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From Long Island Wins: May 21, 2010

Arizona’s Draconian Immigration  Law Reverberates Everywhere

“Show me your papers.”

It’s a phrase that most of us never expect to hear. It’s something that only happens to other people, right?

Not in Arizona. Not anymore.

A new draconian immigration bill requires police officers in the state to check a person’s immigration status if the officer suspects that the person is here illegally.

But that’s just the start. The person under suspicion will then need to produce proof of their immigration status, either in the form of an Arizona driver’s license, or some other accepted ID or document.

Going for a jog? Better bring papers. At the pool? Carry your ID.

Otherwise, you’re a suspect, and state and local governments can detain and deport you.

As former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi noted, even his father, who legally migrated to the U.S. from Italy in the 1920s, could be thrown in jail under this bill.

“My father has a birth certificate from Italy, but he has no citizenship papers,” Suozzi said. “So [he] can’t retire to play golf in Arizona now.”

The bill, called SB 1070, opens a Pandora’s Box of profiling in Arizona, and will encourage widespread civil rights violations in the state—and not just for Arizona residents. Tourists visiting the Grand Canyon or businesspeople at a conference could be detained if a cop had suspicions about the person’s status.

Don’t have the right ID handy? Hopefully you have a lawyer’s phone number.

Second, let’s not assume that Arizona will be the first and last state or municipality that enacts this type of law. At present, 10 other states are considering similar legislation.

Yes, it could happen here.

In the past, we’ve seen Long Island officials back similar laws.

You might recall the anti-solicitation ordinance supported by Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto back in September. The ordinance lets police issue a $250 fine to anyone who waves his or her hand from the side of the road, as if to seek work.

The law targets Latino day laborers, and since Oyster Bay doesn’t have an official day labor hiring site, it amounts to an expulsion order for those workers.

As with the Arizona bill, it’s easy to see where this can go: Do we want a government that is authorized to fine, arrest, or detain anyone on the whim of a single authority figure?

Misguided local laws are one more consequence of our national government’s failure to fix our broken immigration system. We should be focusing on immigration reform—securing our borders, creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are already here—and not laws that legitimize profiling.

Arizona’s law is a gigantic step in the wrong direction. Long Island Wins has joined countless other groups in a boycott of the state until they repeal this unconscionable law. We hope you will, too.

Maryann Sinclair Slutsky is the campaign director of Long Island Wins, a campaign promoting policy solutions to local immigration issues. Visit their website at www.LongIslandWins.com