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Sen. Klein reading teacher’s letter on Senate floor was racist

What does a letter from a substitute elementary school teacher about unruly kids have to do with solving the illegal immigration problem in Arizona?


State Sen. Lori Klein, R-Anthem/Arizona Republic photo

Yet state Sen. Lori Klein, R-Anthem, decided to read the letter, which had been forwarded to her by Senate President Russell Pearce, during debate over five illegal immigration bills two weeks ago (the bills were defeated).

The author said he had subbed a class of mostly Hispanic students in the Glendale school district and that they tore up their textbooks, refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance, asserted Mexico was going to reclaim Arizona and called all white Americans racist.

There is some debate about whether the letter is true.

It doesn’t matter if it’s true. What matters is that the letter was read during a debate on illegal immigration.

Klein, by reading the letter, made the connection that Mexican equals illegal immigrant and that Mexican equals un-American.

That’s racist. Whether Klein is a racist is debatable but what she did was racist. There was no point to reading that letter during a debate on illegal immigration other than to vilify an entire class of people. She had no way of knowing whether those students were citizens or illegal immigrants.

What the all-white Republican legislative leadership in Arizona is failing to understand about their attempts to combat illegal immigration is that they’re attacking an entire class of Americans based on their race and are cavalier about the effect and the reaction it’s having in the Hispanic community.

Illegal immigration in Arizona in an enormous problem and it is reasonable for state leaders to try to do something about it. In 2005 and 2006 the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 1 million illegal immigrants in Arizona. That was half of the total number of apprehensions over those two years for the entire border. That’s also an average of about 66 people an hour.

Though illegal immigration has fallen off precipitously, Arizona is still the primary illegal entry highway. For the federal fiscal year that ended in October, the Border Patrol reported apprehending about 220,000 illegal immigrants in Arizona, which, again, was about half the apprehensions for the entire border last year.

But Arizona’s response to the problem has been unreasonable. Rather, it’s been brutal and racist. The fundamental problem with the laws passed and the laws proposed that attempt to force state agencies, and even private businesses, to be immigration agents is that their enforcement results in only one class of people being queried about their citizenship status – people of Hispanic appearance.

You can’t tell an illegal immigrant by looking at them – you have to ask. Since the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona are from Latin America, American citizens of Hispanic appearance and ancestry are being forced to prove their citizenship.

That’s an outrage and an affront to liberty, the very essence of what it means to be an American.

There are other, better ways to solve this problem. Reading racist letters about unruly school children is not one of them.

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