It seems as though Arizona can’t stop talking about immigration. This Monday Russell Pearce, President of the Arizona State Senate and principal author of SB-1070, introduced yet another Senate bill, SB 1611, which would essentially prohibit undocumented children from attending K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities by requiring school administrators to turn over children and families without legal status to immigration authorities – as though making Mexican-American studies ‘illegal,’ or seeking to deny U.S. citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants were not enough.
We in California are no strangers to this type of legislation. In 1994, Proposition 187, a ballot-initiative passed by voters after fierce fear-mongering and scapegoat campaigning on behalf of Governor Pete Wilson (58% vs. 41%), prohibited undocumented immigrants from receiving public services of any kind, including a K-12 education. Proposition 187 was struck down five years later by the federal courts and declared unconstitutional after judges cited a previous case ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court known as Plyler vs. Doe in 1982. It seems as though Pearce and company want to flashback 30 years into the past, to the good old white-only days.
One would assume that Pearce and his hooligan bandwagon friends would have learned a thing or two from the injunctions on SB-1070 currently pending review, as well as from the previous court decisions listed above. More importantly, however, they should have taken into consideration the financial consequences such bills would have on the Arizona economy.
Afton Branche, a researcher at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, a national nonprofit think-tank based out of New York, succinctly sums up the negative financial consequences of bills like Pearce’s:
“Too often, immigration hard-liners introduce bills intended to save money by targeting or identifying undocumented immigrants. In practice, however, restrictive policies end up draining public budgets and marginalizing legal immigrants in the process.”
Shouldn’t Republicans be practicing the fiscal responsibility they preach at a time of budget shortfall?
Perhaps Pearce should watch John Quinones’s segment from earlier this month on ABC’s “What Would You Do?”, in which ordinary Arizonians step up against the targeting of immigrants at a local restaurant. I find some comfort and reassurance seeing ordinary people, largely unaffected by the issue, speak out against acts of racial profiling and the targeting of immigrants.
As a matter of fact, polling suggests that 87% of Americans are in favor of providing a path toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and that 89% are in favor of increasing U.S.-Mexico border security. More telling, however, is the fact that 67% of those surveyed would prefer to have undocumented immigrants register and pay taxes, as opposed to a mere 28% who would like them leave the country.
Though politicians like Pearce continue to foam at the mouth and spew their anti-immigrant rhetoric, we must not remain blind to the fact that a majority of Americans favor some incarnation of comprehensive immigration reform and are socially inclined to support immigrants. Thankfully, immigration hard-liners are the exception, not the norm.
Photo Credit: Tucson Sentinel