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Organizing to Oppose Arizona's Anti-Immigrant Bill

In July, Arizona's anti-immigrant law SB1070 goes into effect. The law is a multiple threat to people of color, to community organizing and to basic human rights.  We stand with the endless number of progressive organizations and communities against this law. 

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition says, “In the United States, no one should have to be afraid to walk down the street because of the color of their skin.”

The Applied Research Center states, “The Applied Research Center (ARC) condemns the law as an attack on immigrants and communities of color already grappling with racial profiling and disproportionately high rates of arrest and incarceration, resulting in broken trust between law enforcement and our communities.”

Valerie Fenandez recently wrote in Colorlines, “Last month, Arizona passed SB-1070, making it a crime for a person to be in the state without documentation proving their immigration status. The law also gives cops the right to use race as one factor in determining whether there’s a reason to ask for those papeles and grants citizens the right to sue cops if they’re not doing the job. But just how did Arizona get here? Not solitos.”

No, Arizona did not reach this point alone. Its bad laws are built upon bad practices of the federal government and politicians of both parties. ARC warns, “Policies like SB 1070 which clearly have disproportionate adverse impacts on people of color are emblematic of institutional racism. The Administration must take a step back from a problematic policy framework, starting with taking seriously the government’s own documents and reports highlighting the ways in which immigrants face discriminatory raids, unjust detentions and deportation quotas. What should not be lost in the SB 1070 outcry is that Arizona is taking existing federal immigration policy to its logical conclusion."

As progressive community and labor organizers, we must not look away from the role of the federal government in the current “immigration crisis”. That crisis is, to a large extent, a creature of past federal failure. It is time to enact immigration reform that includes fairness, treats workers justly including the right to participate in collective bargaining, leads to normalization including a citizenship path and unites rather than destroys families. It is time to reverse the militarization of immigration policy that streams people through deadly deserts and exploitation once in this country.

We listen to the voices of community organizers in Arizona who give their wisdom to confronting the situation in their state. We honor the students, the teachers, the parents, the athletes, the workers, the scholars, the organizers and even some police who stood up to say no to this legislation. We should learn from the groups on the ground like the Border Action Network, Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, and others.

We know there is a tendency to say this is not our problem. It is our problem, and will continue to be. If you have not already been confronted with the myths against immigrants, all immigrants (not just the undocumented), you will.

We support those organizing the resistance to racist laws and advocating for a comprehensive immigration policy. We as organizers (even those not working directly on immigration reform) need to equip ourselves and our communities with an understanding of the background to current events. Otherwise, immigration will be used as a divisive wedge issue to keep us from uniting in common cause.

We look forward to a movement that shares our goal of combating oppression in all its forms including racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and other 'isms' that divide us.  We cannot afford to be silent when “show us your papers” becomes a norm of public discourse.

by Walter Davis

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