"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Friday, May 21, 2010

Another "War on Drugs?"

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya
El Semanario 5/27/2010

“La Casa Blanca” welcomed El Presidente and the First Lady of Mexico to the United States with great pomp and circumstance. Presidente Felipe Calderón, was welcomed as an important friend and ally of our country. There were honor guards, special luncheons, and of course, the highlight, a state dinner hosted by President Barrack Obama and First Lady Michele in the East Room of the White House.

But beyond the all of the hype and ceremony, tough policy issues face both nations as we look to confront not only the immigration reform issues, but perhaps more importantly, the issue of drugs, trafficking, and weapons.

It is no secret that the drug cartels in Mexico are at war not only between one another, but against the government in their attempts to meet the ever growing illicit drug demand in the United States. While most of the most violent and inhumane crimes against humanity have been committed in Mexico, a growing trend of violent drug related crimes are spilling over the border into cities and towns along the border.

In addressing the drug problem, President Obama made it clear that his administration would work “to stem the southbound flow of American guns and money” and to once again work on “new approaches to reducing the demand for drugs in our country.”

In order to focus on the drug war going on in Mexico, efforts to decrease the American demand for those drugs coming from Mexico must be addressed. The “just say no” mentality of yesteryear isn’t working and demand for Mexican drugs on the street corners across America continues to grow.

There is no doubt, President Felipe Calderon listened with intense interest as President Obama spoke of making the Mexican drug war a priority for law enforcement on this side of the border.

President Obama, as he pledged he would increase pressure on criminal drug gangs that “traffic in drugs, guns, and people,” voiced American determination to stop the flow of drugs from Mexican drug cartels.

The violence in Mexico which has caused thousands of innocent people to become victims can be traced to the American drug demand. This demand has created a culture of violence by drug cartels as they seek to distribute and sell their drugs in the USA.

This time we must not permit law enforcement in the USA to get involved in losing another “war on drugs.” Words alone will not stop the flow of “American guns and money” to Mexico. This time, it is going to take more than slogans, cliché’s, and political rhetoric to fight this war on drugs.

While the debate on immigration reform has focused and often stalled on the one issue of “amnesty,” the drug violence caused by the Mexican drug cartels and American demand for drugs must also be addressed in any comprehensive immigration reform package.

When border issues are debated, it centers on the fact that “too many illegal immigrants are crossing the border undetected.” The reality is that too many shipments of illicit drugs are coming across the border undetected in huge amounts to meet the ever growing American demand for drugs.

In order to meet the pledge made by President Obama to join the war against criminal gangs with Presidente Calderon, it is going to take a major policy change for the Obama Administration. It is going to take a concerted by this President to put his words into action via a new policy for his border law enforcement agencies.

Right now, the Obama Administration has misplaced priorities when it comes to border security. The American Immigration Council believes policy makers must make a distinction in any comprehensive immigration reform package between undocumented immigrants crossing the border and the drug induced violence of the drug cartels. “But cracking down on unauthorized immigrants in the United States is not going to diminish violence in border communities because unauthorized immigrants aren't the perpetrators, criminal cartels are.”

The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity & Diversity just completed a study, “Assembly Line Justice: A Review of Operation Streamline.” Operation Streamline is a Bush era policy still in effect that has in fact created a paradox for American policy makers responsible for securing the border.

“Operation Streamline requires the federal criminal prosecution and imprisonment of all unlawful border crossers. The program, which mainly targets migrant workers with no criminal history, has caused skyrocketing caseloads in many federal district courts along the border. This Warren Institute study demonstrates that Operation Streamline diverts crucial law enforcement resources away from fighting violent crime along the border, fails to effectively reduce undocumented immigration, and violates the U.S. Constitution.”

In other words, if President Obama is pledging to reprioritize American law enforcement efforts, Homeland Security and the Border Patrol will need to put their resources to work on curtailing human trafficking and putting a stop to the drug shipments slipping over the border undetected. This will be no easy task.

