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I have been thinking a lot about a young friend of mine. Let’s call her Rose.

Rose is 11. She’s in sixth grade. She’s a totally kick-ass kid — I’ve had the privilege of watching her grow since she was in third grade, and so shy she wouldn’t look you in the eye. Now she’s a world-class eavesdropper and question-asker, a future journalist for sure. She’s cut her long, thick hair to her shoulders and although there’s still a good bit of tomboy in her, she’s started wearing necklaces with her Converse.

Her future is bright. (And don’t get me started on her parents, and how truly amazing they are, or I’ll be crying for sure.)

But dark clouds arrived last week, in the form of our governor’s signature on that immigration bill you’ve no doubt heard of, even if you reside on the moon.

Welcome to Arizona, folks. This place sucks. No amount of efforts at government reform over the last decade and a half (from term limits to campaign finance reform to redistricting) has been able to turn our absolutely off-the-far-edge-of-the-right-wing Legislature normal. You already know about our crazy (and I mean that literally) sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Now you are meeting the rest of the state on CNN. Feel my pain.

And feel Rose’s pain. Rose is an American citizen, but if you were a law enforcement officer in Arizona, you might just assume from the color of her skin that she’s an illegal immigrant. Rose is adopted; she’s Mexican by birth. Now her parents might have to pack her passport with her lunch box. And last week, they had to tell her about the law and prepare her in case someone pulls her aside.

That really does make me cry.

There’s much to debate over this immigration legislation — sure, much of it is what the federal government was already supposed to be doing. Yes, there is crime — the death of the rancher that prompted this whole thing is tragic — and I suppose there would be economic implications of illegal immigration if there were actually jobs to “steal” in this country anymore. I know, something needs to be done. And by signing that bill into law (a law I personally doubt will ever actually be enacted — I think the courts will nab it before it goes into effect) perhaps our ill-informed, plastic-surgery-preoccupied (have you seen pictures of the much different looking Jan Brewer from the 1980s?) governor will prompt Congress to do something smart.

But for now, this whole thing is dumb dumb dumb. Hurtful and divisive and sad.

So I can’t stop thinking about Rose, and her family, and how unfair it is that this girl is just as much a citizen of the United States of America as my daughters — yet somehow, after Friday, has been relegated to a different class.

Even if Rose wasn’t technically a citizen, but instead was simply a little girl whose family had managed to get her here, looking for a better life, would she deserve to be in a different class, to be given a different status as a human being? She’d still be an 11 year old girl in a necklace and Cons, watching the world very carefully.

I wonder what she thinks about all this.

NOTE: I don’t pretend to have any answers about immigration, only questions. But if you are looking for a smart authority on the subject, be sure to check in with my dear friend/mentor/former colleague Terry Greene Sterling.

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Tags: Filed under: politics by Amysilverman

38 Responses to “Arizona’s Immigration Law, Through “Rose” Colored Glasses”

  1. Amy – once again you get right to the heart of it all. Gracias.

  2. It’s always interesting to me how the states most dependent on the cheap immigrant labor becomes the most fascist about regulations. Great post Amy.

  3. Should we let people from every country come here illegally or only those who can make it accross our southern border? Is it Ok for a US citizen to break our laws in order to achieve a higher standard of living for their family? Should businesses have to compete with people who are paid under the table? When illegals are employed by a business – whose social security number are they using? Should people who are not citizens be able to vote – you only have to show a utility bill to vote? As far as the new law – If someone is pulled over and they don’t have a drivers license – shouldn’t they be arrested anyway – and their identfication established?

  4. Thank you for a wonderful post! This explains this horrible law in simple terms and how it will affect even children! (((HUGS)))

    And to Linda’s comment above – this legislation isn’t about immigration. That is the excuse. It is legislated racism, pure and simple. This law states that any cop can make any Mexican (or anyone who may look Mexican/Latino) prove they are American. This is the same type of thing that happened in Nazi Occupied Europe – if you looked Jewish, you had to “show your papers” to prove you were not. Legislated hatred NEVER works and harms society!

