Arizona’s Immigration Policies: Racism and Collective Hypocrisy

Arizona’s Governor Brewer is on a roll with anti-immigrant law-making. Under S.B. 1070 racial profiling may worsen (or be more easily justified) and with H.B. 2281 schools could justify not teaching students about a variety of historical injustices if these lessons could be understood to “promote resentment” towards a particular race or class. Not only are the courses under attack, but the teachers as well: the Arizona Department of Education has begun a process to remove teachers with accents from classrooms.  

Hatred towards immigrants is masked in a variety of discourses: “national security”,  “border security”, “high unemployment”, or if you are Pat Buchanan it is disguised in the subtle subtitle of your book “State of Emergency: the Third World Invasion and Conquest of America.”  Okay, so maybe it is not hidden at all.  In fact, alongside the current debates in Arizona, one of the more obvious examples of our disregard for immigrants (particularly undocumented immigrants) was President Obama’s health care reform speech of September 2009. It was at the precise moment President Obama was reassuring us that undocumented immigrants would be left without healthcare that Representative Wilson shouted, “You lie!”  And then everyone got mad.  For good reason of course, because aside from Representative Wilson’s outlandish and disrespectful behavior – Obama was telling the truth: we had all agreed to deny undocumented immigrants healthcare.

Of course, this anti-immigrant sentiment emanates from all sides of the debate and manifests in horrific ways for many.  Take for example the shocking case of Miriam Mendiola-Martinez shackled to her hospital bed after giving birth because she was undocumented and in police custody. Amnesty International has documented the impact of racism on immigrant women negatively affecting safe childbirth and delivery.  In addition to racism, a fear of authorities, an inability to speak English, and inability to navigate the health care system by immigrants also served to lessen women’s abilities to receive adequate health careIn 2003 the Committee on Understanding and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care highlighted discrimination as a key factor in racial and ethnic health disparities.

Who is Governor Brewer’s staunchest supporter in this anti-immigrant frenzy? None other than Sarah Palin –this time attacking immigrants only a few short months after admitting to crossing the border into Canada for health care.  Brewer and Palin even have a website which offers oddly pieced together facts and statistics alongside a seemingly amateur YouTube video about the need for border security.  Their law, the website proclaims, is being misrepresented and unfairly attacked.  However, while Arizona’s laws are rightly under fire for their racist underpinnings, there seems to be a convenient collective amnesia on the side of those claiming a moral upper hand in this argument (the less racist hand, the more accepting hand).  After all, didn’t everyone just finish agreeing (compromising) that there are some things that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, just shouldn’t have some of – like healthcare?

It’s possible that at the end of this odd debate consisting of forgotten hypocrisy and poorly made websites helpful information may emerge.  I mean, maybe Sarah Palin has some tips on getting the more than 11 million undocumented people that have little to no healthcare access in the United States into Canada legally for healthcare?  It was her own family’s solution after all. Perhaps that’s a project for the Brewer-Palin amateur video production team?  I bet that one would go viral.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

  • fletchup

    I have the perfect way to pay for the medicale exspences that the illegals cost us. Send the mexican government the bill they have the money or take it out of their exports.Also has anyone checked out the laws in mexico about illegals in their country.Before we critisize our laws and human rights violations As a legal immigrant in their country you can not protest, it is illegal.Check out the rest of their laws pertaining to legal immigrants then their laws about being illegal. In order to be a sovereign nation we must protect our boarders and people.Every country in the world does this but when America starts to enforce its boarders we are bad people.Hypocrites

    Mexico protects its southern boarders,should we ask them not to.What do you think they would say.And If you didn’t know or just want to stay ignorant,the Arizona law sb-1040 is a page from the federal immagration laws which have been around for at least 70 years .Don’t protest Arizona ,Protest the federal government.

  • prochoiceferret

    I have the perfect way to pay for the medicale exspences that the illegals cost us.


  • sylvie

    To understand what is going on in Arizona; read the article in the link below.”Since every ideology provides a scapegoat outside the confines of its own splendid group, the weak and scorned child who is part of the total self but has been split off and never acknowledge can now be openly scorned and assailed in this scapegoat. The reference in Himmler’s speech to the “bacillus” of weakness which is to be exterminated and cauterized demonstrates very clearly the role assigned to the Jews by someone suffering from grandiosity who attempts to split off the unwelcome elements of his own psyche.” Alice Miller

  • edward-craig

    So when is Arizona going to teach an American language, say Navaho?

