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Not all people living in Arizona like that new bill that has just passed the state legislature giving police the right to ask for ID of anyone who looks Hispanic, regardless of whether he/she is a citizen or whether he/she has been accused of a crime.

I’m still worried about the future of my Mexican-American sister-in-law and her three half-Hispanic children–all of whom live in Phoenix. If that bill gets signed by the governor, all of them will be sitting ducks for police harassment.


Until her death last month, my mother-in-law spent the last several years of her life in Arizona. She grew up outside St. Louis, went to college in Ohio, and raised a family with her first husband in New York. Of all the places she lived, she seemed to like Phoenix the best. She would proudly point out the state’s highway beautification programs, talk about how low the unemployment rate is in Phoenix, and expressed gratitude that she has had to stop shoveling snow since she arrived in the state.

She would’ve been horrified by the lastest news in Arizona, where the legislature has just passed an new resolution (SB 1070) which gives police the right to ask anyone who they think are illegal immigrants for identification papers. They now have the right to ask this of both immigrants and citizens at will without having to prove justifiable search and seizure nor do they have to be suspected of committing any kind of crime. Since the vast majority of recent immigrants living in Arizona–both legal and illegal–are from Mexico, the police have been empowered to pull over anyone who looks Hispanic to demand legal identification on just little more than a whim. And if, for some reason, the person is a legal citizen who just happened to have left his/her legal papers at home, the cops have the right to arrest that person on the spot.

My husband has a step-sister who is a Mexican-American. She was born in the United States to a Mexican-American family and she was later adopted by my husband’s step-father and his first wife (both of them white caucasians of European descent). Thanks to the fact that she is a Mexican-American who currently lives in Phoenix, she is now at risk of being harrassed by the cops simply because she is a Latina. Her three half-Hispanic children are also at risk for such harrassment. Never mind the fact that her and her three children were all born in the United States and they are American citizens. They are now sitting targets for any cop who’s in the mood to cause trouble for someone who looks Latino and they won’t have any legal recourse unless some court decides to rule this new law unconstitutional.

What’s more, my mother-in-law was actively involved in the Civil Rights movement back in the 1960’s. (She and her first husband–my father-in-law–were actively involved in the local New York City area chapter of CORE until there was an internal dispute, some militant blacks took over the leadership, and asked all the white members to leave because they wanted to fight their own battles themselves without any help from other races/ethnic groups.) Given her civil rights background and her Mexican-American step-daughter and grandchildren, she would’ve been horrified by what happened in her own state.

I heard there are now calls for an economic boycott of that state if the governor decides to sign that bill. I feel torn because I want to make a statement about how I feel about Arizona’s boneheaded move by voting with my money but, on the other hand, my husband’s step-father and step-siblings still live in the state and I would love to visit them from time to time.

At this point, I wish they all live in New Mexico or California.

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