donate in donate in

learn. play. act.

Breakthrough

Get our emails!

A global organization building a culture of human rights. Visit us

Ring the Bell

One million men. One million promises. End violence against women. Visit Now

America 2049

You change America, before it changes you. Play now

Iced

Immigrant teen vs. immigration system: can anyone win? Visit

Bell Bajao

Ring the bell. Bring domestic violence to a halt. Visit

#Im Here

For Immigrant Women Visit

Iamthisland

Immigrant teens on life in America. Visit

Homeland Guantanamos

Go undercover to find the truth about immigrant detention. Visit

RSS RSS

Arizonan police officer speaks up against SB 1070 “Nazis”

(From our b-listed blog.) As human rights groups focus our attention on those affected by Arizona’s harsh immigration law (SB 1070), we begin to sympathize with the racially oppressed and the numerous accounts of deportation. Cuentame, a Latino political advocacy non-profit, attempts to shift our focus by filming a direct enforcer of the law – Arizonan police officer Paul Dobson. Dobson’s testimony in the video feels like a confession for all officers, as we learn that SB 1070 has been unjustly silencing them, too.

Dobson, a Squaw Peak Precinct patrolman with 20 years on the force, said in the three-minute clip posted to Cuentame’s Facebook page:

This law will make me feel like a Nazi out there.  I have a great deal of contempt for it; I’m very emotional about it.

Dobson is actually the only Arizonan to have answered Cuentame’s request for a video of anyone affected by the law.

Alex Caballero, co-creator of the video for Cuentame’s “Do I look Illegal?” campaign, said:

It was amazingly striking.  I didn’t think he would use that strong of language because of the cautiousness (around the issue).

Dobson faces the consequences, as expected. He is being investigated for sharing his thoughts publicly without the permission of a supervisor and faces a written reprimand or a minor form of discipline, police told the Arizona Republic.

Despite the consequences, Dobson uses this video as an opportunity to confess that he does not tolerate SB 1070. After all, the state of Arizona leaves officers like Dobson to do the dirt work – that is, arrest those believed to be illegal immigrants based on “reasonable suspicion.” Dobson paints for the viewers of his emotional video a disturbing portrait of his life post July 29, when SB 1070 went into effect.

He said:

As a law enforcement officer, I am required to serve and protect.  So, under SB 1070, I know that people will not call officers in a case of a real emergency. It’s horrifying. It violates our calling to serve and protect.

In addition to investigating Dobson, Phoenix’s police union, which supports the new law, wants the city’s police chief, Jack Harris, investigated for his federal testimony in opposition to SB 1070.

Sgt. Trent Crump, a Phoenix police spokesman, said:

The allegation here is not comparable.  To think that an organizational leader doesn’t have the right to represent the organization is absurd.

Two months ago, police chiefs around the U.S. expressed their concerns over the law to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, saying the law will strain relationships between officers and citizens and drain resources trying to enforce the law.

There are seven lawsuits pending against Arizona over SB 1070, including one filed by the Department of Justice.

Despite these legal challenges, SB 1070 continues to survive as it silences both police officers, whose freedom of speech is limited, and immigrants, whose right to equal protection under the law is imperiled. In June, Arizona began training its police officers to enforce the new law. A video which officers are required to watch emphasizes that SB 1070 does not condone racial profiling.

Dobson ignores any backlashes from the police units. Cuentame’s Ofelia Yanez notes this officer’s bold exposure of the truth.

She writes on a blog:

I asked him multiple times if he would like me to change his name, blur his face, or alter his voice in concern of his safety back home. Every time he thanked me for my offer and re-assured me that he didn’t need me to protect him. He admitted to being afraid of a backlash, but not surprisingly he then said one simple sentence that gave me chills: ‘Bring it on.’

Please watch this powerful video and join Paul Dobson in this fight for human rights and dignity.

Photo courtesy of www.nydailnews.com

Department of Justice vs. Arizona

In the short time since Arizona passed SB 1070 into law, it has become one of the strongest and most controversial symbols of our nation’s debate on immigration. SB 1070 requires the police to stop anyone that has a “reasonable suspicion” of being undocumented but once enacted, it is believed that may well lead to unconstitutional racial profiling and a breakdown of trust between police and the communities they protect. But SB 1070 is also emblematic of the frustration that many have with our broken immigration system, a sign that states have decided to take immigration into their own hands as Congress remains in a deadlock over immigration reform. The latest catalyst for this debate -  a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice brought against the state of Arizona and SB1070 on July 6th, 2010.

Analysis over the implications of the lawsuit are rife in the media. Many are looking at the lawsuit and its potential for setting a new precedent with regards to the tussle between the federal government and state laws around immigration. Previous precedent shows a tendency for federal courts to side with the federal government on cases when states and cities pass laws that conflict with federal immigration law. An article in the Wall Street Journal traces this precedent back to laws in the 1880s aimed at limiting Chinese immigration. While the dispute could go either way, some analysts hold that that the federal court could only block sections of the law, while allowing some others to be enforced.

By bringing a lawsuit against the state of Arizona, the Obama administration (via the Justice Department) has taken a strong stand against the law. But an article in the Washington Post discusses further implications of this stand. The article quotes the Democratic strategist who spoke about the implications of the lawsuit for the Democrat party -

There is probably some short term pain politically given how popular the law is…But considering the demographic changes the country is undergoing, long term, there is a lot of upside in advocating for Latinos and comprehensive immigration reform.

While the Obama administration is advocating for comprehensive immigration reform, the Democrat party has continued to play safe so as not to alienate the large electoral base that supports the Arizona law and other enforcement heavy approaches to immigration. On the other hand, many Republicans, who support the law and an enforcement heavy approach, continue to emphasize a secure border-then reform approach, a rhetoric that leads to little progress on the issue. Republicans such as Senator John McCain,who previously argued for comprehensive reform, have abandoned their support of an immigration overhaul in the face of resentment and anger from within the party as well as from anti-immigrant groups such as the Tea Party Movement.

In the midst of all these actions are ordinary people suffering disruptions to their everyday lives on account of an immigration system that remains unjust and broken.

Photo courtesy of americasvoiceonline.org