Our VoiceImmigration

The answer to anti-immigrant violence is not another death

Jill Garvey • Feb 23, 2011

Last week, Shawna Forde was convicted for the murder of nine-year-old Brisenia Flores, her father Raul and the attempted murder of her mother.

Yesterday, Forde was sentenced to death for her crimes.

Those crimes and her motives were appalling, some would say evil. She snuffed out two lives, ripped apart a young family, and devastated a community, all to fulfill a prophecy of hate. And she has not shown much, if any, remorse.

But killing Forde will not bring back Brisenia and her father. It would be better if Forde served a life sentence and remained a symbol of what happens when anti-immigrant and anti-Latino fervor take root.

The murders were alarming acts of terror motivated by racism and xenophobia. Shawna Forde’s years of involvement in the anti-immigrant movement, including several Minutemen groups, fueled her extreme vigilantism.

There can be no doubt that the anti-immigrant movement is culpable for the Flores murders. Shawna Forde didn’t develop into a killer in a vacuum.

Arizona has been ground zero for anti-immigrant activity, and the influence of groups with bigoted agendas there is strong.

The loss of a young child, especially, has become a point of distress for immigrant and human rights supporters, who have feared and warned of increasing xenophobic violence in communities where there is sharp division on immigration.

We don’t need more bloodshed; the cost has already been too high.What we need are leaders and community members committed to real solutions.

The immigration debate needs more compassion, not violence.

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