The attitude of too many in the immigrant-rights community toward neo-Nazi hugger and state Senator Russell Pearce's bigoted bill SB 1070 is one of resignation and defeatism.
The bill, which passed the Arizona Senate Monday 17 to 13, would turn all cops in this state into immigration agents, and forbid cities, towns, and counties from circumscribing this unfunded mandate, allowing citizens to sue those entities that don't toe Russell Pearce's prejudiced line.
The legislation is mirrored by its House version HB 2632, and would make being undocumented in Arizona a "trespassing" offense. (Never mind that immigration law is the sole purview of the federal government.) It also makes it unlawful for a day laborer to solicit work if in the country illegally.
Additionally, there are incredible expansions of police powers, such as this Orwellian language:
"A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, WITHOUT A WARRANT, MAY ARREST A PERSON IF THE OFFICER HAS PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT THE PERSON HAS COMMITTED ANY PUBLIC OFFENSE THAT MAKES THE PERSON REMOVABLE FROM THE UNITED STATES."
"FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES, A REASONABLE ATTEMPT SHALL BE MADE, WHEN PRACTICABLE, TO DETERMINE THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF THE PERSON."
Sure, the laws don't mention race specifically. They don't have to. We all know who Russell Pearce intends them for: Hispanics, legal or illegal.
I've mentioned this legislation in a previous blog post and suggested that the local immigrant-rights community should be raising hell.
But a lot of what I'm getting from well-known advocates who don't want to go on the record is: We know it's gonna pass. So why fight it?
Talk about begging for a beating. (Um, yes, please, Mr. Pearce, may I have another?)
Fortunately, not everyone's copping this line, including local civil rights activist Lydia Guzman, President of Somos America, who's been on the local news arguing against its passage.
Another is Jennifer Allen of Tucson's Border Action Network. BAN has a place on its Web site where you can sign up to get legislative updates, e-mail your legislators and sound off.
Allen thinks there needs to be vocal opposition, even if the bill seems destined for the law books.
"We will fight the bill right up till the day it passes, and even afterward," she told me. "We long ago made a conscious decision that we were tired of going to protests of bills after they had become law. "
She thinks the defeatists need an attitude adjustment, and I agree. You get nothing by rolling over for politicians such as Pearce. You have to get your licks in, and make them pay a price, punishing them with the infamy of their deeds.
There is simply no other way.