Our VoiceImmigration

Arizona migrant rights groups call for civil discourse on immigration


MJ Olahafa • Jan 28, 2011

In the wake of nationwide cries for political civility since the tragic Tucson shootings on January 8th, a coalition of immigrant rights groups in Arizona are calling for a moratorium on all anti-immigrant legislation during this legislative session.

Press conferences were held on January 19th at the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse in Phoenix, AZ and in front of City Hall in Flagstaff, and over a dozen organizations from throughout the state drafted a joint statement calling on the Arizona state legislature to pledge a one-year moratorium on the following:

•           Federal or state legislation to deny birthright citizenship to children born to undocumented migrants;

•           State legislation to obstruct children’s access to public education if they or their parents are undocumented;

•           And any other bills detrimental to Arizona families who may have undocumented members among them.

The atmosphere in Arizona has become poisoned by an anti-immigrant campaign to drive undocumented immigrants from the state. With elected officials such as Governor Jan Brewer and State Senator Russell Pearce, both strong proponents of the racist SB 1070, still in office, harmony in Grand Canyon state hangs in peril.

The hateful language of controversial anti-immigrant groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), founded by white nationalist John Tanton, has apparently gone mainstream in Arizona. With over one million dollars in donations from the Pioneer Fund, an organization seeking to research eugenics, Tanton has built a network of virulent anti-immigrant groups, all working to further his agenda of white nationalism.

Through its legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, FAIR has been helping to introduce anti-immigrant policies for almost a decade and played a major part in drafting the Arizona law SB1070.

The poisonous atmosphere plaguing the state was worsened further yet when legislation banning the teaching of Ethnic Studies in public schools was passed. Since then English teachers have even been fired for “having an accent.” This is unsurprising in a place where the State Senate head, one Russell Pearce, has been closely tied to well-known white nationalists and self-proclaimed white separatists such as JT Ready and Barbara Coe.

The anti-immigrant network’s rhetoric, FAIR being primary among its proponents, dehumanizes immigrants by portraying them as invaders, leeches of social welfare services, corruptors of education, polluters of the earth, etc. Humane civil and social discourse can never occur within the borders of such an atmosphere. Americans must join the on-going efforts to halt this type of rhetoric and to make permanent the aforementioned legislative moratoriums.

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