Right now, the federal government is creating federal criminals out of simple border crossers who have no criminal histories. As the Warren Institute study points out, “By focusing court and law enforcement resources on the prosecution of first-time entrants, Operation Streamline also diverts attention away from fighting drug smuggling, human trafficking, and other crimes that create border violence.”

It is time to reevaluate Operation Streamline and synchronize the policy with the Obama initiative to stem the flow of weapons and money to Mexico. The Warren Institute Study calls for a complete change in policy by the Obama Administration.

“The program channels law enforcement funding and attention toward the apprehension and prosecution of low-level offenders, rather than focusing on the crimes that create border violence, including human trafficking and drug smuggling. As petty immigration prosecutions have increased in the border district courts, drug prosecutions have declined.”

It is time to target the drug cartels and the violence caused by the illicit drug traffic demand. If law enforcement target drug cartels who have little or no regard for who gets hurt or killed, as drug related homicides in Mexico have increased year after year, we truly can expect a war on drugs.

The Warren Institute study makes it clear the present policy must be changed. “Operation Streamline does not target drug traffickers and human smugglers but rather migrants who are coming to this country in search of employment or to reunite with family.”

It is time for President Obama to change our present enforcement policy on border security and go after the real criminals, the criminals with weapons, money, and determination to sell their drugs in our country.

El Semanario http://www.elsemanario.net/
Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Talk About a Double Standard

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

In Florida, Latino Marco Rubio, who is running as a Republican for the United States Senate has now come out against SB 1070, the Arizona racial and ethnic profiling law. Rubio who is being backed by conservatives and many Tea Party elite has allowed politics to play a major role in his decision to deport all undocumented immigrants and have nothing to do with “amnesty.”

Rubio at one point criticized SB 1070 and found the law strictly focused on racial profiling. One would have expected that a person whose parents were Cuban refugees and faced many of the same life experiences that many undocumented immigrants face today would stand against the intent of the Arizona law and the hate it creates.

Rubio who seems not to be able to find his place at the table of immigration reform originally was a fierce critic of SB 1070. Rubio claimed, “From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don't believe Arizona's policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with 'reasonable suspicion,' are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens."

But Rubio who is considered the sweetheart of conservatives seems to now have now changed his opinion about SB 1070. He now claims the changes in the law have made it acceptable. Jason Mattera of Human Events interviewed Rubio after the changes were made.

In that interview Rubio said, “But right now, for the people of Arizona , this is not (from what I gathered) this is not even an immigration issue. This is a public safety issue. And the fact is that Mexican drug violence has tragically crossed over the border and into an American state and American cities. So I congratulate them on taking steps to clarify even further the intent of the law.” So the whole issue is not even an immigration issue.

Rubio pushed the issue even further by rejecting the whole concept of a “pathway to citizenship” or “amnesty.” He claims that despite all of the “human stories” about hardships faced by undocumented immigrants today, these stories mean nothing to the heartless Rubio.

“I understand the human stories that we’re going to...We’re gonna....There are going to be stories of very young kids that were brought to this country at a very young age who don’t even speak Spanish that are going to be sent back to Nicaragua or some other place. And it’s gonna feel weird and I understand that. The goal here is to have an immigration policy that works. And if you provide a path for people to enter this country illegally and if they stay here long enough and pay enough in taxes, well let them stay legally...why would anyone come in through the legal process?”

So who cares about young kids that were brought to this country at a very young age who don’t even speak Spanish that are going to be deported back to Nicaragua or some other place? Rubio doesn’t care about those young kids or the circumstances many of them faced when brought to this country.

Rubio, being Cuban and whose parents fled Castro’s Cuba many years ago seems to have forgotten the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which still applies to any Cuban who basically touches US soil and are then permitted to remain here. No questions asked. No ICE investigations. No detention while status is determined. Just reach out and touch US soil and you are safe. But according to Rubio, that may be too much to provide any other group of people who also have “reached out and touched US soil.”

Legal experts will tell you that no other people from any other country than Cuba have these special rights, privileges, and special advantages.

The United States Coast Guard does deport any Cuban caught trying to enter the United States through the traditional escape route from Cuba, the Florida Straits.

