Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Arguing About Immigration

An opponent of undocumented immigration, right, argues with a supporter of immigrants’ rights at the Arizona State Capitol Tuesday before an Arizona Senate committee started discussion of several bills that would further reduce the rights of undocumented immigrants in Arizona. 
One of the bills would turn school officials into ICE agents because it would require schools to verify the residency status of their students,  including home schooled children. Another would result in arrest and impoundment of the car for undocumented drivers in Arizona even if they have a driver’s licence from another state. (Arizona does not issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, but some states, like New Mexico, do.) Hospitals would be required to check the immigration status of patients checking in for elective care. (Federal law prohibits such intrusions for emergency care.) 
These bills, and others (like the abolishment of the Arizona’s Medicaid agency) brought hundreds of people to the Capitol. Most were opposed to the immigration bills but there were also Tea Partiers, who support almost all of the legislation; medical professionals, who oppose the hospital bill and dissolution of Medicaid; educators, who oppose the education portion of the immigration bill; bikers, who were coincidently at the Capitol for a picnic scheduled weeks ago but ended up supporting the bills to limit undocumented immigrants; and unionized state workers who showed up to support workers’ rights that under attack in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
It was a cornucopia of people and competing interests and ideas. It was democracy.