Feathered Bastard

Arizona's Apartheid: Anti-Immigrant Legislation Advances in Arizona State Senate

The process of ethnic cleansing in Arizona is a step closer to fulfillment today thanks to neo-Nazi-hugger and state Senator Russell Pearce and his allies. Pearce's Senate Bill 1175, which passed the Committee of the Whole and is likely headed for its third and final read on Monday, will force law personnel in all cities, towns and counties in the state to enforce federal immigration law, inquire after an arrestee's immigration status, and turn undocumented persons over to the feds if local charges are dropped.

Even more insidiously, the bill makes it "unlawful for a non-U.S. citizen to enter into or be on any public or private land if the person is in violation of federal immigration law."

Essentially, the bill criminalizes an entire class of persons, and will de facto make everyone with brown skin suspect. Hispanics are already second-class citizens in this state. This bill will codify that fact, and make the parallels between South Africa under apartheid and modern-day Arizona even more blatant.

Another worrisome piece of lawmaking comes in the form of SB 1280, which makes it a felony to "conceal, harbor or shield from detection in any place an illegal alien." (Republican state Senator Jonathan Paton was the prime sponsor of this bill.) If SB 1280 gives you creepy flashbacks to the first time you read Anne Frank's diary, you're not the only one. (The analogy is admittedly inexact, but alas, unavoidable.) SB 1280 also passed COW, and is expected to go to its third read Monday.

For both bills, there was precious little in the way of debate or discussion. State Senator Leah Landrum Taylor had a question for Pearce on the jurisdictional problems inherent with SB 1175, and Minority Leader Jorge Garcia offered a floor amendment to hold employers accountable under criminal law, but it was summarily voted down.

As to why the Dems were not more vocal in opposition to these two bills, Senator Garcia indicated that in the case of Pearce's 1175, there had been more opposition last year. But this year, with a new political reality and a new Governor, fewer members were passionate about the issues involved.

"When you don't have the votes to stop it," said Garcia, "there's nothing you can do."

Garcia said that the bills were essentially giving "Myself and my granddaughter more reasons to hate Republicans." He expressed little hope that they could be stopped from becoming law.

Nevertheless, Arizona's Border Action Network has mounted a last-ditch effort to stymie the bills. The public can urge their Senators to vote against them at the organization's Web site, borderaction.org. Still, all of those in the pro-immigrant community need to be down at the state capitol in large numbers raising Cain on Monday if they want to slam the breaks on these bills at the last minute.

And while I'm on the subject, the Dems need to learn that even if you go down, you need to go down swinging and get your licks in. In other words, make them pay for it. If the Arizona Democratic Party cannot pitch a fit over such odious legislation, it is worthless as a political entity, and doesn't deserve anyone's vote.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons