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What Does Illegal Look Like? June 10, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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I have heard and seen countless commentaries in the media and the Internet (including comments on this blog) that claim that because the Arizona immigration law explicitly forbids racial profiling, it will not unfairly target latino and latina citizens.

This argument is either disingenuous or just naive.

Here is Adam Serwer on the so-called “color-blindness” of Arizona’s law:

{…} This is basically an extension of colorblind racist philosophy into law — namely the text of the bill outlaws racial profiling, despite the fact that it is clearly aimed at the state’s Latino population. The reason you can pass a law that encourages racial profiling in spirit while prohibiting it in letter is that everyone has a concept in their head of what an “illegal immigrant” looks and sounds like. A police officer wouldn’t have to make a judgment based on race alone; as the civil-rights groups’ lawsuit points out, they could make such decisions based on racialized factors such as “language, accent, clothing, English-word selection” or “failure to communicate in English.”

“Driving while black” has always been probable cause for a traffic stop in this country. Arizona has now added driving while brown, speaking Spanish, or eating tacos.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

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Where is the Crime Wave? June 3, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Criminal Justice, Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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10 comments

One of the conservative justifications for Arizona’s new immigration law, which enables the police to roust undocumented immigrants just for being undocumented, is that Arizona is suffering under a crushing crime wave instigated by the influx from Mexico. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) called these crimes “terrorist attacks.”

last week, the FBI released its preliminary Uniform Crime Report for 2009; it is hard to find evidence of a crime wave. As reported in the Wall St. Journal:

Violent crime fell significantly last year in cities across the U.S., according to preliminary federal statistics, challenging the widely held belief that recessions drive up crime rates.

The incidence of violent crimes such as murder, rape and aggravated assault was down 5.5% from 2008, and 6.9% in big cities. It fell 2.4% in long-troubled Detroit and plunged 16.6% in Phoenix, despite a perception of rising crime that has fueled an immigration backlash.

The early figures, from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, indicate a third straight year of decreases, along with a sharply accelerating rate of decline.

And the report shows many other cities in the Southwest have seen similar reductions, including El Paso Texas which is just across the border from the drug war in Juarez.

Last week, The Arizona Department of Public Safety released its crime report as well. The trend toward decreasing crime rates includes 3 of the 4 counties that border Mexico. The trend holds even along the border: three of Arizona’s four border counties reported less violent crime in 2009 than they did in 2002, when crime statistics were first made available on the Internet.

One exception is Maricopa County where Joe Arpaio   “America’s Toughest Sheriff” resides. Arpaio is famous for making immigration enforcement a priority and using violence and intimidation to get results.

Some results. Via Dara Lind, although crime in Maricopa dropped from 2008 levels, since 2002 it has increased 58%!

One of the arguments against Arizona’s new immigration law is that making immigration enforcement a priority will actually increase crime because anyone who looks Latino (or Latina) will avoid cooperating with police. In fact, many police chiefs and sheriffs in Arizona were opposed to the law for that reason.

Sheriff Joe may be making their argument for them. And if crime goes up subsequent to the law being enforced, what conclusion should we draw?

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

Adding Insult to Injury May 12, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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19 comments

It is hard to imagine a policy more Un-American that Arizona’s new policy of mandating police to stop anyone who looks “illegal”.

But Arizona is trying desperately to double down on the racism

Under the ban, sent to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer by the state legislature Thursday, schools will lose state funding if they offer any courses that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

As ThinkProgress notes, the Tucson Unified School District’s popular Mexican-American studies department is the target here. The state superintendent charges that the program exhibits “ethnic chauvinism.”

So teaching brown students about their history is equivalent to treason? Who knew?

Meanwhile, in a move that was more covert until the Wall Street Journal uncovered it, the Arizona Department of Education has told schools that teachers with “heavy” or “ungrammatical” accents are no longer allowed to teach English classes.

I’m not sure what an “ungrammatical accent” is. But for kids trying to learn English so they can, you know, assimilate into society, you wouldn’t want them learning from someone they can actually understand.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

Support for Arizona Immigration Bill is No Surprise May 2, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Ethics, politics.
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2 comments

People from across the ideological spectrum are condemning Arizona’s new immigration statute. Few GOP leaders have endorsed it and it has been condemned by religious leaders and newspaper editorial boards across the country

But according to a recent poll, the public narrowly supports it.

Americans familiar with Arizona’s tough, new immigration law tend to favor it, a new poll found.

51 percent of those who have heard of Arizona’s new law to crack down illegal immigration said they generally favor it, a new Gallup Poll found Thursday. 39 of those who have heard of the law opposed it, while 11 percent were unsure.

Steve Benen is surprised:

I find this very hard to believe, not because Gallup is unreliable, but because I like to think the American character is decent and strong, and would resist efforts like these.

But frankly, this doesn’t surprise me at all. It is in fact an accurate reflection of the United States at this point in its history—bigoted, selfish, angry, and looking for scapegoats. Recall that this is a public that put a selfish, deceitful moron in the White House for eight  years. This is a public that was excited beyond measure at bombing the hell out of a weak, largely irrelevant country that had done nothing provocative. This is a country that still denies consenting adults the right to marry, and will vote to shred our educational system in order to hang on to a few dollars every year that would otherwise go to taxes.

We are a deeply conservative country with a powerful authoritarian streak and one election will not change that.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

Your Papers Please April 27, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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Linda Greenhouse, The NY Times Pulitzer Prize-winning Supreme Court correspondent doesn’t like the new Arizona immigration law that permits police to roust anyone who isn’t white.

…I’m not going back to Arizona as long as it remains a police state, which is what the appalling anti-immigrant bill that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last week has turned it into.

What would Arizona’s revered libertarian icon, Barry Goldwater, say about a law that requires the police to demand proof of legal residency from any person with whom they have made “any lawful contact” and about whom they have “reasonable suspicion” that “the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States?” Wasn’t the system of internal passports one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa?

It is reasonable to expect that any person of color will be subject to police harassment because of this legislation.

You know it’s funny. I haven’t heard any of the tea partiers, who are constantly complaining about big government, say anything about giving police the power to demand papers just because a person looks suspicious. It is as if tea-partiers only complain about abuse of power when it issues from the fever swamp of conservative paranoid delusions. Remember the “death panels” in the health-care debate. When it comes to real abuse of power, the kind perpetrated daily by authoritarian governments, its OK as long as its brown or black people on the wrong end of the abuse.

Even some conservatives don’t like the smell of this.

Former GOP congressmans Joe Scarborough criticized the immigration law:

“…It does offend me when one out of every three citizens in the state of Arizona are Hispanics, and you have now put a target on the back of one out of three citizens, who, if they’re walking their dog around a neighborhood, if they’re walking their child to school, and they’re an American citizen, or a legal, legal immigrant — to now put a target on their back, and make them think that every time they walk out of their door they may have to prove something. I will tell you, that is un-American. It is unacceptable and it is un-American.”

But as far as I know, given research from ThinkProgress, only one sitting Republican member of Congress, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, has explicitly opposed the Arizona law.

Might this odious law be the catalyst behind a new civil rights movement?

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com