THROUGH THE FIRE: What Arizona Means to Us: The Slippery Slope

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By TRISHA MURAKAWA

(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on May 12, 2010)

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Let’s give a round of applause to Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver.

At the May 5 playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs on Cinco de Mayo, the Suns players wore jerseys that said, “Los Suns.”

Good for the Suns and good for Sarver for stating their support for all those targeted by the recently passed and signed law that “requires” state officials and agencies to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

It saddens me to see the immigration debate result in deeply flawed laws like this being passed, even in a state like Arizona, a state whose voters turned down a statewide measure to remember Nobel Peace Prize honoree and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a state holiday.

My family and friends have been planning a camping trip during a future spring break to visit the Grand Canyon, but now that this law has been enacted, I don’t know if we will ever make the trip. I am not sure I want my children to think that it’s acceptable for state officials and law enforcement who we may come into “legitimate contact” with to question us about our citizenship of we get a speeding ticket, parking ticket or go a state-run visitors center.

Clearly, it is not illogical to think that my family and I may indeed be asked for proof of citizenship given that it is impossible for anyone to determine citizenship based on one’s physical appearance or the sound of their voice.
With the passage of this law, state officials and law enforcement are now required to determine the immigration status of a person during any “legitimate contact” in a state, county, city, town or political subdivision if “reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.”

I am certain I am not the only one confused as to how “reasonable suspicion” as to one’s citizenship is defined. I am also confused about how “legitimate contact” would be defined. Any number of scenarios could be defined as legitimate contact including the ones I already briefly mentioned. Regardless, what this law is really about is ignorance, fear and the false but political need to appear to protect American jobs, the American economy and our security.

For some reason, over the past 25 years or more, candidates and elected officials seem to need or want to position themselves as “tough” on illegal immigration and crime but the laws they promote seem ineffective and redundant (and expensive), and probably this new Arizona law will be no different.

Unfortunately, the ultimate result from this type of self-aggrandizement  on the part of these “tough” lawmakers is the erosion of our  civil rights and civil liberty.

Our very freedom, a founding principle of our nation, is at stake. With the passage of this very law, we are not free to live without fear of authoritative questioning about our right to be anywhere.

This law passed in Arizona. The next question is, when will the political and social climate be temperate enough for the passage of such a law in more of the remaining 49 states.

Our community knows from direct experience about the removal of our constitutional rights. We cannot and should not stand by and allow any more limitations of our freedoms and rights-those that are granted to us by the U.S. Constitution and its amendments.

I can’t think about taking my children to see the Grand Canyon until this  law and its constitutionality has been determined. I am not willing to jeopardize the freedom of my children or have their dignity potentially ripped  from them because a government official is curious about their citizenship.

More dialogue about this far-reaching law needs to occur informally among friends, families and others. It is up to you to lead that discussion in your social circles.

To see what Senate Bill 1070 says for yourself, go to azleg.gov.

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Trisha Murakawa is a strategic communications and public affairs consultant based in Redondo Beach. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for providing the link to the law. I have now read it.

    “Good for the Suns and good for Sarver for stating their support for all those targeted by the recently passed and signed law that “requires” state officials and agencies to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”

    Those targeted are in the country illegally. They are breaking the law. You applaud the Suns for supporting illegal aliens?

    “It saddens me to see the immigration debate result in deeply flawed laws like this being passed, even in a state like Arizona, a state whose voters turned down a statewide measure to remember Nobel Peace Prize honoree and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a state holiday.”

    Nice irrelevant reference!

    “My family and friends have been planning a camping trip during a future spring break to visit the Grand Canyon, but now that this law has been enacted, I don’t know if we will ever make the trip. I am not sure I want my children to think that it’s acceptable for state officials and law enforcement who we may come into “legitimate contact” with to question us about our citizenship of we get a speeding ticket, parking ticket or go a state-run visitors center.”

    Where did this quoted phrase “legitimate contact” come from? I searched the text of the law and there is no such phrase as “legitimate contact” in the law. The closest I could find is “lawful contact”. But “lawful contact” was in the original SB1070 bill that was shortly thereafter modified by HB2162 that changed the term to “lawful stop, detention, or arrest.” So even “lawful contact” is gone.

    So, if you get a speeding ticket you will have to show your driver’s license. According to this new law, a driver’s license is all that is needed to establish proof of citizenship. With or without this law, you shouldn’t be driving without a license.

    The reference to visiting a state run visitor’s center appears obsolete based on the HB2162 amendment. But if for some reason you did have to show ID when you visit a visitor’s center, wouldn’t you have your driver’s license with you? How would you get there without driving? Do you go places without your wallet or purse?

    I visited the Grand Canyon last year. It is truly a remarkable site and I highly recommend it. But there are a couple of things you should know. First, the Grand Canyon is a national park, not a state park, so it’s run by the National Park Service. Is your animus against the feds, the state, or both? Second, you need to drive to get there. And that means you’ll need a driver’s license. So you’ll need to carry proof of citizenship with you already.

    “Clearly, it is not illogical to think that my family and I may indeed be asked for proof of citizenship given that it is impossible for anyone to determine citizenship based on one’s physical appearance or the sound of their voice.”

    Yes, it is quite illogical since there is nothing in the law that mentions physical appearance or the sound of one’s voice to determine citizenship. Your statement doesn’t make sense.

    “With the passage of this law, state officials and law enforcement are now required to determine the immigration status of a person during any ‘legitimate contact’ in a state, county, city, town or political subdivision if ‘reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S.’”

    Uhhh..no, you are incorrect. Here is what it says:

    “B. For any lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien and is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.”

    See here: http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/legtext/49leg/2r/laws/0211.htm

    “For some reason, over the past 25 years or more, candidates and elected officials seem to need or want to position themselves as ‘tough’ on illegal immigration and crime but the laws they promote seem ineffective and redundant (and expensive), and probably this new Arizona law will be no different.”

    Perhaps – let’s see what happens. It sounds like your fear is that the law WILL be effective.

    “Unfortunately, the ultimate result from this type of self-aggrandizement on the part of these ‘tough’ lawmakers is the erosion of our civil rights and civil liberty.”

    What??? How?

    “Our very freedom, a founding principle of our nation, is at stake. With the passage of this very law, we are not free to live without fear of authoritative questioning about our right to be anywhere.”

    For your information, all immigrants are already required to carry proof that they are allowed to be in the country.

    “I can’t think about taking my children to see the Grand Canyon until this law and its constitutionality has been determined.”

    So let’s say that the law is determined to be constitutional. At that point you’ll like the law?

    “I am not willing to jeopardize the freedom of my children or have their dignity potentially ripped from them because a government official is curious about their citizenship.”

    When I go through airport security and have to show my ID, I don’t feel my dignity ripped from me. I am very happy that a government official is taking action to protect us and PRESERVE MY FREEDOM.

    “More dialogue about this far-reaching law needs to occur informally among friends, families and others. It is up to you to lead that discussion in your social circles.”

    I agree! The more you study this law, the more you will see that the misconceptions that people like you are attempting to portray. You haven’t even read the entire current law!

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