It's inspiring that so many different kinds of people are coming out against Arizona's SB1070 immigration bill, due to go into effect in a few months. However, it may not be obvious to all, but there are major discrepancies between politicians and so-called leadership, and the people. For example, while you have undocumented immigrants and their allies at these demonstrations wearing things like t-shirts or signs that say "I'm an illegal", others are focused on racial profiling. This is particularly telling:
“This is not about immigrants taken out of the streets. This is about who is next,” said Phoenix City Council Member Michael Johnson. The former police officer recently alleged he was the victim of racial profiling. (Source)(My emphasis).Michael Johnson has openly supported Arpaio and his law enforcement efforts against undocumented immigrants. How many people coming out against this bill feel this way is unclear, though as I mentioned, Phil Gordon (Phil Gordon: Foe to Undocumented Immigrants) and Kirsten Sinema (Racial Profiling Focus is Still a Distraction) have said that they oppose the racial profiling part of the bill but have not openly opposed the targeting of undocumented immigrants by law enforcement (particularly federal).
The quote above is from an article about Al Sharpton coming to town to participate in a church service and a march to the capitol. From the same article, this quote exemplifies the presence and position of some undocumented immigrants,
Despite the increased fear caused by the new law several undocumented immigrants decided to join the march. Among them was Catalina Vargas, 67, a former farm worker.About a year ago, Al Sharpton appeared on Lou Dobb's show regarding racial profiling and Arpaio's sweeps, and I discussed his emphasis on racial profiling in Racial Profiling Discussion Undermines Solidarity with Immigrants. Yesterday he made similar statements:
“I’m going to fight as much as I can for legalization,” said Vargas, who marched out front holding an American flag.
"There is no way this law could be enforced," said Sharpton, "without profiling people based on whether they are Latino or appear to be Mexican...You can amend it. You can bend it. You can do everything you want to with it.If you read how right-wingers have vilified Al Sharpton, you might tend to think he's on the correct path. I would argue, however, that his focus on racial profiling is the wrong way to go.
"To say that based on reasonable suspicion, state law enforcement can go after people based on Mexican immigration is to say that it is reasonable to look at anyone that appears Latino and subject them to a harassment and a scrutiny that other citizens in Arizona would not be subjected to."
For example, here is a common argument:
"Nowhere in the bill does it say (police can stop or question people about their immigration status) because of race. It just says illegal immigrants," said Whitney Pew, 20. (Source).Russell Pearce himself has repeated that "Illegal is not a race, it is a crime" (discussed further here). Sharpton, Gordon, Michael Johnson, etc. could easily be saying the same goddamn thing, just in different words. "Illegal is not a race, which is why we're going after illegals but finding every way possible to do it besides based on their race." So many people keep saying that it is the job of the federal government, not local police to enforce immigration. To not oppose the criminalization itself, rather than just the racial consequences of law enforcement of this crime, is no way to be an ally to undocumented immigrants, and perhaps this is the point. Perhaps some folks want to continue to support the rule of law and only oppose what they understand to be racism, instead of seeing how the rule of law in many ways is intertwined with racism.
This is why so many of us have to pick this up where they leave off. Push the debate further by opposing the criminalization of people. How do we take this resistance to racial profiling which is so popular right now and expand it to address criminalization?