Religious leaders urge Arizona governor to veto anti-immigrant bill
Phoenix, Ariz., Apr 21, 2010 / 06:24 am (CNA).-
Arizona’s three Catholic bishops and other religious leaders in the state have issued a statement calling on Gov. Jan Brewer to veto recent legislation targeting undocumented immigrants. They warned the bill would separate families and discourage crime victims and witnesses.
The Arizona Senate passed SB 1070 on Monday by a vote of 17 to 11. It requires state and local police to determine the immigration status of people if there is “reasonable suspicion” they are illegal immigrants. They must arrest those unable to provide documentation showing they are in the United States legally.
The religious leaders’ April 19 letter voiced “common serious concerns” about the bill. Bishop of Gallup James S. Wall, Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted and Bishop of Tucson Gerald Kicanas were signatories to the letter, as were leaders from Protestant denominations and a rabbi with the American Jewish Committee.
They warned it could classify as felons not only dangerous criminals, but also undocumented immigrants who came to the United States at “a very young age” and have “no familiarity” with any other country.
“We are concerned for these children and for families that may have a mother and a father, one of whom is a citizen and the other of whom would now be considered a criminal,” the letter continued.
While SB 1070 responds to concerns about violence on the Mexican border, the religious leaders said the bill is “not a legitimate solution” and may inadvertently reduce public safety.
They explained that provisions of the bill may compel local police to ignore more serious crimes because of language that they enforce federal immigration laws to the “full extent permitted by federal law.”
Acknowledging that SB 1070 has been improved so that police officers now have discretion over whether crime victims and witnesses should be turned over on immigration charges, the letter said “It would be much better, however, if victims and witnesses could come forward knowing for certain that they will not be deported.”
Fears about reporting serious crime would threaten public safety in all Arizona communities, the religious leaders said.
The legislation would make Arizona the first U.S. state to create its own crime for “people who are merely present in the country without proper paperwork.” A first offense is a high misdemeanor while a second offense is a felony.
The letter noted that supporters of the bill claim the provision requiring documentation would be narrowly enforced. It countered that the bill itself does not limit the enforcement of this provision.
The religious leaders also warned the bill may “scare off” potential employers and employees seeking to come to Arizona. This could further delay economic recovery.
“For all of the reasons above, we are united in respectfully asking that you veto SB 1070 and spare Arizona the many negative consequences of this ill advised bill,” the religious leaders’ letter concluded.
Noting a veto would require “great political courage” from Gov. Brewer, the leaders professed willingness to support her.
Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony harshly criticized the bill in a post on his blog Sunday, calling it the country’s “most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law.”
Blaming the present immigration system for its inability to balance the labor market, he noted that retiring baby boomers need to be replaced. (To be honest, when I read this in Mahony's letter I just laughed. Projection, projection, projection. Apparently Mahony hasn't been to Walmart lately. Not too many boomers can afford to retire.)
The cardinal claimed the bill assumes Arizona residents and law enforcement personnel will give their total attention to guessing which Latino-looking person is properly documented.
“I can't imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation,” Cardinal Mahony wrote.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the proposed law would not in fact require people to report suspected illegal immigrants to authorities. It would require law enforcement officers to make such reports “when practicable.”
I don't have a great deal of hope that Governor Jan Brewer is going to find the 'political courage' to vetoe this bill. It sure looks to me that the Great State of Arizona has been taken over by tea bagger gun toting whites, not brown skinned illegal immigrants.
It is now legal in Arizona to carry a gun into a bar if the bar has no policy against it, and it is legal to carry that weapon concealed, as no one needs a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
She has saved the state a whopping 3 million dollars out of a state employee benefit budget of 685 million by denying benefits to 'domestic partners' of employees. Not that this was aimed at gays or anything. She has eliminated Arizona's version of the CHIP program for uninsured children. The 2011 caps placed on enrollment in the states health insurance program for Arizonans who don't qualify for medicaid will throw 300,000 people out of the program. She has also called for a special session of the state legislature to join 13 other states in challenging the constitutionality of the federal mandate to purchase health insurance. So much for the 3 million dollars saved on the backs of gay employees as convening special legislative sessions aren't cheap. And lest I forget, there is the bill which gives discretionary power to Arizona's attorney general to determine whether a given candidate for office is a real citizen. Gosh I wonder who that could be aimed at?
In the meantime Sherrif Joe Arpaio is saving the state money by purchasing stationary bikes which serve as electricity generators for his prisoners who might want to watch TV. Well, this will save money when the prisoners eventually pedal off the cost of the bikes. The male prisoners are not being all that cooperative as apparently they don't care much for afternoon soap operas. I'm sure Joe will figure out some way to get more prisoner hours on his bikes.
It is inconceivable to me that this law has passed both houses of the Arizona legislature. I guess it's because I have to envision Canada checking white folks for their citizenship papers in order to stem the tide of American illegals. Or vice versa, and I just can't imagine that--and not because of the disparity in the economic situation between between the North and South borders. I can't conceive of this kind of racial profiling practiced against whites.
This bill does not help one iota with the national problem of illegal immigration. The best Arizona can hope for is that they shuffle their perceived immigration problem to the borders of New Mexico, Texas, and California. Which is more or less the whole impetus of the tea bagger movement. Don't actually solve any problems, just shove it off on the backs of some other group, and when in doubt carry a gun. Terrified White America, love it or leave it.
I hope and pray that Governor Brewer vetoes this bill. The economic cost to the state from groups calling for an economic boycott could be a potential disaster for a state that depends on tourism and convention business. The rise of the tea bagger mentality is very bad business for a multi racial multi cultural country. Especially when all of those white tea baggers have immigrant ancestry and most of them don't have families with near the number of generations in this country many of Arizona's brown Hispanic and Native families do. Maybe those Arizona tea baggers forgot that.
I have written in the past that immigration reform would make the political battles over health care reform seem positively gentile. If this bill in Arizona is indicative of the battle to come, it's going to get very ugly.