Blog Pile

Arizona State of Shame

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I’ve been in New York City a few days, a city who’s lively pulse is fed by the incredible density of people crammed on a small island, so many languages, so many shapes, colors, that you cannot even parse it all. It may not be all peace, love, and harmony, but in the span of a city block, you can easily share the space with ones from 25 different countries, and at least, on the surface, they all respect each others right to be here. It’s just how it is.

But it was shame, embarrassment, and anger I felt walking through two different protests on May Day, seeing the “Boycott Arizona signs”, one in Union Square, one down by the US courthouse, a building enshrined with the epitaphs of the basic human rights that (are supposed to) be our foundation. It was shame, because of the rights people were exercising that seem to be eroding in my home state of Arizona, a place where the state representatives, leaders have taken a position of sanctioning, enacting a law that, to me, tramples on the rights of people living there.

I removed my Phoenix Suns cap. I did not want to be identified with Arizona.

Just off shore, Lady Liberty stands confused, wondering if

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Now bears an asterisk, a clause, that says, “unless you enter the Arizona door.”

The things I love about Arizona are its grandeur

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

places that feel large, expansive, on scale that dwarfs humanity. I like the open sky and spaces, the gazillion stars in the night skies, the freaky survivalist plants that thrive and flower in water starved deserts. To me, the land is so different, I dance in its weirdness.

I’m not ready to say I want to move from here, because I like my home and local friends (plus the economy of course leaves little choice in mobility).

But I am mad. The governer, our legistlature, has enacted a knee ass jerk response to a problem that asks for intelligent solutions, not palyground antics. Yes, there are some people who cross the Arizona border and do bad things here (darn that California border!!). But the measures enacted by the nimwits at the state house, instead, puts an antire swath of innocent, law abiding people in fear of being singled out for to “show me your papers”.

That is wrong, and that is not what any framer of the country had in mind, and I would think Lady Liberty is dropping a tear or two.

The “law” says police offices are to ask for papers for people possible suspected of being illegal immigrants, Since they don;t have training materials, I created this little simulation:

cc licensed flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I would like someone to try the exercise, and then write a short essay how this task is done without profiling.

IN fact, I want more.

I want our governor, or legislatures who voted on this, to be put before a video camera in a van, driven to a corner on Phoenix,m and indicate who they would ask for paoers, and explain why.

Explain it to me.

Explain it to our state.

Explain it to the world,. for whom now, Arizona, maybe known as the “Grand Canyon State” may now be known as a pathetic joke as the “Grand Police State”.

This is wrong.

Tell them, tell everyone.

There is a window of time, where maybe some sanity can be done, in reversion this shameful act.

This is wrong, and I am ashamed of this place.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Devils advocate here:
    What is so terrible about profiling when it is accurate?

    What would be a good solution to illegal immigrants?

    I have to admit I’m of the opinion that all illegal immigrants need to be deported. We tried amnesty and it didn’t work. I don’t think we need to be or should be an open door to illegal folks, esp when so many are working to come in legally. I’d like some teeth in the laws to locate and remove illegals, yes even those who have been here for many years. If they want to stay they can follow the laws to enter legally. So I actually think that the AZ law is not great but is a whole lot better than nothing.

  2. OogieM – so ashamed of your own opinion that you need to remain anonymous – perhaps you have heard of a little document called the Constitution?

    The Reconstruction Amendments adopted after the Civil War make racial profiling unconstitutional and illegal in the United States. And if you can’t figure out what’s terrible about it, just as soon as we invent the time machine I suggest you paint yourself black and drop yourself off in the South anytime between 1900 and 1960, well after the Reconstruction Amendments were adopted, and go try to vote. As to “accurate profiling,” what does that even mean? Arpaio and his top deputies are the target of at least two criminal investigations, not to mention an ongoing civil rights inquiry. Racial profiling is morally wrong, and it’s illegal, period.

