What you believe is behind the extremist AZ immigration “reform” bill is only the half of it. The more obvious reasons (ramped-up fear, xenophobia, ignorance, and chaotic current immigration law) are of grave concern. But I will leave my discussion of those causes for tomorrow. For now, please suspend your disbelief for a moment as I tell you about some real reporting, the kind few American journalists do anymore, at least not in the corporate media. You see, Jan Brewer has been at the heart of a massive voter disenfranchisement effort. Greg Palast reports that it also turns out that Brewer is the Katherine Harris of AZ. She did much damage as Sec of State. Now she’s in charge altogether. Had Janet Napolitano been there she would have vetoed the bill. We know this because she did so, at least twice. But the President named her to head DHS. The rest is history.
(The vote suppression tale is below the fold.)
First a necessary aside: Although immigration reform is necessary, there is also the rather untidy fact that without the bill, police around the state of AZ, who encounter undocumented persons while solving crimes, do turn them over to the border patrol, whence persons must deal with ICE.
Let me pause here and ask a simple question: Can you immediately, as in right now, prove that you are a US citizen? Are you in the habit of carrying your birth certificate and/or passport with you at all times? If you immigrated to the US, the documentation is far more complex. Do you have the bundle with you at all times? Do you have the pile of documents from international adoption on your person at all times that you and your child are in public? If you do, it would be risky because you cannot afford to lose these documents. Should you lose them, your life could quickly become a living hell. The sheer audacity of this bill is staggering. Only despotic regimes do this to their citizens. (Remember that when Jan Brewer thinks, in her delusions, that she should be president.)
No, what this bill is about isn’t just about immigration “reform,” but rather creating a climate of fear among brown-skinned people. It’s designed to make even, and probably especially, US citizens with brown skin to be afraid to be in public, register to vote or actually exercise their right to vote.
Rewind to Jan Brewer. Beginning in 2004, this governor, who claims God put her in this position (does this sound familiar?) unjustly dropped 100,000 voters from the voting rolls. By 2005, according to research by reporter Greg Palast, one in every three Phoenix residents, mostly Hispanics, found themselves disenfranchised–unjustly dropped from the voter roles. (Palast, by the way, has done some of the best reporting anywhere on the dirty election tricks of Republicans against Democratic voters.)
Now, if someone registered illegally, the names must be turned over to the federal government. Funny thing is that Jan Brewer did not turn over a single name. That’s because she had none. She was just dropping (mostly) Democrats from the voting rolls. The name David Iglesias is familiar to most of you. He was the federal prosecutor ordered to find “evidence” of voting fraud and prosecute people guilty of such. Despite an extensive investigation, he could not find a single person to prosecute. And so he was fired by GWB’s inJustice Dept. Welcome to Jim Crow 21st Century.
So here we are. Many American are rightly outraged at what AZ has done. But, as I said, many AZ residents don’t know the half of it. I have told you the underlying half. I will address the rest in Part 2 tomorrow.
And here’s a post script: Given Karl Rove’s alleged involvement in the vote suppression tactics I have discussed, it is rich that he now thinks Brewer’s bill is unfortunate. “I wish they hadn’t passed it in a way,” he said. In a way, indeed. It’s unfortunate because it may put the spotlight on him and what the GOP did. Remember the name: David Iglesias. And, do not forget what Jan Brewer did.