Marie Matta: A dangerous step
May 12, 2010
Steamboat Springs — I am writing in response to Omar M. Campbell's letter of May 5, 2010, "Follow Arizona," in which he applauds Arizona's new law (SB 1070) for dealing with illegal immigration. I am deeply troubled by the expressions of support that this measure appears to have received. I agree that the issue of illegal immigration has long been urgent, and like many citizens, I am disappointed that the Obama administration has not given immigration a higher priority on the agenda of national reform.
I do believe, however, that this is a matter to be addressed at the federal level, through positive change and after careful consultation and debate, not as a punitive, unilateral measure by a defiant state. Arizona's approach is a provocative, knee-jerk, "shoot first, ask questions later," "us-versus-them" approach. SB 1070 opens the door for law enforcement officers to suspect and detain a person on the basis of their appearance, language or other stereotypical judgment of their activities. This is a dangerous step that flouts the Constitution and does not only affect illegal immigrants, but the freedom of movement of the broader community.
Americans preach incessantly about the U.S. being a beacon of hope and freedom in the world, and denounce the evils of autocratic, "big government" regimes that disregard civil liberties and persecute minorities. I fail to see any hope or freedom in Arizona's law. On the contrary, I see a climate of fear, suspicion, divisiveness, discrimination and the real threat of turning a minority group into scapegoats for the nation's ills.
Is this really the country you want to live in?