Today is a sad day for America. Especially for us Latinos who see this as a major setback in the fight for equality and civil rights. The immigration bill signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is not one designed to curb illegal immigration, but rather it legalizes racial persecution and institutionalizes discrimination.
It represents the first outcome -- of many to come -- pushed and supported by the hateful rhetoric peddled time and again by the Tea Party and many of its followers. Worst of all, there is no longer a disguise or an attempt to hide behind the cloak of an economic argument. It is the latent persecution of those who fail to fit the "American Citizen" model created by the imagination of Teabaggers, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and the full array of cronies demanding to take a country back that never belonged exclusively to them.
The signs have been there all along. For the past month, the Latino group Cuéntamehas chronicled the racist agenda within the Tea Party and the targeting of our Latino constituency as a whole. Through a series of videos Cuéntame exposed the racial slurs, the violent actions and the hatred only to be dismissed as political hackery. Now the provocation becomes a reality, the threats become politics and the hatred becomes law.
This is what the Tea Party wanted all along. This is what FOX network, its biggest megaphone, had hoped for: A country willing to sacrifice its civil rights for an invisible sense of relief based on a false pretension that the country is or will be white and monolithic.
Just picture what the new law entails? A law enforcement official hears you speaking Spanish or English with an accent, they stop you and ask to see a passport. You might or might not carry it at that moment. You are detained indefinitely, hours - even days. How about if you happen to be walking while brown, I sure know my family does all the time. According to the law, this could possibly well be evidence of being "illegal."
Your appearance, your clothes, your language, your location, your activities or anything that may trigger suspicion - regardless of whether it is actually suspicious or not - is grounds for detention. That is called persecution here and especially in China.
This is precisely the main reason why we need a humane and intelligent immigration reform. The longer it takes for Congress to take action, the more of these obscene local and state laws we'll see coming out of the woodwork. There's a leadership vacuum at the federal level on immigration and it needs to be filled by President Obama. In today's America this can no longer happen.
Without a doubt the law will eventually be stricken down as unconstitutional, but not before many families are broken and many lives are impacted. This is a direct threat and attack to the Latino community. Latinos we must organize - and show our strengths at the polls. We must tell Gov. Jan Brewer, she is the one no longer welcome. We must tell Sen. McCain he is no longer welcome, and we must tell the AZ state legislature THEY are too no longer welcome.