Student Teach-In Mulls Over Controversial Arizona Bill
Members of Alliance for Immigrants’ Rights and Reform hosted a student teach-in last Thursday to discuss Arizona Senate Bill 1070.
Almost two dozen students arrived at 1071 CASL to discuss the controversial bill, passed April 23. Called the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, (abbreviated SB 1070), it is has been viewed as the strongest anti-immigration law in recent history and has gained national and international attention for its stringency.
The bill requires that all immigrants over the age of 14 who remain in the United States for 30 days register with the government and carry identification with them at all times. It also makes failure to carry identification a misdemeanor crime in Arizona and requires that state law enforcement officers attempt to determine an individual’s immigration status during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest” when there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is an illegal immigrant.
During the Teach-In, Nathan Meyers presented more in depth information about SB 1070, including its roots and ties to other organizations. The presentation began with an explanation of the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, a lobbying group which emphasizes business interest and conservative legislators.
Meyers relayed an image of the Trayvon Martin case and its relation to ALEC to illustrate his point. It read “KILLED BY LEGISLATION: ALEC wrote it, the National Rifle Association lobbied for it, GOP (by symbol of the elephant) passed it and Wall Street paid for it.”
The reaction from the crowd varied from uncomfortable silence to verbal outrage at the explanation. Meyers took questions and comments from the crowd, and then continued onward. He began to show clips from FAIR or the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s website.
FAIR, which advocates a reduction in illegal and legal immigration, was another subject of controversy at the event. According to their mission statement, FAIR’s solution for immigration is “a temporary moratorium on all immigration except spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and a limited number of refugees.
A moratorium would allow us to hold a national debate and devise a comprehensive immigration reform strategy. A workable immigration policy is one that would allow us time to regain control of our borders and reduce overall levels of immigration to more traditional levels of about 300,000 a year.”
FAIR also drew negative feedback from the students, who stated that their policies seemed racist. College Democrats president Mike Malane stated, “They highlighted Mexico when they stated that they wanted to limit unwanted immigrants.” Other students seemed to share the same sentiments.
Meyers then stated that this was the purpose for the Alliance for Immigrants’ Rights and Reform. “We are for human rights. ALEC and FAIR, this is what the Occupy Movement is against.”
The student teach-in concluded with more discussion on the implications of the SB 1070 bill and how to fight and repeal it.