By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
According to Alonzo's research, things were even worse in the East. "The following year, in North Carolina," she wrote, "farm officials set up a statewide hot line to fill crop and livestock jobs. Two calls were received."
Things have only gotten worse with anti-immigrant legislation. In 2007, more than 90,000 migrants fled Oklahoma, causing a loss of $1.9 billion to the state's economy. Since the passage of SB 1070, Arizona has shed 200,000 migrants, who have fled to friendlier states.
Agriculture is the largest sector in Georgia's economy, yet lawmakers passed stiff anti-immigrant legislation projected to cost the state $391 million in lost crops. The governor suggested farmers hire ex-cons to work the fields; the ex-cons refused. More than 70 percent of Georgia's restaurants had labor shortages and lost, on average, $21,000 per eating establishment.
Last year, Alabama one-upped Arizona and passed a tougher, meaner anti-immigrant measure.
Research at the University of Alabama said the state could lose up to $10.8 billion and 140,000 jobs. The governor demanded the statehouse reconsider. Alabama legislators responded by making the law tougher.
* * *
Why, in the middle of a recession, would statehouses vote to cripple their economies by driving Mexicans to flee?
Why, with Obama deporting more Latinos than at any time in the nation's history, would legislators demand local cops inspect citizenship papers?
The inescapable answer: race!
The guiding proponent of these statutes is Kris W. Kobach, who helped to author SB 1070.
At the time, Kobach was senior counsel to the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
In 1986, John Tanton, FAIR's founder wrote, "As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?"
Not surprisingly, the Southern Poverty Law Center called FAIR a racially driven organization.
Alabama's copycat legislation was penned by state Senator Scott Beason, who has called blacks "aborigines" and declared that when it came to immigration, folks ought to "empty the clip."
In Arizona, the bill drafted by Kobach was sponsored by then-state Senator Russell Pearce.
In 2006, Pearce forwarded to his followers a screed he'd read titled "Who Rules America." The essay took exception to race mixing and a "world in which every voice proclaims the equality of races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish 'Holocaust' tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt the flood of non-white aliens pouring across our borders."
The essay, which originated from a neo-Nazi newsletter, went on to ask, "And who are these all-powerful masters of the media?"
The answer was obvious: "As we shall see, to a very large extent, they are Jews."
Eerily, the message Pearce forwarded to political supporters in 2006 foreshadowed coming bloodshed: "On the other hand, a white racist—that is, any racially conscious white person who looks askance at miscegenation or at the rapidly darkening racial situation in America—is portrayed, at best, as a despicable bigot who is reviled by the other characters or, at worst, as a dangerous psychopath who is fascinated by firearms and is a menace to all law-abiding citizens."
Last month, Pearce acolyte J.T. Ready slaughtered his girlfriend, her daughter and boyfriend, and a 16-month-old infant before turning the gun on himself. Ready was a neo-Nazi who was photographed at white-supremacist rallies in full National Socialist regalia. Following the passage of SB 1070, Ready formed an armed militia that hunted Mexicans in southern Arizona.
After the multiple homicides, Pearce tried to distance himself from Ready. This sleight of hand was complicated for Pearce: He'd endorsed Ready's failed run for the Mesa (Arizona) City Council and, in fact, had ordained Ready into the priesthood of the Mormon faith and attended his baptism.
These, then, are the miscreants who have stirred this nation's darkest prejudices.
None of this was grist in the Supreme Court. The Obama administration opted to argue only the narrowest of issues: state immigration laws trampled federal domain. With an election looming, the president chose to not confront nativist anxiety.
Latino groups and civil-rights organizations have filed lawsuits that challenge what Obama ducked. These suits recount what happens on American streets when brown people are detained, when Mexicans and Central Americans are crowded into detention centers, when families are ripped apart.
When law enforcement cordons off brown communities, the law, as applied, is apartheid.
Perhaps you can understand, after a wave of hateful legislation and a galling discussion by justices and attorneys in the country's highest court, that there are those not content with jurisprudence.
You see, all this legal eloquence comes after generations of families picked crops on their way to citizenship, only to encounter lawyers and lawmakers who are worse than any field boss.
Alonzo's father crossed the border from Mexico. His family worked in the cotton fields. They earned less, picked more and kept their mouths shut. Kids in school were slapped if they were overheard speaking Spanish.
"They mistreated the Mexicans the worst in El Mirage," says Alonzo. "Mexicans went straight to jail or were roughed up for minor offenses.
"They were made to feel like worthless people," she recalls. "Many Mexicans instilled in their children the importance of speaking only English. Not in my house. For my father, the treatment created a lot of resentment toward whites. We weren't allowed to speak English at home for some time. We would get in trouble if he knew we were mixing with the Anglos."