Racist Arizona Law Criminalizes Immigrants, Institutionalizes Racial Profiling

By Frank Lara, writing for the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

Protests nationwide for workers rights on May Day

On Fri. April 22, Arizona Governor Janice Brewer signed an extremely racist, anti-immigrant bill into law. The bill, known as SB 1070 or the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Act,” was passed by the Arizona legislature on April 13, sending shockwaves throughout the working class and around the world.

arizonaimmigrant rights

The racist, anti-immigrant SB 1070 sparked protests even before it was signed into law.

The legislation gives state and local police the power to act as federal immigration enforcers. The lawmakers who wrote and supported this bill said it was necessary to appropriate the tasks of the federal government because the federal government wasn’t doing “enough” on immigration. The already brisk pace of the federal racist anti-immigrant campaign just was not fast enough for the racist ruling class in the state of Arizona.

The law also makes not carrying proper documentation a misdemeanor. It institutionalizes racial profiling, giving the police a racist tool of oppression and the power to detain anyone they consider to have a “reasonable suspicion” of being an undocumented immigrant.

What is “reasonable suspicion”?

As the racist Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) said on national television, “they will look at the kind of dress you wear, there is different type of attire, there is different type of — right down to the shoes, right down to the clothes.” What Bilbray did not say is that law enforcement will most often be using race and nationality to determine “reasonable suspicion.”

The corporate media has given “conservative” pundits—be they politicians, analysts, legislators, talk show hosts or others—a prominent platform from which to spew racially charged, fascistic rhetoric portrayed as mainstream concerns over the “security” of the nation.  Embedded in these commentaries by the voices of “real America” they have managed set up a strong “us vs. them” ideology; “Us” meaning the “Americans”, “them” whatever is un-American. Of course, these categories are vague and undefined on purpose.

In unapologetic and disingenuous fashion, this ideology is intended to, and to some degree has been successful in, persuade working-class whites, whose current financial suffering has left them in a state of uncertainty and fear.

Dividing the working class and its historical implications

In U.S. discourse, Nazi Germany is portrayed as an “evil” phenomenon completely devoid of any reference to the material conditions that gave rise to fascism.  It was the “wickedness” of Hitler and his German supporters that led to the massacre of millions.  Rarely, is there any mention of why a majority of Germans supported Adolf Hitler and his ultra-nationalist movement.  During the period of severe economic depression after WWI—largely a result of conditions imposed on Germany as the loser of that war—the Nazi Party (National Socialist German “Workers” Party) was seen as a right-wing populist fringe.  The poverty and despair of the Great Depression caused a great deal of fear and uncertainty that was utilized by the Nazis.  The middle-income, well-to-do workers that at the turn of the century had the best conditions in the world, were suddenly left homeless, jobless and hungry.  In a short period of time, the Nazi “fringe” Party began to gain prominence.

Playing on and heightening old prejudices, especially anti-Semitism, the Nazis, worked to mobilize the public behind the false conception of the great Aryan Nation. Fearful that the crisis would lead to a workers revolution, the capitalist class increasingly swung over to supporting the Nazis, who took assumed power in 1933.  As the fascist capitalists gained absolute control of the state and used it to smash the unions and workers parties, there needed to be a distraction,  mass interrogations, police raids, and political reppression were necessary. What had been a common, century-old practice of anti-Semitism directed at the Jewish community was suddenly used as an institutionalized motive for the oppression over those who were deemed the culprits for Germany’s plight — those who were “different.”

We fight for unity against the capitalist system!

History doesn’t repeat itself in the same fashion, but history does follow similar trends. Arizona’s SB1070 is currently being exploited by powerful capitalist interests who would like to blunt the anger of a large constituency that find themselves in a state of poverty and fear.

But it is not an isolated action of rogue elements of the ruling class. It is part of a larger campaign of intimidation and harassment being carried out against immigrant workers that includes ICE raids, secret immigrant holding facilities, the separation of immigrant families and the super exploitation of immigrant workers.

This racist bill is at the same time an attack on all working people. Terrorizing and isolating any section of the working class weakens the class as a whole. “Legal” workers who support this reactionary legislation are acting against their own interests.

It is a wake-up call to all those who want justice.  More importantly, it is a wake-up call to the exploitative nature of the capitalist state; a state which robs the wealth of the workers and gives it to the true minority, the capitalists, who in turn make us fight amongst each other over the crumbs they leave behind, a state that benefits from the oppression of immigrant workers.

In the struggle for justice, the PSL fights for unity across all nationalities within the working class. Unity is a powerful tool in the struggle for equality and social justice. Our main purpose is to bring about revolutionary change that will overthrow the capitalist minority and bring justice to the working-class majority.

On Sat. May 1, International Workers’ Day, there will be more than 350 actions, led by unions and immigrant rights groups to say no to racial profiling and anti-immigrant campaigns, in Arizona and everywhere.

Unconditional rights and legalization for all!

An Injury to One is an Injury to All

¡Todos Somos Arizona!

¡Todos Somos Trabajadores!


Posted on April 27, 2010, in Anti-Police, Immigrant Struggles, Indigenous Struggles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Racist Arizona Law Criminalizes Immigrants, Institutionalizes Racial Profiling.

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