After years of proponents of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070, arguing that the law is about enforcement and not race, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona is providing evidence that law may have been driven by anti-Latino sentiment.
Emails by former state Senator Russell Pearce, chief sponsor of the law, show an ideology against Arizona’s Latino community rooted in xenophobia and nativism:
“Can we maintain our social fabric as a nation with Spanish fighting English for dominance? … It’s like importing leper colonies and hope we don’t catch leprosy. It’s like importing thousands of Islamic jihadists and hope they adapt to the American Dream.”
“The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that’s two-and-a-half times that of non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the U.S.”
“Last week, Denver’s illegal aliens sang our national anthem in Spanish and bastardized the words of OUR country’s most sacred song.”
“Battles commence as Mexican nationalists struggle to infuse their men into American government and strengthen control over their strongholds. One look at Los Angeles with its Mexican-American mayor shows you Vincente Fox’s general Varigossa commanding an American city.”
“They create enclaves of separate groups that shall balkanize our nation into fractured nightmares of social unrest and poverty.”
As AZCentral.com reports, the emails sent by Pearce between 2006 and 2011 were obtained from legislative staff through a public-records request.
America is indeed being torn apart, but not by outsiders. Whereas some Americans are pushing for fairer immigration reform, others are stemming what they believe to be an invasion.
For the overwhelming majority of people on the right who share such beliefs, it’s not their fault. Conservative media paints a scene of hordes of squat, foreign-tongued mongrels surging across the Rio Grande — taking American jobs, filling American schools, draining American resources, assaulting American citizens, deforming American culture, and corrupting American democracy. By telling their audiences that the media is overrun with criminal-coddling liberals, conservative outlets ensure viewers and readers will remain desperately loyal — which also ensures that once the fire of racial animosity is ignited, the flames can be continually fanned.
But we are dealing with real human beings, on both sides of the border. Less we forget, America is and has always been a nation of immigrants. Our national character is defined by pilgrims sailing across a churning ocean and families traveling by wagon across an uncharted wilderness — always in search of more freedom and better opportunity. Each time, travelers were as unwelcome in their new homes as they were in their old.
How are the new immigrants any different than those of the past?
Americans must make an effort to understand these newcomers, because only understanding can extinguish the flames of fear and hate.