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Could Arizona Come to Michigan?

April 28, 2010

Last week, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona signed legislation into law that effectively makes racial profiling legal in her state. The Arizona Senate Bill 1070 will allow police to stop anyone if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is not in this country legally. The intent of the law is to spread a wide net to identify and arrest undocumented immigrants. It goes into effect this summer.

If one person in a car doesn’t have the correct documents, everyone in the car can be arrested. People can be arrested for “harboring” an undocumented worker, even if that worker is a member of their own family. The parents of an undocumented immigrant can be hauled off to jail for visiting in the home of their son or daughter.

And workers who do have the correct ID can be arrested for simply not carrying their papers at all times. Any Latino/a living in Arizona will have zero margin for error about forgetting their papers when taking a walk around the neighborhood.

Recently GRIID cross-posted an article that includes information about groups attempting to ensure this law will not stand—as it should not. But now that the governor has signed it into law, it may take months, if not years, to challenge it. In the meantime, the law will stand.

And with the Michigan Tea Party loudly demanding “militarized borders” and various gubernatorial candidates here in Michigan pandering to this audience, it begs the question—could something like SB 1070 happen here?

First, remember that we also have what could be represented as an “unsecured” or permeable border. Traffic moves between the U.S. and Canada with relative ease. Car traffic is monitored; private boat traffic operates mainly on a trust system. It’s the perfect alarmist vehicle to make the case for harsher immigration laws.

Next, as an example, take a look at the most likely Republican candidate for the run for governor: Pete Hoekstra. As a U.S. Representative, Hoekstra has a well-documented voting record. It’s clear what kind of stance on immigrants he would bring to the governor’s office through these examples:

•He voted on legislation requiring hospitals to turn in undocumented immigrants who came in for emergency treatment. The law would have also arranged for transportation of immigrants without papers back to their native countries for treatment—in effect, a new deportation law packaged into the bill.

•He voted for building a $7 billion fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. He also voted for more security personnel and surveillance.

•He voted to allow vigilante Minutemen to operate in secrecy, without informing the Mexican government about the placement of armed volunteers along the U.S.-Mexican border.

•He’s attempted twice to get legislation through Congress making English the sole official language of the U.S. Both times, he co-sponsored the bills.

Pete Hoekstra has been endorsed by the USBC, a group that says its work is “to seal our borders against drugs, disease, illegal migration and terrorism and…to preserve our nation’s language, culture and heritage for the next generations.”

Hoekstra has also been given a 100% approval rating from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

You won’t find a word of any of this on Hoekstra’s official campaign site. Other candidates are equally silent on immigration. The pistol-packing Mike Bouchard doesn’t even list it as an issue on his site, where taxes and crime fighting are emphasized. Andy Dillon speaks mainly to education and jobs. Virgil Bernero’s focus seems to be, as it has been for some time, on strengthening unions and protecting workers’ rights. Rick Snyder’s issues section only outlines his 10-point plan for restoring Michigan’s economy. Mike Cox is spending both his Tea Party time and website promotion on his effort to overturn the new federal health care reform in his role as Attorney General.

Each of these candidates is going to present himself in a filtered light that will attract the maximum number of voters. Their own PR is not going to offer hard-line statements that can be used against them in the media.

Clearly, we’re not going to get the depth of information we need from the Press or other local news sources in West Michigan for this election. So it’s up to each individual voter to get educated on every issue that these candidates will address as governor. That includes, at this crucial point in our history, a solid understanding of their views on immigration. We don’t want to end up with a Jan Brewer wannabe in the Governor’s Mansion and racist Arizona-style legislation in Michigan.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2010 7:39 am

    In the late 80’s many people boycotted conventions and vacations to Arizona when governor meacham cancelled Martin Luther King Day. It was very costly to the state of Arizona. Another boycott is called for now in response to this racist bill. This past week Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva called for a boycott and I hope other leading political figures will join him.

    This rise in hatred is knee jerk reaction to hard economic times. Only an idiot would blame the poor for their economic hardships, when it is the rich wall street investors and bankers who caused this mess.

  2. Kate Wheeler permalink
    April 28, 2010 1:12 pm

    Your point is well-taken. I agree that this new attention turned toward the issue of undocumented workers is greatly fueled by people’s worries over the economy.

    The Arizona law reminded me of the federal deportation of Mexicans during the 1930s from Texas and other southwestern states. This little-spoken-of period of history started, essentially, with the onset of the Depression. Hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens and Mexican-Americans, about 60 percent of whom were in the country legally, were rounded up and forced to go to Mexico, all based on the fear that they were a further drag to the economy and on social services.

    California issued a formal apology in 2005 for its part in this movement. Texas is still attempting to whitewash its actions by claiming that most “repatriation” was voluntary. A good book to read about it is “Decade of Betrayal” by Francisco Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez.

    Now it feels like history is repeating itself. Boycotts, legal challenges, and anything else we can do to make sure this law doesn’t stand and spread is essential, in my opinion.

  3. Carma permalink
    April 28, 2010 6:44 pm

    Thank you for using the Arizona information and doing a thought test on what these attitudes might mean for Michigan.


  1. Pete Hoekstra on Arizona’s anti-immigration law « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

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