The Architect of Arizona’s Immigration Law Gone!

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryThe internal resistance against the State of Arizona’s extreme rightwing powers to be can now claim a major victory. Arizona State Senator, Russell Pearce—the architect of that state’s immigration law that requires all suspected of being “illegals” to show their identification or be jailed and possibly deported—has been stripped of his office and is no longer a state senator. Pearce was the main sponsor of a state law that is clearly in violation of the U.S. Constitution, and more than that he was also planning to introduce legislation to strip children of the undocumented of birth certificates that would have certified they are American citizens.

While the legislation to strip babies of the undocumented of their birth certificates is going forward, the forces that be will no longer have a powerful voice to move this legislation forward. Many Arizona residents, and especially its Latino voters, got sick and tired of being Pearce’s punching bag. So they did probably the boldest and bravest thing possible—they held a recount call to try and kick Pearce out of office. It was a long-shot; rarely have politicians at the state or federal levels been ousted from power. But Pearce’s animosity towards the Latino communities in his state, plus the dismal jobs situation, helped to bring an unprecedented momentum to the recall vote. Not just Latinos, but people in general were unhappy with Pearce over such bread and butter issues as jobs, poverty, the homeless, and lack of social services.

In a bad economy this changed the situation. When conditions are bad and not improving, demagogues trying to use scapegoats may only work so far, but then without making people’s lives better those in power need to watch their power base. Clearly Pearce did not, and hence the recall vote went from being little more than a rumble to a groundswell. The movement to remove Pearce required 19,000 signatures for a petition for a recall. The organizers of the recall went well over the minimum, and 54 percent of the people in Pearce’s district voted for his ouster. The amazing thing about it is that Pearce did not see it coming. So much for an an adept politician. But then fanatics and extremists make the mistake of only seeing the calm before the storm.

Of course Russell Pearce was only one of many others legislators who share his extremist views, and also Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer who is equally extremist. But now they are on notice that what happened to Pearce can happen to them. A growing number of the people of Arizona are in virtual revolt against the powers that be, and more heads could roll. The architect of a lot of the hate legislation that has gone through the Arizona State Assembly is gone. What this could mean is that all the others will no longer be safe from the wrath of the people.

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