Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Guest Blogger Series: Janet Murguía “Arizona Law is Not a Solution”

As appeared in Politico

Gov. Jan Brewer promised Friday that Arizona’s new law targeting illegal immigrants has “no tolerance” for racial profiling.

Please. Don’t insult our intelligence.

I’ll give you three words by way of explanation: Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

For years, law enforcement agencies have criticized the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for failing to serve felony arrest warrants in favor of conducting “saturation” sweeps that indiscriminately arrest hundreds of Latinos in an attempt to find illegal immigrants.

The Arizona Republic examined Arpaio’s arrest logs from eight such sweeps and reported that deputies arrested more Latinos than non-Latinos in each operation — even when the patrols were in largely white areas.

“Citizens are being stopped because they are brown,” said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon when he called for a federal investigation of Arpaio based on “a pattern and practice of conduct that includes discriminatory harassment, improper stops, searches and arrests.”

Just last month, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general office released a blistering report on the 287(g) program collaboration between local law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in which Arpaio’s office is front and center.

The report “paints a portrait of 287(g) agencies as a motley posse of deputies who don’t know Spanish,” The New York Times reported, “who don’t know or care about the dangers of racial profiling and who operate well beyond the control of the federal agency that they are supposed to be working for.”

Sound familiar?

Given Arizona’s track record with Arpaio, our concern is not theoretical. We don’t just think racial profiling and other forms of harassment will happen — we expect it. Why? Because they already do.
We’ve been down this road before. For these sorts of laws actually do little to address illegal immigration.

Contrary to what anti-immigrant groups would have us believe, the vast majority of immigrants work hard, pay taxes, live productive lives and are good neighbors.

Many have children and spouses who are U.S. citizens. Many serve in our nation’s defense.
But during the past 10 years, federal and state policies have sought to criminalize this population, deny those benefits, raid their homes and workplaces, suspend their civil liberties and ultimately deport them. They often split apart families, separating children from their parents, despite the fact that immigration violations are a civil offense under U.S. law.

Along the way, thousands of U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent have been racially profiled, arrested without warrant, detained without counsel and, in some cases, deported.

There are solutions to our broken immigration system. But this new law from Arizona isn’t one of them.
We understand and share Arizona’s extreme frustration over our broken immigration system, but this law is not the answer — it’s a travesty.

Janet Murguía is the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza.


  1. Sylvia Silver Trujillo says

    When lawsuits and boycotts are not enough

    I am pretty confident all of you are angry, incredulous, and indignant about what is happening in Arizona. I know I am. I think this is where we must, we must, draw a line in the sand and say “you have gone too far, you will go no further, and by the way, you forfeit the privilege of representing us–you are done.”

    I do not believe it is enough to go to immigration marches (which I did) or to boycott Arizona (I will). There are progressives out there, like I, who I believe that we cannot stand idly by and allow this to go any further. I for one refuse to take this lying down.

    I will not be content with them simply repealing this bill and calling it even. The damage has been done. I left Arizona last week and my family and a friend discussed what was happening en route to the airport. Our friend Blanca who helps us with our mom and who is a third generation Mexican American said, “I feel like a second class citizen.” So do I. This is not about a repealing a state holiday to celebrate the achievements of a civil rights icon–offensive and outrageous to be certain. This is about whether you and I will have the same rights and privileges when we travel in Arizona or any other place to not be harassed or molested by the police and others.

    Marches are not enough. Boycotts are not enough. We have a realistic shot at replacing John McCain in the next five months — with none other than a young, progressive, Democratic leader who is Mexican American. I don’t simply want the law repealed, I want the leadership responsible for this unconstitutional, racist, anti-democratic bill repealed.

    My grandfather, 93 years old, who came from Jaroso, Colorado died on Monday. He was a true blue Democrat and someone who believed in democracy and standing up for our rights. When he was born women did not have the right to vote and he had the privilege at 90 years of age to vote for then Senator Hillary Clinton for President in the primary election and Barack Obama for President. It is people like him, our families, and us who can change the world.

    My question for you: Will you be satisfied if they repeal the bill? Will that be enough? Will it be enough to secure comprehensive immigration reform and still have John McCain and Jon Kyl in the U.S. Senate? Will that be enough? No. I want more. I want to send a message that is strong and powerful that Latinos in Arizona do not stand alone, but that when Arizona electeds passed that law they thought they were picking on poor, defenseless Latinos. They were, in a word, wrong.

    They forgot that civil rights leaders from the fifties, sixties, and seventies, gave birth and made possible a group of well-educated, talented, and civically engaged professionals and we need to wake up and roar.

    I think it is time that we send them a message that it will be hard for them to forget and send a Mexican American to the U.S. Senate from Arizona. That is what I want and I am asking you to help me do it. This is how LULAC helped finance the landmark Hernandez case featured in the documentary, A Class Apart. They asked people for $5 and $10. I am asking you for more because you have more than those abuelos and abuelas who cobbled together enough money to strike at the heart of segregation and racist policies in Texas.

    I am asking you to support Randy Parraz not simply because he has all the right progressive bona fides, he does. But because we need a message delivered and Randy Parraz can carry that message for the majority of people who believe in the Constitution in Arizona and dispel for every young Mexican American walking down the street or in a classroom that they are second class citizens.

    Randy Parraz,, graduated from Berkeley undergrad where he also earned his law degree. He also recieved a masters in public administration from Harvard. He went on to become a community and labor organizer. He organized community members in Maricopa County to challenge the practices of Sheriff Arapaio. He has the support of the largest private sector union in the state, the United Food and Commerical Workers Union, and it is estimated he will need about 110,000 votes to win the primary. (There are 400,000 registered Mexican Americans voters in Arizona and 200,000 more are eligible to register to vote.)

    His fundraising target is $1.5 million. This will be a grass roots effort. I would ask you to go to his webpage and donate. If it is $50 a month, he will take it — less than what you would pay for your morning breakfast/coffee in a month.

    We can send a message to those reactionaries and we can show our children and our grandchildren that we are willing to act to protect our precious civil and human rights.