  5. This is one of the dark moments in recent Arizona history (we are now the gun-wielding, racist butt of American humor). This law is clearly racism. Will they be questioning people of Asian descent? How about people from, oh, let’s say Sweden, who are here illegally. I know – those people aren’t really part of the “problem” but a law is a law, regardless of how offensive it is. I guess my point is exactly the same as (almost) everyone else’s. You can’t, and shouldn’t, judge a libro by its cover.

  6. Amy,
    Thank you for writing this. I fear that a lot of people just are not understanding how this might affect each of us. Setting the “immigration” issue aside I don’t think the “70%” will feel it until they are stopped on their way the golf club because their college roommate is riding in the car and appears to be a person of color. When their friend that they have know for decades is asked to present their birth cert. on the spot – only then will it be understood.

  7. I have a question, how often are small children being stopped by law enforcement officers and deported? I have not heard about this and am curious as to how often this is happening. Thanks!

  8. In response to Tamara…this is a BIG difference between Nazi occupied Europe. We, Americans, are not slaughtering millions of victims. If anything, the illegals are slaughtering innocent Americans and breaking numerous laws. Where does the responsibility start? Why are Americans responsible? I think ANYONE who is an immigrant, legally or illegally, knows they will be asked for papers in many situations. I have a good friend from Sweden and in many circumstances, she is asked for proof of citizenship. She knows that is just part of the process of living in America since she was not born here. Shouldn’t all of the LEGAL immigrants be upset that they had to go through the trouble to get their citizenship while thousands of illegal immigrants are bucking the system, breaking laws and making it bad for everyone of their nationality?

    I would love to hear a balanced discussion because I have only heard the protests and quite honestly, they don’t make much sense. I am honestly trying to look at all sides of this issue but I have not read or heard an argument against this bill that is justified. My ears are open.

  9. The Japanese were rounded up and put into camps, the Jews were rounded up and put into camps or killed, the non-Asians in Singapore (women and children included) were put into camps for years where most died-until the end of the war (see Paradise Road-the movie) Mexicans and Mexican Americans were rounded up and dumped into Mexico during the depression.
    NOW what is going to happen????

  10. OMG, racism, gun wielding, children haters. Have you read the bill (reading the bill, what a concept), I HAVE. The bill does not permit profiling, it clearly states probably cause and a violation of the law to pull someone over. It mentions nothing about race, only you are the ones bringing that up. The law essentially says to inforce the FEDERAL (you know the feds you all love so much) LAWS.
    Actually Rose colored glasses would be good rather then the blindfolds you all are wearing! Wake Up!

  11. Gosh, Traci, I’m sorry. I must have given you the impression that the law is already in effect. It’s not, the governor just signed it last week, and it won’t become law for 90 days. Therefore, we don’t have an answer to your question about how often small children are being stopped by law enforcement officers as a result of it. There has been some great journalism already, however, about the impact of laws and policies — particularly here in Arizona — on children. So far it’s been terrible — families without health care, pulling kids from school, living in the shadows for fear of drawing attention, even if they are here legally.

  12. I wonder how you inforce a law, Preston. I’ll be sure to look into that.

  13. Thanks for the response Amy! Actually, I do know the law is not in effect yet but I was curious if there were instances where children were being profiled. I have done SEVERAL hours of research and honestly cannot find any blog, comments or news articles that are talking about the real implications with this bill. One that jumped out at me referenced a woman, Anna Oliveria (sp?), who talked about her two uncles that were here illegally. She said they had a right to be here because they were hard workers even though she acknowledged they had crossed the border illegally. This kind of argument just doesn’t make sense to me and I am really trying to find some discussions that are honest and factual. I realize there are a lot of emotions in this debate but I honestly get aggravated that people are comparing this to the Holocaust or defending illegal immigrants who are breaking the law. To me, it’s no different defending ANYONE who breaks the law.

    Just so you know, I am completely in favor of immigrants obtaining legal citizenship and contributing to society. I applaud them and encourage them. My grandmother came over from Germany when she was 14 years old. She did all the right things, obtained her citizenship and learned the language. She lived here until she passed at the age of 97 and was very grateful for the opportunity to live in America.

    All of this just doesn’t make sense to me. As I said, my ears are open. Thanks for your time Amy, I really appreciate it.

