Raising Arizona

, Bethany Stotts, Leave a comment

Earlier this month the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education requested that the district Superintendent integrate discussions of Arizona’s recently-passed laws on immigration and ethnic studies into the public school curriculum. The LAUSD “school board wants all public school students in the city to be taught that Arizona’s new immigration law is un-American,” wrote Jana Winter for Fox News on June 2.

In response to Winter’s article, the board stated that they had “directed the Superintendent to ensure that LAUSD civics and history classes discuss the recent laws enacted in Arizona in the context of the American values of unity, diversity, and Equal Protection for all.” Therefore,

“This very important piece of current events would be taught in our classrooms along with a number of controversial periods and laws which are a part of our history and are currently being taught including: slavery; Jim Crow laws and segregation; reservations and residential schools for Native Americans; The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; the anti-Irish racism in the 19th century; racism against immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe during the 20th century; anti-Semitism; internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II and the Mexican Repatriation Program during the 1930s.”

In other words, the LAUSD BoE would prefer that students there were taught that the Arizona law is morally equivalent to these historical events.

In a resolution (pdf) against these two pieces of legislation, the school board claimed that Arizona’s SB 1070 “effectively sanctions and promotes unconstitutional racial profiling and harassment, and blatantly violates the civil rights of both Arizona residents and all visitors to the State…”

Some panelists at a recent conference co-sponsored by Georgetown Law and the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) expressed similar concerns with the law.

Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D) called the law a “nonsolution to a very real problem,” which doesn’t provide “a single penny in resources,” an “additional tool for prosecutors to effectively crack down on drug running, gun running and violent human smuggling,” and, she added, “and in some ways it actually jeopardizes the ability for law enforcement officers to effectively do community policing…”

Rep. Sinema is scheduled at another immigration event on June 28 at the Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP), entitled “In Search of Secure Borders: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead.”

Other speakers on the first panel were Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu, Arizona State Representative John Kavanagh (R), Frank Sharry, founder of America’s Voice, ImmigrationWorks CEO Tamar Jacoby, Hispanic Leadership Fund President Mario Lopez, and Manhattan Institute fellow Heather MacDonald.

Jacoby asserted that SB 1070 “gives authority and puts pressure on law enforcement officers to go after people who’ve broken minor municipal ordinances—tinted windows and cars parked on their lawns on bricks—if they think they’re potentially immigrants.”

She did not differentiate between legal or illegal immigrants in her comments.

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl (R), in his opening comments, said that “In 1996 it’s estimated that 40 percent of all the homicides in the Phoenix area were the result of conflicts among Mexican narco organizations.”

“According to Maricopa county attorney’s office twenty-two percent of the felonies in the county are committed by illegal immigrants,” he said.

However, in her comments Jacoby asserted that “Smuggler violence is different than immigrant crime.”

“Most immigrants are not criminals,” she continued.  “Most immigrants come to do work.” However, in those cases where illegal immigrants assume American identities and/or use others’ Social Security numbers, they are committing identity fraud in order to work in the U.S.

“Arizona is the state with the highest per capita rate of reported identity theft complaints, followed by California and Florida,” states the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, which was released last year. The publication, which uses 2008 data, classifies 33% of these identity theft complaints as “Employment-Related Fraud.”

“Aliens and others have used identity theft or other forms of identity fraud to create fraudulent documents that might enable individuals to enter the country and seek job opportunities,” concluded the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a 2002 report (pdf).

“Significant numbers of aliens unauthorized to work in the United States have used fraudulent documents to circumvent the employment verification process designed to prevent employers from hiring them,” it states.

Lopez, another panelist, expressed “grave concern” over the actions of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who he says has been “rounding people up simply based on their race and prosecuting them, arresting them for the most random of crimes.” Lopez argued that Arizona’s new legislation “just codifies what Sheriff Arpaio’s already been doing [by rounding people up] and his reckless behavior in Maricopa County.”

JJ Hensley writes on June 21 for The Arizona Republic that “Arpaio’s deputies have arrested 932 people in their operations dating back to March 2008.”

“Of those, 708 were suspected of being in the country illegally, according to the Sheriff’s Office.”

However, Hensley notes, “Most of those suspected of being in the country illegally were arrested when Arpaio’s deputies still had an agreement with the federal government that authorized them to act as immigration agents” (emphasis added).

MacDonald, speaking at Georgetown Law, asserted that arguments about racial profiling and federal preemption are “smokescreens” for a discussion in the U.S. about whether illegal immigrants who have not engaged in other criminal activities should be penalized simply for entering the United States illegally.

“Do we think that not just felonious illegal aliens but ordinary criminal aliens who have crossed the country illegally should face a risk of detection [and] deportation and if we think not, I think the country is ambivalent about that, let’s be honest and say pass an amnesty, no more interior enforcement,” she said. “There shouldn’t be locals enforcing and there probably shouldn’t even be federal agents enforcing.”

“But if we believe that there should be consequences for crossing the country voluntarily, knowingly and illegally, I would argue that SB 1070, the Arizona law, is both lawful and necessary and the real reason people oppose it is because they fear it will work and that it’s going to spread to other states,” she argued.

Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.