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Arizona’s SB 1070: What If My Family Were The Supreme Court?

“I’m not a social worker, I’m a cop.”

These words came out of the most infamous sheriff we know of today, Joe Arpaio. But it might as well have come out of the mouth of one of my cousin’s over the weekend. A state trooper, he finds the idea of illegal immigration a scary situation for our country and, “a matter of national security.” As serious as this may sound, he also was unable to provide any specific reasons other than, “these people are breaking the law.” Sidenote: Both of his parents were born in Mexico.

I have been an immigrant rights activist for over ten years now and defending the immigrant community has never gotten easier. In fact, it has gotten that much tougher. On the eve of SB1070’s oral arguments in the highest court in the land, the judicial fight has only just begun. Yet, the divisive issue of immigration reform (or lack thereof), amongst our Latino community specifically, is alive and well and perhaps a long and winding road.

It’s funny. I usually joke about my Mexican family and how they are the root of my blog material, but it can’t be further from the truth. With so much diversity amongst my people, you wouldn’t expect anything less. Although I’m psyched for the material, the debates are always awful and never easy to write about.


In the case of Arizona’s SB1070, my family’s debate and/or conversations about immigration sound a lot like individuals who call in to a radio show. Let’s take for example, On Point with Tom Ashbrook, who yesterday morning, discussed in great detail, SB1070 and the Supreme Courts decision to begin to hear oral arguments tomorrow. As I listened in, I couldn’t help but compare the callers calling in to the conversations I had over the weekend with my own family. Some callers provided great insight on the issue, but then there were the other callers who were incredibly disingenuous, providing no real concrete information other than their biased feelings towards the issue of illegal immigration. Like a few in my family.

So I ask myself. If I’m an immigrant activist, who has been defending the rights of undocumented immigrants for years, how is it that I plan to make a difference in the overall immigration debate of this nation when I can’t even influence those within my own immediate family?

I don’t know.

I am confused and nervous tonight because the Supreme Court, like the anti-immigrant members in my own family, may get this whole SB1070 wrong. Come June, the Justices may rule for Arizona and uphold the disastrous law we’ve come to know.

What if?

So far in the last two years, activists and supporters have tried their best to alleviate the burden on undocumented immigrants, appealing the law and its legalities, getting the courts to successfully rule the laws unconstitutional. In other cases, law enforcement have felt that they’re too overextended so have chosen not to pursue enforcement of the law. However, by Supreme Court ruling for Arizona, the floodgates would open up big time, making things much worse under very unimaginable circumstances. If we thought things were bad now, they will only get worse.

Politically, Democrats and immigrant rights activists have begun to strategize, looking at different scenario’s if and when the Supreme Court rules in favor of SB1070. If the ruling comes in June, that’s five months prior to the presidential election, which means the Democrats in Congress can send an anti-SB1070 bill up for a vote, Republican’s will be forced to take a side and the Democrats will come out as the one to choose, right? Sounds all nice and dandy, doesn’t it? The problem with this however, is that the Latino vote will once again be used for political gain. How do we know we won’t be used and taken for a ride once again, to only be disappointed in the end? (Again.)


But let’s be frank, the Democrats aren’t the only one’s guilty of this spectacular nonsense. Just a few months ago, Mitt Romney criticized Rick Perry during a GOP debate for supporting and implementing the DREAM Act in Texas. Days later, Romney boasted that if the DREAM Act were to ever pass at the national level, he would repeal it as president. Now, as the general election campaign against President Obama begins to unfold, Romney, as well as other Republican’s, appear to have changed their minds about the DREAM Act (again), convincing the token Latino, Senator Marco Rubio (no relation, thank gawd) from Florida, to write his own version of the DREAM Act and parade around the country with it as a perfect alternative to those of us who have been fighting for the real thing for over ten years!!

Neither side have been very effective in supporting and helping immigrant rights activists like myself. We’ve been courted and dumped time and time again. Can the Justices on the United States Supreme Court be objective enough as possible to throw out something as horrendous as SB1070, forcing both political parties to finally come together to pass comprehensive immigration reform?