  14. One more thing, I don’t have the solution for this problem and I don’t know if this bill is the answer or not but I think it’s a start to stopping the illegal immigration problem we have in Arizona. While I don’t want anyone profiled, I guess there are circumstances where it might be necessary in order to prevent terrorism, massive breaking of laws, etc.

    If there were a police bulletin issued looking for a short-haired woman driving a gold colored car because a child was kidnapped in the area, I would expect to be stopped and questioned and have my car searched. But if I wasn’t doing anything wrong or hadn’t kidnapped the child, then what’s the problem? The police would check my identity and my car and I would be on my way (unless of course there were another problem). I could scream that I was being profiled but instead I would look at it that the police were trying to keep everyone safe.

    Just another bit of input.

  15. I just updated my post with the URL to the blog that I think can lead you to your answers, Traci: http://www.terrygreenesterling.com, she writes a blog called White Woman in the Barrio, this is her topic.

  16. Amy, I did a lot of research on Terry’s blog last night but I’m really not finding the answers or explanations to the questions I have. She definitely has a lot of insight into the problem. I think I may know a relative of hers so maybe I’ll try to get together with her for some face-to-face opinions.

    Thanks so much for your time and being able to have an open discussion.

  17. Dear Traci, the young lady who lived with us for a while now has to be afraid that she and her mother will be separated from her younger sister and stepfather because they don’t have the proper documents like the sister and stepfather? She is a wonderful student, a sensitive and caring soul and one heck of a dancer and artist. She has only lived in the United States and knows no other life. Yet this legislation has the potential to tear apart her family and ruin her dreams for college.

  18. MercuryFan- I can understand and empathize with this young lady’s situation but why doesn’t she and her mother have proper documentation? If they are legal immigrants, they should be able to get the proper documentation and the situation should be resolved. Right? If not, please explain so I can understand the situation more clearly.

    When people are here illegally, I understand that it must be horrendous for their families to be torn from them but whose fault is this? Is it ours? If they are here illegally, then they are causing their families this pain, no one else. It’s no different if someone commits a serious crime, e.g. murder, rape, etc. The offender is causing the pain to their families, not the innocent victims or the people who are doing the right thing.

    I just don’t see how illegal immigrants should be considered innocent victims. And for those who are legal, what is the problem? Americans carry their driver’s license when we drive; we carry passports when we travel to other countries. I honestly don’t think that police will be stopping EVERY person who is of Latino decent, making them prove their citizenship. Possibly if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time but that can happen to anyone at any time.

    I have finally read many blog comments from legal immigrants and they are very upset that the illegal immigrants are taking their jobs and causing them to pay higher taxes. To be here legally, they went through the proper channels and put in the time, effort and money to become properly documented and they welcome being profiled if that’s what it takes to solve this problem. The comments are posted on this blog post: http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2010/04/20/arizona-immigration-bill/#comments

    One last note, my brother looks like a Hell’s Angel, although he’s not. He is caring, loving and his family means everything to him. He is polite and well mannered. But people still judge him and they are afraid of him if they don’t know him (some are afraid of him because they DO know him, LOL). Many years ago, he committed a crime and still says he was pulled over without reason because of the way he looks. The bottom line is he would not have gotten into trouble if he were NOT doing anything illegally. But he was. Had I been in the same situation, I would have been pulled over and let go because I wouldn’t have been breaking the law. I don’t have any empathy for him since he WAS breaking the law.

    I just wanted to share that because to me this is not a racial issue, it is an issue of following and abiding by the law of the United States.

    Thanks for the discussion MercuryFan.

  19. Tamara Comerford – You state that this legislation isn’t about immigration, but instead it is about racism. Racism is only letting certain ethnic groups, or people from certain countries, enter our country illigally, while excluding other ethnic groups from this privilege. There are people from many countries and many ethnic groups who have done the paper work, paid fees and are waiting to come to this country. In order to not be racist we should probably make an announcement to the world that our borders are open, although a country with out borders will cease to be a country.

  20. Traci, you seem to think that becoming a citizen of the United States of America is an easy task. It took my parents over 20 years to become citizens for various reasons. A lot of these immigrants are on borrowed time. Do you even know what life is like in Mexico? As a Greek-American, I know first hand what it’s like to come to another country and try to start over, but when we left Greece, we weren’t running from drug lords, poverty or any other barbaric condition. People shouldnt be punished for wanting a better life for their children. Just because your families may have been in this country longer than the immigrants of today, does not make you any more American than the next person.

