It is rare that actions taken by a state on the other side of the country merit the attention of elected officials here. But two Queens City Council members had good reason to protest the anti-immigrant measures recently passed into law in Arizona.
Recently, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras and Councilman Danny Dromm joined Corona- and Elmhurst-based immigration reform advocates in a protest outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in lower Manhattan.
The law is reactionary and wrong. It requires police officers to ask for the papers of anyone who they come into contact with who may be in this country illegally. The governor and other defenders of the law said they are frustrated with the failure of federal Immigration and Custom Enforcement to arrest and deport thousands of illegal aliens, most of them Mexicans and Central Americans, pouring across the border into Arizona.
The people who wrote this law said it is not anti-immigrant or anti-Latino. They claim the state is doing the work ICE has failed to do. Like the Council members, we do not believe that. If that were the case, the state would be looking for ways to help Mexican immigrants get legal status. That is the last thing the author’s of this law want.
The state cannot assume the right to enforce federal laws even if it believes ICE is not doing the job. Immigrants are not the reason for the economic crises Arizona, California, New York and other states are facing. Immigrants crossing the border are not a threat to national security, unlike radical Islamic terrorists.
Elected officials representing New York City at the city, state and federal levels should make it clear that an anti-immigrant crackdown will not be tolerated here. This city was built on the backs of immigrants and not all of them had the proper papers. There must be thousands of first-generation Americans living in Queens who are the children of undocumented aliens.
What we would like to see is a condemnation of the Arizona law by the Council and the state Legislature. The upstate Tea Partiers may cheer the Arizona crackdown, but it should be made clear that a city built by immigrants does not.
©2010 Community News Group
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