    The Arizona Republic exposes the lies politicians have been telling today: crime is NOT up around the Arizona Border:

    What is a good solution for illegal immigrants? Immigration reform. The U.S. labor market demands up to 500,000 low-skilled workers per year, but the immigration system allows only 5,000 work visas per year in that category. There is a giant backlog of visa applications – the U.S. government is currently processing the adult children of U.S. Citizens visa applications from 1992. If and when the federal government keeps its immigration policies in line with current demand for workers, and processes applications in an efficient and timely manner, illegal immigration will be a much smaller problem. And it would cost far, far less in both dollars and civil liberties violations for us to provide a path to legal status for immigrants who are here than it would for us to round up and deport people.

    When you say “we tried amnesty and it didn’t work” you are simply parroting the latest inaccurate bullshit seen on Fox News. Way to exercise ye olde braine.

    Apologies to cogdog for soapboxing in your comments. Sometimes the idiots crawling out of the woodwork really get my goat.

    1. Let’s keep it civil, folks. Oogie is a friend and so is Cheryl.

      For Oogie, solving a problem of illegal immigrants is one question; I object to the approach taken as one that feels to be extreme and too broad against people who are not the problem.

    2. FIrst off I am not anonymous, a quick google will result in you finding out exactly who I am. And Yes I have read the constitution in full and unabridged. Sadly other than the statement that congress can determine the naturalization rules and that states can charge incoming people a fee it is silent on immigration rules. .

      Second profiling does not necessarily mean racial. Profiling is building up a whole host of attributes that result in a higher probability of the individual so selected being in the group you are seeking. Profiling can include behavior and location as well as other means, for example the person running from a broken window with an alarm going off is more likely to be a criminal than not. Not perfect but more likely. It’s a common technique in law enforcement and overall fairly successful.

      As to the we tried amnesty and it didn’t work I hold that as a firm belief based on personal experience. It has not slowed or shut down the flow of illegal people coming to the states. It has increased the flow as family members of people who got amnesty are now coming in illegally. Amnesty is a slap in the face to all the people who have suffered through the paperwork required to come to this country legally. I also think that by ignoring the laws in one case you put a hole in the whole system of laws. If I can ignore the immigration laws or get around them by being here long enough then what other laws can I avoid? There are hundreds of laws that I think are stupid and silly and many that significantly affect my ability to run my business but I still follow them even though I think they are wrong. I do try to change them but I work within the system to do so.

      Immigration reform IMO has to first start with following the rules. I don’t think you can talk about “reform” and give a free pass to people who are not obeying the rules. I see the AZ law as a start of immigration reform. I accept that others see it completely differently.

      I already have to provide proof of insurance and a drivers license if I am stopped by a cop for any reason so I don’t see this as that much different.

      You say we have a need for unskilled labor. I would agree that often the jobs that are done by illegal workers seem unskilled. However my own experience is that the real problem is that we term “unskilled” any job that requires physical labor. Years before the current economic crisis I needed some short term help. I went first to the local employment office. In our county this office has a pool of day labor people available, they verify legal status and assist the business in dealing with all the tax regulations. I went through 3 people in 2 days. No one wanted to work 6 hours outside doing physical labor even at $20/hr and that was 10 years ago. One person actually said they would prefer to just take the unemployment money even though it was less than I was paying than be outside working. We deal with people who are unwilling to do any hard work all the time. To their credit the foreign labor that is here on ag worker visas are hard working and do a good job and have the skills necessary. Just because it’s physical does not mean it’s not skilled. Is my attitude skewed, you bet it is, but I’m living in an area where illegal labor has been a major force in the past and where many citizens would rather be on the dole than get out and work. I’ve seen first hand the problems with a large illegal population and also seen the sense of entitlement that a lot of citizens think they have.

