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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pearce at it again with immigration proposals

Fresh off the legislative victory of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, the state’s controversial new anti-illegal immigration law, Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce has gone back to the drawing board. Next on his agenda: two new bills, thankfully as-of-yet undrafted, which promise to convincingly and cruelly dissuade illegal immigrants from coming to Arizona.

First, Pearce wants to force the children of illegal immigrants to pay tuition in public schools or risk being kicked out. His purported rationale is that illegal immigrants come to this country as much to give their children a better life as to create such a life for themselves.

Target immigrant children, and you’ll remove a major incentive to live in this country illegally. In addition, Pearce told the Arizona Capitol Times that, “”You don’t have a right to be a non-resident of this state and take advantage of the taxpayers of this state.”” It’s an oft-used argument: Illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes, so they should be barred from taxpayer-funded services. Economically, this seems to make sense, and taxpayer ire is one of the driving forces behind this state’s growing witch-hunt of illegal immigrants.

But forcing the children of illegal immigrants out of schools won’t drive them out of this country; even uneducated, they likely will have far better economic opportunities in this nation than the one they came from. Instead, all Pearce’s proposal would do is create a permanent, uneducated, impoverished, marginalized and incredibly angry class of immigrant children. Crime and violence would erupt in unprecedented waves, much like the 2005 riots in Paris, which were driven by marginalized immigrant youth and caused French President Nicolas Sarkozy to declare a three-month state of emergency in the country.

Keeping kids uneducated means only offering them mostly illegal, dangerous ways of making a living, opportunities they’re more likely to take if they’re barred from public schools. Pearce’s plan would serve only to make Arizona more divided, violent and dangerous, as well as to further widen the gap between rich and poor.

The second measure would stipulate that children born in this country to parents here illegally would not be United States citizens.

State Rep. John Kavanagh, who supports the latter proposal, told the Capitol Times that the current policy of granting citizenship to all children born within the borders of the United States is “”a magnet that attracts illegal immigrants.””

Apparently, Kavanagh, Pearce and other proponents of this idea need to brush up on their middle school civics.

Directly from the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution: “”All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.””

The Constitution could not be much clearer on the matter of citizenship, and all of Pearce’s fancy rhetoric about the clause “”subject to the jurisdiction thereof”” will never hold water in court, as multiple experts in constitutional law have pointed out. His proposal flies in the face of the 14th Amendment and all it seeks to uphold — fairness and equality for all people in America, regardless of current politics or prejudices.

This amendment was written in response to the argument that black slaves were not and could not become citizens. Sadly, it seems not much has changed. Now, more than ever, when the rights of another marginalized group are under attack, we must uphold the words written to protect them. Pearce and his supporters will use every trick in the book to squeeze their proposal through whatever tiny loophole they can find in the Constitution. We mustn’t let them get away with it.

— Heather Price-Wright is a creative writing senior. She can be reached

at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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