So by now, we're all aware of my ever growing list of "Places to Go, See, Be, Explore". Two days ago that list just got one line shorter when Arizona decided to go racist. See here
Before I begin, I'll give fair warning - this is going to be long. With a Master of Arts in Political Science, heavily focused on Latin American/US Relations and several school papers written on this same issue, mixed with my affection for all people and things south of the border....I have a lot to say about this one.
Now, admittedly, I've been to Arizona before and have been to the big tourist draw - the Grand Canyon - several times. So it was not high on the list, but it was there. Mainly because Marrvelous has not been there and the Canyon, IMHO, is one of those places you should see. As soon as you walk up to the ledge you are struck by how small we are and how young; how this planet we live on has so many delicious secrets and has been creating beauty for so much longer than most of us can fathom. And I find pride in showing off these landmarks to my foreign-born fiance. A sort of Rah Rah America moment (which don't happen too often - that's an entirely other discussion, however).
Arizona is also located in a different part of the country than Marrvelous has seen before, the Southwest. It was fun to show him the Northwest last year and again, tied with that whole feeling of pride in showing off my home country, I liked the idea of helping him see what the geography, the history, and the food of that region was like. And of course Arizona is a piece of golf heaven. So it's been on the list for those reasons as well. No longer.
When I brought up this subject with Marrvelous, he responded that we don't really know the crisis Arizona is facing due to illegal immigration. I quickly agreed, but legal racial profiling is not the solution. As a Scotsman, he's foreign, but white. I said this to him and said "But What If...every time you got into your car, you ran the risk of being pulled over solely because you looked different. What if every time you went out, you had to make sure you had that entire case of paperwork in our office that proves you are here legally? What if just once, you forgot?"
The law allows police to detain anyone they believe are in the country illegally and yet the Governor states that "racial profiling" is not allowed. Please. That is just a joke. Obviously they are dealing with a massive influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico and further south - so what is going to be the first step in police suspecting illegal status? The color of someone's skin.
These individuals risk their lives when they enter illegally - whether it's by paying excessive amounts to nefarious coyotes to smuggle them across (often abandoned, raped or squeezed for more money they don't have) or by crossing the inhospitable desert. The desert is a terrain they don't know, not realizing it will get freezing at night while attempting to fry you into mush during the day. Organizations that have left blankets and water in the desert have been persecuted by the same state authorities that are now Ok'ing racial profiling.
And why do they cross? Because there is an obvious market for immigrant labor. Let's be honest, in many cases the illegals are working on jobs that others (us Legals) won't take. A lot of the farm work, the construction, house/hotel cleaning, trivial jobs in restaurants. And in many cases these people will accept a lower wage than a legal citizen - why? Because a legal citizen could instantly report the employer for not paying the minimum wage, an illegal cannot. So how about Arizona legal authorities focus on cracking down on the employers who hire illegal immigrants instead of targeting people driving in cars or walking along the street?
In all of this, I'm not minimizing the drain on resources the state of Arizona is facing due to their border situation. Nor do I think the situation of illegal immigrants should just be ignored. However, for there to ultimately be real change, we need to look at the "Why" so that we can create solutions for the problems at the root of all of this.