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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

It’s not always about race (but a lot of the time it is)

In the wake of the internationally despised disaster called S.B. 1070, it’s been even more difficult to engage in productive discourse on the issue of immigration policy without being hindered by accusations of an anti-Latino sentiment.

I promise, I’ll make no attempt to persuade you either way. I’m merely suggesting that now, more than ever, the debate on immigration is constricted by the inherent fear of being called a “”bigot”” or “”anti-American””, depending on which “”wrong”” side you’re arguing for.

That’s why I’m pleased as punch that Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne’s professional aspirations have plopped him into the forefront of Arizona politics, since he’s pumped out a few gems of policy this year that are well worth some scrutiny.

Perhaps a little compare and contrast will be instructive in determining if all government action impacting our neighbors to the south merits suspicion of racially motivated shenanigans.

The first deals with Arizona’s Ajo School District.

According to an article from the Aug. 22 The Arizona Republic, “”Following a crackdown by … Horne, students won’t be allowed to board the bus unless their parents or guardians prove the children live in the district’s boundaries and not in Mexico.””

In the same article, Ajo Superintendent Robert Dooley said, “”the state investigation was flawed and that the district has found at least 60 of the students in question were legal residents.””

OK, fair enough, there have been some issues with the mandate’s execution. However, this should not discredit the reasoning behind the policy change itself. As Horne points out, it’s illegal to receive free education from the state of Arizona if you are not a resident of Arizona.

Also note that the policy change does nothing to affect the status of illegal immigrants already residing in Arizona, just those students who live in Mexico. This is not even an issue of race or citizenship status. This is an issue of geography.

If you want a real piece of legislation to get your blood boiling, look no further than Horne’s other baby, H.B. 2281, signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer last May.

The law forbids a school district from including in its course curriculum “”any courses or classes that … promote the overthrow of the United States Government, … are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group … (or) advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.””

In a CNN interview from May, Horne argued that the elimination of ethnic studies classes would prevent the development of “”ethnic chauvinism”” and that dissolving these classes would prevent students from being taught “”narrowly about the background and culture of the race they happened to have been born into.””

Horne’s most ignorant and infuriating assumption is that only the members of the race whose culture the curriculum covers choose to take these classes.

More disturbing is that Horne seems to disavow the existence of mixed-race students, those who struggle with their identity as a member of multiple cultures and are hungry for information and context that classes like these might provide to ease their existential migraines.

Horne also argued that the literature of Tucson Unified School District Mexican American Studies Department classes advocated for revolutionary action against the government, and cited instances of Tucson students dressing up in revolutionary garb and holding signs to protest the policy.

But I believe Judy Burns, the president of the district’s governing board, who in May told the Los Angeles Times, “”We don’t teach all those ugly things they think we’re teaching.””

Because there were no riots. There was no violence. There was no revolution.

There were just high school students, mere miles from  the UA campus, who had been taught to appreciate the legitimate struggles of the oppressed and to exercise the right to non-violent protest that every race in this country has at some time suffered for.

But despite the existence of real threats to our civil liberties like H.B. 2281, not every immigration law is part of a secret, “”George-Bush-doesn’t-care-about-black-people””-esque plot to oppress and exclude people based on the color of their skin.

Actually, it’s a fairly conspicuous plot to exclude people from the benefits of citizenship in a nation in which they don’t live or pay taxes.

As long as one state borders another with a sufficient discrepancy in GDP, a story of victimization will be spun.

Get used to it.

Or try to take over the world, so that you can dissolve all borders and create a utilitarian wonderland where bad thoughts are outlawed, nobody is special because everybody is, and Skynet’s machine army eventually overthrows you.

Your choice.

—Remy Albillar is a senior majoring in English and creative writing. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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