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It’s On

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

April 26, 2010

By Perry Redd

It’s on like popcorn!  They used to say that in the ‘hood when a challenge has been presented.  Arizona did just that; they challenged the federal government to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill Friday that requires police in her state to determine whether a person is in the United States legally, which critics say will foster racial profiling but supporters say will crack down on illegal immigration.

It’s illogical for anyone to think that you can do I.D. checks, randomly and on suspicion, and racial profiling not be in the equation, but logic has never been a political strength.  The underlying forces who pushed this state to pass this overreaching legislation are the same ones who believe that only they have the right to this country.  The “Take Our Country Back” enthusiasts are guilty of violating this country’s ethical and Constitutional principles.

The bill requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect that they’re in the United States illegally. This is eerily similar to southern Black Code laws of the post-slavery era, where blacks had to have a pass on their person when traveling between plantations.  We don’t want to go back there.  It’s factual that we, as Americans, don’t want people overstaying their visas, but that where greater enforcement of existing laws comes into play.  Why isn’t that happening?

This law also targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.  That’s where the focus should have always been…a lot of these targeted immigrants would be less inclined to enter this country if they couldn’t get work.  The fact is, corporations are complicit in this illegal immigration.  Marriot,

In 2006, the Bush administration, vowed to crack down on U.S. companies that hire illegal workers, virtually abandoning such employer sanctions before it began pushing to overhaul U.S. immigration laws.  Pressure from the corporate industrial complex, beat that effort back.  The Democrats took control of Congress that year; but with a slight majority, the Republicans killed that effort.  So who are the real culprits?

Let me give you a quick history question: Between 1999 and 2003, work-site enforcement operations were scaled back 95 percent by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which subsequently was merged into the Homeland Security Department. The number of employers prosecuted for unlawfully employing immigrants dropped from 182 in 1999 to four in 2003, and fines collected declined from $3.6 million to $212,000, according to federal statistics.

In 1999, the United States initiated fines against 417 companies. In 2004, it issued fine notices to three. Question is, with a new administration’s eyes on the ball, what now?  The Hispanics organize numbers in the tens of thousands.  Those anti-immigrant forces cannot put those kind of numbers on the street, but they are loud.  Small in number, yet loud voices—just like the Tea Party—create the illusion of consensus.  That’s a lie that the ballot box can settle. Do the anti-immigrant Republicans want to risk another round of elections without Hispanics?  Democrats—especially the Blue Dogs—better unify and get it right.

Previously, officers could check someone’s immigration status only if that person was suspected in another crime.  Brewer shot out an executive order in response to critics who argue that the new law will lead to racial profiling, saying that most police officers don’t have enough training to look past race while investigating a person’s legal status.  She went on to say, “…I am equally committed to holding law enforcement accountable should this stature ever be misused to violate an individual’s rights,” Brewer said.  We know better…it’s on!

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