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Arizona Anti-Immigration Legislation Creates Fear in Latino Residents

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvSpeDTTCVw]

Frighteningly antiquated laws have been proposed in Arizona state legislature that are as oppressive as they are unconstitutional.  S.B. 1070 includes clauses that would require officials to check the status of a person they deemed “reasonably suspicious” without any regulation or monitoring.  Such a clause not only encourages racial profiling, but it also forces government officials to stereotype the world around them in order to do their job.

Not only does the proposed legislation allow this unconscionable behavior towards minorities, it encourages it.  A second clause in the legislation allows any law enforcement officer to arrest a person at their own discretion – “an Arizona…cop has the right to unilaterally decide whether a particular offense is one for which a person could be deported” (Leopold, “Razing Arizona”).  Such an interpretation of the law has always been left in the hands of a select few – judges.  With this legislation, it seems that the interpretation is left open to anyone with a badge.

In a final blow to individual rights, the legislation requires that a lawful permanent resident carry their green cards on them at all times – a requirement too reminiscent of armband wearing to feel comfortable.

This legislation seems extraordinarily misguided and insensitive, as well as a violation of basic human rights.  It is a monumental blow to the betterment of American society – antiquated and prejudiced legislation that can only negatively affect the world – and people – around us.  While regulation is important and crucial to the immigration process, oppression is not, and this legislation seems to be more focused on the latter of the two.

SB 1070 has continued to cause uproar across the country, citing not only social damages that might be caused by the passing of the act, but now economic effects as well.  The implementation of SB1070 would have a detrimental effect on Arizona’s economy – as elaborated upon in Wendy Sefsaf’s recent article.  According to Sefsaf’s article, the economic repercussion in Arizona if SB 1070 were passed would be significant.  For a state with a 3 billion dollar budget deficit, SB 1070 proves to be a frivolous and irresponsible fiscal decision.

The Yuma County Sherriff’s office estimated costs include:

  • $775,880 to $1,163,820 to cover processing
  • $21,195,600 to $96,086,720 to cover jail costs
  • $810,067 to $1,620,134 to cover Attorney and staff fees

Maryland’s Prince William County serves as a prime example of this flawed policy.  In 2007, the county would not use county police force to enforce an immigration law because of the whopping 14 million dollars more per fiscal year it would cost them.  When it comes to Arizona, this price tag is significantly larger.

Not only was the economic output of Arizona’s immigrant population alone around 44 billion dollars, but over 35,000 businesses in Arizona are Latino owned.  This is not to say that these 35,000 Latino business owners are illegal immigrants.  However, SB 1070 would allow police to detain and question anyone at their own discretion – allowing the Arizona government to racially profile any of these minority business owners

The real question Arizona must ask itself before passing SB 1070 is whether or not it can afford to do so, both economically and socially.

Can the state afford such a societal setback?  Or is it as big a step backwards as it seems in the constant fight towards racial equality?  Can Arizona afford to enforce such a law, or would the funds it would require be better allocated to other state run programs? Most importantly, can Arizona afford to ostracize an entire population of people upon which the economic recovery of the state could very well depend?

Citations~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Razing Arizona, David Leopold: http://ailaleadership.blogspot.com/2010/04/razing-arizona.html

Immigration Impact, Wendy Sefsaf: http://immigrationimpact.com/author/wendy-sefsaf/

Implementation Costs: http://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/newsroom/release/implementation-costs-sb-1070-one-arizona-county

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