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