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Wherein I Refuse to Recognize Arizona as a State April 30, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Loathin'.
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Have you people seen this?  Today, the Arizona legislature passed a bill that would require police officers to ask for documentation if they suspect you are illegal, and it makes being in the United States illegally a state crime.  Additionally, it invests citizens with an inordinate amount of power

Other provisions [in the bill] allow citizen lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws, and make it illegal for people to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.

Holy God, Arizona.  Have you lost your ever-lovin’ minds?

The issue of illegal immigration is a conflicted subject for me.  On the one hand, it’s illegal to come into this country without proper documentation for various reasons.  First, and foremost, is the effort to keep out the riff-raff, like criminals who are trying to evade charges in their own countries.  I get that.  I don’t want murderers waltzing into the United States for safety.  Then there’s that whole thing about taxation and job loss, not to mention the vaccination scare.  In El Paso I had to get all sorts of additional vaccines because–obviously–I would be coming into contact with people who would not be inoculated.  So yeah, I get that you need papers for a reason.  On a personal level, my family was able to come into the country legally, so I think that everyone else should do it the right way, too.  Elitist?  Maybe.  Honest?  Yes.

On the other hand, have you seen what daily life is like in Mexico?  I can’t blame anyone for wanting a better life than that.  The problem is that trying to get entrance into the United States is incredibly difficult.  The tests you have to take are in English, and this predicates two things: that you know how to read and write English, and that you know all about the history of the U.S.  I mean, the last isn’t so hard, right?  Oh wait, except that the poor who are running the border haven’t had any education to speak of.  The tests themselves create a barrier that keep out the people who want to come in.

But all of this is sort of beside the point.  The fact is that there are illegal immigrants in the United States, and under current immigration law, they should be arrested and deported.

In theory, Arizona’s law seems like a good idea.  The only real way to catch illegal immigrants is to figure out that they’re illegal, and unless they have contact with the police or a health care professional, that’s awfully hard.  The issue with Arizona’s law is really very small, really…nothing more than BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

Case in point: this morning on Good Morning America, political pundit Lou Dobbs was defending the Arizona bill.  When asked what an illegal immigrant looked like, this was his response: “Well, an illegal immigrant looks like someone with no legal documentation.”  (This is a paraphrase, but you can see the full video on the GMA website).  HOW do you know someone has no legal documentation, exactly?  Do those people have flatter pockets than others?  Perhaps your left eye turns green when you don’t have your license on you?  No.  People with no documentation look like poor, dirty, uneducated MEXICANS who have poor English skills.

This is racial profiling at its best.  All of you guys who might look like Mexicans better watch out–I’m talking to you, Native Americans.  Oh, and you Middle Easterners better wear headgear or burkhas or whatever to distinguish yourselves (and so you can be discriminated against in a completely different way.  Lucky you).  Even more terrifying is the power that the bill invests in the citizenry.  Under the bill, citizens can make “citizen arrests” of illegals.  Except…wait!  How will they know who is illegal?  The same way Lou Dobbs does, obviously.  I can’t wait for all of those “wrongful arrest” lawsuits to start piling up.

This law is terrifying, and it scares me that there are people in legislatures that think that this kind of categorization and violation is in any way justified.  I sincerely hope that one day they feel persecuted for something out of their control, and made to feel like an outcast in their own country.  May THEY be afraid to look underprivileged, have a certain color skin, or speak with a specific accent.

In conclusion: screw you, Arizona.

EDIT:  I just found this addendum to the Arizona bill:
“HB2281 states that any course, class, instruction, or material may not be primarily designed for pupils of particular ethnic group as determined by the state superintendent of instruction. State aid will be withheld from any school district or charter school that does not comply.”
This directly attacks Chicano studies programs.  Ummmm.  Really?  I’d like to see that bill get passed about African-American heritage classes.  This place would burn there would be so much outrage.  I dare you to tell me this isn’t racial profiling.

