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Mitt Romney”s “Anti-Immigrant Extremist” Friends: The Worst Kind Of Company One Could Keep

Mitt Romney’s endorsement sheet is beginning to read like a who’s-who of tough talk, anti-immigrant extremists: Former California Governor Pete Wilson, Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeau, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of immigration laws in Arizona and Georgia, have all signed on to his campaign. Unfortunately for Romney, these names alone have the potential to embolden the very community they seek to disempower.

Until this week, Romney was boasting the endorsement of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeau, a co-chair of his Arizona campaign. Babeau came to national attention after starring in John McCain’s 2010 “Complete the Dang Fence” ad, part of McCain’s effort to fend off a right-wing primary challenger. Babeau went on to become a frequenter commentator on Fox News. He’s even running for Congress. Then, last week, the Phoenix New Times revealed that Babeau had maintained a multi-year relationship with a Mexican immigrant who he allegedly threatened with deportation if any details of their relationship were to become public. Babeau swiftly stepped down as co-chair of Romney’s Arizona campaign, leaving some big shoes to fill.

Enter America’s self-proclaimed “Toughest Sheriff,” Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Joe, who the Department of Justice recently accused of systematically profiling and abusing Latinos, is busy lining up presidential hopefuls to kiss his ring. On February 13th, Arpaio took to Twitter to announce that he’d received a call from Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich seeking his endorsement. “Nice surprise and what a gentleman he really is,” Arpaio wrote. Then on February 18th he gave a shout out to yet another suitor, tweeting, ”Big week ahead, I’ll be meeting another presidential candidate.” Arpaio doesn’t exactly have a Midas touch— he’s endorsed the failed campaigns of former U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, and Republican drop-out Rick Perry. But polls find that over 30 percent of Republican primary voters are more likely to vote for a candidate if he boasts Arpaio’s endorsement.

Ever the desperate salesman, Mitt Romney continues to trade Latino general election votes for the votes of his primary’s fringe electorate. No one should understand this trade-off better than Pete Wilson, a godfather of the anti-immigrant movement. In 1994, then-Governor Wilson led the fight for Proposition 187, the “Save Our State” initiative, which would have barred undocumented immigrants from access to social services like health care and public education. But then the effort boomeranged: the Republican push for Prop 187 galvanized the state’s Latinos, inspiring drives for naturalization and voter registration and turnout that turned Reagan’s state into a Democratic stronghold.   In a general election, Pete Wilson doesn’t have enough fans to offset the potential cost of his endorsement. Ask Meg Whitman. She flaunted Wilson as chairman for her 2010 gubernatorial campaign as a way to build conservative credibility in a tough primary. Then she spent the general election unsuccessfully trying to distance herself from Wilson when he became a liability with Latino and independent voters. That’s of no immediate concern to Romney. Facing a primary that just won’t end, he’ll do what it takes to get some of California’s proportional delegates, no matter the cost.

If Romney’s other endorsements are any indication, there can be no doubt that he’d gladly swap general election Latino votes for 32 percent of Republican primary voters, even in a state where he has no real competition.    Democrats are already portraying Romney as having two faces: wooing Latino voters out of one side of his mouth and courting anti-immigrant champions out of the other. In advance of last month’s Florida primary, the Romney campaign aired Spanish-language spots aimed at Hispanic voters, while in South Carolina he touted the endorsement of Kobach. Immigration advocates decried the hypocrisy.  The problem is that Romney doesn’t see himself that way because he misunderstands the Latino community. Romney believes that he can call the DREAM Act a “handout” and sell Draconian immigration laws to those of us who are citizens by telling us that they only affect those of us who are not. He claims that he’s pro-legal immigration, just anti-illegal immigration, as though that clarifies the issue. What Romney doesn’t realize is that even those Latinos who are American-born or naturalized citizens often come from mixed-status families, learn in mixed-status classrooms, and live in mixed-status communities. For us, the “undocumented” aren’t anonymous; they are people we know and love.  For us, the Wilsons, Babeaus, Arpaios and Kobachs of the world aren’t brave problem solvers. They are simply put, the worst kind of company one could keep.

