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schencka
Statement regarding Arizona's "papers please" law

I've been following the new Arizona law with interest, because it's on the Facebook radar for a bunch of Arizona contacts. Race is ugly down there, but not in an established Southern way. It's like a race war where rich white suburban Republicans (mostly in Phoenix/Maricopa County Valley) are playing chicken with Mexican campesinos (peasants) -- "We can ship more white Americans to the Sun Belt than you can ship brown-skinned Mexicans across the border." There's an Andrew Jackson-esque populist logic to it all; I'm glad I'm not a part of it. Funny, I recall most Border Patrol guards as Latin, and I remember at least 10% of my "white" students having Hispanic last names.

Another odd thing that hasn't been mentioned in the media is that for white people in the Southwest, there are "good" and "bad" Mexicans. The old elite Mexicans look more Spanish and more pale and come across the border to shop at Target, Costco, even GNC. The "bad" Mexicans -- who will bear the brunt of the law's prejudice -- are from the countryside and are descendants of Indians. They don't dress stylishly and don't drive giant trucks. They look for work with winsome faces; it's hard for me to match my memory of the peasants from Chiapas and Guatemala, without cars and only one set of clothes, with the media talking points of "violent illegal immigrants."

I had an illegal immigrant in my home, brought by a friend who was involved with "No Mas Muertos." The "illegal" was from one of those Central American countries and lost her fetus trying to cross the border. Not smart on her part, but what desperation led to that kind of decision?

It's not people one is seeing in the media, but larger social forces desperately trying to maintain inequality. Choose your problem -- one act of theft (in need of profiling) or one unfair social order (in need of social justice). From that vantage point, I could care less if my property got stolen if it meant not benefiting from a racist status quo.
 
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