Last April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently signed into law the most severe immigration policy in the US that authorizes state law enforcement officials to stop anyone and ask for proof if they’re in the state legally.
So what does an “illegal immigrant” looks like? I’m not alone pondering this important but challenging question. Many blogs are asking the same thing.
It might be problematic in identifying objectively what an “illegal immigrant” looks like since the second largest immigrant population in Arizona are Canadians (Migration Policy Institute). The top three countries of birth of the foreign born in Arizona were Mexico, Canada and the Philippines. Of the total immigrant population in Arizona in 2008, 65.6 percent were born in Mexico, 3.6 percent in Canada, and 2.0 percent in the Philippines (Migration Policy Institute).
Even AZ Gov Jan Brewer doesn’t know what an “illegal immigrant” looks like as she responded to this question in a recent press conference announcing this draconian immigration law.
I really like what Jennifer McFadyen mentioned in her blog about the problematic challenges of this severe immigration law in Arizona:
“What does an “illegal immigrant” look like? Can you tell by a person’s skin color? Accent? Name? Supporters of the bill say there’s nothing to worry about, that discrimination will not be an issue. In fact, SB1070 states:
“This act shall be implemented in a manner consistent with federal laws regulating immigration, protecting the civil rights of all persons and respecting the privileges and immunities of United States citizens.”
But all it would take is one traffic stop on a day you left your birth certificate at home for one of Arizona’s finest to ask about your citizenship and immigration status, and you’re looking at at least a few hours of detention while they run your name to verify that you are indeed a United States citizen. How will you feel when you’re released and the only compensation offered is a shrug along with, “No hard feelings. We’re just doing our job to keep our neighborhoods safe. It’s the law.”
In response to the law, the Mexican government warned its citizens living in or traveling to Arizona that they could be “harassed” there because of its new immigration law (New York Times). Will the Canadian government do the same to protect its citizens as Canadians are the second largest immigrant population in Arizona?