 

By: Alicia Menendez, Contributing Writer, NBCLatino, February 21, 2012

February 24, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Immigration | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recall Arizona… From The 19th Century

The dictionary definition of insanity should be changed to spell A-R-I-Z-O-N-A and its state capitol building should be designated as a home for the criminally insane. But lest we kid ourselves, this Arizona insanity has now spread nationwide. Let’s take a tour of the [police] state.

On the educational front, Tucson Unified School Superintendent, John Pedicone, has managed to militarize school board meetings. He has done this because several weeks ago, the high school group UNIDOS, tired of having their Mexican American Studies program targeted for elimination, chained themselves to the school board members chairs, prompting the board to cancel its meeting. For this, the students and others have received death threats. At the subsequent May 3rd meeting, officially, some 100 police officers were deployed to the TUSD headquarters. However, on top of TUSD security guards, including those staffing metal detectors, along with bomb squad officers, helicopters, plus riot squad officers deployed inside and around the building and neighborhood, it is likely that the officers totaled closer to 200.

At this meeting, seven people were arrested for the criminal act of attempting to speak to the board. One elderly and disabled professor, Lupe Castillo, 69, was arrested by some 20 helmeted and shielded officers for attempting to read ”A Letter from the Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King Jr. The other arrestees were [secretly] sent to two jails before they were booked and released. In the action inside, dozens of riot squad police physically threw other people out the building, including elders, this while hundreds of MAS supporters outside stood their ground. Then later, the violence, caught on videotape, started behind the building. Police officers in full riot gear began throwing young students, parents and other community members around like rag dolls. Officially, the officers did a great job, commended by the chief of police.

All this is the calm before the storm, precipitated by a 2010 law (HB 2281), purportedly inspired by Martin Luther King Jr, that has declared the teaching of Ethnic Studies illegal. This week, an audit ordered by the state schools superintendent, John Huppenthal, who ran on the campaign to “eliminate La Raza” (the Mexican people) – is scheduled to be released, with expected pre-ordained findings that will declare Tucson’s highly successful MAS program to be out of compliance.

That’s from the sane part of the state. Now, from the insane sector:

This past week, the governor signed SB 1404, a law that attempts to wall the state from the rest of society. Not satisfied with the federal walls that line the U.S./Mexico border, Arizona will soon be embarking upon creating its own wall along the Arizona/Sonora border, financed through online donations and built by prison labor. Being that imprisoning migrants is a growing multi-billion dollar industry, look for the state to employ incarcerated migrants to attempt to build it.

Beyond the state’s 2010 (SB 1070) racial profiling law, this year, state legislators attempted to pass nearly two dozen even more stringent laws, including one that would overturn birthright citizenship as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.  Legislators also attempted to pass two other laws that can only be construed as attempts to secede from humanity; SB 1443 and SCR 1010 were attempts to exempt the state from federal and international laws, respectively.

Most of this legislation is designed to incarcerate migrants and to enrich the private prison industry. The mastermind of most of this legislation is state senate president, Russell Pearce, who in addition to facing a recall, is also embroiled in the Fiesta Bowl “gift” scandal that threatens to bring down he and many of his associates.

And then there’s Maricopa County’s unindicted Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who continues to thumb his nose at the feds with his ongoing racially motivated mass dragnet raids. Recent investigations have found that in eight years, his department has misspent close to $100 million, and that his top commanders targeted “enemies,” confirming he is the most corrupt Sheriff in America. Federal investigations into his activities continue.

Outside of the state, the governor of Georgia recently signed HB 87, joining Arizona, Utah and Indiana in implementing anti-immigrant racial profiling laws. Twenty other states are pursuing a similar return to the 19th century. The good news is that Utah’s HB 497 anti-immigrant law, was recently blocked by a Utah judge, and the DREAM ACT has again been introduced in Congress.

Given recent dramatic events on the international front, it is generally thought that the president can now restore sanity and actually bring about actual immigration reform. Regarding Ethnic Studies, not sure he can do anything about those intent on “eliminating La Raza.”

By: Roberto Rodriguez, Professor, University of Arizona; CommonDreams.org, May 17, 2011

May 18, 2011 Posted by | Arizona, Bigotry, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Democracy, Equal Rights, GOP, Governors, Ideology, Immigrants, Immigration, Lawmakers, Politics, Racism, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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