  • rmccall12304

    Dearest fletchup,

    Even imagrants (immigrants) know the history of the US and it’s originating with immigrants (criminals and undesirables at that). Everyone here is descended from immigrants excepting Native Americans and descendants of enslaved Africans. Did you fall asleep in history class? Come on. This is a fact, not an opinion. When the Irish suffered from the potato famine in their country, companies such as AT&T, utility companies, the Federal government and others, brought them here to this country. They were given homes, jobs, and benefits African Americans were not privy to. These Irish immigrants were treated awful by the underclass but the upper-classes welcomed them with open arms and pocket books. So this is another case of people wanting to close the door behind themselves. This is historically known as “the land of opportunity.” Did the Statue of Liberty fall on her head? The immigration laws were put in place to limit the amount of people entering, by people who forgot where they came from (or don’t know). Americans went to Mexico and took citizenship there to receive National healthcare as viewed on a recent television news program. This is not the only country with money. In fact, with more ignorant thinkers, instead of remaining first, we will go down the toilet. The goods and services that we enjoy all around this country are produced by illegal aliens. Businesses will suffer more if we continue to harass these people. They will work at jobs that we are too haughty to do, but have the nerve to sneer at them working at it. In 1978, I saw an illegal Hispanic woman get her hand caught in a mangler. The owner of the laundry service told the foreman, Hector, to put her out on the sidewalk when they clear her from the machine. Not call an ambulance, not take her to the hospital. 

    You remind me of him. 

  • rmccall12304

    Thank you Mr. Craig. An educated man finally speaks. 

  • faultroy

      While I certainly respect your opinion, I have to say that I find it personally offensive to use the term: “anti Immigrant Sentiment.”  I say this as an immigrant. There is no anti immigrant sentiment that I see.  What I do see is an anti illegal alien sentiment. That is different. And as someone that has had to learn the english language, I find it particularly insulting to twist the language for one’s own political ideology. Furthermore, my Aunt is also an immigrant from Peru and she also takes offense at your twisting of the English language.  I don’t have a problem with your views, but I do with your presentation. If you are in favor of illegal alien rights, then why not say so? There is nothing wrong with that opinion.  I would support your right to have it. But let’s not mix apples and oranges.  No one is in favor of the Arizona law per se. Even Arizonans find it uncomfortable–as I do.  But that is not the same thing as saying “anti immigrant.”  It just is not so.  The first thing one has to do in order to have a civil debate is to agree to use definitions honestly and honorably.  Why don’t you speak clearly? You may mean anti Hispanic, perhaps bigotry of hispanics–any thing but anti immigrant.  And as far as your comment about “…schools could justify not teaching “historical injustices…” I have an idea: let’s quit politicizing the schools and let’s teach Reading Writing and Arithmetic.”  You have my blessing on teaching whatever you want when you use YOUR MONEY.  If you want to teach about “historical injustices,” pony up your money and do it after school.  There is no reason to indoctrinate children one way or another. As I understand the bill, it would allow local officials and representatives of the community–who are the ones that are paying the taxes–to make their own determination as to what is or is not appropriate–that sounds pretty fair to me.  It further implies that people like you that don’t live there have no business telling people that do live there how to conduct their personal affairs.  Gee, allowing people in the community to make their own determination–yeah, that sounds pretty scary…We need Californians and New Yorkans to tell Arizonans how to live their lives.  Funny, when Pro life advocates try the same tactic, you don’t sound too happy?  Why Is That?

  • faultroy

    I have this funny and sometimes annoying problem with people incorrectly defining terms.  This is because learning another language is not the easiest thing in the world to do.  First, we are all not aliens. Under immigration law, a person that does not belong in this country or is not a citizen–either naturally born or naturalized is an alien.  I know this because I used to be an alien.  Not everyone is an immigrant. Immigrants are individuals that come from another country they EMIGRATE from one country (that means to LEAVE that country) and they IMMIGRATE (that means TO COME to this country (now known as the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA). Some people living in this country are INDIGENOUS (this means that they were here before this country was formally organized as a nation.  There are many people that were here before the United States became a nation. They are called Americans Indians, and COLONISTS.  African Americans are also immigrants because they left one place (against their will doesn’t count) to come here. American Indians are also immigrants because they migrated from one place (we believe Eurasia) and came here. As a matter of fact, if you want to get technical–and I do- one can make the argument that everyone is an immigrant from somewhere at some point in time in the history of the human race unless you find the exact spot in Africa in which they believe humans first developed.  The people of Canada and Mexico had the same situation as in the USA.  Mexicans are also a mix of immigrants and indigenous people.  Another point: The Irish Potato Famine started in the late 1840s. Companies like At&t, Public Utilities etc did not start until after the 1930s. A small point, but they had nothing to do with bringing immigrants into the USA.  And when other companies did bring them into the USA, these immigrants were treated very poorly with no rights whatsoever.  Today, it is different. Mexicans illegally come into the United States–they do not immigrate (modern immigration is a legal process) they unlawfully come into the United States–which is why they are called: ILLEGAL ALIENS and they demand all the rights of an American Citizen. Here is a small bit of information on the way the Irish were treated when they came to what is known as the USA. Hope this helps.


  • prochoiceferret

    No one is in favor of the Arizona law per se. Even Arizonans find it uncomfortable–as I do.

    I guess they did a pretty good job of hiding that fact from the pollsters, then.

    But that is not the same thing as saying “anti immigrant.”  It just is not so.

    I’m sure the legal immigrants who are taken into custody for not having proof of legal residency will feel a lot better because of that.

    Why don’t you speak clearly? You may mean anti Hispanic, perhaps bigotry of hispanics–any thing but anti immigrant.

    Yes, I suppose illegal Caucasian-Canadian immigrants don’t have much to worry about.

