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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Students come last in Legislature’s priorities

As students attending an institution that prides itself on the ability to find new, innovative ways to tackle our transforming society, state officials do not support us. Their minds are nowhere near analyzing ways to encourage academic pursuits. It’s time to analyze their true focuses and tell them we are through with their distracting ideologies of what “”protection”” means.

Protection, to me, means knowing my nieces will someday have the option to attend school here and afford it. Protection means our younger siblings, cousins and perhaps children, can obtain a higher education. The day will come when we’ve had enough. It should have been yesterday.

Protection does not mean having 30 planes fly over Maricopa County searching for drug smugglers. It’s bad enough that schools get shut down in Tucson due to being too close to the Davis-Monthan Military Base. Maricopa is taking a step not just toward militarization of the border, but fear within our own cities.

An example of the infringement of safety, and Arizona’s lack of focus on higher education, is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Last week he announced Operation Desert Sky, which became a historic moment in how far Arizona will go to reach complete insanity.

According to Colorlines, a daily news site published by the Applied Research Center, “”Arpaio said Operation Desert Sky won’t distract normal law enforcement because it will be staffed by citizen vigilantes and deputies from human smuggling and drug enforcement units.””

Why in the world would a state official believe that giving “”citizen vigilantes”” weapons would provide a feeling of protection to surrounding communities? Communities in Tucson face possibilities of home invasions from Border Patrol each day on the south side, and here we have Arpaio-patriots walking around with M-16s in metropolitan Arizona?

Before this announcement was made, and while we celebrated spring break two weeks ago, Arizona was faced with even more ridiculous decisions that even Republicans knew were too crazy to vote for.

State Senate President Russell Pearce attempted to pass five controversial immigration bills on March 17 focusing on reestablishing what rights undocumented people have. That included a bill against undocumented students attending community colleges or universities, even while paying out-of-state tuition, without being ousted to Border Patrol.

Pearce also pushed Senate Bill 1611, which would ban undocumented students from obtaining a higher education because, as he stated to the East Valley Tribune, “”This is clean-up.””  

The reality we have to face is the atmosphere we live and attend school in. We have rallies against budget cuts, gather to discuss our grievances with tuition increases and we get upset when the state does nothing afterward. We continue to point fingers at state politicians for denying our right to equitable education without even realizing what the true issue is.

Our campus is surrounded by a war against ignorant discourse and an inability to critically analyze political situations. The amount of time our state officials spend on writing new bills to abolish opportunities for undocumented students to continue their academic aspirations is priceless to them. I bet their lobbyists have created slide show presentations on how they believe they can catch an immigrant. Oh yeah, S.B. 1070 was never resolved, was it?

If we, as critically engaged students of Arizona, can’t connect the ignorance of our state politicians to the lack of justice in the higher education system, what are our degrees worth to our futures? If we think rallies held on our campus against budget cuts are going to catch the state’s attention, why didn’t the message get across two years ago when thousands of students went directly to the Capitol to speak up?  

Students need to incorporate issues that indirectly affect students into their movements. If student issues aren’t being addressed and are continuously ignored, but we see the state Legislature working ruthlessly to criminalize migrants and fund the military more than education, looks like we have no other choice but to use the power of “”intersectionality,”” the ways in which we can merge student issues with human rights issues.

 

— Elisa Meza is a junior studying English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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