An Awkward Group January 22, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Bus Songs.
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1 comment so far

Last week I caught the 5:00 bus home, which is like, the HEIGHT of Crazy Time.  It had been a hard day at work, so all I really wanted to do was get to my truck and head home.  

I got to the bus depot on campus a little early, so I sat down and pulled out a newspaper.  A few of the “Red Bus Regulars” were also milling about.  There’s one elderly lady that I’ve noticed repeatedly because she just doesn’t seem to fit into the “Red Bus” demographic.  She’s shorter than me, so about 5’3″ or so, and really well-kept.  Obviously not a college student, she always dresses nicely and keeps to herself.  That’s not to say that you can’t ride the bus without being 1) a college student or 2) trashy, but…okay, well, maybe that’s usually how it works out.  

Anyway, this quiet little lady and I have had a few interactions.  The first time she was trying to get on the bus while I was getting off, and she was still a ways away.  She started running–mind you, this woman is like, 70, so it was more like quick, erratic hobbling–so I knocked on the door to the bus as it began to move and asked the driver to wait for her.  She was very soft spoken; not impolite per se, but definitely a little shy.  The second time she and I spoke, the bus had to turn around because of road work.  This kept her from getting to her stop, so she asked for the bus to drop her off about a half-mile from where she was headed.  As she was getting off, I offered for her to ride to where I was parked (at the mall, about 4 minutes away), and told her that I’d be more than willing to give her a ride if she’d like to wait.  She looked at me, a “deer in the headlights” look on her face, and promptly shuffled off the bus.  OKAY, LADY.  WHATEVER.  Then I watched her almost get hit by not one but two cars as she attempted to teeter through traffic.  

Come to think of it, maybe she does belong on the Red Bus.  Hmmm.

Anyway, I noticed that she was speaking to a young man in the terminal.  He was probably 23, fairly tall with a shaved head, heavily freckled.  I remember thinking what a bad look that was for him, but he seemed to be speaking with the elderly lady in a decent manner, so I let it go.  She seemed to be getting along quite well with her skinhead friend. 

Anyway, once we boarded the bus, those two (along with a few of his friends) sat right in front of me.  I tried to put my headphones on and relax, but the conversation up front was too loud to ignore.  

Skinhead:  (speaking to a young Hispanic man sitting across from him)  Hey Jose, where was you last night?  I needed you there with me to calm me down!

(Jose has a young wife and a child–I suspect the family is a result of an unexpected teen pregnancy.  I often wonder what they saw in each other, but one fact is undeniable:  their son is SO CUTE.)

Jose:  Man, I got a family.  I can’t be helping you like that no more. (Admirable reply, I think)

Skinhead:  Man, no really man, then I wouldn’t have done what I did if you was here with me.  Man, I punched a guy.  

At this point, I realized that Skinhead’s right hand, which was draped around The Elderly Lady’s shoulders, was bandaged.  

Jose:  Who’d you punch?

Skinhead:  Oscar (who I gathered from later conversation was a neighbor).

Jose:  Man, you can’t be doing that.  

Skinhead:  But he was trying to get into the apartment!  So, you know, I was drunk, so I told him to get the f*** out, but he didn’t!  (insert donkey-esque guffaw here).  So man, like, I punched him.  And I was so mad I couldn’t feel my hand, so then I punched the wall, and then I ran outside and punched through the newspaper stand.  

At this point my jaw drops.  Seriously?  You punched through a wall and a newspaper stand?  

Skinhead:  (continuing) Yeah, man, you know.  Then the cops came, but they didn’t arrest me!  Jose, you should have been there, man.  I needed you to hold me back!  You know, man, if someone was out to hurt you or your little one, I’d kill ’em.  I’d kill ’em dead.

I just bet you would.  My bus stop quickly approaches, so I arrange my things.  The conversation in front of me lapses into silence for a few minutes.  Then, to my surprise, Little Old Lady chimes in, as serious as she could be.  

Little Old Lady:  That’s right.  You go right ahead and kill him.

Uh huh.  Right.  She should totally be on the Red bus.