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A Reminder: Why Politics Matters

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Yesterday featured some stark reminders of why politics and elections matter.

On stage at last night’s Democratic National Convention, DREAM Act advocate Benita Veliz spoke to the assembled delegates and television audience and shared her compelling personal story: “I graduated as a valedictorian of my high school class at the age of 16, and I went on to earn a double major at the age of 20…I know I have something to contribute to my economy and my country.  I just feel as American as any of my friends or neighbors.”  Benita–in the first speech from a DREAMer to be ever be addressed to a national political convention–applauded the Obama administration’s deferred action program, and called on Congress to pass a permanent, legislative solution.

Other DNC speakers, such as leading congressional immigration reform champion Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Spanish-language TV star Cristina Saralegui, referred to by some as the “Latina Oprah,” each made the case that this election presents stark choices on key issues for the Latino community.  Said Rep. Gutierrez, “The future of over 1 million good people will be decided in this election.  We can’t deny them.  President Obama is protecting immigrants.  Mitt Romney wants to send them back.”  Meanwhile, Saralegui urged Latinos to vote this November, stating: “So I’m asking today mi gente—all of my people—to join me.  Many of us come from countries where votes aren’t counted properly or are not counted at all.  Here, we Latinos have a powerful voice, but only if we use it.”

Separate from what is happening at the DNC, federal District Judge Bolton yesterday ruled that Arizona’s “show me your papers” provision (part of the state’s SB 1070 anti-immigrant law) could begin being implemented.  While Judge Bolton blocked a second provision making it illegal for people to harbor the undocumented, the decision to allow racial profiling to move forward is deeply disturbing.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

We are disappointed in the ruling that allows Arizona’s ‘show me your papers’ provision to go into effect, because there is no way this provision will be implemented without racial profiling.  Latinos comprise 30% of Arizona’s population, meaning that 30% of the state will now have to prove themselves to law enforcement simply because of the color of their skin.  As the civil rights violations add up, we hope that the courts will eventually strike down this provision and deliver a final blow to the ugly ‘attrition through enforcement’ strategy that is the purpose of the Arizona law.

But let there be no mistake – the political proceedings on display in Charlotte and Tampa are directly relevant to the profiling that will undoubtedly occur in Phoenix and Tucson.  The contrast could not be clearer.  The stakes could not be higher.  Latino voters and other Americans who reject the noxious views of Joe Arpaio, Jan Brewer, and Kris Kobach have an opportunity to voice their displeasure and vote against this view of the nation and this model of immigration policy.