Tuesday, April 27, 2010

By The Time I Get To Arizona!!!

Arizona became a State on February 14, 1912, and from that day forward it has consistently drawn attention to itself from the rest of the nation over its ineptitude in dealing with all things racial. This state which gave us Barry Goldwater's race-based "Southern Strategy" politics is also the same state that refused to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national federal holiday (which Senator John McCain voted against btw). So even though we are not surprised by the latest developments from the Great State of Arizona, we're still irritaged by them all the same. In case you haven't heard, Arizona's latest and greatest ideas come in two flavors: (1) a state Immigration Law that was signed into law last Friday by Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer; and (2) legislation that has passed the Arizona House and is awaiting approval from the Arizona Senate that would require Barack Obama and others to show their birth certificates before Arizona will allow them to be on the Presidential ballot in 2012. It is just us or is anybody else wondering what in the hell is wrong with Arizona? The Urban Politico squad weighs in after the jump:

Lady Z's Thoughts:
Seriously, Arizona? WHAT.THE.EFF. How exactly do you think you are going to be able to "spot" an illegal immigrant on the street? I've heard it's pretty sunny in Arizona and I'm sure even white people from Iceland get a tan. Unless you are going to be able to tell by their clothes, or maybe their accent, or better yet if their last name is Garcia. Sounds great!

Except, this is the most racist, pathetic, ineffective piece of legislation I've heard of since South African apartheid. I mean we are in 2010 right? I just don't understand how you even have the man power or state budget to effectively comply with this racist law anyway besides the fact that it's not worth more than the paper it was written on.

Way to go Arizona. You have Mississippi looking liberal at the moment.

The Janitor's Legal Break Down:
Besides being clearly rooted in bigotry, I take issue with both Arizona's Birther Legislation and its Immigration Law for a different reason: they're unconstitutional. Let's start with the Birther Legislation. First of all, it's redundant. A candidate for President already has to verify their citizenship to the federal government, so who the hell is Arizona to ask for an additional verification? More importantly, in Williams v. Rhodes, the Supreme Court held that "no State can pass a law regulating elections that violates the Fourteenth Amendment's command that 'No State shall...deny to any person...the equal protection of the laws.'" 393 US 23, 29 (1968). In plain English, the Constitution doesn't allow one state to knock a candidate off of the ballot, while all 49 other states have that same candidate on the ballot. That's unequal. That would mean, for example, citizens in the state of New Mexico would have the right to vote for Candidate X while the citizens right next door in the state of Arizona would not have the same right. That's unconstitutional. (and before anybody asks, YES States have the right to regulate voting ballots...but the point is their regulations can't violate the Constitution)

With respect to Arizona's immigration law, Article I of the Constitution grants the federal government the EXCLUSIVE responsibility of controlling immigration in the United States. In other words, as a state, Arizona has no business making up Immigration Laws in the first place. Especially ones that, by their own terms, encourage the illegal activity of racial profiling. It will be all too easy for somebody to connect the dots on how the discriminatory application of this law violates the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before somebody files a lawsuit challenging Arizona's Immigration Law in federal court, and when they do, this law will be found unconstitutional. And that's not just "The Janitor's" opinion on it - this same exact stunt has been tried before by California in the 90's with their Prop 187 which got knocked out as unconstitutional for the very same reason I just mentioned. So not only are the elected officials in AZ a bunch of bigots who can't read the Constitution, they are also too lazy to even learn from the history lesson provided by their next door neighbor.

GodSon's 2Cents:
More and more it seems as if our country is being ripped apart by political ideology, partisan bickering and outright animosity. The President is being attacked from all angles in a way that is not only unprecedented, but completely counterproductive, given our country’s need to rebuild and re-establish. Bi-Partisanship as a whole has been thrown out the window and everyone is choosing sides. Now in an ultimate act of defiance against the Obama administration and the nation as a whole, the State of Arizona passes the most racist and appalling legislation that I have seen in my lifetime. More appalling than any tea party movement, or any snide remark from Beck or Limbaugh, this very tangible, and venomous act, has created a slew of controversy across the country. In fact I have not heard too many folks outside of Arizona that are actually in favor of this new law. But are we really surprised? As The Janitor mentioned earlier, this is a State that fought against MLK Day and is now attempting to pass legislation to keep President Obama from being on the 2012 Election Ballot, by requiring that he prove his citizenship. How ridiculous can ONE state be in ONE week? And furthermore, aren't we all immigrants??

