Thursday, March 25, 2010

Racism in the Arizona Desert

Arizona legislators want illegal immigrants arrested on sight, charged with vagrancy just for being in the state. Given its location, one can safely assume that most of these illegal immigrants are from Mexico.

I will ignore both the words on the base of the Statue of Liberty and the fact that such a bill, if passed and enforced, will certainly cause problems for those economically advantaged folks in the state who knowingly underpay illegal workers to tend their gardens, clean their homes, care for their children, work in their sweatshops and do hard labor for construction companies.

Instead, I will go straight to the history books and ask one basic question: “What makes these land-grabbing gringos think they have the right to enact such a law?”

For thousands of years the area we now call the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico belonged to Native Americans, people who roamed freely across territory now divided by international borders.

Then, with the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th Century, most of this area fell under the control of Spain. The Spanish were a lot like the modern day Arizonians who support this bill, greedy folks who rammed their religion down the throats of the Native Americans, enslaved them and stole their land.

In the early 19th Century, as the Spanish Empire crumbled, Mexico won its independence. Unfortunately, the new Mexico government acted a lot like the old Spanish government, at least in their treatment of Native Americans.

In the 1840s, the U.S. intentionally started a war with Mexico for the purpose of stealing territory – specifically modern day California, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Texas. While most gringos barely recall the war, it still has a bitter taste for many Mexicans.

Some may suggest that Mexicans are not Native Americans, but they are wrong. Today, 90 percent of Mexicans are at least part Native American and 30 percent are full blooded. That’s a far larger number than among people living in the United States, where we did our best to eradicate Native Americans.

Personally, I think this Arizona proposal should be stamped in red with one word – Racist! Of course, I lived in Mexico for almost a year, and I know that the majority of Mexicans are friendly, hard working folks who make good neighbors. Too bad most people in the U.S. don’t understand that. North America would be a much better place if the U.S. treated Mexico with the same respect it treats Canada.


  1. Well said, doctor.

    I am baffled by individual states and even municipalities enforcing their own interpretations of immigration law. It's not theirs to enforce; it's in the federal domain.

    There is a suburb in the Dallas area that has spent several years and millions of dollars trying to enact and enforce an ordinance that makes it illegal to rent property to illegal aliens. Believe it or not, landlords would be responsible for enforcing the ordinance! (I don't know about you, but the idea of some of the landlords I've paid rent to deciding whether I can stay in this country is enough to keep me up at night.)

    Fortunately, a federal judge ruled yesterday that the ordinance is unconstitutional, and issued a permanent injunction against enforcing it. But the municipality is STILL refusing to accept reality.

    According to the Dallas Morning News:

    'Mayor Tim O'Hare, the driving force behind the ordinances, said he wants to appeal.

    '"The American people are tired of judges legislating from the bench," he said. "This decision is not unexpected but welcomed, because it allows us to get closer to this ordinance becoming reality."

    'But O'Hare said the City Council would have to vote on whether to continue a fight that has cost the city nearly $3.2 million since September 2006. And the city may need to spend an additional $623,000 in legal fees in the year ahead, city finance director Charles Cox said Wednesday.

    'The council could discuss the issue as early as April 6.

    'Council member Ben Robinson said he wasn't sure whether he'd vote to appeal, but said he still supports the ordinance.

    '"Illegal activity of any type should not be ignored or accepted no matter whether in Dallas, Farmers Branch or other cities or states," he said. '

    Two things strike me as surreal about this.

    First, Council member Robinson apparently sees no irony in the fact that Farmers Branch has been acting illegally, based on two judges' rulings.

    Second, I've wondered what the mayor would be doing today if his ancestors had been treated in the same manner when they arrived from in the United States from Ireland. I would guess that they didn't arrive fully documented, with H-1B work permits. If they had been deported, would Tim O'Hare even be alive today?

  2. For a nation of immigrants, we treat new immigrants very badly. As for Texas, nothing surprises me these days.