From the courtroom to the basketball court, opposition to Arizona’s anti-immigrant law is growing rapidly across a broad cross-section of Americans. Meanwhile, many of the arguments the law’s supporters are using are beginning to crumble.
First, most economists and those who have researched the issue, say undocumented workers are not taking away jobs from U.S. citizens, a major claim of those who oppose immigration. In a May 13, 2010 article, FactCheck.org cited several experts like Madeline Sumption, policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, who says workers “create almost as many” jobs as they occupy, “and maybe more.” In addition, “they buy things, and they make the economy bigger,” she said..
The argument that the law isn’t racist was challenged not only by civil rights groups, but another unlikely group-the conservative Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC). The group pulled out of a planned June 5 rally supporting the law. ALIPAC says it discovered that two of the organizers were knowingly working with racist skin-head neo-Nazi organizations on the rally
The NAACP, along with along with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the law. NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said:
The Arizona law is out of step with American values of fairness and equality. It encourages racial profiling and is unconstitutional. African Americans know all-too well the insidious effects of racial profiling,. The government should be preventing police from investigating and detaining people based on color and accent, not mandating it.
AFT President Randi Weingarten adds the law sends the wrong message to children:
The law targeting immigrants is egregious-it legalizes racial profiling, generates fear and perpetuates discrimination. This goes against our fundamental beliefs as a nation, and is the wrong message to be sending to our school children.
One of the most personal and poignant rebukes to the Arizona law came on the basketball court at the Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns NBA playoff game Monday night in LA. Vanessa Bryant, who is half Latina and wife of Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, was decked out at the game in a T-shirt bearing the words: “Do I Look Illegal?”
Bryant and her children often attend the games, but this is the first time she has used her high-profile presence in this manner, celebrity observers pointed out. Check out Gustavo Arellano’s post and photos of Vanessa Bryant in the T-shirt on OC Weekly Blog here. The Suns players also are protesting the law, wearing jerseys bearing the name “Los Suns” when they play at home.
Meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderón who visited the United States this week, President Obama said the Arizona law is a “misdirected expression of frustration over our broken immigration system” that has “raised concerns in both our countries.”
In an interview prior to his Washington visit, Calderón said the Arizona law “contains elements that are frankly discriminatory, terribly backward.”
At the White House, Calderón added that Mexico will
retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration so that people that work and provide things to this nation will be treated as criminals.
Both presidents agreed that comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue and is in the best interests of the two countries.