Earlier this week, Arizona lawmakers passed anti-immigration legislation that is unique in its stringency and harshness. The bill would strongly encourage police officers to engage in racial profiling by ordering them to check the status of people they merely suspectsuspect of being in the U.S. illegally. Even legal immigrants, in a move that harks back to fascist Europe, would be required to carry their papers at all times or risk arrest. Apparently Arizona legislators have forgotten Proposition 187, the 1994 California ballot initiative. That measure, popular with a frustrated public but ultimately deemed unconstitutional, would have cut off services, including healthcare and public education, for illegal immigrants. Arizonans have forgotten the lawsuits, national outrage and political backlash.
Although the California and Arizona measures are different, the frustration with federal apathy that fuels them is the same. Arizona is hostile to illegal immigrants because it is the main point of entry to the U.S. for migrants coming in from Mexico. (Californian hysteria softened after the San Diego border was fortified in 1994 and migration routes shifted to Arizona and Texas).
Some of the most established trails from Mexico crisscross private property in Arizona. Homes along these trails are sometimes burgled and vandalized; property is damaged. Some trails are littered with empty water bottles and human waste; trash, diapers, cigarette boxes and discarded backpacks. These are thoroughfares not just for job-seekers but for human traffickers and gun-toting drug smugglers.