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Arizona. 1070. You.

Power blue sky blushes at sunset. A welcome sight after a hard day of heat in Phoenix Arizona. After rush hour dies down, in any given barrio in the valley you can hear the sound of kids playing in the street if you listen hard enough. Somewhere, friends have met for happy hour, football practice is starting, dinner is on the stove. I sit on my momma’s porch, give the chicano nod to cars cruising by when I recognize the drivers. Born and bred in this place, I find myself here again, after having been gone for years. And every time I come home, there are some things I recognize, some things I don’t. Just like I am still the same, and somehow, now different.

I’m back in Arizona once again, we await the Supreme Court decision on the case between the state of Arizona and the federal government.  I’m reposting two articles I wrote a few years ago in the days after the passage of Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona.  I was back home, in a moment of upheaval, outrage and determination to respond. This article comes from the days before the July 29th actions & civil disobedience.  -m

—- and now back to it…

So I have to say, I wasn’t surprised when I heard about the passage of SB1070. I wasn’t surprised because every time I come home, I hear stories of ‘el Arpaio’, or I hear about the latest law that got passed banning this or ticketing you for that. I remember how Arizona was the last state to recognize a Dr. Martin Luther King holiday, I remember the countless attempts to undo affirmative action, ban bilingual education, copy laws like Proposition 187 from California.

And who knows..maybe the fact that all this didn’t cause a huge uproar before is that we somehow have this way with places, you love what you love and learn to live with what you don’t. But, the passage of SB1070 was different. The reaction across the country has largely disgraced the state. But on top of that, many have said, simply put: what the fuck is going on here?

The fact is that in the last 5 years, over 6,000 immigration related bills have been proposed in the State Legislature – that’s more than one a day per session. Rather than finding solutions to problems of unemployment, foreclosures, and in the educational system, it seems as though the state capital has become a legislative laboratory to make the lives of migrants miserable. It has become the status quo to blame immigrants for virtually every problem the state faces. In southern Arizona, the Border Patrol’s presence has become the norm, as has the death toll of people found in the desert. And then we have Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, building upon his chain gangs and tent cities, parading around the city conducting raids and sweeps. He has already stated, he’s willing to build tent cities all the way to the border to make room for migrants. And now, just days before the implementation of SB1070, Judge Susan Bolton deliberates the legality of this law. The Obama Administration, while correct in its suit against the law on the one hand, outsources immigration enforcement to local law enforcement (read Sheriff Joe Arpaio) on the other.

Somehow, this law and what it represents has become a marker for the future of this place. A line has been drawn in the sand. Its for what kind of Arizona this will be now and in the future. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I want to place it all in the hands of a judge. We don’t want half injunctions of an immoral law, we need full justice for our community. All these characters have a role in the outcome, but so do you. Where do you stand? It is a question we must all answer. No matter how much we can afford to contribute to the outcome. Just think – What if everyone who opposes this bill took decisive action to oppose and undermine it? What would that look like?

One of the civil and human rights issue of our time has landed on the doorstep of Arizona. It matters here, and it matters in many other places. It will be determined here and in many other places. July 29th is just one day, but it is key in sending a message of what is to come. Is it that the vision of Jan Brewer, Russell Pearce and Joe Arpaio that will prevail? Or is it the other Arizona, the Arizona you and I know that will prevail? Will it be an Arizona that has room for you, your children, your family? The questions will only be answered by our actions.

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