Arizona Isn't For Lovers

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The Pilgrims Didn't Have papers

Personally, I wouldn't want to live in such a place. I'm pretty 'white' (Irish, German, mongrel-blend), but my skin is such that if I'm out in the sun a lot, I turn dark brown. I'd hate to be arrested in Phoenix for the crime of being tan. Cops aren't always rational when they stop people.

To Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, these zero-tolerance traffic sweeps, which he recently stepped up in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods across the Phoenix metropolitan area, are a successful tool to root out the undocumented workers that many conservative leaders say have overwhelmed America's fifth-most-populous city just a three-hour drive north of the Mexican border. Arpaio's deputies have arrested more than 500 illegal immigrants so far this year.

"We're hitting this illegal Immigration on all aspects of it," said Arpaio, the elected Republican sheriff for the last 16 years. "We know how to determine whether these guys are illegal, the way the situation looks, how they are dressed, where they are coming from."

But to a growing chorus of Hispanic activists, civil rights leaders and Democratic politicians, Arpaio's policy represents a blatant case of racial profiling. It is an extreme example, they say, of anecdotes that have begun surfacing across the country in which local police agencies respond to the national backlash against illegal immigrants by aggressively targeting Spanish-speakers for the offense of "driving while brown."

[From Does crackdown cross line? -- --]

This clown Arpaio likes to get airtime, I've seen him in several documentaries, usually as a symbolic Agent of Intolerance.

Arpaio's critics allege that both U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent and Mexican visitors with valid visas have been caught up in the sheriff's sweeps and held for hours in special Immigration jails until they could prove their right to be in the country. And they say the sheriff's tactics are provoking fear throughout Phoenix's Hispanic community, as well as reluctance on the part of Spanish-speaking crime victims or witnesses to cooperate with police.

One class-action lawsuit already has been filed against the sheriff, and civil rights groups say they are collecting evidence for more.

"If you are of Mexican-American heritage, if you have brown skin, there is nothing you can do not to be stopped," said Mary Rose Wilcox, the only member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors who has criticized Arpaio's Immigration sweeps and the only Hispanic on the board.

"Deputies are asking for birth certificates. Do you carry a birth certificate with you? Should you have to?" she added.

Arizona's Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, pulled $1.6 million in state funding for Arpaio's office this month because she said the sheriff's actions "were causing trepidation in the Immigration community."

Last month, Phil Gordon, the Democratic mayor of Phoenix, formally asked the U.S. Justice Department to open a civil rights investigation into Arpaio's tactics, which Gordon said included "discriminatory harassment, improper stops, searches and arrests."

As far as I see it, the only way to stem the tide of illegal immigration would be to raise the wages paid to workers who do the jobs immigrants do - restaurants, construction, landscaping, food processing, etc. - in other words, make these jobs attractive enough to US citizens so that the jobs aren't available to immigrants. Of course, if that happened, the price of goods and services would have to triple or more, and suddenly middle class people wouldn't be able to hire day laborers to mow their lawn, the cost of dining out would keep people at home (if you have to pay a dishwasher $30 an hour, how much is that omelette going to have to cost?), yadda yadda.

A non-viable solution in other words. So why not just raise the quotas of legal immigrants allowed to come to work, make it easier for people to cross the border, and stop all the nonsense?

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I'm depressed beyond words. Not even the White Nights of Saint Petersburg I found will make me happy at this point. The death of Siney Lumet was quite shocking.

I'll just say nite-nite here, hoping for better days in Amerika.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on May 26, 2008 8:51 AM.

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