Monday, January 28, 2013

The Southwest: The New South

What is the deal with southwestern states these days? In my short blogging career I have already written about pending legislation in New Mexico, and everyone remembers the horrendously racist iffy legislation that was passed in Arizona in 2010, "The Support Our Law Enforcement & Safe Neighborhoods Act." (Ha!) Well, Arizona legislators are up to their old tricks again, with the introduction of House Bill 2293

State Representative Steve Smith, a House Republican, says that he introduced House Bill 2293 in order to find out how much money the state spends on the treatment of immigrants, and that it in no way aims to crack down on illegal immigration. “It’s a data collection bill, that’s what it is...That’s it. We don’t deny anybody. They don’t come in and not get treated. Everything stays the same, we just want it documented,” Smith told ABC. Sounds reasonable, right? Well, there are lot of groups who say it is chock full of bologna.

Look familiar? 
The Arizona Hospital & Healthcare Association says the bill will disrupt work, and rhetorically asked what other industry has to take the time to screen their customers for citizenship verification. Absolutely a reasonable point. But here's where my main objection to the bill comes in- it is blatantly racist. 

Smith portrays the bill as a way to collect data on people who are in the country for one reason or another, just for kicks- just to see who's here and how much money Arizona spends on healthcare for non-citizens. Then why, Representative Smith, does the bill exclude Canadians from providing documentation of immigration status to receive care? All they will have to do under the new legislation is prove their Canadian citizenship. The same would apply for people who are citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program. Twenty-nine of the thirty-seven countries who participate in the VWP are white European, and none of them are brown Latin American. To be clear, this program does not establish any kind of legal immigration status to travelers, it just allows them to stay in the country for ninety days without a visa. Ahem. 

If you are an illegal immigrant, we will be happy to 
treat your wounds/illnesses/sick children, 
but we are now required to turn you in 
to the police or ICE. What do you mean you don't want 
to come to the hospital? What do you mean you'll take 
your chances with a communicable disease? 
OH! You're from Canada! Why didn't you say so? 
Come on in! 
taken from
When asked about these discrepancies, one of the bill's sponsors replied, "There's a lot of good relationships we have with Canada, legally, there's lots of reciprocity...If you have Canadian papers, you're deemed legal in the United States." Reciprocity? With regard to trade, perhaps, but this is simply not true! It is true that Canada is part of the Visa Waiver Program, but it is not true that it is easier for Canadian citizens to become American citizens, or that having Canadian paperwork deems one "legal" in the United States. It seems that what he meant to say was, "There's a lot of good relationships we have with Canada, they're white, and we aren't scared of them." 

What's the big deal? So they know you're not a legal citizen, so what? They will still treat you and give you the medical care you need! Yes, it is true that the bill does not go into details about what will actually happen with regard to specific penalties. However, and here's where the claim that "it's just for data collection, silliez" falls apart- the bill REQUIRES hospitals to report brown people those people who are unable to provide documentation or proof of citizenship to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE,) or to local police. (Excluding Canadians and people from countries who participate in the VWP, yah?) 

Arizona, Arizona, Arizona...why on Earth should we believe you? Your intentions have not been good in the past. We may have a difficult time remembering the past in this country, but we do remember SB1070. We know you are concerned about illegal immigration, and maybe you should be. But we feel like perhaps you have misplaced your concerns and traded them for fear. Fear of people who do not look like you. 

I hear it's warm there- maybe you should look into growing tobacco, or is it the right climate for cotton?

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