The irony of the Arizona law (pdf here) outlawing “immigrating-while-poor-and-brown” is that Arizona has 22 federally recognized native American tribes — people who suffered the onslaught of European colonists in successive waves. From the point of view of the First Nations United, Arizona’s law is based on power “established by an immigrant and illegal settler colonialist government, which has consistently relied on the genocide and mistreatment of the original peoples of this continent.”
As the first peoples of this continent, we pose this question to Governor Brewer, Senator Russell Pearce, and law enforcement in the state of Arizona, “Who are you to check for documents?”
Who indeed? If Arizonans start pointing a finger at the new arrivals, they have three fingers pointing back at themselves.
Undocumented migrants have a right to work here because they deserve economic reparations for failed U.S. economic policies and disastrous military interventions.
Hundreds of thousands march for immigration rights in Chicago, May 1, 2006. Credit: Alana Price.
We hardly need another symptom of the spiritual and social bankruptcy of the system, but this new Arizona law targeting and criminalizing undocumented migrants is a good example. You might know that Gov. Jan Brewer signed last week a new law that broadens police power to stop anyone at anytime for virtually any reason simply for looking suspiciously like an undocumented immigrant. It is supposed to take effect in August, but this is unlikely since it is probably unconstitutional and will face a barrage of court challenges.
This Saturday, May Day, the traditional day for workers rights, more than 70 cities are planning protests against the law, and boycotts against Arizona are spontaneously spreading — as they should. Mexican taxi cab drivers are apparently refusing to pick up anyone from Arizona, and the Mexican government has issued a travel advisory warning Mexicans of the danger of traveling through Arizona. In California, pressure is growing to join the boycott.
In the midst of this uproar, few are asking one simple question: Why? Why do so many Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans enter the U.S. by the most dangerous and expensive route possible?