Monday, May 3, 2010

Repping FOCHO in Arizona--a breakdown of the new law

Aight...so one of my cousins just asked me on facebook to explain why everyone is getting so upset about the new Arizona law. She claimed that she was reading the newspaper every day and still didn't understand...so, obviously I had to tell her what's up.Check out the break down:

1. No city, state, county government entity can adopt a policy that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration.
2. In all contacts with people, government employees will be required to verify someone’s immigration status if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person might be undocumented (1. This requires a lot more of the officer’s time which means time is being diverted away from other more important/ dangerous/ urgent issues 2) most officers aren’t trained in how to enforce immigration or identify people who might be undocumented so they must rely on stereotyping by the music being listened to, accent, skin color, kind of car they are driving, what they are wearing. 3) Because officers must verify citizenship, undocumented victims of violent and non-violent crimes will not report the crimes so as to not avoid the police. This will in term make our neighborhoods much more dangerous as, for example, rapists won’t be reported. 4) Also, this law stipulates that if a citizen or anyone suspects that an officer did not do his/ her job and verify a person’s status that could be undocumented, then they have the right to sue that officer- which in and of itself is bad…but it also says that the municipality will be responsible for all legal/ attorney costs for the plaintiff (so it encourages reporting of officers that don’t comply with the law but with no cost to people who report). Also, no extra money was allotted to the municipalities to pay for all these lawsuits and we have a horrendous deficit already!
3. Law enforcement would be able to arrest someone they think is undocumented without a warrant; (Again, this law is a waste of officers’ time and the city’s money, and there is a high likelihood of harassment and lawsuits for discrimination by people who are profiled. For example, there are already reports of a Latino citizen truck driver being pulled over and he didn’t have his birth certificates on him; he was detained for almost a full day and harassed by police until his wife could get off work and bring his birth certificate. Also, for this person that was arrested, he will be responsible for paying all costs related to his jail time. 4. A person would be charged with trespassing if they are found to be in the state without having legal immigration status; Trespassing is not just restricted to illegal entry onto private property…you can’t legally be in any public space, which means that officers don’t need any other excuse to approach you and question you about your status. Trespassing will go on your criminal record, making it more difficult or impossible to secure employment, or apply for legal working papers at a later time.
5. It would be a crime for someone to stop their vehicle on the road in order to hire a day laborer and it would be illegal for someone to get into a car that is blocking the road for the purpose of getting a job; This disproportionately affects Latinos, and I think the most important part to realize is that the police will not go after the driver/ person hiring the day laborer, the police will only charge the worker, so even though both are committing an illegal act, only the worker suffers the consequences. This is how the employer sanctions law has been enforced; the employers sanctions law made it a crime for employers to knowingly hire an undocumented person, but only one employer has been convicted since the law took effect in 2008 though thousands of workers have been convicted.
6. It would become a Class 1 misdemeanor for someone who is undocumented to knowingly apply for, solicit or perform work as an “independent contractor” or employee. In case you didn’t know I am working at a worker rights center in Arizona; I tell workers what their rights are in the workplace (which is the same regardless of documentation status) and help them navigate the legal system or negotiate with their employer. I think this bill will have a tremendous impact on workers in that people will want to stay in horrible jobs in which they are harassed, not paid standard wages, are overworked and work in very dangerous working conditions with no safety/ health equipment or information. Workers won’t be able to complain at work or file complaints with the government agencies because they will be afraid of retaliation (cut pay, job loss, threats of deportation, etc). Ultimately, there will be no regulation of labor laws.
7. It would become a Class 1 misdemeanor to drive or “conceal” someone who is undocumented; This could affect church ministries (a youth minister driving the kids to a church event and he doesn’t know one is undocumented, for example), schools/ teachers, social services agencies (I’ve had to drive undocumented people to court, so I could be caught and charged a class 1 misdemeanor), and mixed status families (families in which maybe a mom is documented but the dad isn’t…or the parents don’t have documents but the kids do.)
8. It would also become illegal to “induce” or encourage someone who is undocumented to move to Arizona.

I think we need to consider how all the round ups and broken families will affect the larger community and also how we would really be affected if we successfully ran out all the undocumented people. I couldn’t find the exact numbers but the undocumented in Arizona contribute something like $4.5 million to our state economy but their “burden” on the economy is only $2 million. It is illegal for them to use any publli services (except emergency medical/firefighters/police and vaccination programs), and b/c of the law HB2008 which passed in Nov 2009, it's harder for them to get services for their American born children as well; yet, they are paying, as Lydon so well put it, sales taxes, property taxes, and payroll taxes with their ETIN numbers. Considering how huge a deficit we have in Arizona, we couldn’t afford to have all the undocumented leave, even if we did want them to...Why can't our state and our country realize what tremendous contributions they make to our community economically, culturally, spiritually etc and stop harrassing them?

1 comment:

  1. Good info! I was hoping someone (you) would post more details about the law and further issues with it. Hella scary stuff tho.

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