Arizona strikes out

Sports community up in arms over Draconian immigration law

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By Adrian Castañeda

The backlash over Arizona's recently enacted Senate Bill 1070, which requires law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship if an individual is suspected of being in the U.S. illegally, is spreading faster than crude in the gulf, bringing America's favorite pastime to the political battlefront.

In nearly every city the Arizona Diamondbacks have played baseball in during the last month, they have been met by hundreds of activists protesting the law as unjust. Beginning May 29, the San Francisco Gigantes will host the unintended ambassadors of bigotry for a three-game series. San Franciscans are already gearing up for a strong show of force with a protest march that begins at Justin Herman Plaza at 4 p.m. and follows the waterfront to AT&T Park.

Although batter's box may be far removed from the governor's desk, as David Zirin of The Nation reported May 10 in "Diamondbacks Owner Ken Kendrick Continues to Support SB1070," Kendrick has stated his opposition to SB1070 but held a May 20 fundraiser for Republican Arizona State Sen. Jonathan Paton. The fundraiser for Paton, a supporter of the bill who is now running for Congress, was reportedly held inside the owner's box during the Diamondbacks 8-7 win over the Giants in Phoenix.

Even before The Nation broke the story of using the publicly-funded stadium as a hub for Republican fundraising, bloggers and commentators were railing against Kendrick for his half-hearted attempts to distance the team from the political uproar. "The fallout from recent state legislation has a direct impact on many of our players, employees, and fans in Arizona, not to mention our local businesses, many of which are corporate partners of ours," says a press release on the team's Web site. Many take the statement as a sign that the demonstrations are working.

Articles on Kendrick's political activities spurred the nationwide protests, but every city's protest seems to be locally and spontaneously organized. Brian Cruz, part of the May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights, said that although the May 29 event may not have much economic impact on the Diamondbacks, it is a political statement: "We are boycotting the game because we need to do what we can to stop the state from implementing this law."

Cruz hopes the protests draw national attention to the issue and force President Obama to take action. Cruz advocates for immigration reform and amnesty for those in the country without papers. "We believe in a world without borders," Cruz told us. Cruz believes that U.S. foreign and economic policies are to blame for immigrants leaving their home countries, and that America's rich people are merely using undocumented people as scapegoats. "We see it as a racist attack against immigrants that demonizes those who come to this country to work," Cruz says of SB 1070.

Jevon Cochran, a student at Oakland's Laney College, has been organizing along with others to boycott the law he says is racist against all people of color, not just Hispanics. Cochran says the protest is crucial in overturning Arizona's law and preventing similar laws from spreading to other states. College campuses have been huge sources of support for immigrants' rights with a wide variety of student groups coming out against the law. Most recently, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the largest black fraternity in the U.S., cancelled its 40,000-member convention in Phoenix. The move came at great personal cost to the group but represents an even greater loss in revenue for Arizona businesses. "We want to strangle Arizona financially," Cochran said.

In addition to the city's resolution to boycott Arizona, Sup. Chris Daly called on the city and fans to protest at the Giants games against the Diamondbacks, home and away, and asked the Giants to wear their Gigantes jerseys in solidarity with the protestors.

Comments

While I do not support Arizona’s discriminatory immigration law SB 1070 I feel compelled to challenge the ridiculous statements in this article attributed to Mr. Cruz, who claims to believe in a “world without borders.”

Countries have borders for a reason. It is the only way that the political will of its citizens can be exercised. In order for concepts like freedom, justice and rule of law to be implemented a government acting on behalf of its own citizens is required. I could not reasonably expect to have a political or economic voice in Japan or India or Mexico because I do not deserve one. The same is true of any non American who comes to my country to try and better their own life. They deserve the basic human rights all people share, but they do not deserve citizenship or economic empowerment if it comes at the expense of American citizens of any race, creed or color.

Cruz also labels anyone who disagrees with his rosy view of unfettered immigration as a “racist.” Here he takes a page from the right wing playbook of Rush Limbaugh. Ignore facts or subtleties and simply label anyone who disagrees with you as bad, that way you don’t even have to consider their views at all.

Immigration, both legal and illegal, has many advantages for our country, among them cheap consumer goods and services, cultural diversity and fresh new ideas from abroad. Immigration, both legal and illegal, also has many disadvantages for our country including lower wages for American workers, overcrowding of public services like hospitals and schools and degradation to the environment because of the over consumption of that never ending stream of new Americans.

One does not need to be a racist to see the disadvantages of our current immigration system. The President said recently that our system is broken and needed to be fixed. Is he a racist, too, Mr. Cruz?

Chad Longfellow
Haight Ashbury

Posted by Guest Chad Longfellow on May. 28, 2010 @ 12:30 am