Tens of thousands of people of conscience from across the nation converged on the Arizona state capitol today in Phoenix for a national day of action against that state’s infamous anti-immigrant law, also known as S.B. 1070.
Chanting “Stop Racism in Arizona,” protestors marched five miles in the hot desert sun to the capitol in one of the largest demonstrations yet against this law. S.B. 1070 allows police to stop and question anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” of being undocumented. The law does not define “reasonable suspicion,” a fact that many opponents say is carte blanche for racial profiling.
After leading the march—sponsored by Alto Arizona—AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the crowd:
Sisters and brothers, this is wrong. S.B. 1070 is wrong. Our broken immigration system is wrong. And we are here today to say it’s time—past time—to put things right. We’re here because 12 million unauthorized immigrants are living in the dark shadows of abuse. That’s why we’re here today.
We’re here because 7 million workers in this country live and labor without guarantees that they’ll be paid the minimum wage or overtime pay…they work without the protections of job safety standards or our civil rights laws. That’s why we’re here today.
We’re here because the Arizona solution to our broken immigration system is to criminalize workers—and that’s wrong.
Earlier this month, Trumka urged President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to cut all ties—including collaborations between state and local law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security—that result in the federal government’s cooperation with racial profiling.
Just how widespread is opposition to this law? Consider this: Ten police chiefs, including three from Arizona, traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to tell Attorney General Eric Holder that Arizona’s new law will make their jobs harder, erode working relationships built on mutual trust and cooperation between law enforcement and immigrants and make communities less safe. The federal government should step in to prevent more states from following suit, they told Holder.
A study released this week shows undocumented immigrants embody traditional values much more than native-born Americans. For example, 94 percent of undocumented immigrant men work or actively are seeking work, compared with 83 percent of native born men. Undocumented immigrants are more than twice as likely to support traditional families with children: 47 percent of undocumented immigrants today are part of couples with children, compared with 21 percent of native-born Americans. Robert Shapiro authored the report by the New Policy Institute (NPI) a Washington, D.C., research organization.
Undocumented workers don’t lower wages for native-born workers either, Shapiro says. In fact, studies show immigration has increased the average wage of Americans modestly in the short-run, and by more over the long-term as capital investment rises to take account of the larger number of workers. Check out Shapiro’s report here.
“Immigrants are not the cause of America’s problems,” Trumka said. “And S.B. 1070 is not the answer.”
The problem is that privileged and powerful people are using the same old dirty tricks of division, diversion and distraction to make people blame the least among us in order to keep us from seeing and solving our real problems.
Our wisest leaders have always understood that, here in America, on these shores, we must not fall for hate and fear and divisiveness—we must stand together for justice, unity and opportunity.