I have a rant to share, and it has to do with Arizona's bill SB1070, which was signed into law a couple of days ago. But before I get into it, allow me to begin with a bit of history and why this bill is so personal to me.
I am a Mexican and I am engaged to be married to a wonderful, intelligent, loving and smoking hot woman. The twist? She is an American. Now, other than one time and for no more than a couple hours when I was two years old, I have never set foot on the United States. We met online and, having being denied a tourist visa to visit her numerous times, she has come instead to visit me with my lovely future stepdaughter. Just this last December we spent our first Christmas together, and I must say, it was the first time I truly and thoroughly enjoyed the holidays since I was a little child.
At this point, we are in the process of filing for a K-1 Visa, also known as the "fiancée visa", so I can go there and finally spend each and every day worshiping the awesomeness that is her. We value the virtue of doing things right, so we are spending thousands of dollars on the proceedings so I can go to her legally (since she cannot move to me because of my future stepdaughter's school), going as far as risking bodily injury or worse by going to Ciudad Juarez, known for being the most violent battleground in the war on drugs - and with all the collateral damage to show for it. Why? Because the U.S. Consulate in Juarez is the only one in Mexico that will handle legal immigration paperwork, regardless of the reason for your immigration or what part of Mexico you live in.
In other words, any Mexican who has ever legally immigrated to the United States, has had to visit the most violent and dangerous city in my country and paid thousands of dollars in fees, sometimes, only to get turned down and forced into doing the process all over again.
And this is where Arizona's bill SB1070, signed into law by governor Jan Brewer this last April 23rd, gets real personal to me.
I am certain some of you have already heard about this, but for those who have not, here is what this law does.
It gives law enforcement officials the ability to stop anyone who they believe has "reasonable suspicion" of being an illegal immigrant to investigate the matter. If the "suspect" is incapable of producing his legal doc**entation on the spot, the officials are not only entitled, but obligated to take the "suspect" into custody pending further deportation or incarceration. Mind you, in Arizona, Hispanic is synonym to Illegal immigrant.
But the new law does not stop there.
If you are a legal immigrant, or worse yet, a U.S. citizen by birth but a police officer looking at you randomly in the street believes he has "reasonable suspicion" that you are, in fact, an illegal alien, they can still stop you and demand for your papers. If you cannot produce them immediately (ie. have them on your person), then they are also legally obligated to take you in for further investigation. And even if you do produce your papers after being arrested, simply by not having them with you at the moment of the arrest itself you can be subjected to heavy fines and a jail term of up to 6 months.
And still, it does not stop there.
If you do not fit the "profile" of somebody that could be suspected of being an illegal immigrant, just by being with one you can face arrest as well. And even if your friend is not an illegal and can produce his doc**entation, both will still face fines and incarceration. Why? Because you would be suspect to "harboring undoc**ented aliens". Even a Hispanic family, as is often the case in Arizona, where some members are legal and some are not, can be deported or jailed in it's entirety simply by having illegals in their midst.
Does it stop there still? Nope.
Now that Arizona has successfully set a precedent, similar bills are being worked on in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. All states where the phrase "illegal immigration" can be equated with the term "Hispanics".
Of course, there is plenty of talk about how this will hurt Arizona's economy. There are cries all over the U.S. and Latin American countries to boycott Arizona. There's outrage all over our communities and lawmakers across states and countries question the constitutionality of this law and demand it to be repealed before it goes into effect in 90 days. But, despite all that, the saddest of facts is that this law still has enough supporters in Arizona itself to make it a political win for Governor Jan Brewer during a tough reelection year.
Yes, that's right. She still made a political score.
There is something extremely wrong about conservative politics in the United States when republicans (the conservative party) cry foul against a law that would provide healthcare for all their citizens, but hail racial profiling as a step in the right direction.
As the Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Hilary O. Shelton Said: “The NAACP is deeply disappointed that Governor Brewer signed SB1070 into law. This new law effectively legalizes the incendiary practice of racial profiling and will adversely affect communities of color across Arizona. Moreover, it sets a dangerous precedent for other states to follow suit and pass similar discriminatory measures,” and she was right. Other states are already following on that very precedent.
Will activist groups already involved in the issue be able to stop it? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, the damage to Arizona and Latinos all over the United States is already done.