The nationwide fury over Arizona’s SB 1070 has yet to diminish. And rightfully so. When this new law goes into effect at the end of July, any American citizen can be asked for their documents if they look to be undocumented. This is just plain un-American.
As President Obama said at a Cinco de Mayo event at the White House last week: “We can't turn law-abiding American citizens—and law-abiding immigrants—into subjects of suspicion and abuse. We can't divide the American people that way.”
A similar message is being reiterated by members of his administration including Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the first Latina to serve on a presidential cabinet. At the Council of the Americas’ 40th Washington Conference on the Americas today, Secretary Solis, the last speaker of the day, emphasized that the U.S. “must change the direction of our immigration policies.” Speaking before business leaders at the State Department, she flat out said that she “doesn’t agree with what’s happening in Arizona.”
And while the key is for leadership from the federal government it’s important that cities across the country are also voicing their disgust with the Arizona legislation. Just today, the Los Angeles City Council approved a ban on future business with Arizona, a move that could affect $8 million in business with the state. San Francisco and Saint Paul, Minnesota, are also considering resolutions in protest of the Arizona legislation. New city estimates released today by the city of Phoenix conclude that $90 million may be lost in hotel and convention business over the next five years due to SB 1070.
Back at the Department of Labor, Secretary Solis is moving in the right direction. Latinos will account for over 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, and she is focusing on how to create more STEM (science, technology, education, and math) jobs for a population that truly represents the future of our country. At the same time, she is focused on promoting business practices that lead to greater worker mobility so that Latinos—and immigrants overall—can move up the job ladder.
This should be the future of the U.S., not draconian laws such as that in Arizona.
*Jason Marczak is a contributing blogger to AmericasQuarterly.org. He is senior editor of Americas Quarterly, managing editor of AmericasQuarterly.org and director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.