I am not apolitical, but this blog is. I’m not fluent enough in policy issues (federal, state, county, or city) to write about them in a substantive way. That doesn’t stop me from having an opinion, though, so I’m temporarily suspending my moratorium on politics.
It can’t have escaped anyone that Arizona has been in the news cycle for SB1070, the misguided immigration legislation which has already resulted in multiple lawsuits (including one mounted by the City of Tucson, represent). In her short time as governor, Jan Brewer has made a series of profoundly short-sighted decisions, of which this is just the latest. SB1070 is, as Stephen Colbert pointed out, intrinsically racist.
But the political, economic, and sociological underpinnings that contribute to this state’s dysfunctional relationship with Mexico are too complex to be boiled down into a soundbite, and too entrenched to be set to rights by another wall or a xenophobic bill. Luis Alberto Urrea writes about these interconnected issues in The Devil’s Highway. Charles Bowden has gone down the rabbit hole again and again, most recently in Murder City.
Look at the world of these long-form works of nonfiction. The borderlands they describe cannot be sealed off or “set to rights” by this piece of legislation. The one certain thing to me is that SB1070 brings with it a landslide of unintended consequences that will end up costing our cash-strapped state even more in defending lawsuits, not to mention lost revenue from sales tax collected from Mexican visitors.
And these arguments don’t even touch the question of immigration. Look, I’m familiar with the anti-immigration rhetoric, but it just doesn’t move me. This is a country that was founded on immigrants, and the promise that hard work will pay off. There are jobs in this country that native-born Americans won’t do. Create legal channels so that Mexican workers who are trying to improve their lives can. Collect taxes from them so that they don’t become a drain on social services. Many of these workers don’t even want to immigrate permanently, but we trap them here by making it so tough to get back over the border.
The one thing Jan Brewer has done that is useful for this state is to propose a temporary one-cent sales tax increase to ameliorate the K-12 budget shortfall. I’ll be out of town during the special election on 5/18, but I already sent in my absentee ballot.
Finally, I heard fantastic commentary on NPR yesterday about one of the other great ideas being bandied about in the Arizona legislature: the idea of banning accented English speakers from teaching English. This is also related to the idea to forbid Arizona high schools from offering coursework in topics such as Mexican-American history. The mind boggles. Andrei Codrescu says it much better.