To say that this legislation has blatantly solidified Arizona as a police state is an understatement. How different is this from the 1800's when a free slave had to carry papers to show that they were in fact free citizens? Not that Arizona's history wasn't any indication that this was possible. Yet through it all, you always wonder when enough is enough. What's refreshing to me is that there is an acceptable opposition to this foolishness, particularly from within the Obama Administration. Even the Attorney General has talked about the possibility of a federal lawsuit against the state. So what can the people do? The individuals that feel as though they don't have a voice? We tend to forget that much of what we've obtained in this country has come through protest, boycott and civil unrest. We mustn't underestimate our power as workers who pay into the system, who vote and who spend mad money. Do not vacation in Arizona, do not support this racist state in any way that is available to you. Let the State government know that the Jim Crow politics that they are trying to play out there will not be tolerated and until they come to there senses and act as appropriately as the majority of the rest of the States, the rest of country will watch as you suffer for your ignorance.

First, up front, this STRAIGHT up reminds me of the “Don’t get caught in the city limits after dark” type rules that existed (and still exists) in many states across the country.

The Fed's 2Cents:
Overall, I agree with my colleagues on the issue of race and racism (I mean lets be honest, if Arizona were over run with blond hair, blue eyed immigrants from Norway, this wouldn't even be an issue), and I am sure there will be more dialogue as we move this discussion to comments, but I do have some questions. Not that I agree with it, but I think it speaks volumes on the differences between political parties and races. I also think it speaks volumes on the state of race in America. Clearly it has taken on a new form. No longer is the out front blatant “string ‘em up” behavior. It is more cerebral and legal. As such, to fight it we must be cerebral and legal.

ONE of the MANY reasons immigration reform has been in limbo is because the federal government’s role isn’t as clear as we think it is. As we all know, the Constitution provides a "framework" for the law, but it doesn’t fill in the gaps.  The Constitution never literally mentions the word "immigration."  Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 talks about naturalization, and Article 4, Section 4, talks about the US obligation in protecting against “invasion.” But nothing about people just chillin, hanging out, without proper paperwork…Federal Courts have come down on both sides of the issue. One side, my colleague The Janitor pointed out, and the other side. In 1997, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a lawsuit (ironically brought by Arizona and California) on the issue of the US paying for immigrant Costs because it was the Federal Governments responsibility to “protect {each state} against invasion." The Federal Court threw it out on the grounds that neither California nor Arizona was being “invaded” by a hostile or foreign power.

These decisions say to me, that there is more ambiguity in the constitution than we give credit. I DO believe that this law will lead to violations of the 14th Amendment, but NOT by what happens to illegal immigrants, but what happens to US Citizens, especially those of Hispanic decent.
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” Good Luck Arizona not violating that…

In general, Arizona is QUICKLY becoming the new face of State Run bigotry. Eventually they will come to realize that decisions on MLK Day, the Immigration Law, and Birther Laws ultimately hurt Arizona. When they were against MLK Day, it is estimated they lost nearly $350 MILLION in revenue due to conventions leaving town, decrease in tourism, and the Super Bowl pulled out!

Look, I know that Arizona, like MANY other southern states, is proud of their guns, their John Wayne and Ronald Reagan posters, cowboy hats and confederate flags, but the bottom line is you CAN’T be exclusive and expect to be successful in today’s America. Whether you like it or not, we are becoming a country of many different nationalities, ways of life, and physical features. You can be proud of your own while still working WITH everyone else. This state is full of decisions of “cut off nose/spite face” issues. Ironically, this will have financial implications, as well as political. Financially, the MLB Allstar game is scheduled to be in Phoenix in 2011…if they follow the NFL, they will pull this game…to be continued. Politically, we just did a series on Black Republicans, and I see MANY parallels here. Sure, we can argue all day that neither party has put the “Black American Improvement Act” into law, but the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party has made it their practice to make or do away with laws that are DIRECTLY opposite the interests and wishes of the majority within minority groups. This law is NO different. Even if this law passes legal muster, I don’t see it reassuring our Brown Skinned brothers and sisters that the Republican Party has THEIR interests at heart. Hispanics are a growing and coveted voting block. So much so that in the next couple of election cycles, TEXAS (of all places) could become a swing state! I’m not one to agree with making legislation just for the sake of maintaining political power, but COME ON! How in the world can you claim to be a party of inclusion, and continue to make exclusionary laws? The legality of this law remains to be seen, but the impact on the Republican Party may come as soon as the November 2010 elections. (Of course the Democrats will find a way to screw that up too.)

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