The Houston Times reporting on this issue points out very clearly how Cuban immigrants are treated differently than other groups caught trying to cross the US border. “The agreement also led to the creation of a "wet foot/dry foot" policy. Cubans caught in the water are now taxied back to the island on Coast Guard ships. But, if Cubans can make it to U.S. soil, they can stay and seek legal ­residency.”

The Houston Times explains why Cubans are making the risky trek via Mexico . "Dry foot" Cubans technically enter the country on a one-year parole. At the end of that time, they are required to appear before an immigration judge to have their status upgraded to permanent residency.

The new phenomenon of Cubans crossing Mexico by land has given rise to a new term: "dusty foot.”
The Houston Times says this “policy has been widely criticized as hypocritical since its inception.”

From Mexico, Cubans make the trip up to the Texas border, where on the same day they cross, they are registered as "political asylees." From day one, no detention, no background investigation, or no ICE intimidation, but are given legal status to remain in the country.

The Houston Press
reports that “The number of Cubans entering Texas has skyrocketed. About 11,500 crossed the border legally last year, almost all through Brownsville , which is three times the number that enter through Florida .”

Just maybe Rubio ought to go back and review his family heritage and see where changes in immigration law might be made. Maybe the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 ought to be changed so that it applies equally to all others who have reached out and touched US soil.

Rubio’s position on immigration reform is the real definition of a political hypocrite. A law that applies to “his people” by giving them special privileges to stay in the United States no questions asked, but who is willing for young kids who were brought here at a young age and don’t speak Spanish, to be deported back to a country they don’t even recognize or remember and even after listening to these stories, they do nothing to appeal to this man’s sense of humanity.

It is time that someone called Marco Rubio out as a hypocrite and that as a candidate for the United States Senate, his integrity and character are questionable. Rubio is merely a political hand puppet of the extreme conservatives and patrons of the Tea Party who would rather play politics with the issue of immigration than work for comprehensive reform.

For Rubio to back away from his earlier condemnation of the Arizona law, and now become a strong proponent of deporting young kids back where they came from and to ignore the special privileges afforded Cubans who leave Castro’s Cuba is simply hypocritical.

Marco Rubio is simply a disgrace to not only Cubans who have worked hard to attain their rightful place in our society as former refugees, but to others who seek the same American dream. Rubio ought to stop playing politics with the important issue of comprehensive immigration reform and work to find a resolution that meets the needs of so many people who merely only want a better life.

Even if his conservative supporters and Tea Party cohorts disagree with the fundamental core values of immigration reform, Rubio should remain true to the ideals of providing safe haven to all who seek freedom and security. Rubio might even stop and listen carefully to all the human stories that demand that our government immediately enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Rubio must understand the issue of comprehensive immigration reform is not a Republican or Democratic issue; it is about human stories of people seeking to find a better life free from many of the same issues why Cubans flee Cuba today.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mom, I love you!

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Today is Mother’s Day – a very special day in the lives of so many people. For me it is an extra special day because my Mom has gone on to her eternal reward. My Mom was a minister of the Gospel, and she was my father’s partner in ministry.

My Mom and Dad were ministers with the Assemblies of God for over 30 years. They pastured several churches and as preacher’s kids, my sister and brother and I moved around the pastoral circuit. We had some special times depending in the church my Dad and Mom pastured, but we had a wonderful life as preacher’s kids.

Mom and Dad pastured churches in Denver, Colorado Greeley, Colorado, Center, Colorado, and Farmington, New Mexico. In Denver, he pastured the La Primera, La Segunda, & Aposento Alto. We had some wonderful times…and times when we all were forced to our knees in prayer for God’s Grace and Love.

But through all of the times in the ministry, my Mom was the best mother I could ever have. I remember coming home for lunch from school, and there was Mom making me something for lunch. She was always around when I needed to be loved or cared for. I have so many wonderful memories of my Mom, and I really miss her today.

