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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/26/10

Arizona - The Hate State?

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In the past, I never imagined that Arizona was a state full of xenophobic right-wing extremists. But recent events seem to suggest that it is -- at least inside the State Capitol and law enforcement circles.

It was bad enough recently when the State House of Representatives passed a bill that would require all U.S. presidential candidates to show their birth certificates in order to appear on the ballot in Arizona. This was obviously inspired by the long-since-debunked myth that President Obama is not a natural-born U.S. citizen and therefore not eligible for the presidency. Even if that bill were to pass the State Senate and be signed into law by the governor, it would amount to little more than a waste of time and taxpayer money.

But, at the same time, something far more nefarious was brewing. And, on April 23, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a draconian anti-immigration bill which essentially enshrines racial profiling in the state's Constitution. The new law requires police to question and verify the immigration status of anyone "reasonably" suspected of being an illegal alien. Previously, police could investigate someone's immigration status only if the person was suspected of another crime.

Governor Brewer, a Republican, insists that racial profiling will not be used in enforcing this new law. "Racial profiling is illegal. It is illegal in America, and it's certainly illegal in Arizona," Brewer said. Police, she insists, will be trained on "what does and does not constitute reasonable suspicion that a person is not legally present in the United States."


So will they be stopping people who look like me or like Governor Brewer -- with our blonde hair and blue eyes -- under suspicion that we might have migrated illegally from Canada or Norway? Somehow, I doubt it.

White immigrants weren't the reason why they built a border fence between Arizona and Mexico.

And white immigrants weren't the targets of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's over-the-top crusades that led to a federal investigation of apparent civil rights violations.

No, they just seem to want to crack down on the brown people.

So, if you're planning a trip to Tucson or Sedona, and your skin color is anything other than a pale shade of white, you might want to pack your passport and other forms of identification, even if you're a U.S. citizen.

On the other hand, since Obama's official birth certificate isn't good enough for them, your passport might not be good enough either.

Happy travels.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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