  21. So Stacey – Are you suggesting we open our borders to everyone to come to the U.S. illegally? There are many people in the world who live in worse conditions than Mexico – many who are persecuted daily. Remember there is a difference between an illegal immigrant and a legal immigrant and being a legal immigrant does make you more of an American than the next person.

  22. Stacey, no it does not make me more American than the next person. And I’m not saying NOT to allow immigration; I’m just asking that people do it legally. I have read parts of the SB1070 but I realize it’s not the entire bill. I’m sure it is not the entire answer but then the federal government should step in and address and FIX the problem. I’m all for that, whatever that means. If that means making it easier to become a citizen so we don’t have this problem, great!

    I just want people to be legal and RESPECT the U.S. I addressed someone on another blog who posted in Spanish. When I commented that English is our official language, they replied (I left out the curse words), “America has no official language & Spanish is soon going to be the most spoken language here”. Did I miss something, isn’t’ English the official language and part of the naturalization process? It’s ignorant comments like those that infuriate people and it’s the attitude that they don’t want to follow the law and want to blame Americans. No system is perfect but if it’s so difficult here, why not go to Canada or Australia? Is it any easier to become a citizen there? From my understanding, it’s not.

    I honestly don’t know what the solution is but the way we are operating right now is definitely NOT the answer. I would like immigrants to feel that it is an honor and a privilege to become Americans (like our ancestors), not an automatic right. Maybe everyone would feel better if there were more respect and common decency. From ALL sides. Amen to that!

  23. Linda – that is a question I also have. Do we open our borders and let EVERYONE in? What about terrorists? Where does it stop and at what point are we, the Americans, putting our lives and the lives of our children at risk? That is why it’s difficult to become a citizen ANYWHERE.

    Is SB 1070 the answer? Probably not. Is opening the borders for everyone the answer? Definitely not! So would someone please give me an honest, realistic, factual solution, not based on emotions? I have not heard one yet and I sympathize with the people wanting to make a better life for themselves but it should still be done legally.

    Everyone is up in arms about this new bill but nothing else is being proposed. Where is the federal government? Something HAS to be done. I live here and know how dangerous it is. My parents want to move here this year and are worried about the crime. Phoenix is now the kidnapping capitol of the WORLD!. Tell me there’s not a problem.

  24. Obviously no one has the right answer but Traci don’t forget that the most destructive act of terrorism on American soil (until Sept 11) came from Timothy McVeigh AN AMERICAN CITIZEN. Let’s not be so close mined and think that terrorist attacks can only come from non-citizens.

  25. PS Great article Amy… thank you

  26. Amy, shame on you for your reference to Preston’s typo above. Have you no compassion or forgiveness or humanity. You are happily going about your day to day life saving the poor little dark colored victims and yet you point out an obvious typo. You do not help your cause by printing a “Rose” story which provides no comparison to real life or the proposed law. Stop looking at the world through rose colored glasses, really.

  27. Nobody forgets that Christy, least of all the people that lost someone they know and love in the Oklahoma City bombing. Terrorism can come from anywhere, including the U.S. But are we supposed to open our borders with no regulations at all? Is that the solution?

  28. Look Traci, you asked “what about the terrorist” my point is that terrorism can also come from within. There is no simple answer and no simple solution, if there was we wouldn’t be here. It’s not about opening the borders, that’s not the issue here. The issue is passing a bill which will allow room for discrimination. Although from my understanding it is written in the bill there will be no racial profiling I highly doubt that will be the case. This bill will allow cops to pull anyone over for whatever traffic violation and they will have the right to ask for documentation.

  29. I agree Christy, it does open the doors for profiling and discrimination, which is definitely not a step in the right direction. I wish there were an easy solution. Many people have talked about sanctioning employers who hire illegal immigrants and that’s certainly a positive start. They could also reinstate seasonal work visas, as was suggested by another post I read.

