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.