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New Immigration Law in Arizona Reminiscent of King Holiday Repeal

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By Floyd Alvin Galloway, Special to the NNPA from the Arizona Informant –

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - In the late 80’s Republican Governor Evan Mecham, set-off a bomb that cost the state of Arizona millions of dollars in tourist and convention business when he repealed the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

Some protesters of the illegal-immigration bill signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer believe it will have the same effect on an already financially troubled state. On Friday, April 23, Gov. Brewer signed what is called the most stringent anti-immigration bill in the country. They have likened it to the South African apartheid rule when Blacks were required to carry proper papers justify them to be in certain areas or be arrested, beaten or worse.

The governor describes it as "another step forward in protecting the state of Arizona." But, many in the minority community say it will open the gates to racial profiling.

"I will not tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling in the state of Arizona," she said.

She also emphasized an amendment to the bill that prevents law enforcement personnel from using a person's race as the only factor in implementing the law. "This protects all of us – every Arizona citizen and everyone here lawfully," she said.

The bill, authored by Sen. Russell Pierce, who is also trying to eliminate ethnic studies in high schools and university, says this bill will take the handcuffs off law enforcement and allow them to do their jobs without restrictions.

Opponents of the law, including Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), have said it amounts to "institutionalized discrimination and abuse." But Brewer defended her decision as her only choice considering the federal government's failure to secure the border.

During the Bush administration, the president tried to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but was met by opposition from his own party including Arizona senator Jon Kyl. Sen. John McCain had at one time endorsed immigration reform, but during a tough campaign re-election he has changed his tune regarding it to try to gain more support from the conservative side of his party.

On Thursday, April 22, close to a thousand students from high schools around the Valley participated in a hands on civics lesson. They walked out of classes, and marched to the capital to voice their opposition to the Senate Bill 1070. Protesters from as far away as California, Texas and New Mexico picketed at the capital to try and sway the governor to veto the bill.

A 24 year old Black California resident came with a group called the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “My parents are from Nigeria and they went through something similar in the 70’s and I think it’s wrong. All it does is promote hate and fear.” The out of state contingent chanted, “Arizona We Got Your Back.”

Dory, a Black Arizona State University graduate student was protesting with 125 other people outside the downtown Sheraton Hotel in downtown Phoenix where the governor was speaking at a dinner for Chicanos Por La Causa.

“I heard about the bill I think it is an embarrassment. I think it’s wrong to be racial profiling people, and that’s what this bill will do. I’m an immigrant; I just don’t look like an immigrant. I think its wrong and I wanted to be heard.

Before Brewer signed the bill, President Obama called it "misguided" and said the legislation demonstrates why Congress must act soon to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He has ordered the Justice Department to look at the bill.

At a Rose Garden naturalization ceremony Friday for members of the American military, President Obama warned that the bill "threatened to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe."

The bill will make it a state crime not to carry proof of legal immigration status and will require Arizona's state and local police to ask about a person's immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that he or she is in the country illegally. There are expected to be numerous challenges in the courts to the bill.

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