This month, Arizona has passed and signed into law SB 1070, a law that allows law enforcement officials to take people to detention centers solely for not carrying their identification papers. The law directs law enforcement to scan Arizona communities for people who look like illegal immigrants. But, what does an illegal immigrant look like? The idea is that Hispanic people look like illegal immigrants. SB 1070 makes it a crime to be Hispanic without carrying proof of citizenship.
This isn’t a theoretical crime. It’s something that’s already resulted in detentions of American citizens. For example, an American truck driver has been detained for being caught without his birth certificate. He was perfectly able to produce his birth certificate later, proving that he was born in Fresno, California. Why, though, should he need to prove such a thing, merely to walk down the street? Because he’s Hispanic?
It has been pointed out that, in the Arizona state House and Senate, only Republicans voted for SB 1070. While that’s true, not all Arizona Democrats are vigorously opposing the new law.
Consider the five Arizona Democrats currently serving in the House of Representatives. Raul Grijalva has sent a letter to President Obama asking that the federal government refuse to cooperate with SB 1070, a law that clearly violates the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure of papers, as well as the Constitution’s guarantee of equality for all people under the law.
Grijalva wrote, “SB 1070 is a dangerous and mean spirited law that improperly imposes state law upon Federal prerogatives relating to matters of foreign policy, immigration and naturalization. The bill encourages racial profiling and threatens the safety and privacy of immigrants and citizens, especially Latinos. I call on your leadership to challenge, in any way possible, this un-constitutional and discriminatory law. I urge you to make clear that the Federal Government will not participate in any way in the enforcement of this law or cooperate with the state of Arizona in its implementation and execution.”
Ed Pastor released a statement opposing SB 1070 as well. He wrote, “Arizona is better than this. Our nation is better than this. Passage of this bill will severely set back all the civil rights we have fought for in this country. It’s embarrassing to continue to see our state legislature churn out these hate-filled measures that offer no real solutions and violate our civil rights.”
Both of these U.S. Representatives placed their statements prominently on their official congressional web sites, in vigorous protest against SB 1070. Arizona’s other House Democrats have not done so. Ann Kirkpatrick, Gabrielle Giffords and Harry Mitchell have posted no statements about SB 1070 on their congressional web sites at all. Neither have they made statements on their re-election campaign web sites.
It appears that Kirkpatrick, Giffords and Mitchell are willing to stay silent, and accept the abuses against their constituents’ civil rights that are now required by law under SB 1070. They didn’t have the chance to vote against the law, but they’re not lifting a finger in protest against it.