Arizona State Professor Mary Romero Speaks on Immigration Legislation
An audience of about forty students and faculty members gathered in the HUB Thursday, September 18, to hear Dr. Mary Romero, a professor at Arizona State University and prolific author, present "Racial Profiling, Vigilantes and America's Toughest Immigration Sheriff"— a talk about the hot-button immigration issue and how Arizona officials are interpreting the new immigration legislation.
Romero, a sociology professor and Mexican-American, studies Arizona's role and reputation for being at ground zero concerning immigration laws. The latest and most controversial law, SB 1070, has resulted in a social war between Latin Americans and Arizona police, such as Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County. "Swat team-type immigration raids previously reserved for the war on drugs" are now used regularly on homes in Maricopa and throughout Arizona, said Romero.
SB 1070, which allows for random street raids, has become a discriminatory mechanism that targets the Latino community, contended Romero. Drivers of Latin American descent are being pulled over for minor infractions and then asked for proof of citizenship. Such racial profiling happens all the time, contributing to Arizona's problems today, she said.
"Why can't we have all the privileges you have?" continued Romero, citing a 1965 law that allows law officials to stop a person of presumed Mexican descent provided there is reasonable cause. "I shouldn't have to worry that somebody might think that I speak with an accent or think that I'm undocumented."
Isaac Mejia '14, the son of Salvadoran immigrants, sympathized with Romero's concerns. "We come to work and make an honest living. It isn't fair to target one race," said Mejia, speaking of his parents' journey to America.
The lecture was sponsored by IDEA, Peace and Justice studies, Moravian Theological Seminary Diversity Committee, and the Office of Institutional Diversity.—Kelly Fackenthall, '12