Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arizona's Illegal Immigration Law

The following is a transcript of a Facebook conversation I had with my good friend (known here as Schlomo).

What do you think about this Arizona law and immigration reform issue?

I'm conflicted.
I don't think the law was necessarily racist in intent.
That said, in execution, there is almost no other potential outcome.
It doesn't just legalize racial profiling; it makes it mandatory.
On what basis can a police officer "suspect" that a driver is an illegal immigrant except by seeing the color of his or her skin as he or she passes by?
I think there are more effective ways to deal with the issue of illegal immigration.


The violation of civil liberties encompassed by this statute more than outweighs any possible benefits.

Yeah. Agreed.

What do you think?

I agree with what you said.
Except I do think the law had some racist intent.
I think people down there don’t only dislike Mexicans because they are here illegally.

I think there was definitely some racist intent.

it also has to do with their culture.

I just don't lump the law's supporters with, say, the Tea Partiers, who I think are overwhelmingly racist.
To me, the key question is this:
Do they have a legitimate potential grievance, or is the entire basis of their claim manufactured?

I was watching the back in forth between their head of police last night. He seemed pretty damn racist.

Tea Partiers don't have any legitimate grievance against Obama; they hate him because they hate him. This suggests that they are secretly motivated by racism.

Tea partiers are a different lot.

Although I don't doubt that a lot of the Arizona law's supporters are secretly motivated by racism, you can't deny that there IS a legitimate grievance many of them have.
Therefore you need to view the issue as being a more complex one.

Yeah I agree about there is a real immigartion issue.
That is legitimate.
But there is also a big racial issue in many people seeing the cultural change in the country.
Tea Partiers are def not the same as these people .

Well, there probably is some overlap, but I'm not discussing group demographics so much as I am underlying motivations.

Because if they really stood for what they claim they do, like goverernment not interfering, then they would be protesting this new law right now.

I agree with you.
I'm not denying that there are many whose support of this law is due to racism.
A former Giuliani speechwriter called it "white minority syndrome".
A lot of whites, seeing that their population numbers are being overtaken by Latinos and blacks, are lashing out.

Yeah man.

In their mind, illegal immigration and the election of our first black president are all symptoms of the same problem - they are losing "their" America to non-whites, and they are angry.

Like that police chief I was telling you about.
People like him won’t be around too much longer.

That said, the key difference is that - while there are many who oppose illegal immigration because they are racist - there are also many who are legitimately worried about the issue.
That's why I point out the difference between them and the Tea Party movement.
The Tea Party movement has yet to articulate a cogent, viable reason for existing.
They are there simply because they hate President Obama.
They hate President Obama because he is black and they fear that his election marks a turning point in the dominance their race has long held in American life.
Opponents of illegal immigration are often just as racist - they worry that their numbers will be overwhelmed by Latinos, and that they will thus "lose" control of their America – BUT there are just as many who worry about security issues, the dangers posed by having an unregistered population taxing social services and other resources without our being able to properly accomodate them (due to unfamiliarity with their numbers), security issues, etc.
That's why I say it's more complex.

I agree with you on that.
I mean immigration is a real issue outside of race totally.
Now with this law it might have to be dealt with sooner than later.


Yoly said...

The only good thing that can come of this is that it forces the government to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority. The backlash of Arizona will force it to be.

Max said...

I think Frank Rich articulated it best today when he said that Arizona is only a symptom of a nation-wide epidemic of right-wing white nativism and xenophobia. This is brought on mostly by the fact that we have a black man in the White House and a Latina on the Supreme Court. As Matt correctly articulated, it is a reaction to what conservative whites perceive as the loss of their "dominance" in American life, especially in terms of population numbers. While I do agree that those defending SB1070 do so out of legitimate concerns about crime within the illegal immigrant community, I think they are on the same wavelength as the Tea Partiers who want Obama to show them his papers as well. Here is a link to the Frank Rich article in full: