Thursday, May 23, 2024

Guest Blogger Series: Alicia Menendez “SB 1070: A Little Bit of History Repeating”

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is poised to sign the toughest immigration bill in the country.  It is intended to terrify Arizona’s undocumented immigrants, but the consequences of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 aren’t limited to any one community. SB 1070 attacks and demeans the civil rights of every hard-working, tax-paying American citizen.  And like every piece of Draconian legislation before it, SB 1070 has the potential to ignite and empower the very community it seeks to disable.

On its face, SB 1070 is bad and impractical policy: the legislation makes it a misdemeanor for foreign nationals to lack proper immigration paperwork in Arizona.  But since it’s impossible to identify a foreign national by sight, it effectively mandates that all individuals in Arizona carry papers.  That’s right: you, American citizen, can’t walk your dog or buy milk from the grocery store without having papers on you that confirm your legal residence.  If you take your kids to the park and forget your documentation at home, you can be held in police custody until your information is verified, even if you’re a U.S. citizen.

The legislation directs police officers to inquire as to immigration status on a “reasonable suspicion” that a person might be undocumented.  Forget that this turns local police into immigration enforcers, and that the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police opposes the bill, contending it will likely erode already waning trust with immigrant communities.   What exactly does reasonable suspicion look like?  Driving the wrong car?  Having the wrong haircut?  Speaking to your children in Spanish?  How many Latinos could be reasonably suspected of not belonging?

The passage of this legislation will have a devastating impact on Arizona, but those realities will pale in longevity to the political consequences of Governor Brewer making it law.  The House vote on SB 1070 divided along partisan lines: all 35 ayes came from Republicans, and all 21 nays came from Democrats (four Democrats did not vote).  Although the frustration and anger of Arizona’s immigrant, Latino and activists communities will likely spill over to the national Democratic leadership, which is perceived as being ineffective in getting the job done on comprehensive reform, history teaches us that the real political downfall will be Republicans’, and Republicans’ alone.

In 1994, California Republicans led a fight to pass Proposition 187, the “Save Our State initiative,” which was designed to prohibit undocumented immigrants’ access to social services, health care, and public education.  Just as with SB 1070, Prop 187 smacked of xenophobic motives, and just as with SB 1070, it was introduced and promoted by Republicans, including Republican Governor Pete Wilson.  And just as the Republican Party’s advocacy for Prop 187, and its galvanizing affect on the state’s Latinos (augmented – of course – with a gold-standard voter registration campaign) marked the decline of the party’s fortunes in California, passage of SB 1070, if matched with proper organizing, will define the political legacy of the Arizona Republican Party.

In the short term, Governor Brewer signing her name to this legislation will likely help her maintain support within her party, but in the long term, she will go down in history as the executor of the Arizona Republican Party’s demise.

Alicia Menendez is a Senior Advisor at NDN, and a frequent contributor to MSNBC and Fox News.  Follow her on Twitter: @AliciaMenendez


  1. I HAVE BEEN A RESIDENT OF THE GREAT STATE OF ARIZONA SINCE 1976. I am absolutely amazed at everyone that is protesting the Arizona Immigration SB 1070 Law.

    I was taught years ago when growing up that yes, we all have a right to protest things that we disagree with, however we must do it peacefully and lawfully.

    I taught my children as they were growing up that there is no such thing as being racist or prejudice. We all breath the same air and we all bleed the same color blood and as far as our skin colors, they are just a difference in our pigmentation.

    To carry this forward into all of the Illegal Immigrants protests, this law begins with “ILLEGAL” Illegal meaning not following the laws of our country. Immigrants are people that want for the most part a better life, and are willing to risk what it takes to either become a legal citizen of the United States of America, or “ILLEGALLY” enter this country.

    Since when do those of Illegal character decide that they will do all it takes to disrupt our country and fight for their rights to be able to roam our streets “ILLEGALLY”?

    FYI: I do not believe in racial profiling, nor do I believe in law enforcement over abusing their power and authority. I do however believe that each time a law enforcement officer hits our streets in Arizona they take the risk of not returning home..

    What I do believe is, since the Federal Government to date hasn’t done all it takes to keep our borders safe, then passing this law, whether you agree or disagree is getting the attention we need to slow down the numbers of ILLEGALS entering our country daily and nightly by way of Everyone across our state and Washington DC keeping their eyes on the Great State of Arizona.

    In closing, do you have any idea how many law enforcement officers and citizens and children have either lost their lives at the hands of ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS or been seriously hurt.

    If our Federal Government won’t do their job to protect us, then Thanks to the State of Arizona for at least making an effort to attempt to do something to protect us.

    • Richard Gage says

      Before we form conclusions based on the “experts” and “pundits”, it might be a good idea to read Senate Bill 1070 firsthand:

    • First I would say to all Legal Immigrants that came here for a better life for their Families . Those that entered Legally , we Americans are proud of you Americans for a Great compliment desiring Citizenship here.
      We welcome all who come Legally and obey the Laws of the land.
      Others who sneak across are Illegal and you are not welcome. You force your will selfishly and would continue to do so. Matter of fact you are in burning our Flag, and disrupting life in our Country.You challenge us with Our Laws that are not Your Laws and you are not entitled to that Protection.YOU ARE
      ILLEGAL !
      Americans against Americans on this issue is rediculous. How do you feel about the rape victim that you now want the assilant to be a free American Citizen ?
      The murderer ? the burglar ? the theif ? Those people have no respect for this Nation or it’s people including those offering protest in their behalf.
      This Nation is a young Nation in comparrison to many . Our Forefathers put together our Constitution which seperates us from all the ntions in the world .
      Many died for those words you take for granted so carelessly.
      You take up a cause you think has more value than the People of These United States , it’s Laws and it’s bounderies. You are wrong.
      Those you want to give Freedom to or raise your banner for will give you , and your posterity what they had . Look over the fence , is that what you want ?
      That is what you will get or your children .
      Any Citizen , Politician, or President that cannot see the value of this Nation
      is not American or mature in thought.
      Take the good hearted child wanting to give away the house, with food and running hot water to the poor Family. No you would smile at his tender heart but would not allow it.
      Do not let a Political Party guide you as a herd creating dissention amoung us.
      Ask yourself , If I do not go along with crime as a rule , then why do I find favor with lawless people . Ask would I feel the same about Russians, Chinnese,
      Irish, Indians,coming to My Country Breaking Our Laws?

      • HUH? You really lost me. Are you saying all illegals are rapists, murderers, and thieves. I don’t understand your rant at all.

        I don’t like the thought of illegal aliens being here whether they are from Central or South America or Eastern Europe or anywhere else. The entire point of SB 1070 is so that the police can stop anyone they choose. It applies to people who are stopped for crimes or other violations of civil law to be asked for proof of citizenship.

        If a person doesn’t do anything to warrant being asked for documentation, then there will be no problem. Since this bill was passed I, a white American, went to the Post Office and got a passport to carry in my wallet. I don’t think it’s such a big deal. I believe we need more laws to protect our citizenry and our nation just as other nations protect their citizenry and their nation.

        I agree that the influx of illegal aliens needs to be stopped and I also agree that they do not have the same rights that we, as citizens enjoy. They do have the right to be treated humanely and with dignity as guests of our country, but they should go home as soon as possible and do things correctly.


  1. […] This is cross-posted from my post at the Latinovations blog. […]