The Rt. Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, has an essay in Huffington Post on the new state immigration law:
Many religious leaders in this state feel that Governor Brewer and the Republican majority in our state legislature have not only pandered to our residents' pent-up anger, fear, and frustration with Washington's inaction on the immigration crisis, but have done so in a way that betrays our most deeply held values of justice and compassion.
Much has rightly been said and written about the civil and human rights implications of this new law. Under its terms, police officers will effectively be turned into Border Patrol agents, empowered to stop and interrogate any person whom they have "reasonable suspicion" might be in this country illegally. This must inevitably lead to racial profiling at the hands of overzealous officers, who will take it upon themselves to suspect anyone with brown skin of being a criminal. Not to mention the ruination of lives only because of the accident of birthplace.
But there is another side to this law that is terribly insidious -- the criminalization of any effort to aid or shelter fellow human beings in need. Although I doubt it was the intent of the writers, SB 1070 can be interpreted to make acts as simple as feeding the hungry at a church soup-kitchen, offering water on a 100°+ day, providing a pew to worship God, or even taking children of undocumented workers for a ride in a church-owned vehicle a felony offense.Read it all.
Echoing the Civil Rights nonviolence movement of the 1960s, the bishop writes, "the law of God, the Golden Rule, trumps the state penal code, especially when that code is based on exclusion and hatred."
See, also, his Open letter to Latino Episcopalians in Arizona issued last week.
Former Bush II speechwriter, and current CANA member, Michael Gerson in his Washington Post op-ed:Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the law, looked flustered when asked during a news conference the obvious question of how illegal immigrants might be identified. "I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like," Brewer replied. "I can tell you that I think that there are people in Arizona that assume they know what an illegal immigrant looks like. I don't know if they know that for a fact or not." Yet Brewer has ordered Arizona police to be trained in the warning signs of illegality -- signs that she cannot describe. There is a reason no Arizona official has publicly detailed these standards -- because the descriptions would sound like racial stereotyping. And probably would be.And on narrow political calculus Gerson also figures AZ Republicans will rue the day they passed this law.
This law creates a suspect class, based in part on ethnicity, considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent. It makes it harder for illegal immigrants to live without scrutiny -- but it also makes it harder for some American citizens to live without suspicion and humiliation. Americans are not accustomed to the command "Your papers, please," however politely delivered. The distinctly American response to such a request would be "Go to hell," and then "See you in court."Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Tunku Varadarajan, David Boaz of the Cato Institute, Bob Barr, and others have raised concerns about the Arizona law, and specifically that this "reasonable suspicion" standard could lead police officers to unreasonably single out legal immigrants and American citizens. Some proponents of the new law contend that the only likely context where this law would come into play is a traffic stop. But what appears to be a speeding van filled with illegal immigrants could also be an American family of ethnic origin driving through Arizona on vacation and going a little over the speed limit.There are those in the Republican party who want to be on the right side of history on this particular law. Whether that means anything for the prospects of immigration reform at the federal level is another matter. You've got honest differences of opinion, but you've also fear of alienating voters to blame for gridlock.