Immigrants deserve rights

Story by Zeke Witter

By now I think it’s safe to assume that even the most politically uninvolved among us have, even if inadvertently, become aware of Arizona Senate Bill 1070. That being the case, it is this humble writer’s opinion that the lot of you had better speak out against this heinous affront to human rights or be found guilty of complacency and ignorance and undeserving of the Constitutional rights that protect you.

Somehow, despite immense controversy and national attention, the Arizona State Senate and its Governor, Jan Brewer, have managed to make racism by a government agency not only legal, but mandated by law. You, the good reader, have undoubtedly heard of this bill from one source or another.

Whether your source was the alienating intellectuals, Olbermann and Maddow in the MSNBC ivory tower; the mouthpieces of hatred and racism, Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity; or the satirists, Stewart and Colbert, who make all of the aforementioned pundits look stupid on a regular basis, you’ve more than likely not read the bill yourself.

The exact wording of the section of the bill under scrutiny, according to the Arizona State Legislature’s official website, www.azleg.gov, reads as follows: “For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town, or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person.”

Too much political jargon for you? That’s why we have our lovable political pundits to paraphrase and distort. Make a decision for yourself. What constitutes “reasonable suspicion,” in your opinion? You are an Arizona law enforcement official. You make a traffic stop, and the driver of the vehicle is a Caucasian woman with a minivan full of hamburgers and Springsteen albums. Are you reasonably suspicious? What if the driver appears to be of Hispanic descent and doesn’t speak English?

The simple fact of the matter is that Arizona has taken a giant leap backwards in time and progress and has invited racial profiling back into the political discussion. This issue transcends party lines. Wherever your alliances lie, you are a citizen of the U.S. first, and therefore you are charged with maintaining and upholding its values and reputation.

The above-mentioned section of SB1070 in no way coincides with those values, which are allegedly inherent in all Americans: freedom, liberty, justice.

These words have been manipulated and mutilated to such a degree that we the people are no longer sure what they mean or when they apply, and they’ve been lost for all U.S. citizens of color living in Arizona, particularly those of Hispanic descent.

They will be targeted for the color of their skin, the subcultures with which they identify and their first language.

They will be hassled and mistreated. They will be distinctly differentiated from Caucasians, and this differentiation will lead to infringements upon their rights.

What, in all the wisdom of law, could possibly lead the governing body of Arizona, or any person who calls him- or herself an American, to disregard the offense of this bill?

It is unconscionable and wrong, and if you aren’t doing what you can to speak out against it, to any degree, then you’ve aligned yourself with the thoughtless, racist and intolerant of this country and are unworthy and undeserving of the basic human rights allowed by its founding principles and its Constitution. Voice your dissent.

Witter is a junior English major and guest columnist for The Spectator.