On April 23, 2010, Governor Jan Brewer, signed into law Arizona SB 1070. Arizona SB 1070 is short for the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. This law demands that all illegal immigrants or aliens possess t identification documents that state their alien status at all times. It is considered a misdemeanor for a alien not to carrying the required documents, and allows law enforcement to detain or arrest those individuals. This laws aim “is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants” (Archibold, 1). As a result of this law, the state was able to maintain domination over a specific group of people. I will begin by identifying the form of domination or oppression produced by the Arizona SB 1070. I will then identify how that domination or oppression is maintained socially and institutionally. Lastly I will end by discussing the ways in which the law has been resisted.
Specifically, Mexicans within the Hispanic community were being racially “[profiled] as one of the key tools to regulate migration and differentiate those who are presumed to be residing in the state without legal documents” (Arrocha, 66). The institutional structures which maintained this domination over hispanics was the law enforcement, as well as the white community members. Law enforcement had the right to stop, and demand documents from anyone who seems like and illegal immigrant. But the problem is that there is no way to truly tell who is and isn’t illegal, except for a piece of paper. Therefore, individuals are profiled based on the color of their skin, and the ability to speak Spanish. “Through the institutionalization of so-called racial/cultural differentiation, the state is encouraging xenophobia and empowering those groups with a strong anti-immigrant sentiment to become directly involved in enhancing such discourse and practice” (Arrocha, 66). Besides the detaining and deportation of illegal immigrants, legal immigrants and citizens were being detained as well. Suddenly being of or looking to be of hispanic origin was categorized as being alien. Hate crimes and arrests increased within the community as a result. A major oppression of Hispanics occurred rapidly and became increasingly more dangerous. If you were reasonably suspicious of being illegal the local police could detain you until proven otherwise. To work here illegally was a felony and a fine. Any business with the state, an individual needed to prove they were legal. If a business was given a service from an illegal immigrant knowingly, was a misdemeanor.
“Hispanics…railed against the law as a recipe for racial and ethnic profiling because]…the law [created] a spiral of pervasive fear, community distrust, increased crime and costly litigation, with nationwide repercussions” (Archibold, 2). There have been many protests in opposition to the Arizona SB 1070 law since it has been signed. Tourists have protested by refusing to visit the state and Hispanics have moved out of their homes and abandoned their businesses. Economically the state of Arizona has suffered. “Studies estimate that…between 100,000 and 200,000 people left Arizona over the [first] year” of the law being enacted (Fox News, 2). Besides protests and boycotts, there have been numerous lawsuits against the state of Arizona and the legality of the Arizona SB 1070. Even with these different forms of resistance against the oppression of Hispanics, there has been major support of the law.
“President George W. Bush had attempted comprehensive reform but failed when his own party split over the issue. Once again, Republicans facing primary challenges from the right…” (Archibold, 2). Supporters believed that the law was doing the job that the federal government had failed to do. Since the increase in border patrol along the Texas, New Mexico and California borders, Arizona has had major increase in illegal immigrants crossing the desert. Farmers and ranchers have repeatedly made complaints about property damage, litter on their property and finding the bodies of individuals who had attempted to cross the desert. There are three recurring arguments in opposition to immigrants: they take our jobs, they will change our country, and they bring crime. Regardless of the opposition, the community members who were being directly affected by illegal immigration, were making sure their voices were heard.
But it was the federal government that proved to be the law’s biggest opposition. The federal government was able to halt certain parts of the law. The U.S. argued that the state law was in direct conflict with the role of the federal government. The law was struck down in court, on the basis of racial profiling portion. Therefore the police should no longer be required to check immigration status and the detaining of citizens and legal immigrants should no longer occur. The Hispanic community was able to make as big an impact, because of the state of fear in their communities. They were no longer a part of the whole, they were the outsiders. Their lives were being constantly threatened and their status questioned. Arizona wasn’t they home they had come to know, and they felt it necessary to find a new home, in which they were not singled out as “alien”.
Archibold, Randal C. “Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. 23 Apr. 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/us/politics/24immig.html?pagewanted=print>.
Arrocha, William. “Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070: Targeting the Other1 and Generating Discourses and Practices of Discrimination and Hate.” Journal of Hate Studies 9.1 (2010): 65-92. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. <http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.umb.edu/ehost/detail?vid=5&hid=25&sid=62ad6c2a-e96b-40ee-bdf8-6517240b1486%40sessionmgr12&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=70548673>.
“Arizona’s SB1070 Continues to Divide Public Opinion.” Fox News Latino. Fox News, 21 Apr. 2011. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. <http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2011/04/21/arizonas-sb1070-continues-divide-public-opinion/>.
Jimenez, Luis. “Immigration in the United States.” February 6th Lecture. Wheatley Hall, Boston. 6 Feb. 2012. Lecture.