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Flip Flops and Mixed Decisions

Once on the plane, leaving Phoenix, I peered down at my feet.  Bad choice to wear chanclas (that’s flip flops or cholas in case you wonderin’) on a long day, the Supreme Court 1070 decision day.  The week before had been full and buzzing busy with the General Assmebly of the Universalist Unitarians, which culminated with several thousand people coming to witness at the doorsteps of Sheriff Arpaio’s infamous tent city.  Then on Monday, starting early, many of us gathered to wait for the decision.  And it was a decision I think most probably expected.  A whirlwind day, humid for Phoenix standards where folks jumped into the fray to offer their perspective to the decision.  And a day where we ended up gathering at the ICE offices in Central Phoenix, to punctuate our response and resolve.  I left the rally to catch a flight back to Seattle, and there I am, on the plane with a bit of a surreal feeling, multiple layers of sweat, and my dirty feet.  Sit back and try to orient myself.  What just happened and what now?

It honestly felt a bit like de ja vu.  Like I been here before.

A mixed decision, one that stopped several provisions of the law but also allowed to move forward what many call the heart of 1070 – the part that says that in a lawful stop, law enforcement can ask people who they ‘reasonably suspect’ as not being in the state legally for their documentation.

Now that the dust has cleared, I can see why both sides claimed victory.

SB1070’s proponents can celebrate advancing the ball on the idea that local police should be doing the business of federal immigration agents.  They can celebrate they are continuing to spur public debate that begins to shape the new normal.  And, with each court battle, they are able to hone in on the precise legal language that will get a court’s nod of approval.

But from another angle, it looks like SB1070 is on life support.  Many of its provisions have been stricken down.  It’s left legal fees and a black eye on the state’s image.  Can its proponents point to tangible productive outcomes?

But what’s still going, and has been since before 1070 are the federal deportation programs of ICE Access.  There’s a reason why every time Sheriff Arpaio is asked to comment on 1070 he barely flinches.  He’s got those tools in his box already, and he plans on continuing to use them.

With programs like 287(g)…but wait, didn’t DHS cancel Arizona’s contract?  There’s where the confusion comes.  Its a shell game, where DHS would seemingly like us all to think they are taking measures to protect civil rights of the residents of Arizona.  But here’s a question – if there are such concerns about the implementation of these programs and laws in Arizona – why not suspend Secure Communities as well?

That’s where it feels fuzzy, like I been here before.  Probably was wearing chanclas that day, too.  A mixed court decision.  Advocates declaring victory.  DHS appearing to react, but when you look closer..not so much.  And in the end, the people who everyday watch their back, take that extra extra extra look in their rear view mirror, its just another day.

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