Letter No. 30: Immigration reform now! (36101)

Dear Mr. President,

As the U.S. Senate gets ready for a vote on the 867-page bipartisan immigration bill in the Senate, lost in the victory for undocumented immigrants and immigrant advocates is the fact that Joe Arpaio, the anti-illegal immigration sheriff of metropolitan Phoenix, Ariz., who came to international fame for his hard-nosed, right-wing stance against a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented, had to temporarily suspend his “profiling” efforts.

This decision came after a federal judge ruled that Arpaio’s office racially profiled Latinos during its patrols, a constitutional violation. The ruling also will ensure that other law enforcement officials who followed Arpaio’s lead will now have to back off, too.

Arpaio’s immigration crackdown in Phoenix will remain on hold until at least June 14, when lawyers will attend a hearing and discuss possible remedies to the constitutional violations found by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow.

U.S. District Judge Snow’s ruling was a clear rebuke of the way deputies had been trained, and it now seems police departments across the country are on notice of this legal violation, as are states that were quick to adopt versions of Arizona’s immigration-enforcement law, SB 1070.

Now all eyes are on members of Congress to see what they will do. Clearly, states cannot and will not be allowed to run a profiling agenda if more Judge Snows interpret the constitution in the way the forefathers intended. As Snow’s ruling posits, the law prohibits using race as a factor in deciding whether to stop a vehicle with a Latino occupant.

Mr. President, you are absolutely right to keep on using the microphone to send a clear message: that a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people in the U.S. living in an undocumented capacity must be provided by the end of summer with the passage through Congress of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Enough indeed with politics as usual that stoke fear and divide people on grounds of race, culture and religion. Now it’s time for the House to also support legislation that ends the black hole in which millions live–a security nightmare by any means.

The time is now to fix this and shut the traps of people like Arpaio and other right-wing nuts once and for all. As Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., warned in his wisdom on Sunday, June 9: “We have to fix this system because it’s not good for anybody. Hopefully, we can pass a bill.” Likewise, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he expects to hold a vote on final passage by July 4, Independence Day in America.

On the House side, members of the chamber’s “Group of Eight” working on their own version of immigration reform emerged from a closed-door meeting with select senators last week, saying they have “found a way forward” on a comprehensive bill. Let’s hope they have for all our sakes.


Felicia Persaud

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.