“Goons In Suits”
By Fred Mittag
The Mexican government issued a traveler’s warning to Mexicans not to go to Arizona because of the new immigration law. Boycotts threaten the city of Phoenix alone with a loss of $90 million dollars.
But cries of racial profiling have been stoutly denied, although not uniformly. Governor Jan Brewer said frankly that she didn’t know how police would single out illegal immigrant suspects, but that it would be done fairly. A California fan of the tough immigration law, Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray, was not bothered by the same doubts as Governor Brewer. Asked to give a non-ethnic example of how Arizona cops will be able to identify undocumented immigrants, he said, “They will look at the kind of dress you wear, there’s different type of attire…right down to the shoes. But mostly by behavior.”
The congressman has a point. Somebody with a Dutch boy haircut, blond and blue-eyed, wearing wooden shoes, and selling tulips on a Tucson street corner should arouse suspicion. The cops should demand papers.
But the new immigration law is not after illegals from the Netherlands. Based on history, the new law is a two-for-one Republican scheme aimed at political power. One, the new immigration law panders to a conservative base now in a “Tea Bagger” spasm of lunacy; and two, law enforcement will be set up as a tax-paid Republican political auxiliary.
It’s not illegal Hispanics who worry Republicans. It’s the growing population of Hispanics who are American citizens and vote Democratic by more than two-to-one.
Before becoming the governor who signed the notorious immigration law, Jan Brewer was the Arizona secretary of state. In that capacity she rejected the voter applications of 100,000 citizens, almost 100% Hispanic and a great preponderance of them Democrats. The applications of one in every three Phoenix residents were rejected.
Greg Palast, working with Bobby Kennedy for Rolling Stone, looked into this. It’s a felony for a non-citizen to register to vote, but there was not a single prosecution of any of the rejected applicants.
Next door in New Mexico, also home to a number of Mexican Americans who vote Democratic, a federal prosecutor was sent on a crazy mission to look for these illegal voters. He looked into 100 complaints but could not find a single fraudulent voter registration. When he refused to fabricate charges of illegal voting among Hispanics, President George W. Bush fired him. His name became famous on talk shows – David Iglesias.
Iglesias said that Republican leaders wanted to whip up anti-immigration hysteria with public busts of illegal voters, even though there were none. He said they wanted some splashy pre-election indictments. Iglesias was fired for standing up to this vicious attack on citizenship.
As Secretary of State, Brewer used a 2004 law that requires proof of citizenship to register. The new law that she signed as governor directs police to stop people and demand to see their papers. It’s easy to see orders coming down to the police to check the papers of everybody in a voting line who looks Hispanic – or Dutch.
The Arizona Republican state senator who sponsored this latest outrage of “papers, please,” is Russell Pearce. He gave away the real reason for the new law when he said, “There is a massive effort under way to register illegal aliens in this country.” His interest is not in keeping them out, because they are needed to mow lawns. His interest is in keeping Hispanics who are American citizens from voting – by calling them illegals. Pearce told Palast that five million illegals are attempting to register to vote.
The police will net a big haul from the voting lines – that is, from the ones who dare to show up. A lot of citizens don’t always carry identification papers with them. A study by Professor Matt Barreto, of Washington State University, shows that minority citizens are half as likely as whites to have the government ID. The numbers become much worse when income is factored in. There are actually Americans who never even had birth certificates.
Jim Hightower has written about voter intimidation: “Republicans are notorious for dispatching loud-mouthed white guys in suits to polling places in poor or minority precincts to accost would-be voters, demanding to see IDs and threatening jail time for anyone who violates a technicality of U.S. elections laws.”
Hightower calls these intimidators “goons in suits.” Arizona has made it official and turned decent cops into goons in uniform for an odious assignment.