Burlington Free Press
By Ted Auch
So it appears that Arizona has successfully decoupled its laws from those of advanced society when Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed into Law SB 1070 whose “aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.”
The criteria police officers will use rely on something the law calls "reasonable suspicion," which is about as big an umbrella category as you will find anywhere. Anyone with dark skin will be forced to carry with them wherever they go documentation speaking to the validity of their residency in the United States.
I find it amazing that the very same folks that pushed this bill out of one side of their mouth are on the other side accusing Barack Obama of being a fascist. This DoubleSpeak is right out of George Orwell's opus "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and is the type of rhetoric that has slowly but steadily been percolating up from right-wing hate groups since President Obama's election.
It is even creeping -- overtly and covertly -- into national politics with Republican Pat Bertroche vying for the 3rd District congressional primary seat in Iowa noting that, "I actually support microchipping them. I can microchip my dog so I can find it. Why can't I microchip an illegal?" That's very true Pat. Why don't we just make a minor incision in everyone with dark skin, implant a microchip and send them on their merry way? That makes complete sense and it doesn't sound prima facie like it violates anyone's human rights.
This uptick dovetails into The Southern Poverty Law Center's documentation of mushrooming phenomena in their latest report "Rage on the Right," which quantified a 244 percent increase in the number of "patriots'" groups, from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009. This came at the same time as racist hate groups rose from an all-time high of 926 to 932 in 2009 and "nativist extremist" groups -- vigilante organizations that go beyond advocating strict immigration policy and actually confront or harass suspected immigrants -- grew from 173 to 309 (+80 percent) between 2008 and 2009.
This type of trend does not speak well for border states writ large. If Vermonters think that this type of sentiment will not rear its ugly head here with respect to Canadians in general and Quebecoise specifically we're fooling ourselves. The recent legal battle between the Rainvilles of Franklin County and The Department of Homeland Security is, in my opinion, the opening salvo in a nascent fortification and potentially militarization of our border with Quebec.
Janet Napolitano and Co. feel it is imperative that we fortify a crossing that experiences 2.5 cars an hour or 21,900 per year. If you consider that the monies allotted to this project amount to $5 million, that averages out to $228 per car, or with respect to the Rainvilles 4.9 acres, we're talking about $1.02 million per acre. Either way you cut it I am sure Gov. Jim Douglas or his successor could find markedly more important things to do with this "stimulus."
For anyone interested in reading more about the Rainville matter I would refer you to Secretary Napolitano's letter to Sen. Leahy on March 10 of this year (http://leahy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Response031010.pdf).
Needless to say we are seeing a growing sense of paranoia and misguided attempts at securing 1,969 miles of Mexican- and 5,525 miles of Canada-U.S. borderland. We should work hard here in Vermont to insure that the 90-mile border we share with Quebec never even faintly resembles what those in Arizona are trying to construct.
After all it is not immigrants, illegal or otherwise, forcing U.S.-based multinationals to outsource thousands of jobs under the guise of globalized capitalism. How about a little more job protectionism and a little less racism cloaked in pseudo-patriotism.
Ted Auch lives in Burlington.