Image of a painting by Twin Cities
artist Ray Roybal
With all the disinformation in this campaign, I need to introduce the need for my five-point proposal. To begin with, except for Chicanos and American Indians, we are all a nation of immigrants. Chicanos are impacted by the current border situation, because they often look or sound like Mexican immigrants. By contrast, own people immigrated here from Sweden and Norway. I have a book I bought at a local bookstore called “The American Dream” or “Dreaming of America” in Swedish. It documents exotic, far away places like the Red River Valley, where Swedes came to work in the sugar beet fields.
What We Need in Minnesota
On the current Mexican immigration situation, in Minnesota we need the benefit of migrant workers, and that’s a fact. We appreciate that, and we have some people settling out of the migrant stream and living right here in St. Paul. They bring a strong work ethic and family values, and I hope they keep that. We need it.
A chamber of commerce in Willmar, MN. told me that much of the industry in that town would have had to just shut down if it were not for migrant labor and those who settle out to take jobs in their food processing. It amazes me that Republican legislators are pushing a bill like Arizona's law right here in Minnesota.
What We Need in Arizona and the Entire Nation
The Arizona law crosses the line, and needs further work to meet constitutional muster. What’s wrong with the SB1070, which I’ve read carefully, is that it authorizes contact by police, leading to deportation proceedings and other penalties because a person is suspected of just trying to work, trying to help such a person, or trying to hire them. The law criminalizes these activities because it authorizes contact by police if they suspect a person may be a Mexican immigrant on a sidewalk who might be trying to apply for a job, go to a job, or signal to someone they want a job, or trying to recruit or transfer one of these, or attempting to employ them.
It's not about traffic stops. It's about police cruising the streets looking for people standing around waiting to be picked up to go to work who look like or act like they might be illegal Mexican immigrants. That is unconstitutional under the 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments and its purpose is racial profiling of people who look or act Mexican.
I believe the Congress should support sensible local laws devoted to the business of arresting people who are harming folks in Arizona, go after the crime, keep potential terrorists from coming across the border, and Congress should support laws and actions dealing with beefed up border enforcement. My understanding is that there are hundreds of thousands of people coming across the unsecured border there. But we must respect human rights.
I would say to people of Arizona, yes, secure your border, secure your public safety, you protect Mexican American as well as Anglo people. But be careful that your laws, and the way you enforce them, don’t undermine public safety and the constitutional right of persons to be secure in their persons, their papers and their homes.
We should think back to our own colonial times, when British soldiers had liberties unrestrained by any constitution. And I’m sure some people in Texas might think the same thing about the time that state was part of Mexico. But we stand for human rights in the eyes of the world.
I’m not in favor of going after employers, destroying businesses because they hire good workers. That is a waste of money and resources, just like this new Arizona law. I respect the need to bring about a safe and secure border. I want the police to focus on crime, not politics. But Arizona is a sovereign state under our Federal Constitution, and short of violations of federal law or the constitution, we can only offer guidance and support for that state and pray that they—and California, New Mexico, Texas, and all the border states—will be great places to live for everybody.