Dear Governor Brewer,
We are students from Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon protesting SB 1070 or better known as the, “Show-Your-Papers” law. In response to you signing the law, we organized a “Do I Look Illegal?” day at our school in which we handed out 200 stickers that asked the question, “Do I look illegal?”, collected 150 signatures for the Legalize Arizona petition and took a photo petition with 50 students and teachers in front of the school behind the “Do I look illegal?” banner along with multiple social studies teachers discussing the issue with their students the same day on May 6th.
While we agree that illegal immigration is a problem that needs to be addressed, we do not believe that this bill is the way to do it. It breaches Arizonians’ constitutional rights, and needs to be reversed immediately. While the bill may not specifically say that police must determine someone as an illegal immigrant by racial profiling, it alludes to it in section E of the bill:
“A law enforcement, without a warrant, may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed any public offense that makes a person removable from the United States.”
The question we’ve raised on May 6th is how does a police officer ask someone for their papers without racial profiling? Illegal immigrants tend to have accents and do not look like the average American. But then again, so do legal immigrants from other countries. Now second and even third generation American citizens feel compelled to carry their papers every time they leave their house. One 13-year old boy born in the US, told reporters that he can no longer walk around happily in the streets. This single law has turned Arizona into the most anti-immigrant state in the US.
I also want to add a personal note to this. As the leader of the Political Club and Mercy Corps chapter at Lincoln, I facilitated this “Do I Look Illegal?” day at Lincoln. The analogy I gave to students who dropped by our table and said, “You know, this isn’t too bad. If you’re not illegal you’ve got nothing to worry about. You show your papers, and that’s that.” Is that, as an American with an Iranian dual citizenship, I am subjected to profiling at the airport. I know that every time I go the airport, I have to be extra careful of what I say, and what I carry, more so than others. It’s a stressful environment. Now, I tell them, imagine having to live like that every single day in your own country.
We encourage that you, Governor Brewer, reverse this license to racial profiling immediately, and instead, solve illegal immigration effectively by taking different approaches—Such as putting stricter laws and punishments on employers who hire illegal immigrants knowingly, create more temporary work permits, and create a pathway for citizenship for people who have shown they deserve to stay in this country.
So the last question we will leave you with today, is: do we look illegal too?
The students of Lincoln High School