The infighting within our politics is one thing, but when the infighting takes place amongst my people, taking each other on to satisfy political leaders at the top, at the expense of our own is an insult to our parents and grandparents before us, who came to this country when the border was just a line in the dirt. It is an insult to the millions of undocumented immigrants all across this country today, working long hours and being exploited by money hungry employers getting rich off the sweat of their brow. It is an insult to the countless human beings who have died in the sweltering deserts of the US/Mexican border, attempting to arrive and reach that American Dream, to provide for their family here and back home. It is an insult to the millions of families who are separated each and every day from his/her children and deported to their home country without knowing if and when they will ever speak to their families again.

SB1070 is as divisive as anything I’ve ever known in my own life time, yet reflect the awful history this country once endured many years ago. With just hours left before oral arguments begin in Washington, DC, those of us on the front lines will listen and wait for the momentous occasion in which our Supreme Court will either choose to move forward and rule in favor of a future of equality and unity for all, or rule in favor of stepping back into history, to defend the darkest times in our country’s past.

We can’t afford to go back.

  1. Diggs Greybles
    April 28, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    I guess that anyone whose come here could just go back to wherever they came from and there’d be no need for 1070!!!! Problem is they’ve been refusing to follow the laws of this country since they stepped foot here and are offended that they should be asked by the legal majority of citizens to obey. If I have to show my papers and subject to a search by the TSA as a legal resident, why should anyone be offended to present identification during a traffic stop unless they’re violating the law. The bottom line is there’re over 12 to 20 million illegals in this country the majority being Latino. Of course Latinos will be most likely to be arrested and deported!!! So why don’t they just follow existing laws and self deport??? Because they don’t want to and will follow no law which doesn’t benefit them and will continue to be disobedient to any that doesn’t give them their way!!!!

  2. April 30, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Thank you for your comment. First off, I’d like to begin by saying that I was born and raised here in the United States. I attended and completed High School, went and graduated from a four-year university and finally, attended and completed graduate school, respectively. Furthermore, I have followed the laws of this great country my entire life. I also identify as Latino.

    The problem with SB1070 is that it allows law enforcement to harass and degrade people like me, because we look “Latino.” If you believe that American’s should be treated this unfairly then apparently the constitution of this country does not matter to you. If you’re frustrated with our broken immigration system, then let’s sit down and have debate about fixing it. But to use Mitt Romney’s talking point and request that undocumented immigrant’s “self-deport” or even the idea that we can realistically deport 12 million is ludicrous. Also, by accusing all Latino’s of breaking laws, is false and borderline racist.

    The United States has had a long history of laws being broken on moral grounds. It was once illegal in this country to give a women the right to vote. This law changed when women came forward and protested for equal rights in this country and forced the law to change. It was once legal in this country to have African American’s live under the conditions of Jim Crow laws, denying African American’s equal rights and even denying them the right to vote. This law changed during the Civil Rights movement and we’re still fighting for these rights. It was once illegal for interracial couples to marry in this country. Fortunately, this is no longer the case today.

    Laws change, sir. SB1070 will die as well.

    Individuals like yourself are on the wrong side of history. As a nation built on the backs of hard working immigrants, Congress will soon enough pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill and make it into law, because it’s the right thing to do. A very smart piece of legislation introduced over 10 years ago called, the DREAM Act, will be signed by the President of the United States one day, because it is the right thing to do.

    Illegal doesn’t always mean “Illegal.”

    The majority of us will look back and ask why we were even arguing about this issue in the first place. The same way we question today about why and how slavery and/or denying women the right to vote could have ever existed, will be the same questions our children will ask when they look back on the history of this country, that once targeted Latino’s and dehumanized undocumented immigrants.

    You are in the minority and eventually there will be no one left to fight for you.

    …Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me — MARTIN NIEMÖLLER

    • Diggs Greybles
      May 4, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      No, you have to violate the law to be asked your status, black, white, brown, yellow or blue or green. Its people who support these law breakers who either have family members in violation of the law or profit off of the taxpayers dime. We don’t need new immigration laws, just enforcement of existing laws. Like I said no one who jumped the fence or over stayed a visa has the right to be here. The government in their argument even stated that 1070 isn’t about racial profiling. I personally think that all people should be asked to present identification in order to receive any government welfare or services. Those who jumped to the front of the line should be deported. Its a slap in the face to anyone whose gone through the process to become a citizen or those Latinos, Europeans, Africans and Asians who are applying legally without playing the race card!!!

  1. April 25, 2012 at 8:56 AM
  2. April 25, 2012 at 1:01 PM
  3. June 15, 2012 at 4:26 PM

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