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Washington, DC – The Arizona State House of Representatives just voted in favor of Draconian legislation that declares open season on immigrants and Latinos in the state. If signed into law by the governor, S.B. 1070 – the so-called “Safe Neighborhoods” bill — would make every undocumented worker in Arizona guilty of a criminal offense and require state and local police to go after them. Supporters of the legislation have cited clothing, music or an accent as details that should prompt a criminal investigation—a suggestion that should send chills through the entire population, not just Latinos, for its blatant endorsement of profiling by appearance instead of behavior.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“Arizona Republicans have just made a mistake of ‘Proposition 187’ proportions, by voting along party lines to support a piece of legislation that treats every immigrant and Latino in Arizona like a common criminal and does nothing to fix our broken immigration system. The Governor must veto this irresponsible legislation that will undermine community policing, cost millions for Arizona to defend in the courts, and take us further away from the goal of a rational, controlled, and smart immigration system.”
California’s notorious 1994 Proposition 187, which barred undocumented immigrants from receiving an array of social services but was widely seen as an attack on all immigrants and Latinos, marked a political turning point in the immigration debate in that state. As National Public Radio noted years later, the “subsequent backlash among the Latino community may have been largely responsible for turning California into a solidly blue state.” In Arizona, S.B. 1070 passed the state house on a party line vote, with all 35 Republicans voting yes, 21 Democrats voting no and 4 Democrats not voting. It will go back to the Senate to approve House-passed changes and proceed to the Governor’s desk for signature or veto.
Not only is S.B. 1070 a dangerous political move for Republicans in a state where Latino voters make up 15% of the population, but it is a dangerous policy proposal as well. Law enforcement leaders from across the country have denounced policies like S.B. 1070 that encourage racial profiling, place major unfunded mandates on budget-strapped state and local police, upend law enforcement priorities, and destroy relationships between crime victims and police charged with protecting them.
Sharry concluded: “The real answer to the crisis of illegal immigration is not criminalizing undocumented workers, but passing comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.”
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.