    If this bill goes into effect in 90 days, it will be interesting to see if people are really being profiled and discriminated against (the average, everyday people walking down the street). I certainly hope not. There will always be some cases of discrimination, that is unavoidable. I have been discriminated against for entirely different reasons. My father is regularly discriminated against when he parks in a handicap spot, even though he has Disabled Veterans plates. It’s not right but he always uses it as an opportunity to teach people not to judge a book by its cover. Just because someone sees him walking doesn’t mean he isn’t disabled. They find out quickly that he has two artificial legs.

    I can honestly say that I don’t see a problem with asking for documentation if someone is pulled over or caught in a legal situation. That’s no different than asking for a driver’s license. But I will say that they should ask for that documentation from everyone, Asians, Hispanics, Swedes, etc. I don’t know if there are regulations for getting a driver’s license that could be combined with documentation. If so, that could solve part of this problem without any hard feelings.

    We should all open our hearts and minds to real solutions and look at this as an opportunity to teach and learn. An open door policy into the U.S. is not the answer but screaming and accusing (as many others have done) is not the answer either.

    I think one of the biggest complaints is that immigrants do not learn the English language, even though they have to speak and write one out of three answers on the naturalization test. Then they expect us to learn their language and accommodate them instead of them learning our language and adhering to our standards of society.

    It’s all about common courtesy and respect, in my opinion.

  30. Traci,

    you seem to be very passionate about this subject. perhaps you start your own blog about immigration, you certainly seem to have the time on your hands.

  31. Stacey,

    I’m actually exhausted reading posts and trying to make some sense with all of this. Yes, I do have time (but no interest) to start a blog about this. And quite honestly, I have no idea why this has gotten under my skin, it honestly does not affect me personally except for the fact that I live in Arizona. Maybe I’m just tired of hearing about all the protests on the news, especially when they turn it into a vicious battle and make everyone fighting the cause look bad. I know there are some people who are passionate about this cause who are sincere and genuine for all the right reasons and then there are those on the opposite end of the spectrum. I guess that’s why this is America!

  32. Traci,
    Thanks for taking the time to reply so much! After reading this blog I have little to add that would sound better than you already spoke. Only that my in-laws immigrated here from Germany after WWII. They were both required to get jobs from citizens before coming here. They didn’t know the people who sponsored them, but took a chance. (They met in Chicago even though they grew up 70 miles from each other. That was cool!) They also had to sign an agreement that they wouldn’t become reliant on the government, like welfare and such. They worked harder than most, but enjoy a “working” retirement. They pay their own med insurance and help us when we need it. To me, that doesn’t compare to coming here to look for work that isn’t here- many standing outside Home Depot, or using our emergency rooms because they won’t or can’t pay for a doctor visit.

    Plus, I agree that if I get pulled over it’s because of my fault and probable cause, and I have to present “papers”, eg: drivers license, proof of insurance, vehicle registration.
    Last: Most arguments are over feelings not facts. Az. legislation doesn’t create these laws, just asks for enforcement. And I grew up in Phoenix, some of my family still live there, and American citizens are Arizona’s biggest export to Mexico via kidnapping. Phoenix is the kidnapping capitol of the world as someone wrote.
    Thanks again! And thanks Amy for willing to be a posting place for these discussions.

  33. Dianna — Your words speak for themselves, as do Preston’s. Thanks for commenting.

  34. I’m curious, Traci — do I know you?

  35. Hi Amy- No, I we don’t know each other (not that I’m aware of). I came across your post because someone posted it on their facebook page. Didn’t mean to land on your blog with all of these posts, I started with an honest question that I knew nothing about and it went on from there. Hope I didn’t offend anyone, I am truthfully trying to find out more about this issue just so I can be well-versed and understand what’s really at the heart of the problem.

    Thanks for giving me/us the opportunity to post. I can’t imagine there is anything left to discuss, my brain is fried, LOL.

    Beautiful girls by the way Amy, loved reading some of your posts! You are very open and have a great attitude. Love that!

  36. I think Al Sharpton now has the situation under control!

  37. I love this blog. What people don’t understand about the new immigration law is that it affects real human beings like Rose. Well done, Amy.

  38. [...] too. I posted my concerns in a piece about a dear friend’s adopted daughter. That blog post got more hits in a day than any piece I’ve written about Sophie in more than [...]

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