Immigration

AZ legislature debates passing oppressive laws targeting Latinos in the state

AZ legislature debates passing oppressive laws targeting Latinos in the state

LatinaLista -- While the rest of the world is transfixed and horrified by the cruel retaliation -- some are saying it's genocide -- against protesters in Libya today by their president, Col Muammar Gaddafi, the U.S. Latino community in Arizona is battling its own onslaught of oppression by state leaders -- and not one national leader, political or otherwise, has condemned these acts that amount to a sophisticated style of genocide of Latinos in the state.

birthright-pearce_101910-1-of-1.jpgThe Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce introduced today his own immigration omnibus bill, Senate Bill 1611, in addition to the immigration bills already on the docket to be debated in the Arizona legislature today at 2 p.m.

In this Oct. 19 photo, Sen. Russell Pearce previewed his ideas on legislation that aims to take away the automatic citizenship for children born to non-citizen parents.
(Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

All the immigration-related bills directly persecute undocumented Latino immigrants. The only trouble is that in the process, all Latinos have to suffer from the same persecution.

Pearce's bill would require proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the country as a condition of school enrollment. It also would pertain to students who are home-schooled.

It would make it a crime to drive in Arizona if in the country illegally. The penalty would be immediate seizure of the vehicle, as well as a minimum 30 days in jail.

Anyone buying a car would need to show proof of legal presence before getting a state-issued title to the vehicle.

SB 1611 also would require employers to prove that they were using the federal E-Verify program to check on the legal status of any hires, or have their business licenses suspended.

The other bills that were already on the agenda had to do with: "doing away with the state's Medicaid system, denying birth certificates to children born in Arizona if one of their parents is not a U.S. citizen, requiring drug testing of welfare recipients and requiring hospitals to check the immigration status of patients who show up for non-emergency care."

And there's even one bill proposed tailored to help a rancher who was found liable in a lawsuit and ordered to pay punitive damages which was filed by a group of undocumented immigrants whom the rancher held at gunpoint.

The bill, if passed into law, would bar any Arizona court from awarding punitive damages to undocumented immigrants.

Just because the state legislators aren't using Gaddafi's tactics don't mean these bills, if passed, don't have the same consequences -- to oppress a people.

Today, Arizona's Somos Republicans held a press conference about Pearce's last-minute immigration bill and the other proposed bills. It was standing-room only at the press conference dubbed "Latinos against unconstitutional bills standing in solidarity."

Later, at the hearing to debate adoption of the bills, initial reports from those attending the 2 p.m. hearing report a mass of Tea Partiers and concerned Latinos comprising the attendees.

But where is everybody else?

Where are those Latino Republicans in other states that say they share the same values as the GOP but watch silently as members of their party persecute undocumented Latino immigrants, dragging in Latino citizens along the way?

The argument that the GOP is only targeting "lawbreaking" Latinos is an asinine argument when it's known that presumption of guilt of being an undocumented immigrant will be levied against all Latinos who fit the narrow stereotyping of the authors, sponsors and supporters of these bills.

What some members of the Arizona legislature are doing is not putting democracy in action, but rather it's creating a police state that limits the freedom and movement of all Latinos, citizens or not.

And yet, shame on all of us who continue to endorse this kind of legislative oppression and persecution, with our silence.

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