The US State of Arizona’s Fascist Law Against Immigrant Workers

Damoon Javan

On April 23, 2010, the US state of Arizona signed into law the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (known before its enactment as Arizona SB 1070), which goes into effect on July 28, 2010. This is the broadest and strictest anti-immigrant labor measure in decades. This racist and fascist act makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an undocumented immigrant to be in Arizona without carrying legal documents, strengthens state and local law enforcement of Federal immigration laws, and places sanctions upon those sheltering, hiring and transporting undocumented workers. In particular, this racist and fascist act obligates police to make an attempt during a police stop for some other offense to determine a person’s immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is undocumented. Moreover, police may arrest a person if there is “probable cause” that the person is not in possession of required registration documents; a person arrested cannot be released without confirmation of the person’s legal immigration status by the federal government pursuant to § 1373(c) of Title 8 of the United States Code. A person is “presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States” if he or she presents any of the following four forms of identification: (a) a valid Arizona driver license; (b) a valid Arizona non-operating identification license; (c) a valid tribal enrollment card or other tribal identification; or (d) any valid federal, state, or local government-issued identification, if the issuer requires proof of legal presence in the United States as a condition of issuance.

Inarguably, the racism within this act is barefaced. The fascists who contrived this act did not even attempt to conceal their oppressive intentions. What more does one need than the dangerously vague phraseology of the act itself? With this act in place, a police officer can apprehend a person simply if there is “probable cause” that the person is undocumented. Moreover, if there is “reasonable suspicion,” a police officer now has the codified authority to acquire the immigration status of alleged lawbreakers. What exactly constitutes “reasonable suspicion”? What exactly constitutes “probable cause”? Of course the Arizona lawmakers will not tell you. Of course Joe Arpaio, the fascist sheriff of Maricopa County,Arizona, will not tell you. Of course the president of the United States, Barack Obama, will not tell you. They will only equivocate. At best, they will simply give lip service to the grievances of millions of undocumented and Latino workers. 

In a word, “probable cause” and “reasonable suspicion” mean brown skin. This act makes having Latino physical, cultural, and/or linguistic features “probable cause” and “reasonable suspicion.” This act places all of those who posses any one of these Latino features in danger of being persecuted as criminals. Moreover, this act makes it necessary that those who possess any one of these Latino features carry at all times legal documentation or face the risk of being incarcerated for an indefinite period of time. 

It is fair to say that this act represents the same fascist concept as identification cards in the early period of Nazi Germany that facilitated the extermination of communists, socialists, homosexuals, and Jews. What difference is there between this act and apartheid in South Africa, the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, or the violent racism toward Blacks throughout the history of the US? 

It is clear what this act states and what it represents. However, at this point it is necessary to ask: why? Surely, many are now asking: “Why has this act come onto the scene so suddenly? Why now?” A correct answer to these questions would not accept the assumption that the enactment of this act was a sudden or spontaneous occurrence. No, this act has been years in the making. Indeed, policies such as those now codified by this act were always practiced de facto. For this reason, the millions of undocumented workers and Latino workers in the US greatly fear all state authorities, from the police to common Census surveyors. The state and its many actors are inherently racist; they do not need laws to practice racism. Laws come after the fact. The persecution of undocumented workers, particularly Latino workers, fluctuates with the conditions of the US economy. In such times of economic crisis as now, undocumented workers and Latino workers suffer tremendous persecution, for the US bourgeoisie must provide false, deceptive, and divisive explanations for the crisis. The USbourgeoisie, as it has always done, is attempting to place the blame for such problems as unemployment and lowering wages upon immigrants—in this case, upon undocumented and Latino workers. Not only is the US ruling class providing false reasons for real economic pressures, but also it is further alienating workers from workers. In other words, the US ruling class is sharpening the antagonisms between white workers, black workers, Asian workers, and Latino workers. If these groups were to be united, especially under today’s objective conditions, the US bourgeoisie would be in serious trouble. As all other laws, this act is simply the codification of the ruling class’s will. In summary, the US ruling class persecutes fascistically, for it is providing a scapegoat for economic collapse.    

Tragically, many polls have shown that the majority of the American public is for this act. However, this does not mean that there has been no struggle against the act. On May Day, hundreds of thousands of Latino workers flocked to the streets of various American metropolises to protest against this fascist and racist act. Many of this nation’s progressive forces gathered in solidarity on May Day to crush this act before it spreads. But, let us not speak disingenuously. Let us be constructively critical in order to strengthen our cause. The protests have no leadership. If anything, the masses of Latino workers are misled by bourgeois politicians, celebrities, and priests. At these protests there are no radical slogans; indeed there are no slogans at all. The protests are seas of red white, and blue, of American flags, the emblem of imperialism and racism. There is no organized movement at the vanguard of this genuine anger. Thus, these protests are only transient bursts of unguided emotion. Yet, there is hope. Hope is seen in the youths who out of their own will carry red flags with the famous picture of Che Guevara. As hard as the ruling classes may try, they will never erase this picture from the consciousness of the masses. It is from here that a vanguard can and must be built, which will lead undocumented and Latino workers and for that matter all workers towards real progress.           


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