Pamela J. Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona
As thousands of protesters chanted outside the state capitol in Phoenix yesterday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070. The controversial legislation would require law enforcement officers to stop people whom they believe are in the US illegally and ask for identification such as a birth certificate or passport. Moreover, it gives citizens the right to sue local law enforcement if they believe they are not implementing this law.
With stories in the New York Times and on CNN, MSNBC, the Colbert Report, and local television and radio, Arizona has been under the media microscope since this bill passed both houses of the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Now that it has passed, Arizona is under the legal microscope, according to National Public Radio (NPR). President Obama has asked his legal advisors to review the civil rights implications of the legislation. Multiple civil rights groups are planning legal challenges.
If SB1070 survives these legal challenges, it will go into effect in 3 months, according to NPR.
Economic implications aside, I personally don’t see how this legislation can be fairly implemented. Thirty percent of Arizona residents are Hispanic, and many more are mixed race. By far, most are legal, but under this law they will be treated differently because of the color of their skin. Not all illegal aliens are Hispanic. There are undocumented Filipinos, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indians– you name it– in the US. Will the police be stopping them also? Where will it end?
It is my hope that passage of wrong-headed legislation like SB1070 will push the US Congress into finally passing comprehensive immigration reform.
This article originally appeared in my Progressive Examiner column. Click on the link to see the Colbert video.