Courage Campaign vs. Tom Campbell on AZ SD 1070


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From our friends at the Courage Campaign:

Arizona — the state that for years refused to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday as a holiday — is once again targeting people of color. Arizona’s governor just signed SB 1070, a law which allows police officers to question anyone they believe to be in the country illegally based on nothing more than ‘reasonable suspicions.’

And now this law could have a devastating impact on California as well. Republican Senate candidate Tom Campbell — who could face Sen. Barbara Boxer in November’s election — just came out in support of this draconian new law that turns Arizona into a police state.

It’s time for us to stand together and tell Campbell we won’t accept his enabling of bigotry through racial profiling. Sign the Courage Campaign and the California Federation of Teachers letter to Tom Campbell and tell him you won’t let him take California down the dark path of racism that Arizona has followed.

Dear Tom Campbell–

Arizona has taken a step back into the dark ages of legalized discrimination with the signing of SB 1070. Already US citizens of Latino heritage from California have been targeted by Arizona police just because of the color of their skin, and arrested because they didn’t have a birth certificate on them.

We stand united against the Arizona law, and are outraged that you support it. We need fair and just solutions to the immigration issue, not punitive laws that use racism to take away the rights of others.

We call on you to join us in opposing Arizona’s bigoted law, and ask you to pledge you will never bring that law to California.

[read Campbell’s response, and Courage Campaign’s response back, over the flip!]

Campbell’s May 1 response

Dear Reverend Lee and Mr. Jacobs,

Neither of you tried to contact me prior to your mass emailing, warning that recipients should

“Tell Campbell you won’t let him take California down the dark path of racism that Arizona has followed.”

Had you contacted me, I would have urged you not to fan the flames of this controversy, as you have chosen to do. Your language is inflammatory in the highest degree.

We are all bound by the same federal laws. No state or city has the right to exclude itself from the application of federal law. And if a state wishes to ask its law enforcement agents to help enforce federal law, I don’t see how we can object. After all, the federal government has done a terrible job of enforcing the laws against illegal immigration.

Under Arizona’s law, and under the Constitution as interpreted by Chief Justice Earl Warren in Terry v. Ohio, in 1968, police officers have the right to ask individuals when they have reasonable grounds for suspicion of a law violation. Racial profiling does not constitute reasonable grounds. That was always clear in the new law; but changes adopted yesterday by Arizona make it even more clear. Another change makes even clearer the intent of the original law, that the stop must be for violation of other laws, such as a moving violation in traffic.

Californians, especially, ought to watch the experience of our neighbor state before rushing to condemn it. Like Arizona, California, too, has been burdened by the federal government’s unwillingness to enforce existing laws, and our nation’s sovereignty. “Sanctuary cities,” setting themselves up as immune to federal law, are no more legal than the efforts of “nullification” of federal law tried by southern states before our country’s civil war. And when the federal government fails to enforce the law, it is us, the citizens of the border states, who pay the price. We ought to be free, therefore, to take steps to assist federal enforcement of our nation’s sovereignty, and its borders.

Sincerely,

Tom Campbell

The Courage Campaign’s May 5 response,
co-signed by Rev. Eric Lee of the SCLC, and CFT’s Kenneth Burt

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dear Mr. Campbell,

Thank you for your recent e-mail about our campaign to hold you accountable for your support of Arizona’s SB 1070.

We generally agree with your premise that inaction at the federal level has been the catalyst for a host of costly local and state actions on the issue of immigration. While we may not agree with you on the specifics of Arizona’s SB 1070 and California “sanctuary cities,” we can surely agree that both policies were the result of failures at the federal level.

After reflecting on the fact that you had 10 years and either a Republican President or Republican Congress with which to fix this growing problem, we decided to give you the benefit of the doubt and research the matter further.

What we found is that in your ten years in Congress, you did not produce comprehensive immigration reform. By failing to lead on this vitally important economic and national security issue, you were part of the problem.

In fact, you’ve flip-flopped on the issue. In the 1990s you made a series of progressive votes on immigration bills, but now you support Arizona’s law.

It seems to us you’re trying to use your own failures as an excuse to lend your name and credentials to an indefensible law, while pandering to extremist elements with hopes that it will help you win an election. But facts, and your own record of outright failure to lead on the issue of immigration, speak much louder than election year pandering.

So now we are calling on you, formally, to apologize to the people of California and America for abdicating your responsibility to fix our immigration system when you had the chance.

As for SB 1070, you also suggested in your email that “Californians ought to watch the experience of our neighbor state before rushing to condemn it.” It seems to us that Californians unfortunately have a lot of experience with using immigration status as a basis for racial discrimination. We know the division and pain it causes, and therefore have a strong basis to condemn Arizona. That’s why a growing number of Californians, including faith leaders, are calling for Arizona to repeal its law.

You also view the application of legal authority by law enforcement officers from a perspective of privilege. African Americans across the nation, and now Latinos in Arizona, have been victims of documented racial profiling for decades. “Reasonable suspicion” allows for police officers to subjectively determine whether to pull-over or stop a “suspect”. This law is similar to the law enforcement policy that allows police to shoot if they “feel in danger”. This is nothing more than “shoot first, ask questions later”. Already Californians are being targeted by Arizona authorities — just two weeks ago a U.S. citizen from Fresno with dark skin was pulled over and arrested by Arizona police for not having his birth certificate on him.

Ultimately, we believe that comprehensive immigration reform — not unlike the bi-partisan measure that was proposed by John McCain and the late Senator Edward Kennedy back in 2007 — would fix the system. Instead of supporting an end to federal failures on this issue, you instead advocate a hateful law that many in Arizona law enforcement, including the Pima County Sheriff, oppose as being unenforceable and a drain on their already strained resources.

California deserves leadership that will deliver results when it comes to solving tough problems like our broken immigration system.

Your past failures and your recent efforts to trumpet divisive policies and hateful election year rhetoric show that you are not up to that test.

Again, we believe you owe the people of California an apology.

Sincerely,
Rick Jacobs, Chair, Courage Campaign

Rev. Eric Lee, California State President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Kenneth Burt, Political Director, California Federation of Teachers


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.