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Sounding Off: Arizona gave in to just 20% of voters

May 22, 2010

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an open letter to the governor of Arizona. Dear Gov. Jan Brewer, against common sense and the American values of fair play, you signed the anti-illegal immigrant legislation passed by your state politicians who prey on the weak for political gain (illegal immigrants don't vote!). The Arizona legislation making it a crime to be an illegal immigrant in the state is reprehensible, as it reminds one of the Supreme Court's Jim Crow decision in the 19th century.

It is a slippery slope when we let police officers arrest an individual over "reasonable suspicion" that a person is in the U.S. illegally and, when asked, cannot produce papers showing legal status. This is racial profiling at its worst.

The police unions don't want this power, but the chiefs and sheriffs who are up for re-election this year in Arizona promote this shameful legislation along with politicians. Even Sen. John McCain has succumbed to this extremism because he is up for reelection.

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This is the same McCain who was a co-sponsor in 2007 of the bipartisan U.S. Senate immigration reform bill. If it had passed the House, McCain's co-sponsorship of this long-overdue legislation, along with Sen. Ted Kennedy, would have corrected the illegal problem. The extremists in the House defeated the bill even though the Republican Party National Committee and President Bush took to the pulpits for immigration reform. If passed, it would have given 12 million undocumented workers legal status (not amnesty) to live and work in the U.S., while at the same it would have punished employers for hiring such workers.

How did Arizona come to exemplify the worst of the anti-illegal lobby in the U.S.? This loud, xenophobic group of folks gained recognition and power on this issue back in 1994 in California when the gubernatorial election was accompanied by a referendum to deny illegal immigrants access to health benefits. Even though the State Supreme Court later ruled the outcome of the vote unconstitutional, because immigration issues were a federal prerogative, the new governor had already won the election on this issue alone.

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