I miss my Mom very much. She was so wise, so compassionate, and such a wonderful example of how to love others. There are many days when I want to just reach out and call my Mom. There are so many days when I just want to drop by her house and spent some time with her. On so many days, I just want to hear her voice one more time. I loved dropping by her home on my way home from work. It usually meant a small but delicious snack or meal…the only way Mom could make it.

Mom has gone on, but there is not a single day that goes by without a special memory of her that comes to mind. I love her and miss her so much. She was my anchor and my friend. Not often that we think of our mothers as our friend, but she always had the right answer or solution to a problem I might be experiencing. Mom was always there for me.

So today on this special day, if you have your Mom with you today, call her, send her flowers, and make sure she knows you love her. I wish I had one more chance to just tell “Mom, I love you….and I miss you so much!”

“Mom, I miss you…and I will always love you!”

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Let Us Come Together and Pray....

By Fidel "Butch" Montoya

Today is the National Day of Prayer, a day in which our nation pauses to recognize the importance what prayer has meant for our nation. It should also be a day in which we express our faith in a higher Being. It is also a day in which we can proclaim the blessings given to our nation. A National Day of Prayer can also help to remember that we were established as a nation founded on the biblical principles of justice and righteousness.

Our nation has been blessed since the founding of this great nation by founding fathers who recognized the importance of a Supreme Being guiding and watching over our country. President George Washington, our nation’s first President issued a proclamation declaring the first “National Day of Prayer” on Thursday, November 26, 1789. It was done in recognition of our dependence upon God to guide our nation.

Over the years we have been a nation that has represented the best in democracy and justice. We must never take this privilege for granted and be on guard to protect our right of prayer.

The April 15 ruling by a federal judge that ruled that a National Day of Prayer violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment and thus ruled it unconstitutional is a step away from what our founding fathers wrote, accepted, and established in our country’s constitution.

However, as with other nations in the Bible that turned away from God’s guidance and rejected their faith in God, God’s word is clear on what happens if we reject his Word. The threat of what can happen if we reject the very basic principles of faith in God are told in story after story in the Bible. God’s judgment of destruction and punishment are shared throughout the Bible when people begin to turn to idolatry and other evil practices and reject the Biblical principles of justice and righteousness.

Today we find our nation at the crossroads of either moving forward and continuing to accept the importance of having a day in which we can express our faith and dependence on a Divine Being as an important tradition.

The whole notion of separation of Church and State is merely a wedge issue used to create confusion and fear over accepting the great tradition proclaimed by the prophets of the past.

Today as we gather across this great nation, may we once again renew our faith and determination to always find a day in which we declare not only a “National Day of Prayer” in recognition of God’s hand in the formation of our great democracy, but as a way to publicly express our continuing dependence on God’s hand in the affairs of our nation.

The Family Resource Council issued a statement regarding the importance of declaring a National Day of Prayer. In part it states, “The National Day of Prayer has a monumental place in our nation's history, but more importantly, its annual observance is a living expression of our collective faith in God today. It is a sign of our hope for the future of our nation and lends truth to our national motto; "In God We Trust." Those who have labored to promote this day have played a major role in envisioning, birthing, encouraging, strengthening and expanding the much larger trans-denominational prayer movement. This movement may be the brightest star in an America darkened by troubles on every side. “

As we gather today, let us once reclaim the spiritual heritage of our founding fathers and extend our faith and liberty in God, the One in whom we trust.
Political correctness and rulings by activist federal judges who mettle in the affairs and historical heritage of our nation by declaring a National Day of Prayer as unconstitutional should not stand in the way of a national tradition.

Let us join together recognizing a model and tradition of prayer handed down over the years so that today, on May 6, 2010, we can gather to renew our faith and trust and our commitment to remain a nation committed to justice, fair play, and righteousness for all.

As we pray today, may God’s Word refresh our commitment to continue in this battle for faith and justice. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Say What you will, SB 1070 is still Profiling...

By Fidel “Butch” Montoya

The Arizona Legislature after running into harsh criticism and condemnation of SB 1070 as the worst racial and ethnic profiling law in the land, took some feeble steps to change the intent of the law by trying to ensure that law enforcement officers didn’t abuse their authority by stopping and questioning every person who fit the profile of an “undocumented immigrant,” by amending the law with HB 2165.

Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill passed by the Arizona Legislature that now requires every alien present in the state to carry proper documentation that they are legally in the state. The police can use “reasonable suspicion” to question any suspected undocumented immigrant in the state about their legal status. If undocumented immigrants do not carry “their papers,” police can charge them with additional fines, and in effect, making innocent men, or women – criminals.

The whole issue of racial profiling and ethnic intimidation allowing police to question anyone, who fits a profile of an undocumented immigrant, has raised a new issue of defining what an undocumented immigrant looks like. Even Governor Brewer who claims that police will undergo new training in identifying what a undocumented immigrant looks like, could not even venture a response to a question from a reporter what that training will entail.

But like all politicians, she couldn’t pass the chance to give a vague response. "I do not know," she said. "I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like. I can tell you that I think that there are people in Arizona who assume they know what an illegal immigrant looks like. I don't know if they know that for a fact or not."

Mike Littwin, columnist of The Denver Post, wrote the best response to the question. “She said that they're still trying to come up with guidelines for the law. We all know what the law will do — go after those with the wrong accents or the wrong shoes or who press 2 at the ATM.”

The bottom line, civil rights organizations are already lining up to sue the state and demand that the racial profiling law be reviewed by the courts. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Arizona filed their challenge against Arizona’s Latino racial profiling law last week.

In a major show of support and unity with the Latino community, the NAACP, the nations’ oldest and respected civil rights organization in the country called SB 1070 an attempt to roll back the clock on civil rights protections in our country.

The NAACP is outraged that Arizona would pass a law that empowers the police to legally use racial profiling as a means by which to target the Latino community.

The Black community lead the civil rights movement back in the 1950’s, suffering the indignity and injustice of police abuse and brutality during non-violent civil disobedience protests, know what racial profiling can lead to when police abuse the authority given them under the law.

They also understand how the moral disregard of the law can be abused when segregationist Public Safety manager of Birmingham used his police against non-violent protestors in Birmingham. Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor was responsible for the ugliest images embedded in our minds of cops and dogs brutally attacking innocent victims of the civil rights demonstrations. Dr. Martin Luther King called, “Birmingham the most segregated city in America.”

It was here that America watched in horror on television as police used police dogs to drag away protestors in the streets of Birmingham. But one of the most dreadful images caught by news photojournalists of the time were the high powered water fire hoses used to push and wash Black protestors off their feet and into submission.

Speaking from a sense of history and outrage, NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock condemned the fact that SB 1070 was a violation of the moral and human rights standard in our country and an attempt to roll back the clock.

“The passage of SB1070 is an embarrassment to the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution, and if we are not careful will leave a permanent stain on the United States’ reputation throughout the world. As an association that has fought for more than 100 years to ensure that basic rights and freedoms would be equally extended to all, it is disheartening to see the State of Arizona enact a law that tramples on the civil rights of Hispanic persons, and one that cannot be enforced without resorting to racial and ethnic profiling. We intend to use the full weight of our 2200 branches and units to ensure that this law is repealed and does not happen in other states across this nation.”

In Colorado, a highly respected civil rights lawyer took the time to analyze SB 1070 and the feeble attempt by the Arizona Legislature to amend the law (HB 2162) in their efforts to quiet claims that by allowing police to use “reasonable suspicion,” basically meant racial and ethnic profiling was legal in Arizona.

Joseph Salazar, who “read and dissected SB 1070,’ even after the legislature passed HB 2165, wrote, “HB 1070 is severely flawed. There are no real safeguards prohibiting unconstitutional conduct, such as racial profiling.” Salazar opined, “The fact is that SB 1070 violates the scared principles of our federal government’s power to regulate immigration.”

Salazar took the task upon himself to read and analyze SB 1070 after Scott McInnis, Republican running for governor of Colorado, claimed that even though he had not read or studied SB 1070, he would sign such a bill if he were Governor of Colorado. The same gentlemen who while in Congress warned the nation right after the 911 terrorist attacks on our country, “the need for profiling for the national security of this country."

