See the New Mad Sociologist at http://madsociologistblog.wordpress.com

Immigration, Crime and Hypocrisy in Arizona

Just in case there are folks out there who still believe that Arizona’s now infamous “paper’s please” law is a rational response to the influence of illegal immigrants on the state’s crime rates, here’s a report by the Immigration Policy Center. It demonstrates that, contrary to popular opinion, the crime rates in Arizona have been going down. In other words, all those illegals are doing nothing to merit being subject to targeting by the state. Indeed, the report outlines that immigrants are less likely to be charged for crimes than citizens, and those states with the most immigrants tend to have the lowest crime rates.

So it turns out that the justification for statist policies are not true. Knowing this, how can we best understand the existence of this law? Could it be the almost cliché explanation of race and racism? Scapegoating? What else do you call it when you single out a group of people for no real reason and accuse them of crimes that they have not, for the most part, committed?

Or could this be a response to a more generalized fear. We are living in uncertain times. The market forces that are pushing us are outside of our capacity to understand, let alone control. Now here’s a group of people whom, despite our best efforts to keep them out, they just keep coming in. Well, we have to get control of something! Don’t we? UmÂ…don’t we? Of course, conservatives are a big part of stoking this fear. Can we thus infer that there may be more cynical political contrivances at stake here? After all, who benefits politically from the resultant instability that comes from fear mongering?

Or perhaps cynical is not the word. Perhaps sinister is more apropos. After all, we have John McCain requesting six thousand US troops patrolling the borders. Governor Brewer actually calling for strike drones! To keep out people who are not a threat?

Dealing with fear requires a great deal of introspection. When you encounter something that inspires fear, instead of reacting in an irrational and even destructive way, sometimes it’s a good idea to stop and ask yourself, “what is it that I am really afraid of?” If your answer is reasonable, come up with a reasonable response. In this case, there is no rational reason to be afraid of so called “illegal” immigrants with regard to their criminal intent. It’s more rational to be afraid of fellow citizens. So what are we afraid of? Race/Ethnicity? A generalized fear of the other?

It’s also a good idea to ask yourself, where is the fear coming from. Is it a visceral, natural fear of the unknown? Or is it a framed fear stoked by groups who benefit directly by you being afraid.

Or perhaps it’s not fear. Perhaps its hatred. Hatred, like fear, requires introspection. What is it that I really hate? The fact that this person would trespass on my country? The fact that he has brown skin? What is it?

All I know is that when decisions are made based on fear and hatred they are certain to be wrong.

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