Arizona’s Immigration panic. A reality.

On April 23, 2010, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the toughest bill on illegal immigration in American history. The intention of the bill is to identify and prosecute undocumented immigrants that live in the state. Opponents of the law consider it to be racist, as well as a violation of the equality of all people, as guaranteed by the Constitution. Legislation to identify and prosecute undocumented immigrants has been previously enacted by the federal government. However, this is the first time that a state law will make it a crime to fail to carry immigration document. In addition, the law gives the police broad powers to detain anyone suspected of being in the country without proper documentation. The root problem that Americans must confront is who will fall into a subjective criteria that some consider to be funded on a violation of the equality of all people.

Currently, people are evaluated as individuals, not as members of a group or class. To accept this law, which is based on racial stereotypes, will only open the doors for the exploitation of one person against others, as was written by the famous economist F. Bastiat in The Law. Once the exploitation of one group of people is supported by others who benefit, eventually a new group of privileged people use the same strategy to exploit the previous oppressors, creating an infinite cycle. The passing of the law in Arizona is a historical event compared only to the Prewar period in which Nazi Germany became an anti-Semitic country.

The criteria to be used by officers to identify potential undocumented immigrants are considered by some to be based upon skin color, verbal accent or social status , which may be a form of discrimination among people. The law also makes it a crime to not carry immigration papers. Similar laws has proved to only amplify the spectrum of intolerance and discrimination. A new period of discrimination has been ignited and it must to be stopped. If this law becomes the basis for future laws, discrimination based on skin color, accent or social status should be considered a violation of a person’s rights to life and pursuit of happiness.

But the past is never really past, racism and racists have survived in the United States since before it was an independent country. Different racial groups have been discriminated and among them were Irish-Americans, Jewish Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, and Latino Americans. As of July, 2007 , Latinos are expected to be to more than 15.1% of the population in the country. Still a minority, Latin Americans are now confronting the historical results of a different paradigm after the civil-rights movements of 1960s. This new paradigm is race-based affirmative action. As Haney Lopez, a John H. Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, explained, “the end of explicit race-based subordination did not eradicate stubborn racial inequalities, progressives increasingly recognized the need for state and private actors to intervene along racial lines.” As such, the law signed by Gov. Brewer is the result of decades of progressive recognition of racial stereotypes that have violated the Constitution’s colorblindness. This law provide the impetus for future violations of the rights of all Americans, based upon the racist belief that that societies aren’t composed by unique individuals but by stereotyped collectives.

In defense of this law, the Governor acknowledged in her remarks that “We must react calmly. We must enforce the law evenly, and without regard to skin color, accent or social status. We must prove the alarmists and the cynics wrong.” However, how could the Governor expect that a law that considers people not equal to be enforced justly? By which standards of current affirmative action will will police officers base their decisions of whom to stop and detain? Who is to determine the criteria and characteristics of potential undocumented immigrants?

Historical precedent provides a useful guide to understanding what will happen after similar laws were passed. In prewar Nazi Germany, from 1933 to 1939, more than four hundred decrees and regulations were passed restricting all aspects of the public and private lives of Jewish citizens. Jews were required to carry their passports; in addition, they were required to have visible insignia that helped police officials identify them. Meanwhile, Jews were forced to look like Jews with regard of the criteria and characteristics decided by the Nazi Government. No corner of German society was left untouched. Jews disappeared from the social order in a mere six years.

In 1933, the German public advocated for the Nazi government to start planning the oppression of Jews. By not fighting to protect their rights under the law, as well as promoting outright subjugation, the Germans opened the doors to death, war and discrimination. Luckily, the United States Constitution is color-blind; and it should no more be violated to attempt segregation than to preserve integration. “In the eyes of government, we are just one race here,” Justice Antonin Scalia intoned in 1995. “It is American.” The law passed in Arizona doesn’t comply to this right of colorblindness. For Arizonians, they no longer are just one race.