Arizona at it again: Education, age, and politics in immigration

Father Tom Joyce CMF| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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The state of Arizona already has the toughest immigration laws on its books and now it's gone further. Governor Jan Brewer has signed a bill that greatly restricts ethnic studies in the Tucson School District, which tell some unpleasant truths about Mexicans in Arizona and the United States -- like we stole Arizona from Mexico and treat Mexicans unfairly (see NY Times).

Meanwhile polls show that the law requiring anyone to show identification that he/she is in the country legally is popular with the non-Hispanic population (see Washington Post). As a consequence, many Republicans are taking up the popular cause - midterm election are in November - and have or are planning to introduce similar restrictive legislation in eight states (see Arizona Republic).

But in some states, like Texas, where Republicans have some support among Hispanics, candidates running for governor or other state-wide office are running away from the issue. One Republican who sadly is abandoning support for comprehensive immigration reform and embracing the exclusionary Arizona law is John McCain (see Arizona Republic).

Why are Arizona whites afraid? The ultimate outcome of the immigration debate probably rests in demographics. One little tidbit of information in a report by the Brookings Institute, anticipating the 2010 Census, notes that in Arizona the population over 65 years old is 83 percent white, but that of those 18 years old and younger is only 43 percent white. And the disparity will only grow as the "baby boomers" begin drawing Social Security next year, and the schools and birth rates favor minorities. The Brookings report is interesting reading, revealing trends such as Hispanics and other immigrants going directly to the suburbs since 2000 (see NY Times).

Meanwhile, the critique of the Arizona law has gone international. A group of experts that report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, have condemned the Arizona anti-immigration law pretty much it the same terms as the U.S critics. They have questions about "the compatibility [of the law] with relevant international human rights treaties to which the United States is a party" (see Reuters).