“Who’s the Immigrant?” — Our Next Steps After the Arizona Ruling

By Emily Zucker Burns
JCUA Director of Organizing 

The month of June has brought a head-spinning amount of news on immigration.

Most recently, on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to let stand one of the most contentious provisions in Arizona’s SB 1070. The “papers please” provision allows local police officers to demand immigration documentation of anyone stopped for any offense and suspected of being in the country without legal status.

JCUA believes that this provision, which institutionalizes stereotyping of individuals based on appearance, is deplorable and undermines the safety of us all.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) illustrated the heart of the issue in his remarks on the House floor yesterday when he asked, who is the immigrant: Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez?  “These young people have overcome their very different national origins and became apparently a happy couple,” said Gutierrez. “I’m sure Justin helped Gomez learn all about American customs and feel more at home in her adopted country.”

“Oh wait a minute, I’m sorry,” he continued. “Because I’m not a trained Arizona official, I somehow got that backwards. Actually, Ms. Gomez, of Texas, has helped Mr. Bieber, of Canada, learn all about his adopted country. Justin, when you perform in Phoenix, remember to bring your papers.”

JCUA is disappointed that the provision will remain on the books, at least for now. However we take this as a sign that it is time to take action, time to transform our dismay into working towards the change we wish to see.

We hope for the day to arrive when we will see a fair and just reform of our nation’s immigration laws, so that immigrants and everyone else can breathe easy in Arizona and Alabama. This is why we continue with renewed vigor to build power and political support for immigration issues in the upcoming elections. By partnering with immigrant communities in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, JCUA will work over the coming months to increase immigrant voter turnout and other actions to stand firmly with our immigrant neighbors.

Interested in helping out? Contact Emily Zucker Burns at Emily@jcua.org.

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