The Next Big Issue

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Supporters of fair immigration law reform marched on the State Capitol in Arizona in 2007. Photo via everchanging on Flickr

With a resolution to reform the financial system on the horizon, the question remained what would be the next (and probably last) major federal legislative effort before the midterm elections.  It seems we have the answer.  On Friday, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona signed what is being called the nation’s toughest immigration policy into law.  How far reaching is the newly signed bill?

As the New York Times explains, the new law:

would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally… In addition, it allows people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state immigration law is not being enforced.

The aspect getting the most attention is the idea that law enforcement must inquire about an individuals immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal. To me, it seems as if the legislature in Arizona is trying to encourage racial profiling and has turned a blind eye to the seemingly obvious civil rights issues that will arise.

The situation makes clear that the immigration system in America is broken and needs to be fixed.  We need to start the process of coming up with solutions to the issues to avoid letting anger and fear be the principles of our legislation and letting the threat of a primary challenge be the impetus for bad policy.  Immigrants built America; many of whom came through this very city. As of 2000, 0ver 20% of New Yorkers were born in a foreign country and this share continues to rise.  Not only is New York unique in its high immigrant population, our own Senator Schumer is the chair of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship — so he will the point person for the Senate’s effort on reform.

In the wake of the new legislation in Arizona we need to vocalize how bad the policy really is and get the message out that a solution is needed.  Who’s in? (At the very least, nearly 200K on the Facebook Group One Million Strong AGAINST Arizona Immigration Law SB1070 –that number is as of Sunday night.)

Dan is Chair of the CASE (Community & Social Equity) Committee. To join the fight for fair and just immigration reform, email him at case [at] gomyd [dot] com or come to the next meeting. The Committee is also hosting a dinner to raise awareness about food security issues on May 11, Food for Thought: Hunger in NYC.

Huffington Post: Arizona Immigration Sparks National Uproar
New York Times: Arizona Enacts String Laws on Immigration