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MADRE Condemns Racist Law in Arizona as a Violation of Human Rights

MADRE joins a growing coalition of immigrant, social justice, labor, religious, human and civil rights organizations in denouncing the recently-signed Arizona Senate Bill 1070. This racist law represents an assault on the human rights of millions of people in Arizona and sanctions widespread racial profiling by law enforcement.

Among other provisions, the law mandates that police demand proof of a person's immigration status "where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States." The standard of "reasonable suspicion" opens wide the door to racist police harassment, as people run the risk of potential arrest without a warrant for simply "appearing" to be undocumented.

Undocumented immigrants have long been forced to the margins of US society through criminalization and violence. Recognizing this, even law enforcement bodies like the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative and the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police have criticized this legislation for decreasing the likelihood that immigrant communities will report crimes or cooperate with the police, for fear of deportation.

Xenophobes in the Arizona House and Senate have given respectable voice to growing numbers of anti-immigrant hate groups. Vigilantes like the Minutemen openly cheer the killings of migrants at the US border. Ironically, people join these groups mainly because they are threatened by the same policies that spur immigration in the first place: namely, trade deals like NAFTA that have destroyed the livelihoods and educational opportunities of millions of white, working-class people in the US. Yet, instead of organizing against such policies, many people scapegoat immigrants as the source of their troubles.

In Mexico, NAFTA has bankrupted millions of corn farmers, destroyed small businesses, and driven down wages, sparking mass migration of people in search of work.

Tomorrow, May 1st, also known as May Day, represents an opportunity for those opposed to this dangerous law to speak out for immigrant workers' rights. The National Immigrant Solidarity Network has provided a list of local actions nationwide: 

MADRE reaffirms its longstanding call for US policy that:

  • Upholds international human rights standards and worker protections for immigrants and non-immigrants in the US;
  • Supports sustainable, equitable economic growth in Latin America; and
  • Recognizes freedom of movement across borders as a human right.
April 30, 2010