It's getting hot here in Arizona these days, and summer isn't even upon us yet. As you've most likely heard, the Republican-controlled State Legislature passed -- and the Republican Governor signed -- the nation's most draconian anti-immigrant law, essentially creating a class of new "status crimes" and opening a Pandora's Box of racial profiling implications. While for too many of us who live here such sentiments among state officials aren't exactly novel, the shocking "where are your papers?" aspects of the law (SB 1070) have raised a much-deserved national furor.
As is almost always the case, there's more to this than meets the eye. Yes, this is part of an ideologically-motivated and racially-tinged platform embraced by many in power here. In addition to perpetual anti-immigrant bills being proposed and sometimes passed, this cadre has been targeting education both through severe budget cuts and a form of pedagogical purification in which it will quite likely soon be illegal to teach anything that is deemed "anti-American" (HB 2281). Apparently, the irony of passing these two bills in near succession must be lost on those who would contravene constitutional law and moral sensibility in the name of American purity.
It's the Economy, Stupid
We've been living in a political desert here for a long time, and irony is only relevant if it can be strip-mined. While the state's coffers have precipitously hit their nadir, legislators have rolled out corporate tax breaks, passed "birther" requirements for ballot access, forced our public education system down to the bottom rung, and shilled for more concealed weapons in our midst. Now we get apartheid laws that even go so far as to criminalize anyone who transports, harbors, employs, or attempts to shield from enforcement an "unauthorized alien" (which is of course a euphemism for "illegal immigrant," which is in turn a euphemism for "persona non grata"). SB 1070 further cracks down on "day laborers" and those who utilize said labor, indicating an obvious anti-Latino strain permeating this shameful legislative act.
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