I am saddened and outraged by Russell Pearce’s latest efforts to legislate bigotry and discrimination into Arizona law.
As first reported in the Arizona Capitol Times, Sen. Pearce is now attempting to deny citizenship to American-born children if their parents are illegal immigrants, and to deny public education to undocumented children by requiring them to pay tuition or be forced out of school.
To say Pearce has gone too far is a gross understatement.
I support securing our borders and fixing our immigration system with tough but fair reform that works, including cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants and requiring illegal immigrants currently here to register with the government, pay a fine and back taxes to get right with the law, have no other criminal record, and maintain gainful employment.
I am against illegal immigration. Having grown up on the border, I’ve seen first hand the consequences of both illegal immigration and criminal trafficking.
That said, Pearce’s attacks on children, the Constitution, and our fundamental American principles of fairness and justice are beyond the bounds of human decency. They are downright offensive.
I call on Pearce to immediately drop his crusade against immigrant communities.
As the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us in his letter from a Birmingham Jail in 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
What Pearce proposes is a grave injustice. If enacted, it threatens not only Arizona, but our fundamental American values.
The 14th Amendment clearly states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens…” The Supreme Court rejected Pearce’s view as unconstitutional more than 100 years ago, but ideologues conveniently ignore the Constitution when it restricts their agenda. They resort instead to name-calling and race-baiting, using degrading and inaccurate terms like “anchor babies” to cloud the debate.
The 14th Amendment further guarantees equal protection of the law for all people who reside here — including all children — and it guards against the mean-spirited education discrimination that Pearce advocates. The Supreme Court rejected such attacks against immigrant children more than a quarter century ago in when it upheld their equal right to a public education in Plyler v. Doe.
Pearce hides behind claims of the burden on taxpayers. But denying innocent children a basic education is penny-wise and pound-foolish. The Supreme Court recognized the greater “costs to the Nation” that such laws would impose by “promoting the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare and crime.”
These proposed laws by Pearce are not just unconstitutional and fiscally irresponsible. They are unjust.
I call on all candidates for public office in Arizona, Democrats and Republicans, to denounce this immoral legislation. To stand silent in the face of unjust laws that target children is to fail. I will stand up for what is right, even if I am standing alone.
— Vince Rabago is a Democratic candidate for Arizona attorney general.