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Karen Bass

Karen Bass

Posted: April 26, 2010 05:45 PM

We All Have a Responsibility to Speak Out on Arizona

What's Your Reaction:

One of the principles of being a good neighbor is to adopt a live and let live attitude toward the people next door. But looking at what California's next door neighbor Arizona has done with its draconian new anti-immigrant law, silence in this instance wouldn't do anyone any good.

The outrageous law just signed by Governor Jan Brewer hearkens back to the days of apartheid South Africa and the pass cards Blacks had to carry in that country. And it hearkens back to every recession and period of economic upheaval we've faced in this country, when people of color and people who are somehow considered "other" become irrational targets of anger and retribution. Only in this case, the approval for such targeting isn't coming with the traditional wink and a nod and a look the other way from public officials, this time it's being sanctified with a Governor's signature and done under the color of law.

I do take heart in the fact that I am far from alone across the nation in opposing this backward immigrant bashing disguised as public policy. It's important that all of us opposed to this law continue to stand up and share our perspectives.

As someone who spent years working in emergency rooms as a Physician Assistant, I can't help but oppose a law that make people less likely to seek the life-or-death care they or their children need.

As a community organizer all too familiar with the abuses that we saw from the issue of "Driving While Black" I can't help but oppose a law that allows people to be stopped by the police simply for "Living While Brown."

As a legislator who has supported efforts to increase public safety, I can't help but oppose a law that aids criminals in getting away with their crimes by pushing victims and witnesses deeper into the shadows. And, yes, rape, murder and domestic violence are worse crimes than crossing the border without the right papers.

Do we need comprehensive immigration reform? Absolutely. Businesses and families alike need an immediate, fair and workable system. True, fair and just immigration reform is necessary to help secure our borders and enforce our laws. But that kind of sensible progress isn't what we are seeing in Arizona. One bank-shot benefit from the ill-considered Arizona law is that the debate and decisions regarding comprehensive immigration reform may at last be significantly accelerated.

What Arizona politicians have done is unconscionable -- and unconstitutional -- and it may not be neighborly to point that out, but it certainly is the American way.