by Reynold N Mason
Washington DC - April 27, 2010 - By now, all the world knows about SB-1070, the notorious Arizona law that makes it a crime to travel anywhere in the state without “papers”. To violate this provision of the law is to risk jail, plus a $2500.00 fine. Arizona is home to 460,000 Hispanics. No one believes that police would stop a white man and demand he present his “papers” or even harbor the vaguest suspicion that he might be undocumented. The 70 percent of Arizonians support this law do so, because they do not feel threatened by it. The slings and arrows of this law are aimed squarely at Hispanics.
It is time for Americans who value freedom, justice and fair play to become good neighbors and fight this despicable law tarnishing the global image of the State of Arizona. This enactment is a betrayal of MLK, Mandela, Gandhi and countless millions who waged war on prejudice and discrimination. Black South Africans did not end apartheid by themselves, they had the support of anti-apartheid movements across the globe, from Europe to North America, who held rallies, signed petitions and organized boycotts and sit-ins. They had the support of big business, corporations who pulled out of South Africa or ceased making loans. Those among us who admire the sacrifices of MLK, Gandhi and Mandela must be willing to follow their example.
We must remember why they fought. American blacks in particular, should bring their bitter experience and skills honed fighting Jim Crow, to the front line in the battle of Arizona. Our Hispanic brothers now face the might of an anti-immigration machinery aimed at making worse, the plight of those who are least advantaged. That is as wrong as it is unjust. We must not stand by while Arizona violates the civil rights of Hispanics under its power. It is true, that for the time being, the legislature holds all the cards. But so too, did Ian Smith, B.J. Voster and Peter Botha. Yet, in spite these despots, apartheid was discredited and its machinery of racism dismantled . Then as now, rightists legislators are joining forces with ideologically driven elements and are using the judiciary and the police to enforce their will. Let us be thankful that Arizona is a democratic state, with democratic institutions. We must use them to repeal this law.
Politics as usual
We must push for comprehensive immigration reform now, not wait for the time when Washington insiders think it politically expedient. Harry Reid, in a tough fight for re-election in his home state of Nevada, has read the writing on the wall, he says he‘ll push immigration reform, now. The 25 % Hispanic population in his home state of Nevada will be heard from come November. The White House is paralyzed and afraid to move on comprehensive immigration reform without Republican support. Even the erstwhile John McCain, he, who with Senator Kennedy in 2005, sponsored the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, which called for a guest worker program and a pathway to citizenship, has flipped. In the fight of his political life against an anti-immigration rightist, he has drifted right. Republican senate point man Mitch McConnell, on Fox News Sunday, said he didn’t think the time is right for immigration reform; “not while we have 10% unemployment and drug wars across the border”. This sentiment was echoed by Saxby Chambliss, Republican from Georgia, who believes that other issues pending in congress must take precedence over comprehensive immigration reform. It’s no longer the back of his bus; it is the back of the line.
But there are hopeful signs. The debate over comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) has galvanized the Hispanic community. Hispanics the world over, have begun to speak out in support of their Arizona brothers. Hispanic leaders, like representatives Paul Grijalva and Luis Guttierez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, (CHP) have been vocal in their opposition, and Hollywood celebrities, among them, George Lopez, Eva Longoria and Ricky Martin have taken to Twitter to express their views. Ordinary citizens are finding ways to express their outrage. The Miami Herald reports that Jesus Serrano, an independent trucker, is organizing a trucker boycott. Since forty percent of all Mexican products come through Nogales, an effective trucker boycott could raise the price Mexican products this side of the border. Phoenix Mayor, Phil Gordon, says he anticipates a drop in business because of this law. That’s a good start. Together, Americans of conscience opposed apartheid and defeated Jim Crow, so there’s no reason to celebrate discrimination today in Arizona. Congress must take up CIR now. It must pass comprehensive immigration reform for America’s secutiry and prosperity (CIRASAP) that many say “secures our borders, secures our nation and keeps families together”