David Sirota, columnist for a syndicated column in Oregon Live. Com wrote, “Brandishing his past experience as a police officer, he implored lawmakers "to quit being politically correct" and let authorities make "ethnic background a legitimate component" of law enforcement investigations -- just as Arizona's new statute allows.

"Insurance companies profile for risk. That is what I am asking that we continue to do -- we need to profile for risk," he thundered, adding that using ethnicity as a risk factor "is very legitimate -- I think it is smart."

Commenting further, Sirota wrote, In other words, we should do to civil rights what insurance firms have done to, say, health care -- namely, deny people rights and privileges based on their ascribed characteristics.

No wonder, McInnis didn’t need to read SB 1070 and stand before the microphones and proudly state he would readily agree to sign it into law if he were elected Governor of Colorado. It is part of his DNA as a former cop to understand how easily it is to make “ethnic background a legitimate component” for profiling people who look like the bad guys.

With McInnis’s lack of political astuteness and understanding that SB 1070 is morally reprehensible to a large group of voters in Colorado, he allowed his own personal feelings about racial and ethnic “profiling for risk” to blurt out without understanding the political repercussions of being so frank and in this case, dishonest.

So while civil right lawyer Salazar took the time to read and analyze the law, it was very easy to see that the intent of the Arizona law – as written in the law itself, “The legislature declares that the intent of this act is to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local governmental agencies in Arizona.”

For McInnis and others who champion the violation of civil rights under the guise of protecting our country by using racial and ethnic profiling might want to take the same amount of time and effort as Salazar and find out for themselves that, “HB 1070 is severely flawed. There are no real safeguards prohibiting unconstitutional conduct, such as racial profiling.” Salazar opined, “The fact is that SB 1070 violates the scared principles of our federal government’s power to regulate immigration.”

No matter how much the Arizona Legislature tried to hide the true intent of SB 1070 by amending the law with HB 2165, putting lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.
Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries - Latino Faith Initiative. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA - TV Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972. He serves on the Executive Council for the Hispanic Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Denver Post

Guest Commentary

Taking a stand against Arizona law
By Butch Montoya
Posted: 05/01/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

The problem with Washington delaying taking positive action on comprehensive immigration reform is that states like Arizona are left to act independently, taking drastic measures with shocking and immoral implications.

Unfortunately, the law in Arizona is not actually about fixing our woefully broken immigration system and making our country safer. Instead, it preys on fears and suspicion and creates the perfect temptation for police to use racial profiling and discriminate against all people with brown skin. We are familiar with the saying, "driving while black." This law creates a new dynamic: "breathing while brown."

This law allows any person to be stopped by police if there is "reasonable suspicion" of being undocumented. Encouraging these fearful sentiments is wrong. It sends us backwards as a nation in a time when we need real solutions to move us forward.

The irony is that this bill, under a guise of increasing safety for Americans, actually creates a perilous mistrust between the immigrant community and law enforcement. The fear of speaking to police about any criminal activity increases the real threat to our children and our communities' safety.

However, one of the most abhorrent aspects of this new law is the implications for faith institutions. The law states that those who "knowingly transport or harbor" undocumented immigrants will be at risk of arrest.

Therefore, driving the sick to a doctor, offering shelter or food to the hungry — part of what it means to be a person of faith — would be unlawful.

This may force many people of faith into a situation of civil disobedience, living out their belief that God's laws of compassion and hospitality outweigh the mean-spirited law of Arizona.

Arizona is a clarion call for all: We must have the courage to deal with our broken immigration system. We call upon our representatives in Washington to deal constructively with this issue, this year, with a spirit of reason and compassion.

It is time for people of faith and conscience to stand for a positive and humane solution in Washington and against the negative and immoral example of Arizona.

Fidel "Butch" Montoya is director of H.S. Power & Light Ministries-Latino Faith Initiative. This commentary was also signed by Dr. Rev. Jim Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches; Rev. Patrick Demmer, Graham Memorial Community Church of God in Christ; and the American Jewish Committee, Colorado.