Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Arizona Immigration Law

This past weekend I attended a birthday party at City Park in Fort Collins.  Families from all walks of life had set up BBQ's all around the covered picnic tables and grills maintained by the City of Fort Collins. After we had finished grilling up our burgers, hot dogs, turkey dogs, and smart dogs the coals were still burning bright. A family man eager to get his BBQ chicken on the grill was patiently waiting for our spot. We told him to jump on our grill as it was all ready and we were done. This man was large, smiley, and very talkative. He was proud to say he was Native American and eager to ask our opinion on the new immigration bill that had just past last week in Arizona. Honestly I had not heard the details of the bill. As he described how the State of Arizona would begin to check "reasonably suspicious" persons for their documents proving legitimate residency, I agreed with him that this is patently draconian and - as he put it - Gestapo-like. He went on to say however that he is in favor of cracking down on immigrants who take advantage of the system and said that he knew of several cases in which Mexican women came to Colorado having several children, and collecting food stamps, (this I see nothing wrong with) BUT, the problem arises when the father of the children gets a job doing construction in the US somewhere and sends back large sums of money to his wife completely tax-free. This is a classic case of double dipping and it is not just illegal immigrants who participate in this kind of thievery. I was proud to share space with such a wise man. A man willing to talk about the issue without seeing just one side. I agree with him on many planes. Yes these Arizona laws are gestapo-like, barbaric, and divisive, But, how can we help all people become more socially responsible and cooperate via useful democracy, rather than hiding-out. Fear, I think has a lot to do with it. Because American law-makers have been so unwelcomeing to immigrants from Mexico they have fostered a climate of resentment, fear, and frustration, where people act, not at the round table of democracy, but hiding in the wings taking what they can to survive. It brings shame to me that a country where my ancestors could freely come, prosper, AND PARTICIPATE, seems like such a far-fetched idea for modern immigrants. We are after all a nation of immigrants!

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