A Fire Reignited

By Todd A. Smith

            On April 23, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer reignited a fire that had slowed to a simmer over the last couple of years, signing perhaps one of the strictest laws on immigration this country has seen.

            According to CNN.com, the law would require all immigrants to carry their alien registration forms at all times and gives police the power to question those they believe are in the country illegally.

            While most will agree that this country needs newer and updated laws on immigration, the new Arizona law essentially will amount to a bill that allows racial profiling on anyone of Hispanic heritage.

            As a journalist, I have had the pleasure of encountering people from various walks of life.  I have befriended many people in law enforcement and have become privy to what goes on behind the closed doors of police stations across the country.

            I have heard that the use of racial slurs is so commonplace that many will continue using them even in the presence of someone who is member of the racial group that they are offending.  In addition, I have heard stories of police officers targeting residents of certain areas when they are looking for certain offenses.

            Furthermore, most residents of big cities are aware of what happens to whistleblowers that bring attention to the racist and sexist practices of police departments and fire departments throughout America.  Many of these whistleblowers are seen as troublemakers who are simply playing the race card to get ahead.

            From my friendships with current and former law enforcement officials, it is obvious that police departments have a real and significant problem with racial diversity, and the new laws on immigration will do nothing more than add fuel to an already intense fire.

            The new laws on immigration has reminded many in the Black community of the Black codes, enacted after slavery that ensured the suppression of recently freed slaves and maintained a cheap and powerless workforce.

            Although I understand the anger of those in favor of the new laws on immigration because of the tax burden felt by legal American citizens; subjecting one ethnic group to racial profiling is too extreme to accomplish the goals of securing our borders.

            Despite the controversy as a result of the recent laws on immigration, Arizona’s new bill has brought attention back to an issue that has remained dormant since the 2008 presidential election.  While many believe that Mexican immigrants are a burden on the American taxpayers, I believe that providing a path to citizenship (after making illegal immigrants move to the back of the line) as former President George W. Bush proposed would be in the best interest of our country, because it would force all immigrants to begin contributing as tax-paying members of society.

            Although open political discourse is what makes America the great country it is, when I hear people talk about “take back our country,” I must remind them that we are all descendants of immigrants, and this country was never ours to take back, just ask Native Americans.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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