      Sorry you think I am an idiot. I am not an idiot just because I have a very different view of illegal immigration and the problems it causes than you do. I’m also sorry that I did not post any suitable references for you. I’ll see what I can get to you over the next few days. However, my job is such right now that I am working from 6am until nightfall and I don’t have much time to locate references that are not from some newspaper or media outlet and readily available on the net. I distrust all the media reports so it will take a while to get to the base data.

      1. In my experience visiting Alan’s site, most commenters leave a link to a web site; I’ve never needed to conduct a web search to figure out who they are. But as I said in a follow-up comment, I do apologize for assuming you to be anonymous.

        Alan didn’t specifically say racial profiling but the debate in AZ and nationwide has focused on that aspect of profiling regarding SB1070. I have yet to hear an adequate answer as to how SB1070 can be effectively enforced without race being considered as part of the profile, but I have listened to every explanation provided by AZ leaders and lawmakers – they’ve all been pretty pathetic. If you can explain how it can be done, Oogie, then please take Alan’s challenge to answer that question.

        I am not aware of amnesty having been tried as a matter of national immigration policy. Can you enlighten me as to when that was tried? And what “it didn’t work” means? I’ve heard “we tried amnesty and it didn’t work” parroted a lot lately, but no one can ever tell me exactly when it was tried, who received what type of amnesty, or what criteria are used to determine success or lack of success.

        U.S. citizens not being willing to do hard work is hardly a prospective immigrant’s fault. I also don’t see what bearing the common job category “unskilled labor” has. I don’t think hard work is unskilled either, but that doesn’t mean the government is going to change the visa category based on my opinion, nor does what it’s called impact whether there is a demand for the work. The demand for the type of work that far exceeds the available annual visas. If U.S. citizens won’t do the work, why wouldn’t increasing the number of available visas be a good idea? I’m not sure what your point is.

        If you do have time to post references supporting your position I will read them. But in the interest of not annoying Alan, I won’t reply further here.

        1. Sorry, I had no clue you had to see a verified website to listen to an opinion!

          Amnesty was tried before, in 1986. Here’s a brief reference to the law. In that case anyone already here since 1982 was granted amnesty. It was also the law that created and introduced the I-9 form an employer has to fill out for every employee.

          Sorry, got to go out and work now will work on other links for you later.

  3. Yes, illegal immigration is problem. No, taking away rights from its citizens is not the solution, even if it appears to be a great solution. It’s akin to doing something as asinine as this:
    The majority of serial killers in this country are single, white males, so let’s pass a law that requires all white males to show their papers that prove they have been psychologically proven to not be crazy. So every time there is a serial killer in your town, line up white men to show your papers. Better yet, we could just keep a database of names of all the white men who don’t have papers to help save time. Yes, that would make it easier for the police to find the bad guy, wouldn’t it? To hell with your rights, we’re saving lives. Hmmm… sounds a lot like the Patriot Act. Got Habeas corpus?

  4. I apologize to you and to Oogie, Alan. Foot in my mouth for assuming someone posting on your site is anonymous and not known to you. That was dumb of me. I still object to Oogie’s statements about profiling being okay so long as it’s accurate (whatever that means), trying amnesty and it not working, and the ability to enter legally, especially when they are not backed up with a fact or a source cited. Obviously I feel strongly about these things. But I assure you the next time I find myself typing “sorry for soapboxing” I will use the delete key rather than the submit button.

    1. As for success of amnesty. Success would mean that after amnesty there were fewer illegal immigrants to the US than there were before amnesty. There were fewer state and federal resources used to support illegal immigrants after amnesty compared to before. Neither thing happened. Instead we got an even larger flood of people coming in.

      I also feel strongly about these things.

  5. Thank you for writing this. As a 3rd generation Arizonian, I whoe heartedly agree with all your sediments.

  6. Comment thread looks like the bava over here….I blame the immigrants. Who let ’em in, anyway? Cause we know damn well once the make roots, they start revolutions, set up reservations, and sooner than later we are relegated to be casino workers. We’ve seen it happen before, we need to act now to stop it.

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