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Guest opinion

One month after SB 1070, change seen in Arizona

Randy Parraz will change state's legacy, after he wins Senate race

It was one month ago that Arizona changed.

One month ago, Gov. Jan Brewer signed the draconian bill SB 1070 into law, legalizing racial profiling. One might think that Russell Pearce would be disqualified from writing our state's laws after being forced to resign in scandal as head of the state's MVD. But not in Arizona.

Arizona is one of the most beautiful states in the nation, with the most national parks of any state. We also have the most Native American land set aside for reservations and Navajos, Hopi, Tohono O'odham are just a few of the groups you will find who call Arizona home, in addition to my own people, the Yaquis.

Arizona also has huge, beautiful tracts of land set aside as wilderness areas, with no roads and no plans to build on them. If you want to travel through them, you must leave nothing behind and not alter anything.

It is exactly this beauty – the sacred Baboquivari wilderness area, the land of the Tohono O'odham nation – that has brought the recent ugliness to our state in the form of racism and xenophobia.

The TO nation does not know the imaginary line in the sand. It extends into Sonora. These are a people who have been migrating across this desert before Christopher Columbus. You really think a 12-foot fence in the middle of the desert is going to stop them?

What has changed?

If you have a large uneducated population, the way you win the people over is through heated propaganda. With a perfect mix of fear, beautiful women, and flashy graphics, the gullible are easily swayed.

Before, in presidential politics, the issue was abortion.Then the right got smarter and added gay marriage to the mix.

But now the right can now tap into something even more fundamental in humans, something more powerful too: racism and xenophobia.

We now have a black president. This has immediately brought out the worst in some. It began with the birther movement that still continues today. The black president isn't even American.

Now this would seem easily dismissed, but there a double-digit percentage of people who believe this, and it does something even more destructive, it moves the extreme right even more to the right, and so now venturing in unsafe territory is now considered "moderate."

And it gets worse.

Arizona was home to the Hohokam for ages, and home to the many native American groups who still live here. This land was also officially Mexico before it was the U.S. If you look at a timeline of people living here, it would be only brown-skinned people for most of it, and even now brown-skinned people make up a big chunk of the population.

Who is calling whom an immigrant?

Arizona is the ancestral home to my family. You are welcome to join us, but don't feel like you own the place now and try to kick us out!

This has led to a new level of awareness in Arizona and in Tucson. The race issue is right here, right before us.

From birther bills, to SB 1070, to HB 2281 – which bans ethnic studies from being taught in TUSD – and the upcoming SB 1097.

There is also an attempt to ban English teachers with an accent . . . but not just any accent, only Spanish accents.

When SB 1070 was signed into law, our own U.S. Sen. John McCain came out in favor of it.

From the only democratic candidate at that time – Rodney Glassman – no public speeches showing disapproval. A blog post here, an email there . . . nothing much from someone who wants to be a member in the body that will be in charge of immigration reform, the U.S. Senate.

But out of all the ugliness that Arizona has been mired in, came a labor and civil rights activist who is now ready to replace McCain!

Randy Parraz, who organized with Dolores Huerta to fight for the farmworkers, will be our next U.S. senator from Arizona!

And the community has come together like never before. The hatred and xenophobic ignorance is present for sure, but at least now it is out in the open . . . and now we are ready to take it on!

Arizona is a special place and the future will be determined by what happens here. The next generation of leaders is being forged right now.

Fear is gone. And that's what scares our racist legislature.

One month later, the consciousness of Tucson continues to change. There is something special going on here.

David is a doctoral candidate in Applied Mathematics and works in the field of anthropological genetics at the University of Arizona. Born and raised in Tucson, he received his undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Computer science, and is also working on science documentaries as a scientific advisor and producer with VientoFuego productions, also based in Tucson.


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8
3 comments
May 28, 2010, 9:53 am
-0 +1

mariposa asserted:

Why shouldn’t kids in ESL classes be allowed the same privilege by being taught by native English-speakers?

Was there a law that stated only native Spanish speakers could teach Spanish? The situation didn’t require that the Spanish teacher have a native accent to be an effective Spanish teacher, but it was helpful. In the same way, an ESL teacher doesn’t have to have an English accent to be an effective English teacher. Maybe we should make it a law that only British people can teach English here. That would be a right kerfuffle!

Of course people should be able to come here, but legally.  I’m required to have a passport and visa to travel to foreign countries, and I’m expected to play by the rules of the countries I visit.

