Fitz: Preserving the Arizona we love requires standing up for immigration reform

2013-10-26T00:00:00Z Fitz: Preserving the Arizona we love requires standing up for immigration reformBy David Fitzsimmons Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Undocumented men, women and children continue to trespass, and die, in our cruel desert and immigration reform proposals continue to die in Washington’s moral wasteland.

One day, in spite of dark-hearted efforts to block immigration reform, it will enter American life and the suffering will end. The forces standing in the doorway like a scowling Alabama governor are on the losing side of history.

Years from now we will look back on this era and shake our heads over the few who pushed against the moral tide of justice and made Arizona a national joke, a punching bag wearing a “But, it’s a dry hate” lapel button.

That caricature was never the Arizona I know and love. The Arizona I love is standing up for justice.

Standing up, young immigration rights activists re-entered Arizona from Mexico and submitted peacefully to arrest.

Standing up, immigration activists chained themselves to the wheels of a bus to protest Operation Streamline.

Standing up, activists and eight congressmen, including U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, were arrested during a protest in Washington, D.C.

Standing up, Christian activists surrounded a Border Patrol vehicle with a human chain to stop the enforcement of SB 1070 after a Tucson Police Department traffic stop.

Standing up, activists in Phoenix challenged Attorney General Tom Horne’s lawsuit calling for punitive tuition rates for Arizona Dreamers.

The Arizona I love is standing up for the least among us.

The hand-wringing alarmists calling for electric border fences never spoke for Arizona. The flag-burning hooligans never spoke for the thousands of us who stared in vexed curiosity. The civic illiterates who barked “amnesty” with the same snarl as the Southerner we’ve seen in old grainy newsreels shouting “segregation now and forever” never spoke for Arizona. They spoke for a dying cause.

These were never the voices of my Arizona.

With the inevitable arrival of immigration reform, Arizona will shake off the distraction of racial scapegoating and get down to the business of economic growth that embraces cultural diversity, the key to our prosperity in the global reality of the 21st century.

Immigration reform guarantees us the legal guest workers that every forecast tells us we will need.

Immigration reform guarantees us the new taxpaying citizens that every forecast tells us we will need.

Immigration reform guarantees us genuinely secure borders, freeing law enforcement to focus on the real threats that trespass under the welcome mat.

Immigration reform guarantees an end to Arizona’s run as a punchline on Comedy Central.

In history’s stark light Arizona’s SB 1070, the gagging of Mexican American Studies, the denial of driver’s licenses to Dreamers, the Orwellian banning of books, and the denial of the American dream to guiltless children will appear inexplicably irrational.

We will cringe remembering terrified English-only advocates circling their oxcarts in the mistaken belief that always evolving language can be preserved like a jarred pickle.

We will wince remembering the response of huffing conservatives to Dolores Huerta, winner of the President’s Medal of Freedom, who spoke her mind to young students. The nerve of that Latina! Reaching for the muzzle, the gavel and unrivaled comic pomposity, they fanned their indignant pink faces.

Could that farce be more vexing than the quandary faced by Tucson Police Department Chief Roberto Villaseñor, sworn to uphold and enforce SB 1070 — the same law he argued would rip apart the city he loves?

Could that be more absurd than Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a loutish embarrassment to respectable law enforcement, who rounded up humans like French Jews and gleefully ripped thousands of families apart?

Not satisfied, Arizona is creating two separate but equal ballots for Arizona voters, a pathetically transparent move to disenfranchise Latinos, laughably cloaked as a “serious” effort to stem the vast oceanic micro-droplet of nonexistent voter fraud.

These are the death spasms of an aging order, terrified of headless illegals under their beds, wringing their hands over the browning of Arizona, and swatting at demons that aren’t there.

Phoenix, like the disgraced government of pre-Mandela South Africa, will deny the moral arc of the universe and cling to its version of Latino Apartheid, ensuring that years from now their names will be uttered in a tone of disbelief and disdain reserved for the Afrikaner leaders of Johannesburg and the ax-wielders of Dixie.

The Arizona that shames itself before the world with its tin-horn militias, its scapegoating of 30.2% of its residents, its indifference to thousands of border deaths and its political cowardice is not my Arizona.

I once heard Grijalva sum up the political realities succinctly, “Unless Latina women start giving birth to 55-year old white men, Arizona is going to have to accept change.”

In a state where all too often whites and Latinos self-segregate, it’s time for us to embrace one another with fearless confidence in our future, and arms linked, demand real immigration reform.

Join Arizonans standing up for change. Speak up for the Arizona you know. Speak up for the Arizona you love.

Contact editorial cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons at tooner@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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