Mixed Review from Justices
After hearing arguments Wednesday about SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law, the United States Supreme Court justices seemed inclined to uphold some parts of the law and block others, the Chicago Tribune reported. The justices said they “saw no problem with requiring police officers to check the immigration status of people who are stopped,” the Tribunereported, but “were troubled by parts of the Arizona law that made it a state crime for illegal immigrants to not carry documents or seek work.”
S.B. 1070 is ‘Ethically Bankrupt’ and ‘Immoral’
“This legislation is not just ethically bankrupt but undermines basic Christian values and American ideals. The court will decide whether it is legal, but it is already clear it isn’t moral,” wrote Jim Wallis and the Rev. Max Rodus at The Huffington Post.
It’s Really About Fear, Power, and Freedom
At CNN.com, Ruben Navarrette Jr. said the law is primarily about fear, power, and freedom: Fear because “the realization that whites would soon become a statistical minority in Arizona just as they are in California, Texas and New Mexico” was the fuel that fed SB 1070, “or as local activists have dubbed it: ‘The Mexican Removal Act.'”; power because the law “essentially deputizes local and state police”and “gives them the power to act as surrogates for Immigration and Customs Enforcement”; and, freedom because “U.S.-born Latinos should be free from harassment. They shouldn’t have to prove they belong in their own country.”
Latinos Are Fleeing the State
“Whatever the outcome,” “much damage will already have been done,” writes J.D. Tuccille at Reason. His wife is a pediatrician in Northern Arizona and he says some of her Latino patients won’t make the trip to Phoenix or Tuscon to see specialists when she refers them because they “have chosen to forego that particular gauntlet of crewcut peril and either put off treatment or seek it out of state.” Tuccille says 100,000 Hispanics have left the state since the passage of S.B. 1070.
Damaged Reputation or Inspiration?
Likewise, the Los Angeles Times reported that the law has damaged Arizona’s reputation. It cites a study by the Center for American Progress that found conventions cancelations after passage of SB 1070 “cost the state more than $23 million in lost tax revenue and at least $350 million in direct spending by conventions’ would-be attendees.” But, the American Civil Liberties Union reportsthat “after the law passed in 2010, two dozen copycat bills were introduced in state legislatures across the country; five passed in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah.” Lawsuits have been filed in all six states by the ACLU and other civil rights organizations, it says.
Legal Issues ‘Deliberately Misread’
National Review went meta with an editorial in support of the law that said the legal issues surrounding S.B. 1070 are being deliberately misread. “The Justice Department’s case rests instead on a willful misreading of federal statute, and it reinterprets the requirement that states not preempt federal immigration laws as a requirement that states harmonize their own laws with federal immigration enforcement practices — or in this case, with the lack thereof,” the editorial said.
A Moot Point in Face of Immigration Decline?
Meanwhile, the number of Mexican immigrants has “dropped significantly for the first time in decades,” the Associated Press reported, because many haven’t been able to find work in the U.S. and have returned to Mexico. Sixty percent of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are from Mexico, the article said. “Roughly 6.1 million unauthorized Mexican immigrants were living in the U.S. last year, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007, according to the Pew Hispanic Center study released Monday,” AP reported.
What do you think?
Should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold or overturn S.B. 1070?
Deportation Leads to Death?
First, in a story that reminds me of why I never put a Christian bumper sticker on my car, an undocumented 21-year-old Mexican immigrant who was paralyzed in a construction accident died a little more than one year after the Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, sent him back to Mexico, where he presumably received inferior care. The hospital “expressed regret for its handling of the process” and said “it is working with advocacy groups to improve its policies on international transfers,” The Chicago Tribune reported.
Legal Immigrants Are Citizens Too
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, legal immigrants will gain access to the state’s Commonwealth Care health insurance plan after the state Supreme Court ruled that “the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of legal immigrants were violated when the state stripped them of their health care coverage in 2009” in order to save money, Colorlines reported.
Run Away Accidentally Deported
Next, news broke that a Dallas teenager who had been missing for more than a year had been arrested in Houston and was accidentally deported to Columbia. The teen, who had run away from home, “gave the police a false name and her new alias just happened to match up with the name of a 22-year-old Colombian citizen who had been in the United States illegally,” Yahoo News reported. Talk about your “Scared Straight” experience.
Detention Centers Reopen Trauma Wounds
Speaking of trauma, Colorlines got a rare look inside six U.S. immigration detention centers, and reported various humiliations and abuses, but concluded that “for many detainees, the worst part of awaiting expulsion is not the acute trauma inflicted inside the jails,” but “the unhealed wounds of violence from life on the outside that the humiliating baseness of life inside these jails reopens.” Still, a detainee reportedly lost sight in one of his eyes after being denied medication for an infection.
Connecting Immigration Dots in Alabama
At the God’s Politics blog, Lisa Sharon Harper connected her family history of forced immigration to the state with her mobilizing efforts there on behalf of undocumented immigrants. “These current day restrictions on immigrants are exactly what African Americans across the south faced during nearly 100 years of Jim Crow law, from about 1870 until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Tears rolled down my face. I wasn’t prepared for just how bad it is… again,” said Harper.
Politicians Flip Flop on Immigration
On the presidential campaign trail, Mitt Romney’s threat to veto the DREAM Act is gaining traction with Latino voters, “the nation’s fastest growing voting group – with an estimated 12 million set to vote in the election,” according to ABC News.
The 2008 Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, has endorsed Romney, even though McCain “was once a principal architect of comprehensive immigration reform,” according to MSNBC’s First Read blog. McCain has apparently had a change of heart on the issue, but conceded that Republicans need to “fix” their “problems with the Hispanics.”
