Sunday, May 9, 2010

Kansas Representative Anthony Brown tries, fails to add Arizona immigration law onto the State budget bill

Rep. Anthony Brown of Eudora Kansas, tried unsuccessfully to amend the House’s Appropriations bill to mimic the recently passed Arizona State Immigration bill.

When introducing the amendment, Representative Brown made clear that, “This is modeled after immigration law that passed out of the Arizona Legislature.” Rep. Brown went on to say that the purpose of his amendment was to deny benefits “to those folks who can’t prove their status.”

The Amendment was killed procedurally when Democrats questioned if the proposed amendment was germane to the appropriations bill he sought to amend. In a relatively short time, the rules committee declared the proposed amendment was not germane, referring to it “more policy than appropriations.”

It is not surprising that members of the Kansas Legislature would seek to pass legislation similar to the Arizona Bill considering one of the co-authors of the Arizona Bill was Kris Kobach, candidate for Kansas Secretary of State. But we should not rest... given the impending political shift in Topeka, we can be assured that this bill will come back next session; likely as a stand-alone piece of legislation. Along with it will come the tired-old myths of welfare and voter fraud, calls for voter id's, and the magnification of ANY criminal act committed by a Hispanic, all serving to fuel a nascent anti-immigrant hysteria. (If that sounds at all hyperbolic, just pan through the Wichita Eagle's blog section anytime there's a story that even mentions a Hispanic person...)


But we are not the only community that should be concerned, already the States of Ohio, Oklahoma, Georgia, and North Carolina, have had lawmakers announce their intent to pass similar legislation.

I began speaking publicly a couple years ago about the courts and legislatures trending away from the enforcement and even the vision of civil rights. And that it appeared, even then, that we were moving towards the sort of race/class/nationalism that proved so popular under Reagan. We should not forget that under Reagan a similar hysteria was fed to the masses. But back then, instead of stoking anti-immigrant sentiment, we were bombarded with the notion of "Welfare Queens" which was ultimately used as a justification to eliminate social service programs. We were told about a "Permanent Underclass" which was later used as a quasi-social-scientific justification for corporate greed and a rationale for ignoring the plight of the poor. And we repeatedly heard the mantra of "Personal Responsibility"; used specifically to infer that those who found themselves on the fringes of society, were so only because of their failure to exercise 'Personal Responsibility". This notion was used to stifle any talk about structural inequalities...

Seen through this lens, it appears, at least to me, that these recent legislative acts are not to be viewed as isolated or random. But rather, we are witnessing the makings of a trend; one that will require our vigilance and action in the months and years to come...

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