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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Legislature reveals its real view of Latinos

Last week Republican and Democratic state senators joined forces to defeat two anti-immigration bills that would have abolished birth right citizenship and required Arizona’s public schools to black-list Latino students suspected of being undocumented.

Republican Sen. Lori Klein of Anthem, Ariz., who supported both pieces of legislation, decided to use an offensive and racially-tinged email by a Glendale substitute teacher to justify her vote. The man describes his experience in a classroom where he claims students — “”almost all Hispanic and a couple of black children””— ripped up their textbooks and refused to speak in English.

According to the email, which Klein read out loud, most Latino students “”do not want to be educated but rather be gang members and gangsters. They hate America and are determined to reclaim this area for Mexico.””

The author then spouts off a diatribe against illegal immigration, which he believes is turning Arizona into “”a third world country,”” and concludes by applauding Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce’s “”efforts to stop this invasion into our state.””

Pearce, who was apparently delighted to know his efforts were appreciated, forwarded the email to his Republican colleagues days earlier.

But neither Pearce nor Klein took the time to verify the letter’s authenticity before they used it to buttress their anti-immigrant stance. Glendale Elementary School District investigated the substitute teacher’s allegations and said they are grossly inaccurate.

Pearce, who has remained silent on whether or not the letter reflects his view of Latinos, vowed to defend the teacher and has called his actions “”courageous.”” Klein, unapologetic as well, told the Arizona Guardian that the letter is a testament to “”how little regard they have to get ahead in life and be educated.””

But the reading of this letter says more about the Legislature than it does about Arizona’s Hispanic students.

To Pearce, Klein and other Republican senators, illegal immigrants are not the product of poor living and economic conditions in Latin America, but a hoard of gangbanging invaders who do not want to be educated. And it’s hard to believe they don’t extend this characterization to legal Hispanic residents as well. After all, there was no way of knowing whether or not the students described in the letter were undocumented. They could have been legal residents and even natural born citizens.

And it’s safe to assume that Klein and Pearce aren’t the only senators who hold Latinos in such low esteem. Keep in mind that not one member of the Republican majority has repudiated Klein and Pearce for their actions, nor have they tried to publicly distance themselves from the controversy.

The fact that this letter was disseminated by the Senate’s president and then read out loud during an official legislative proceeding is beyond reprehensible. It has tarnished the Legislature’s credibility and revealed its true perception of Latinos.

— Nyles Kendall is a political science junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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