Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Modern Day Jim Crow

The recent noxious immigration law in Arizona highlights many of the problems of the immigration debate. The measure, as has been the case for measures like it, will not serve to reduce crime or improve living conditions in Arizona. It will simply serve to further marginalize undocumented workers, making it even easier for coyotes and unethical companies to exploit them.

Further, by requiring ALL immigrants to carry around their papers, it strikes an eerily similar tone to precursors to violence in other countries which have marked certain populations as dangerous and attempted to create a parallel system for their treatment. Police are emboldened to stop anyone perceived as being an undocumented immigrant and demanding to see their paperwork. As you can imagine, there are clear racial and ethical undertones in such a law.

A more sane and just approach to immigration is needed, and the Obama administration must be pushed into taking the lead. It is a positive development that the Justice Department has promised to be vigilant as this law begins to be enforced over the next few months.

Anyone interested in the causes of this controversy and workable solutions would be advised to check out one or all of the following:
"They Take Our Jobs!" and 20 Other Myths About Immigration by Aviva Chomsky
Ex-Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants by Jorge Caste├▒eda
The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border by David Bacon