19 April 2010

Action Alert: Immigrants' Rights Attacks in Arizona Underscore Urgency of Reform

In the last week, the Arizona Legislature and Obama's own Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have proven just how crucial it is that Congress debate and pass just immigration reform now.

Arizona lawmakers -- short of the Governor, who has yet to sign it into law [call on her to veto it here] -- passed a virulently anti-immigrant bill that even the New York Times editorial board says "verges on a police state." Meanwhile, on April 15, ICE conducted massive, military-like raids in Arizona, unleashing over 800 federal, state and local authorities in Nogales, Rio Rico, Tucson and Phoenix. Their stated objective was to target "human smuggling networks," but the greatest outcome was instilling unshakeable terror and fear among immigrants -- a majority of whom are now women -- and their families.

Not coincidentally, the raids took place just days before a key deadline to return 2010 Census forms. Before the Census count began, Ms. Foundation grantee, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), led an effort, which we and over 200 other organizations joined, demanding that the Obama Administration follow precedent and temporarily suspend raids and other harmful enforcement activities to encourage greater immigrant participation. Their response? One of the most sweeping, "dragnet" immigration raids since Obama's term began.

There is still a small sliver of hope: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has yet to sign the anti-immigrant legislation. Whether you live in Arizona or not, raise your voice in support of immigrants' rights and send Gov. Brewer a message demanding that she veto it now.

If passed, according to NNIRR, the bill (SB 1070) would:
  • Criminalize all undocumented immigrants as "trespassers" in the state of Arizona. SB 1070 would subject all undocumented workers and their families to arrest and conviction for misdemeanors, and in some cases felony charges for the new crime of "trespass" (reminiscent of HR 4437, the 2005 'Sensenbrenner bill').
  • Legalize unchecked racial profiling by police of anyone they "suspect" is undocumented.
  • Give police the authority to enforce federal immigration law and arrest people who cannot produce identification proving their legal residency in the U.S.
  • Give police the power to investigate and entrap employers for hiring undocumented workers.
  • Make seeking work illegal for day laborers and force all individuals, regardless of immigration status or citizenship, to carry identification papers or be subjected to detention and even deportation. Public agencies and service providers would have authority to demand identification documents from any person.
Arizona has long been a flashpoint for anti-immigrant fervor -- strong enough to bleed across state lines. That said, this bill wouldn't just undermine the rights of communities of color and immigrants in Arizona, but nationwide -- particularly with national reform (potentially) on the horizon. Groups like NNIRR are already concerned that federal lawmakers' idea of "reform" -- like the proposal submitted by Senators Schumer and Graham -- will lead to increased reliance on local law enforcement and therefore, heightened criminalization.

So join NNIRR, call for the veto of SB 1070, and "send a signal to Congress, the Obama Administration and the country that further criminalization of immigrant workers, families and communities will not solve the problem." We certainly don't need one more roadblock to reform.

No comments:

Post a Comment