As Arizona's SB1070 Becomes Law, 'Dark Chapter' Of History Looms, Author Warns

We knew this was coming, so it didn't raise many heads last week when a federal judge cleared the way for Arizona to begin enforcing its "papers please" provisions in the anti-immigrant law, SB1070, it passed two years ago: U.S. District

We knew this was coming, so it didn't raise many heads last week when a federal judge cleared the way for Arizona to begin enforcing its "papers please" provisions in the anti-immigrant law, SB1070, it passed two years ago:

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled Tuesday afternoon that police officers can begin enforcing SB 1070’s provision that mandates officers, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.

Gov. Jan Brewer has repeatedly said she’s confident SB 1070 will not lead to racial profiling but immigrant rights advocates disagree and are teaching undocumented immigrants how to defend themselves during encounters with police.

“We still see people who think that because they don’t have papers, they don’t have rights, but they do and we’re educating them about those rights,” Dulce Juarez, a member of the civil rights group Respect-Respeto, told VOXXI.

Amy Goodman at Democracy Now, bless her heart, was paying attention, and so on Monday she invited author Jeff Biggers -- whose new book, State Out of the Union, tackles the underlying issues at stake in Arizona -- on to talk about this quiet sea change:

BIGGERS: You know, I think, in effect, Amy, we’re talking about one of the—a new chapter and one of the darkest chapters in civil rights violations that we’re going to be facing in the future, because this goes beyond just looking at immigration policy. This now affects all Americans who are reasonably suspicious. And, of course, I think many think tanks and many investigations have looked at—this is not only going to open up a state of confusion, we’re talking about all levels of local law enforcements who have to make this call as, you know, who is a person who’s reasonably suspicious to be a so-called undocumented alien. I think we’re really looking at potentially some of the worst racial profiling in American history.

This is especially the case, as we've explained previously, for drivers from out of state who do not have Arizona drivers' licenses -- and especially for drivers from states such as Washington that do not require proof of citizenship or residency. That's why the ACLU issued that travel warning about Arizona.

As Biggers explained to Goodman, this fiasco is the kind of thing that always happens when right-wing extremists obtain political power and begin enacting their agendas:
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When the former governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano, went off to Washington to become head of Homeland Security in 2009, Jan Brewer, our governor, took power. Jan Brewer was someone who was navigating the politics and really was not part of this anti-immigrant fervor. There was this fringe movement, led by this state senator named Russell Pearce, part of this 10th Amendment movement who believe they’re not citizens of the United States but citizens the sovereign states of the United States, that really believes to the core of states’ rights, going all the way back to folks like in the 1950s. And it’s that small fringe that managed to take power and ram through this very anti-immigrant, extremist agenda that went beyond immigration policy. It went to all levels of government, be in healthcare, in guns, in education and, of course, down to the fact of banning Mexican-American studies.

Goodman also played a lesser-aired segment of the secret Mitt Romney videotapes -- a segment in which Romney muses about his own family history in Mexico, and makes a backhanded reflection on how lousy his Latino outreach program is going:

AMY GOODMAN: Mitt Romney, you mentioned. I want to talk about this notorious video of Mitt Romney telling a crowd of wealthy donors in Florida he doesn’t worry about the 47 percent of Americans who are, quote, "dependent" on government and see themselves as, quote, "victims." In comments that have received less attention, Romney is also heard on the original tape joking to his audience that he would have a better chance this election had he been born a Latino.

MITT ROMNEY: My heritage, my dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company, but he was born in Mexico. And had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. And he lived there for a number of years. And, I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.

AMY GOODMAN: The significance of this secret tape that was made of Mitt Romney speaking to these wealthy donors in Florida, Jeff Biggers?

JEFF BIGGERS: You know, once again, here’s the true Romney coming out, a man who is open—openly, he was the first presidential candidate in the Republican Party to embrace 1070, the attrition through enforcement policy. His informal adviser was Kris Kobach, of course, the secretary of state from Kansas, who actually shaped the bill with Russell Pearce in Arizona. Romney has been lockstep with Arizona every step of the way from the beginning. At the same time, they do realize that in 15 states of the swing states you have the vote hinging on about 3 percent in these same states where you’re going to have an increase of 6 to 8 percent of Latino voters. And so they know the Latino voter is going to be the most important vote in this election, and they want to try to coddle it sometime, but at the same time they have completely rejected and dismissed the Latinos and their needs and their rights.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, you have Mitt Romney pushing self-deportation.

JEFF BIGGERS: Right, self-deportation. And the irony, of course, is that Romney likes to invoke his family history. And so, as a historian, let’s look at his family history. In a nutshell, Romney’s family did not simply go to Mexico as polygamists, as Mormons. They fled the country on the lam in a perjury charge. They were complete outlaws. And he has completely misrepresented that in his memoir.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain.

JEFF BIGGERS: Well, his great-grandfather—in fact, there were a number of Mormon leaders, like the Udall family and the Flake family, who actually had to go to prison for polygamy charges. But at the same time, there was encroachment in land deals, and the Romney family was being persecuted for perjury over a land deal. They went—he revoked—he gave up his bond. He went on the lam. A community was left in the lurch, according to the historical documents, the diaries of the Udalls. And they actually ran off to Arizona as outlaws. And, of course, a few years later, they come creeping back to America as refugees when the Mexican Revolution—

AMY GOODMAN: When they went to Mexico.

JEFF BIGGERS: Mexico, right. And then, once again, they come creeping back as refugees looking for sanctuary when the Mexican Revolution comes by. There’s all sorts of historical contradictions with Romney’s whole relationship with Arizona.

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