the article. "Officials must present the plan within six months, and no immigrants can gain any provisional legal status until the plan is in place. It would include a program to finish any border fencing that border agents deem necessary." (Italics are mine.)

If this provision survives the vetting process, it will send a green-light to certain nefarious Sand Land politicians and law enforcement satraps who have embraced ethnic cleansing with enthusiasm.

There's the possibility of Arpaio revving up his employer-raids full-bore, and Montgomery will still prosecute those Arpaio collars as if they are actual criminals.

Section 2(b), requiring that cops, when they have "reasonable suspicion" to believe someone they've stopped is in the country illegally, check that person's immigration status, is in place, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Which means pretextual stops and racial profiling: Unconstitutional, sure, but that's not going to stop a police officer with ill intent.

Politicians such as Brewer, Arpaio, and Bill Montgomery have all the morality of the Child Catcher in the classic kid's film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They must be halted from doing more damage in that six month window, should that bullet point survive.

We still don't know what federal Judge G. Murray Snow is going to do in his long-awaited decision in the ACLU's racial-profiling lawsuit Melendres v. Arpaio.

It's possible there may be some relief for the targets of nativist oppression there or in the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit against Arpaio.

But we cannot count on it.

That six month period must be eliminated, or there should be a moratorium on all deportations during that period.

Or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement should stop taking custody of undocumented prisoners from Arizona.

Otherwise, the suffering will intensify during that half-year time frame. And the undocumented in Arizona have suffered enough.

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