Several years back I was in a dinner club. On one occasion I opened my assigned recipe the day of our meal and realized that my dish was supposed to have marinated overnight. Problem! I don’t remember how I resurrected the food item but I certainly learned a lesson. Read the recipe in a timely fashion.
I’ve been avoiding this topic so as a prelude, let me tell you what I love about my husband. Beyond dark curly hair, a sense of adventure and great fathering ability, is his impressive use of information. He sends me running for the dictionary during meals to decipher a word that he’s using in casual conversation. He names villages in Uzbekistan with ease due to an amazing command of geography. Relevant today, he investigates topics before throwing out a brash opinion. He’s an informed citizen.
Here’s one you’ve heard of – SB 1070. It’s a piece of legislation recently signed by our governor that has divided our community. In Arizona we are experiencing boycotts and buycotts and protests and marches and mean words and more. Regardless of my opinion or anyone elses, who among us has read it? My husband has. He’s informed. We have a civic obligation to be informed about issues before we cast heavy opinions. And frankly, I believe our casting of opinion still requires a measure of civil discourse.
There are two parts of SB1070 that are most controversial. The first suggests that upon a lawful stop, detention or arrest made by law enforcement, an officer is required to inquire about a person’s legal status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the U. S. illegally. This is controversial because what defines reasonable suspicion is not defined. Although the legislation specifies that an officer cannot consider race, color or national origin in the law’s implementation, the officer is not required to specify what factors led to reasonable suspicion. This leads to concerns that racial profiling will occur.
The second controversial aspect says that if questioned by an officer, a person is presumed to be in the country legally if the person produces one of four specific forms of identification. This part has led to comments that SB1070 requires immigrants to “carry their papers”. Federal immigration law actually requires immigrants with permission to be in the country to carry identification. SB1070 makes it a state law as well.
Regardless of anyone’s position on the bill, the negative attention brought to Arizona is disruptive and deeply saddens me. I’m disappointed in the name calling. Can we really say that someone’s a communist because they believe that certain parts of our economy are dependent upon immigrant workers? Can we call someone a fascist because they believe that we have a need for immigration reform? Can we get together and discuss the various elements of immigration and immigration reform? Can we remember that words matter?
Here’s one example of industry that needs to be considered:
The Department of Labor estimates that of 2.5 million farm workers in the U. S., 52 % are undocumented. Many are year-round migrants who follow crops from Salinas to Yuma and back—and who account for up to 40 % of Arizona lettuce harvest. Greens are a delicate crop and have about a 5-day harvest window. Each head of lettuce is hand cut and boxed. Without workers, growers may find themselves short on harvesters, in which case “the crops rot in the field,” says Wendy Fink-Weber, director of communications for the Western Growers Association. Lettuce is Arizona’s highest value crop and 50% of this $1 billion business is labor.
What things should you learn more about in order to become a better informed citizen?