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NY lawmakers are outraged over Arizona's immigrant law

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz speaks out against a recently passed and highly controversial Arizona anti-illegal immigration law. Photo by Marcy L. Velte, The Legislative Gazette.

Blair Horner, left, and Bill Mahoney of NYPIRG release their analysis of lobbying in the state. Photo by Stephanie I. Witkin, The Legislative Gazette.
May 03, 2010
Arizona's new anti-illegal immigrant law has made some New York's lawmakers furious.

The Arizona law (SB 1070) was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23 against the objections of Hispanic politicians and President Barack Obama. Since the bill's passage, it has been called unconstitutional and a human rights violation.

New York lawmakers are taking measures – even planning to chain themselves to a border fence between Arizona and Mexico – to make sure this law is deemed unconstitutional and does not get passed elsewhere.

A group of New York assemblymen plan on travelling to Arizona to draw more attention to this issue. So far Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn, the president of the Assembly's Puerto Rican/ Hispanic task force and Peter Rivera, D-Bronx, have confirmed that they will travel to Arizona.

"The goal is to go to Arizona and get arrested," said Rivera. "Because it highlights the absurdity of what we are being faced with."

They hope to bring focus on this issue because it affects all Latinos, according to Rivera. "This is the new civil rights movement. Right now we're confronting it," he said.

The Law grants law enforcement greater power, when they have a reasonable suspicions, to identify, jail, fine and deport undocumented aliens.

Currently, the group of New York's Hispanic lawmakers is working with Arizona legislators on when to go to Arizona. According to Ortiz, the group is waiting for a lawsuit to be brought against this bill.

The trip to Arizona might also include lawmakers from across the country who oppose the law. Most of the legislators who plan on going are Hispanic. However, according to Ortiz, there are some lawmakers who are not Hispanic who have expressed interest in the trip.

At a press conference last week, held by the New York State Assembly Puerto Rican/ Hispanic Task Force, several members of the Assembly spoke out denouncing the bill.

"This law is a disgrace," said Assemblywoman Grace Meng, D-Queens. "This is definitely a human rights issue and it's a quality of life issue. I dare say that Dr. Martin Luther King would probably roll over in his grave if he knew about this horrible law."

The issue, Meng pointed out, is not only a concern for Hispanics but for all Americans.

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, D-Brooklyn, who is an immigrant from the Soviet Union, is outraged by the law. "This law is the ultimate form of discrimination protected in law," he said.

"Arizona fails to recognize that our country was built on the backs of hardworking immigrants," said Ortiz. "This law unfairly targets Hispanics and puts fear in the heart of every minority mother raising her children in Arizona."

Gov. David A Paterson has assured New Yorkers that no such law will ever be enacted in this sate.

"I am highly disappointed in the enactment of Arizona law SB 1070, which may pit neighbor against neighbor, and threatens the fundamental principles on which this country was founded," said Paterson.

He addressed another concern, saying that because the federal government has failed to act on immigration issues Arizona has passed a law that may have been founded "in panic and hysteria."

"So long as immigration reform is defined by fear, rational minds cannot prevail," he said.

Paterson went on to request that Congress quickly redefine the debate surrounding border issues, while addressing the issues of "fairness and economic stability."

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, have denounced the law saying that immigrants make large contributions to the state and to the nation.

"New York has historically acknowledged that diversity is our greatest strength," said Silver. "Intolerance and discrimination have no place in our society."

"Arizona's new immigration law is wrongheaded and counterproductive," said DiNapoli. "New York was built by immigrants. We need to remember our heritage as a nation that welcomes newcomers."

Also denouncing the bill is Suffolk County Executive and gubernatorial hopeful Steve Levy who has been called a racist and white supremacist by Hispanic lawmakers. Levy said he does support provisions that require stricter enforcement at the workplace but does not support a law that allows law enforcement to ask anyone to produce identification to prove their citizenship.

  1. print email
    Hypocritical NY Politicians
    May 04, 2010 | 07:37 PM

    Why aren't these hypocrites equally outraged against NYC's Stop and Frisk program? It's far more punitive than Arizona's law ever can be.

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