So why is it that you aren’t living in the countries where immigrants are expected to play by the rules? If you value that form of immigration enforcement, what makes the U.S. the place to be? I’m not telling you to leave, mind you. I’m asking what makes the U.S. so great, if we can’t even get our immigration policies in order? Is it because we value freedom above immigration laws? Is it because freedom includes not showing your citizenship identification wherever you go, and that you aren’t considered a suspect because you look different. Along with this freedom come some unfortunate problems like what we are seeing right now. The solution is to find out how to remain free while tackling these issues, it is not to become like the countries that don’t value freedom in the highest regard.

For Calderon to cry foul when his immigration laws are much harsher is completely bogus, like “Keep my nationals in your country illegally and don’t punish them, but if one of your nationals illegally crosses the border to my country, I get to lock them away for a felony”.  Seems like laws are only p.c. if it makes the grass greener for Calderon’s people on the other side of the “imaginary line”.  He’s clearly “afraid of the outside world”.  Why can’t the Arizona or US government have those same views?

As I said above, we can’t have those same views because we aren’t aspiring to be Mexico or any other country. We aspire to remain the land of the free, and that means whatever Calderon says doesn’t mean squat. What WE say and do is what matters.

The US is a wonderful place because of immigration, yes, but I feel that my great-grandfather’s hard work saving up money to afford passage by boat to Ellis Island is cheapened by people who are here illegally.  He saved up enough money for himself and his future wife, and had money to get on his feet after getting to the US.  Now, the way to get into this country legally is to have some desired work skill, something that makes you an asset.  How is that not fair in a nation with God-only-knows-how-much debt where there are millions of people already on welfare and food stamps?

What your great-grandfather did was very admirable. What the immigrants do today, does not cheapen anything. This situation is far different. Do you really think people would risk crossing a massive desert if they had another option? Let’s see, fill out some papers and pay a fee or walk hundreds of miles through scorched desolation. I really doubt the choice is that simple. Perhaps the wait time is too long or perhaps the fee is too great. I don’t really know. But for people to risk their lives like that speaks volumes to me.

It’s interesting you mentioned Ellis Island. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty does not read: “Give me your strong, your rich, and those who have some desired work skill.” No, it does not say that at all.

7
3 comments
May 27, 2010, 4:28 pm
-1 +0

katohater - Why not consider this:  During the 8 years that I took Spanish classes (HS through university level), I only ever had native Spanish-speaking teachers.  Because they were natives, I learned how to mimic their accent(s) and can comprehend spoken Spanish very well.  It is my 2nd language, so it’s a bit harder to speak it in response, but my comprehension is impeccable.  Why shouldn’t kids in ESL classes be allowed the same privilege by being taught by native English-speakers?

What you and a lot of people against SB1070 don’t understand is that it’s already a FEDERAL law.  Currently, federal agencies, i.e. Customs and Border Patrol, are the only ones that can question immigration status.  Illegal immigrants just keep returning to the US after being sent across the border for infractions.  Speeding, car accidents, other offenses for which I would be held accountable, there is no way to enforce the laws that already stand and hold someone who is an illegal immigrant accountable and under scrutiny when they can simply up and leave for the next town over with no record of them existing on the books.  Of course people should be able to come here, but legally.  I’m required to have a passport and visa to travel to foreign countries, and I’m expected to play by the rules of the countries I visit.

For Calderon to cry foul when his immigration laws are much harsher is completely bogus, like “Keep my nationals in your country illegally and don’t punish them, but if one of your nationals illegally crosses the border to my country, I get to lock them away for a felony”.  Seems like laws are only p.c. if it makes the grass greener for Calderon’s people on the other side of the “imaginary line”.  He’s clearly “afraid of the outside world”.  Why can’t the Arizona or US government have those same views?

The US is a wonderful place because of immigration, yes, but I feel that my great-grandfather’s hard work saving up money to afford passage by boat to Ellis Island is cheapened by people who are here illegally.  He saved up enough money for himself and his future wife, and had money to get on his feet after getting to the US.  Now, the way to get into this country legally is to have some desired work skill, something that makes you an asset.  How is that not fair in a nation with God-only-knows-how-much debt where there are millions of people already on welfare and food stamps?

6
3 comments
May 27, 2010, 3:23 pm
-0 +1

TheRumpledOne opined:

Simple question:
What happens if someone jumps the fence and wanders around a gated community without an ID and a resident of the community calls the cops saying someone that doesn’t look like they belong here is roaming the streets?  The cops arrive. They would ask the wanderer a few questions.  If wanderer does not have a valid reason for being inside the gated community, the cops would escort them out, wouldn’t they? Isn’t a country, like the USA, a “gated community”, too?

It’s only like a gated community if you’re afraid of the outside world. We’re all humans, no matter what we look like and no matter what imaginary lines we draw to divide ourselves.

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Courtesy David Morales