University of Arizona community responds to new immigration law

Passage of SB1070, the state law that requires local police to enforce federal immigration law, has prompted boycotts of Arizona because of possibilities for racial profiling and civil rights violations.

The law has not yet gone into effect, but its reach is already being felt at the University of Arizona.

UA students respond to the new state immigration law. Photo by Allison Mullally/ArizonaNewsService.com


The university president, Robert N. Shelton, issued a statement that some out-of-state students who were to enroll in the honors program next fall had decided, because of SB 1070, not to come to Arizona.

Mario Hernandez, a UA student from Tolleson, Ariz., said he is a Mexican-American and has serious concerns about SB1070 and how it will be enforced.

“I think this law encourages racial profiling because it allows for policemen and policewomen to justify already used stereotyping when making daily routine stops. Stereotyping already exists hardcore in today’s justice system and by allowing for officers to stop and ‘investigate’ the possibility of a citizen being illegal is not legitimate reasoning and goes against our constitutional rights,” he said.

“As a fifth-generation Mexican American I now have to carry the burden of being accidentally stereotyped,” Hermandez said. “Yes, the law will help secure Arizona in regard to illegal immigration but it is not worth the expense of losing freedoms based off of color and ethnic features.”

“The law has given Arizona the negative association similar to that of Nazi Germany during WWII,” Hernandez said. “I am a Mexican Jew and although I am a legal citizen, the intimidation factor exists and has impacted my every day life with the fear of getting pulled over as a result of my skin color. What’s next?”

The American Journalism Historians Association, scheduled to hold its 30th anniversary convention in Tucson Oct. 6-9, considered canceling the gathering at Hotel Arizona to voice concern over Arizona’s passage of SB 1070. The event will draw about 100 professors from the United States and Canada, said Linda Lumsden, an assistant professor in the UA School of Journalism who’s helping coordinate the event.

Lumsden said the group does plan to host a special history panel regarding coverage of immigration as a way to show the organization’s concern. “If the law is around in October, the board may issue a statement condemning it,” Lumsden said, adding that a boycott was debated on the group’s listserv. “But Arizona did get these convention planners’ attention — in a negative way!”

Some individual units at the UA have heard from unhappy alumni.

An alumnus of the School of Journalism asked to be removed from a journalism
listserv. “I do not wish to continue my association with the University of Arizona
and its subdivisions, given the ‘police-state’ conditions in the state,” wrote Alan
Fishleder of Woodland, Calif.

According to published reports, some out-of-state graduates have also canceled
season football tickets to protest the legislation.

Sgt. Juan Alvarez, the public information officer for the University of Arizona Police Department, said in an e-mail that because the law hasn’t taken effect, there are still lots of questions. Alvarez said it’s too early for him to talk about details, since the UAPD is waiting for guidance from the state about how to train officers to enforce the law.

“What I can say is that existing laws change and new laws are made often and UAPD has always enforced the laws with due regard to individual civil rights,” he said. “I do not foresee that as changing.”

Sara Haswell, a UA student from Dallas, said she opposes the law and hopes it will not go into effect.

“I do not feel this legislation is a reflection of Arizonans as a whole, but rather rich bureaucrats who got the legislation through,” she said. “I have heard many people say bad things about Arizona because of this law, and I’m glad. Hopefully the negative press will make it clear that this law is racist, irresponsible and not to be tolerated.”