While many of us were celebrating 311 years of the Khalsa at Sikh Day Parades and Nagar Kirtans this weekend, thousands of immigrants and their allies gathered in Phoenix, Arizona on Sunday to protest what is being called the most anti-immigrant legislation in the United States, Senate Bill1070. Signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23rd, this measure allows local law enforcement authorities to question individuals based solely upon the suspicion that they may be undocumented.
According to the New York Times, “The law…would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.”
President Obama stated that the law threatens “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”
While activists nationally have been tirelessly working to push forward comprehensive immigration reform to fix a very broken immigration system, this law is a huge setback that undermines the most basic human rights and blatantly encourages racial profiling. Many South Asian and Sikh organizations in the U.S. have been active in the movement for just immigration reform. Without a doubt, immigration reform is a desi issue and a Sikh issue.
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a prominent national organization, just issued a statement opposing the Arizona law. It states, “The new Arizona law…underscores the need for immigration reform and anti-profiling policies. In the absence of federal measures, state and local governments are implementing their own immigration enforcement policies that result in profiling, undermine trust between communities and police, and diminish public safety. SAALT calls upon policymakers to oppose the Arizona law, and to enact policies that respect fundamental civil rights.”
While we celebrate this Vaisakhi season, let’s keep the Khalsa mission of fighting against injustice in all its forms at the forefront. Our sisters and brothers in Arizona need us. The 12 million undocumented immigrants around the country living in the shadows need us.
Here are some tips from SAALT about what we can do:
- Contact Arizona Governor Jan Brewer with the following message: “I am deeply disappointed that you have signed SB 1070. This law promotes discrimination and profiling by legitimizing suspicion based upon appearance. I ask that this law be rescinded immediately.” Her office can be reached at (602) 542-4331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.