Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Struggling for the Soul of the USA

Reflection on "good news" from Arizona*

Judge blocks parts of Arizona immigration law


PHOENIX — A judge has blocked the most controversial sections** of Arizona's new immigration law from taking effect Thursday, handing a major legal victory to opponents of the crackdown.

The law will still take effect Thursday, but without many of the provisions that angered opponents — including sections that required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws. The judge also put on hold a part of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton put those controversial sections on hold until the courts resolve the issues.

Opponents say the law will lead to racial profiling and is trumped by federal immigration law.

This news story made the rounds of the Faith in Public Life office this afternoon and we all breathed a big sigh of relief--- relief for a short moment anyway. Then we turned back to the work we are doing this week to continue to protest Arizona's SB1070 and laws like it.

Not two hours after the news of the judge's decision to block the more heinous portions of SB1070, Rev. Trine Zelle of Arizona Interfaith Alliance for Worker Justice reminded us in a phone conference that in actuality, SB1070 has been enforced since its passage April 23. It is merely the next in a long line of policies (she named NAFTA and the USAmerican government's funneling of immigrants through the desert in Arizona in particular) that ultimately "tighten the noose" around the immigrant community, dehumanizing them by forcing them to live in paralyzing fear.

This is why we so need comprehensive immigration reform over the misguided and racist "solution" presented by SB1070. Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, said on the phone call today, "Our public policy ought to represent our most humane values not our narrowest fears. This is a struggle for America's soul. Will we operate out of fear, or out of hope? Will we retrench into racial profiling...or move forward with optimism and acceptance into a multiracial and multicultural future?"

So let us give thanks for the judge's ruling today while recognizing that this struggle for the soul of the USA is not over yet. Let us stand up to fear with hope, continuing to work for justice for all our brothers and sisters.


**To learn more about what parts of SB1070 will still go into effect tomorrow and what has been blocked, check out an article from the Arizona Daily Star here.

*This summer I am a Beatitudes Fellow at Faith in Public Life. The Beatitudes Society is a progressive Christian resource center for and network of faith leaders that offers seminarians like me internships at key national social change organizations. Faith in Public Life is one of those organizations, focusing on "advancing faith in the public square as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good," a lot of which is in making the progressive faith voice audible in the media. I believe God has called me to parish ministry, yet I felt strongly that I needed experience outside of parish ministry if I want to be an effective pastor working for a just world. I have not been disappointed with this decision.

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