Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27: Two Horrible Laws In Arizona

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Arizona, the state that inflicted Evan Mecham on an unsuspecting nation and was the last state to approve a day honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., has done it again.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill into law that will essentially make anyone who speaks with an accent or has a non-WASP surname in the state a target of police.

Officially, the bill requires law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there is even a suspicion that the people are in the United States illegally.

Gee, no room for error with that.

What Brewer sanctioned is nothing short of racial profiling. In a state with a 30 percent Hispanic population, that's ludicrous.

A court challenge, an economic boycott and a possible ballot challenge of the measure are being explored. Mexico is warning its citizens they could be harassed in Arizona. The Obama Administration will definitely challenge the law on the basis that the state is exceeding its legal boundaries.

And U.S. Sen. John McCain, who had always championed sensible immigration reform, has shown, with his support of this, that his desperation to keep his Senate seat has trumped his logic. Perhaps McCain should have done in Arizona what Gov. Charlie Crist will likely do in Florida - keep his values and go independent.

This horrible law points to a second horrible law in Arizona: The one that allowed Brewer to become governor in the first place.

Arizona has no lieutenant governor/ running mate for its governor. So when President Barack Obama picked former Gov. Janet Napolitano to become the United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Brewer, Arizona's secretary of state, succeeded Napolitano as governor. Brewer is a Republican who is catering to the right wing. Napolitano is a Democrat.

Ironically, Napolitano is in the position to fight this law from a federal level. All efforts should be undertaken to do so.

Two decades ago, Arizona cost itself with its foot-dragging on Martin Luther King Day. With this, the state's leadership has taken huge backward steps yet again.

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