I don’t live in Arizona, but I have friends who do. I’ve never lived farther south than Sioux Falls, S.D. I’ve been to Arizona — Scottsdale and Tempe — but I spent most of four days holed up in a friend’s house, celebrating and then recovering from New Year’s Eve.
What I mean to say is it’s possible Arizona has a serious immigration problem. National news headlines wouldn’t dispute that. It seems the locals are legitimately concerned about border control. I sense the anger and frustration is less about people of another country illegally entering ours and more about preventing theft, violence and drugs from bubbling up in American border towns. I get that.
I don’t live in Mexico, but I know people who have. I’ve been to Puerto Vallarta and Cancun, two cities that are as authentic to Mexican culture as Taco Bell is to Mexican food.
I can’t imagine living in Mexico. I just don’t get it. Warm weather is great, yeah, don’t get me wrong, but that’s hardly a reason to stay when the economy is broken, there’s a raging drug war and corruption in law enforcement and legislation. What is Mexico trying to be? How is Mexico trying to get better?
If I were Mexican, I would do everything in my power to move to America. If I could afford it, I would go through the correct streams and respect the legal process. If I couldn’t, I would find someone who knows a way and pray for my safety.
On a level, I understand the intent behind Arizona’s new illegal immigration bill. If the governor and state legislators feel the federal government is not looking out for their constituents, it’s their job to act. (It’s their ability, anyway.) According to the New York Times:
“The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.”
Here’s where I — and many others — stray from the pack: There’s an overwhelming and justified fear American-born Hispanics will be targeted by Arizona police because they may “look like” an illegal immigrant. That’s not the country we want to live in. Luckily, the law in limited to just one state, and I don’t live there.
There’s been rampant protest since Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill in April. Rightfully so. Arizona has become a hotbed for debate in the lead up to midterm elections. In fact, former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin showed support for Brewer and bill on Saturday as she continues to rally support for her imminent 2012 presidential campaign:
It’s 3,313 miles from Juárez to Juneau. I wonder if Palin ever dealt with illegal immigrants from Mexico in her two years as Alaska’s governor.
In her diatribe, Palin said, “We’re all Arizonans now.” Actually, no. I’m not. Unless you live in Arizona, you’re not. This is a state law, impacting only Arizonans. The rest of us are impacted only by the sad fact we live in the same country that would allow a state to create such an asinine law. Arizona is not a cause. Arizona is not a belief. Arizona is one confused, frustrated, fed-up state that allowed its lawmakers to shuck the basic rights of many of its citizens to make people feel safer.
Illegal immigration is no scarier to Mexicans now than it was before the bill. You can’t make something that’s illegal more illegal (or “illegaler” as Palin might say). This does more to hurt American-born Hispanics than help the immigration problem. It’s punishing our own people for others’ offenses.
That’s not America. That’s Arizona. And I am certainly not one of them.