Saturday, April 20, 2024

Guest Blogger Series: Randy Parraz on “California Lessons to Bring Arizona Change It Needs”

Latinovations thanks Randy Parraz for his contribution to La Plaza.  Parts of today’s guest blog originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

California Lessons Will Bring Arizona the Change It Needs

Arizona has been in national headlines lately for all the wrong reasons.  I am sure you are as tired as I am about hearing the negative stories.  A state which gives us majestic natural wonders and a rich and diverse tapestry of Native American culture is now unfortunately becoming better known for being the home of laws that promote racial profiling and ban ethnic studies; a policy that requires the removal of English teachers who speak with heavy accents, and a proposal to deny citizenship to the U.S. born children of undocumented immigrants.

And a state that has long been home to Latino culture is now ground zero in the polarizing debate on immigration reform.  The egregious actions of a few have now become an attack on our community as a whole.  While some of this is new to the front pages and headlines, some of us have been fighting attacks against our community for years now.  Sheriff Arpaio’s flouting the rule of law and misusing his authority is one of the most egregious examples we have in this country right now of an elected official who is abusing his office and not meeting his obligations to the community he vowed to serve.

I learned early on that those in authority should value community service, duty and sacrifice.  My father was a Deputy Sheriff whose lessons and example propelled me to build my professional career organizing individuals and communities to develop solutions to seemingly intractable problems and to hold their leaders accountable.  His service with integrity is a great part of why I became a founding member of Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability to expose the misplaced priorities, abusive practices and ineffective policies of the Sheriff’s Office which was not meeting its obligations to the community.

Unfortunately, the sheriff is not the only elected representative in the state of Arizona who seems to be abandoning his principles and failing to serve the community.  Our governor and senator have shortchanged Arizona and have failed to do their duty and stand up to intolerance, instead allowing one group to be used as scapegoats instead of working to move beyond the rhetoric and find workable solutions to complex policy issues.

What many fail to appreciate, however, is that history is on course to repeat itself.  We only need to look to our neighbor to the West to see that this year is going to be a reprise of the post-Proposition 187 California of nearly a decade and half ago.

In 1994, California was in the midst of an economic crisis, with Governor Pete Wilson, who was running for re-election, blaming the state’s woes on illegal immigration.  Championing the now infamous Proposition 187, which denied social services to undocumented immigrants, he reduced complex issues needing real solutions into scare tactics and half –truth sound bites.  Sound familiar?

The debate over Prop 187 quickly morphed into an attack on all Latinos.  Five months before its passage, the majority of Latinos supported the proposition.  By the time it passed, the vast majority of Latinos opposed it.

The law was ruled unconstitutional, and much to many Republicans’ chagrin, one of the lasting legacies of the Prop 187 battle is the substantial and durable Democratic majority in the nation’s most populous state that came as a result of Latinos feeling demonized and suddenly registering to vote.

For years now, I have been working to organize individuals and communities around issues of justice and fairness.  Much is being written about the Latino electorate being energized as a result of the passage of SB 1070.  I see it every day.  People are saying “Basta!”  They understand that we all have an obligation to speak out, to march, to vote – to make our voices heard and say that we will not allow our Latino community to become an unfair target of such blatant attacks and egregious actions on the part of a few.

A confluence of factors—including the growth in the number of registered Latino voters, the influence of the Tea Party, and anti-incumbent fervor all make this a very interesting year in Arizona and across the country.  In many states, even those without large Latino populations, politicians are attempting to use the issue of immigration to divide communities.

There are so many other issues that our Latino community faces.  While I applaud President Obama’s recent speech where he restated his commitment to passing comprehensive immigration reform, I hope that our elected leaders are able to move beyond the partisan politics to tackle things like job creation, creating a sustainable energy policy and providing a quality public education to our nation’s youth.

The people of Arizona deserve so much more than a tarnished image.  And it will be through the spirit, commitment and action of the Latino community that we can change the tide.

Randy Parraz is a community activist, labor organizers, and co-founder of Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability.  He is using his extensive experience organizing individuals and groups to bring the message of much change to the citizens of Arizona as he campaigns for US Senate.


  1. Wow – this is great. Basta con McCain!

  2. patpacer says

    In 2008 in the middle of the night behind closed doors Pelosi used a War supplement bill to give protected status to 1.35 million illegal agriculture workers who had already been working here in the US for 45 months and their extended families which amounted to over 3 million (then) illegal’s. That is more people than is needed across the states to work fields.

    Our borders are not secure and citizens of all states are so angry at the law suit filed against Arizona, that in 4 days people from all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico, have donated over $500k to help the Arizona legal defence. There are millions of illegal aliens which can prove their illegal residency here for eight or nine years minimum, and most have a form of documentation with a pay stub, rent receipt, an anchor expense, CHIP enrolment (something). Starting in 2007 campaign innuendoes broke the record with the highest influx of border jumper’s in any given presidential election cycle. President Obama said the immigration rules are “unenforceable” for local law, I wonder if this is because of the vast numbers of illegal’s and drug cartels spread throughout our nation?

    Since this administration is so sure there are only 12 million illegal aliens in the US, and Ellis Island has been updated, and much the same is in Florida to document immigrants. Consider: Absolutely NO social security or voting rights until becoming a legal English speaking citizen for 10 years to the date of meeting the crime restitution requirements. Once the twelve million numbers of illegals is reached (documented) DEPORT the other 16 million left over.

    The unemployment rate for veterans rose in June, to 11.5 percent for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Hire some of them to work with their local law serving the people of their own hometowns and surrounding communities. These veterans already have government run VA healthcare for five years running, and could save struggling towns short on law enforcement to actually save local tax monies (feds employ vets), while also saving local tax funds used toward the healthcare insurance for local law enforcement. There are more than enough already trained unemployed veterans to help deport all 28 million illegal border jumpers.

    Two other presidents already enforced immigration laws to employ war vets, this would be the third time, and because it is for national security this time will be the charm. This time we permanently secure our borders. President Obama recently said “Our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols,” and he said “It won’t work.” Seems the old adage is still working fine because Mr. Obama’s best bet is to hire the vets.

  3. We need to vote out those people with bigotry in their hearts and elect someone like Mr. Parraz to represent us. I’m through with hearing about how most people support this racist law, ask the people it will most affect! That’s what matters!

  4. Alice you live in the clouds. Crime is up. Drugs are everywhere. Children are becoming addicts younger and younger each year. When someone finally does something about curtailing non stop flow of illegals you call them racists. Only reason Joe is being crucified is cause the President needs the legal and illegal vote to win. Wake up lady.