    And as far as your comment about “…schools could justify not teaching “historical injustices…” I have an idea: let’s quit politicizing the schools and let’s teach Reading Writing and Arithmetic.”

    I guess you must have gone to a school with a curriculum like that, because you sure don’t have a very good grasp of history.

    You have my blessing on teaching whatever you want when you use YOUR MONEY.  If you want to teach about “abstinence-only until marriage,” pony up your money and do it after school.

    Hey, I actually agree with that! Leave the unimportant (and potentially harmful) curriculum out of the normal school day.

    There is no reason to indoctrinate children one way or another.

    The Texas School Board Council agrees with you!

    We need Californians and New Yorkans to tell Arizonans how to live their lives.

    Yeah, some of the southern states weren’t too quick to learn that segregation is bad, so we had to step in and give them a good spanking.

    Funny, when Pro life advocates try the same tactic, you don’t sound too happy?  Why Is That?

    I don’t suppose you’ve ever had an unwanted pregnancy?

  • wendy-banks

    First dude/ette you need to learn to speak English YOURSELF.

  • wendy-banks

    I know this because I used to be an alien.

    *chuckles* You know what Ferret? I still think he’s kind of alien.

    From the English, Irish, German,French,Dutch,American Indian (Senca) Purple-haired Goth American Mutt *grins*.


  • travellermimi

    There r known and unknown injustices against immigrants in any country. But I gather immigrants r more at home in a western country, such diverse communities have made their home in the west.

    I struggle to imagine if certain places in the east wud dare to welcome immigrants so liberally.

  • imzoned



    You make it sound like we have cops standing in bushes waiting to jump out at brown people. I am sure you aren’t from AZ, like myself, and I am sure you do not know our dilemmas, but only know the media hype. Did you know that illegals rally once in a year for “rights” when they aren’t citizens? That officers have always had a right to ask anyone for id-and it does happen, I’ve been carded at a bus stop before randomly by a cop driving by who stopped. Did you know that without this law our cops still could ask anyone for id in this state with no problem-BUT the hispanics have always tried to pull the race card? I don’t think you understand that this law isn’t about color, more about proof of identity, and officers being allowed to enforce it.

    Did you know that we are one of the lowest paying states in the nation because people can hire illegals at half price under the table, lowering the pay of everyone in a business? Did you know that there are plenty of cases of illegals driving around without insurance who have hit our cars and we have to pay for it, who have driven around drunk and killed people? And do you know what happens? Nothing, they get deported. Here, you get a trial, you go to jail, but those rules don’t apply to them. They basically get to come over here, take our jobs, take our money, kill us, and go back home. Do you realize that they go around apartment complexes stealing license plates to put on their cars so they don’t get pulled over? Everything they do is illegal, and it’s not ok, and the Government refuses to step in.

    As far as your obvious support of Obama, here’s a little bit of knowledge: He hired Janet Napolitano into office for Homeland Security when she is THE least qualified person in our nation for that position. She is the reason we have had a drone of illegals in our state. She didn’t crack down on businesses, didn’t secure our border, and promoted Spanish to be an equal language to English, which is against our constitution. Also, as a native of AZ and a traveler to the land of Mexico, I think the Mexican President needs to take care of his own country instead of worrying about we treat his people. They wouldn’t be running over here if his country was better to live in, and his own police would treat their people and vistors would respect. You want to talk “racial profiling”? I have never once walked into Mexico and NOT had to pay off a cop because I was a white woman visiting their country. You are more than welcome to your opinion, but until you experience it I don’t believe that you understand any of this, just like most of the country.

  • ack

    First off, most local law enforcement agencies were and are opposed to this law, for a variety of reasons. It places them in perpetual danger of being sued by individuals who think they’re not enforcing it. It will cost resources to detain people under a state law, when they currently turn them over to ICE. There aren’t any established training guidelines to help them enforce it without racially profiling, which also opens them up to lawsuits if they detain a legal citizen. 



    “Everything they do is illegal, and it’s not ok, and the Government refuses to step in.”


    Everything they do is not illegal. Please think before you type. Most undocumented immigrants don’t commit any crimes other than entering the country without a visa.


    Napolitano’s problem wasn’t that she didn’t secure the border. She loudly and repeatedly told the feds that we needed help. Her problem is that she seems to have forgotten us when she went to DC.

  • catseye71352

    In the interest of historical accuracy, I’d just like to point out that the only reason there was starvation in Ireland when the potato crops failed, is because the Brits were systematically stripping the Irish of every other resource the country possessed.

  • crowepps

    Various types of foods were indeed exported from Ireland during the entire ‘famine’. The British failure to deal effectively with this had a lot more to do with anti-Irish prejudices and the desire of English landholders to divest themselves of the tenants who had traditional rights on the land raising crops, abrogate the ancient rights of ordinary people to use lands ‘in common’, and retool their holdings less labor intensively by incorporate the newly emptied land into large enclosed pastures to raise sheep.


    Similar changes in British agricultural practices funneled former British farm workers into urban poverty or new industrial jobs in factories, and actually quite a few Irish resettled in England, although Canada and the United States received far greater numbers.