Last Spring, the Arizona State Legislature passed the now infamous Senate Bill 1070, more commonly referred to as SB1070 across the United States. The bill outlines Arizona’s revised guidelines for handling illegal immigrants within the state boundaries. Essentially, it downgrades the crime of crossing the border illegally to a lesser charge, sets a few fines, makes it illegal to stop outside Home Depot to pick up workers, and explains what the government can do to your car if they find an illegal immigrant hanging around in your backseat.
What got everyone really worked up though was the potential for racial profiling. According to the law, there had to be probable cause to pull someone over. Probable cause for a policeman in downtown Phoenix means forgetting to use a turn signal, or driving 46mph in a 45 zone. After years of fighting a drug war, the police don’t spend much time considering how probable the cause is. Because of heightened political tension and the desire to end the drug cartel battles, the bill became law and the law enforcement jumped on board. Arizona Boycotts started in states all across the nation. Everything was banned, from large business conferences at Phoenix hotels, to Arizona Iced Tea (which by the way, is made somewhere in New York). The point is people were angry, inside and outside the state.
That being said, I know the situation is different because of the citizenship status, but consider for a moment all of the legal citizens from Central and South America. The week after Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070 into law, church attendance at predominantly Hispanic churches dropped by more than thirty percent. Many legal families pulled their children out of school because of the intense politically-driven hatred that the law inspired. The fax machines at a church headquarters which openly opposed the law, were backed up for a week with hate mail and death threats. The leader of the organization was a third-generation Mexican-American. Yet she feared for her and her family’s safety.
As people interpret the law, more and more believe that it states that because that man has darker skin, he is a lesser human being than I am. Regardless of citizenship status, the attitude toward any Hispanic person residing in Arizona changed with the passing of SB1070.
This may sound familiar. It should sound familiar. Government law has become the backbone of a hate movement in 2010. Shouldn’t we have moved past racial profiling and racial discrimination? Or did we not learn the first time around?