Friday, May 7, 2010

Whiteness and the new Arizona immigration law.

This is a guest post from Butterfly who blogs over at Xicanisma

image I am a radical/revolutionary/progressive Chicana feminist. I am also an undergraduate student studying Psychology in hopes of going to graduate school in Clinical Psychology to become a Clinical Psychologist with emphasis in ethnic and gender studies.

I have been doing a lot of reading on this topic: from bloggers, to news articles, to op-eds. I have many issues with this law, but the terrible implication from this is the racial profiling of innocent citizens and immigrants.

I understand there are laws of this country, however, just because something is a law does not make it right. I have drastically "liberal" views on immigration that I won't be addressing in this post. I will be addressing Arizona and the White people who find the goodness in the law.

This law upsets me more than just the racial implications. My mother and her family were migrant workers in the summer and would travel the southwest and west to work the fields. Half of my relatives on my mother's side are "brown" and the other half are "white". I am pretty sure they would have been stopped if this law would have been in place back then. (On a random note, my mother was ironically born in Phoenix, and on her birth certificate she is "white", there was no way of knowing statistically who was Latino...)

I want to first differentiate between two terms I see wrongly used. In this article: the author uses the word "migrant" and "immigrant" interchangeably. I believe the author meant to use immigrant is someone who crosses borders; a migrant is someone who moves around for work. Yes, sometimes a migrant can be an immigrant, but a migrant is not always an immigrant, hence why people need to understand the difference. Understanding the differences between these words is crucial for those who think they are one in the same, and therefore mistakenly think "migrants" need to leave the country...

When reading many of the articles and such that I have read, I have seen many hateful comments. The comments that bother me the most in these articles are those that imply that Latino people will not be targeted. "WHERE DOES IT SAY THAT IT WILL TARGET LATINOS? HUH WHERE? THERE ARE EASTERN EUROPEAN AND CANADIAN IMMIGRANTS TOOOOO!" "Ohhhh but it doesn't SAY in there that it will target Latinos" "You will only be stopped if you have violated a law" "If they have probable cause they should be allowed to stop you" "I don't have any problems showing my papers, so why wouldn't Latinos?". I'm going to make a list to counter argue these implicitly racist and ignorant remarks.

1. Considering that Arizona's LEGAL amount of Latinos (obviously primarily Mexican American citizens) is at least 30% percent of the state's population, it is obvious that Latinos would get stopped. Do you honestly think they will target Eastern European or Canadian immigrants? Fat chance.

2. Probable cause is something that is so vague that I have many problems with it. My problems aside, what is probable cause under this new law? It never states what probable cause they are talking about in the beginning... Now, if I am driving and I have pot smoke coming out of my car windows, is that probable cause? I think so. Driving while brown? Not so much...

3. YOU (white people) don't have a problem showing your papers because you know there is like a 1% chance of you being stopped in Arizona. One lady on a Facebook "Shame on Arizona" fanpage trolls the statuses and comments and keeps reiterating this statement. She claims she has to show her ID every single day. I don't know where she works or what her daily schedule is, but most people only have to scan something with identification to get in. Unless you work for the government or something, most Americans don't have to show identification to someone on a daily basis. Now, if I am going to enter a government building and they are asking EVERYONE for their identification, I will be more than happy to oblige. In this case, Arizona is not asking everyone for their papers, therefore this argument is trash...

4. Most people do not understand the history of racism that the Southwest has inflicted upon Mexicans and Mexican Americans. I am not going to pretend I am an expert, however I know a thing or two. In 1954 there was a little something called "Operation Wetback" in which many illegal immigrants and their U.S.-born children were deported back to Mexico. Often times, Mexican nationals who were here legally were also sent back...

Whatever a person's opinions are about this new law, let's not pretend for one second that this law does not target people of Latino descent. I even appreciate racists for at least acknowledging that they are racist and that this law is also racist. I wont accept comments that pretend that race relations in this nation have improved since Barack Obama took office. Things have gotten much worse. Whenever things seem to look good for minorities, White people get upset and start getting uppity. They start to claim reverse racism and that social programs are only helping minorities and other things that portray them as the victim. Just because YOU don't THINK that this law will inevitably lead to profiling, doesn't mean you are right. All of the signs and current uprise of upset rich, educated, white people will lead to a social upheaval sooner or later.

Finally, the only way to curve the uproar, at least on the minority side, is for President Obama to address immigration reform in the next few months. The fact that more and more states are considering proposing similar laws means that action must be taken to make sure that: 1) Other states who propose these laws get shut down immediately 2) The Arizona legislature will be forced to withdraw this law. The sooner the process starts, the sooner comprehensive reform will be at the table, instead of avoiding it like we did back in 2006 when things got heated.

This law is no longer solely about immigrants; it's about social justice and human decency.