Opinion

Freaking out about Latino immigration | Tito Hinojos

“If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and smells like a duck, then it must be a duck.”

This is the mentality of supporters of the recent signing of Arizona's immigration bill, SB 1070.

Nowadays, freaking out about immigration is as American as a pineapple upside-down cake.

As the country wrestles with issues of immigration and our government is paralyzed with political posturing, some folks in Arizona believe it has fallen upon their hands to decide who is legal and who is not. On one side, citizens feel the nation’s identity and safety are at stake and their “Pilate washing of the hands” mentality is: "We’re trying to save our country from the anti-Americans." Others argue that legal or illegal, Americans value human dignity, believing that immigrants contribute a lot in our society.

The law takes effect in July. The law has generated sharp debate between advocates who say it is needed to combat illegal immigration, and opponents who say that it is an infringement on civil liberties and an invitation to racial/ethnic profiling of Hispanics by the police.

Many believe that history has a way of repeating itself; perhaps dressed differently, but with the same modus operandi. If there is any truth to that, then history is about to reveal its peacock feathers of discrimination and racism. To make things look non-aggressive, even the U.S. federal government now uses the term "removal" instead of deportation.

Ironic that presently many are reacting in similar fashion to the philosophies of leaders in the AZ government — such as the vile anti-Mexican bigot Sheriff Joe Arpaio of "pink panties fame," and the racist author of SB 1070, which legalizes the profiling of Mexicans, Sen. Russell Pearce.

Is this the second coming of the Manifest Destiny of 1839? This term combined with the concept of expansionism created a diabolical notion and a belief of the natural superiority of what was then called the "Anglo-Saxon" race. Even though it was not a specific policy, it fueled racist beliefs with a concept held by racist expansionists: God had given whites the right to conquer and "civilize" the Mexican and Indian.

Pew Hispanic Center tabulates that 30 percent of Arizona’s population is Hispanic and that 33 percent are foreign born. Approximately 500,000 undocumented immigrants lived in Arizona, and 94 percent are from Mexico. The ethnic groups most likely to be illegal immigrants are the Hispanics, with an estimated 11.9 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2008.

More Americans believe that Hispanics are the targets of discrimination in American society than other major racial or ethnic groups, according to a Pew Research Center survey taken prior to the recent enactment of an immigration enforcement law by the state of Arizona. These findings from the Pew Research Center's November 2009 survey are included in a new Pew Hispanic Center fact sheet that covers a range of issues, attitudes and trends related to the new Arizona measure, its potential impact on the Latino community — and on the enforcement of the nation's immigration laws.

Does all this have any bearing on us? How is this affecting our communities?

Two Seattle police officers were caught on tape using racial slurs and stomping a 21-year-old Latino man during a robbery investigation. The FBI is investigating as to whether the man’s civil rights were violated. Must we experience the Latino version of the Rodney King incident?

The law, which makes it a state crime to be in the country without proper immigration papers, has tarnished the Mormon Church's image. Russell Pearce, a devout Mormon and a Republican, has been the driving force behind virtually every bill introduced in recent years aimed at clamping down on illegal immigrants.

Arizona has one of the largest Mormon populations of any state. There are 383,000 Mormons in Arizona, or nearly 6 percent of the population, according to the church. Many Latinos who view the new law as unjust and discriminatory make it hard for Mormons to proselytize to the state's 1.8 million Latinos, whom the church views as key to future growth.

In the 1800s, Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay in reaction to the influx of German immigrants. He was worried about multiculturalism, language, American national identity. He wrote in that essay, "Are the Germans going to Germanize us, before we Americanize them?"

This dangerous immigration law is also the same old stuff that keeps us from becoming a true nation under God indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. In English, we call it SOS. En español, it is M&M (misma mierda).

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