“President Obama gave Republicans a political opening to Hispanic voters by deporting one million illegal aliens, a record number and a source of enormous irritation to many Hispanics. For Republicans to exploit that opening, however, and fix their ‘problems’ with Hispanics, the party must first fix its policies,” Bloomberg View editorial board member Francis Wilkinson opined in response.
Obama Administration Leaks Plan
Perhaps the president too has had a change of heart. An anonymous “senior administration official” told The Associated Press that the administration is planning to relieve some of the strain undocumented immigrants and their families face with a rule change that will “help reduce the time illegal immigrant spouses and children are separated from citizen relatives while they try to win legal status in the United States.”
What do you think?
Is the news this week on the immigration front good, bad, or ugly?
A delegation of prominent evangelical leaders traveled to Alabama this week to oppose the state’s new immigration law, HB 56. The group spent a day at a Birmingham church, where they talked to educators, students, health care providers, pastors, and families impacted by the law, they told reporters on a conference call yesterday.
Where Are White Evangelicals Now?
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, described HB 56 as an “anti-American,” “anti-Christian,” “anti-family” “violation of basic civil rights.” He said it is instilling fear, not only in undocumented immigrants, but in those who are in the United States legally.
I asked Rodriguez if there is more or less white evangelical support for comprehensive immigration reform now than there was when I interviewed him about the issue for Christianity Today in 2006.
“We have more white evangelicals supportive than in 2006 for sure, both in its leadership and from people in the pews, but I cannot come to the considered conclusion that we have overwhelming or even majority support in the evangelical community for a comprehensive solution,” said Rodriguez. “We do not have enough support to push back the Alabama law.”
Rodriguez described Alabama as a strongly evangelical state in the heart of the Bible belt and said that if Christians had put their faith before their American citizenship, the law would never have passed.
“It was Christian apathy in Alabama—that’s the best case scenario—if not Christian endorsement of the Alabama law that has resulted in our current malaise,” said Rodriguez.
Does Rodriguez Regret African American Comparison?
In light of UrbanFaith reader criticism of Rodriguez’s statement to CNN comparing the plight of Hispanics and undocumented immigrants to that of African Americans, I asked if the comparison diminished the long history of African American oppression in this country.
“No, as a matter of fact, I stand by my comments one hundred percent,” said Rodriguez.
“I can tell you that the vast majority of African Americans understand that what’s taking place here is a lot more than just illegal immigration. …The things that we’re seeing in Alabama and Arizona, these manifestations, they’re not addressing the elephant in the room. They’re trying to go around it, and that is the Latinization of America. The 21st century is an immigrant civil rights issue, a Latino civil rights issue because the vast majority of immigrants are Latino. This has to do with pressing one for English and pressing two for Spanish. Let’s not be naive. This is not just about illegal immigration,” Rodriguez explained.
Earlier on the call, Rodriguez had said his organization is launching a campaign to encourage Hispanic leaders and pastors move to Alabama in order to test whether or not the intention of the law is to “purge” Alabama of “any ethnicity group that does not reflect the majority composition of the state.”
Perhaps this is what he had in mind when he told me “initiatives, campaigns, billboards, conference calls” won’t succeed. “We need a movement that will accomplish comprehensive immigration reform,” Rodriguez concluded.
Is the Moral Obligation Greater?
Dr. Carlos Campo, president of Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, also weighed in on the Civil Rights movement comparison.
“This movement is not about a people that are protected, at least in language, by the laws of the United States as fully, clearly as African Americans were, at least in the letter of the law,” said Campo. “That’s one of the reasons there’s an even greater obligation in terms of a moral response here, is these are the least and the last in our community. These are the very ones to whom we believe our God would call us to because they don’t have equal protection under the law.”
Campo doesn’t believe Alabamans fully understood the implications of the law, he said.
“I think there were certain leaders who did understand, but I believe there are a number of people in the Alabama faith community, as they see the implementation of this law, are appalled by what has been passed. And I think it is time for folks in the church not to remain silent any longer and to speak up on behalf of those who cannot or are too fearful to do so,” said Campo.
Is HB 56 Racial Profiling at Its Worst?
Also on the call was Rev. Daniel DeLeon, Senior Pastor of Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, California, and chairman of the National Hispanic Pentacostal Congress.
DeLeon was motivated to go to Alabama after he heard politicians say the law is accomplishing what they wanted it to accomplish. This represents “racial profiling at its worst,” he said. It bothered him too, as an American citizen, to see that “human rights have gone out the window,” he said.
Rev. Jim Tolle, senior pastor of Church on the Way in Los Angeles, California, described himself as a Republican evangelical, and said he believes “subconscious racism” was at play in the passage of HB56. He called attention to the fact that all Americans other than “first nations people” have immigrant histories. “Everybody arrived without permission,” said Tolle.
Both Tolle and DeLeon talked about the immigration struggles of longtime members of their Calfiornia churches. Tolle said a 27 year member had been deported “overnight” and DeLeon said a leader in his church had been trying unsuccessfully for years to legalize his immigration status. Both of these men have children who were born in the United States, the pastors said.
Do the Players Matter?
Robert Gittelson, co-founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, said nothing that undocumented immigrants face in California compares to what they are facing in Alabama and Arizona. He noted that Arizona senators John McCain and Jon Kyl were key proponents of the failed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 and a key “obstructionist” was Alabama senator Jeff Sessions. Sessions is still a leading opponent of comprehensive immigration reform, he said.
What do you think?
Is Rev. Rodriguez’s response to reader criticism of his African American / undocumented immigrant comparison adequate?
In the immigration debate, some think children are being used as instruments to gain access to this nation’s benefits, while others see them as a reminder that, in God’s kingdom, the first shall be last.
Arizona’s strict anti-immigration law has made it a battleground for debate. But the real source of the problem is located far beyond the borders of the Grand Canyon State.