Immigration Utah: The Fight Continues

Immigrants take a stand at the State Capitol after Sandstrom presents his bill. Agustin Diaz/UVU Review

Could a Spanish-speaking man who cannot speak correct Spanish be a terrorist? Ginger Dixon seems to think so.

Dixon was at the presentation of Sandstrom’s immigration bill to a legislative committee on August 18. After Sandstrom presented his bill and discussion for comments was open, Dixon spoke and described once encountering an individual who she believed was a terrorist who came through Mexico. She told the committee that she came to this conclusion because “the man could not speak correct Spanish.”

What didn’t settle well with the campus Latin American Club in attendance was that Dixon also told the committee she barely spoke and understood Spanish herself.

It would be a nice fact for Dixon to know that not all Latin Americans speak Spanish. Plenty are the natives who cross the border (both legally and illegally) and speak their Indigenous language primarily and barely speak Spanish.

Club members Betty Ruiz and Juan Anzar came to the uncomfortable realization, having been present since 9 a.m., even listening to a few bills before the draft on immigration, that there was a long line of support for Sandstrom and hardly anyone seemed opposed.

Questions were, however, asked about the numbers Sandstrom threw in about crime and identity fraud. When asked what percentage of these numbers were actually illegal immigrants, he replied that he did not know.

Arturo Morales also spoke in support of Sandstrom’s bill. Morales is a local and legal Latino with his own real estate business. He came to the U.S. on a student visa then married an American and gained his citizenship. Morales has strong anti-immigrant beliefs and stressed, “Illegal immigrants should beware because they will be found.”

Ruiz and Anzar put their heads down in disappointment as Morales sought to continue an emotional disconnect to the humanity of Latinos.

“He is a very biased man,” Ruiz said afterwards. “He has a very upper class point of view since it’s obviously not about race and often anyone part of that class isn’t going to be sympathetic towards the people we’re trying to help.”

Furthermore, Ruiz and Anzar were puzzled when Morales declared, “Nevertheless, all are welcome to this country.” The contradiction was killing them.

Another question was asked about the criteria of reasonable suspicion by which illegal immigrants would be identified. Sandstrom mentioned drugs as an indication and he also included speaking proper English as another.

It can take years, maybe even a decade, to learn a decent amount of proper English – the kind of English that carries cultural connotations of the well-educated individual – and that’s only an opportunity that the wealthy can afford. Therefore, even legal citizens are no different because most Americans are far from this standard of proper English, so unless we begin questioning all U.S. citizens for their documentation as well, speaking proper English is a poor universal indicator of citizenship.

Sandstrom’s immigration bill is a racist draft of legislation. Its creation would only lead to more anti-Hispanic sentiment that seems to grow every week nationwide. The list of 1300 in Utah, the constant attempt to eradicate the 14th Amendment, and Arizona’s cleansing of ethnic studies are only a few examples of what’s happening with anti-Latino attitudes.

Maybe it’s time that we forego Lazarus’s poem at the Statue of Liberty or even change what’s written: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.”

1 thought on “Immigration Utah: The Fight Continues

  1. Immigration policy in this country is ridiculous–I think that’s fueling some of the hatred–but I’ve noticed the anti-immigrant rhetoric ratcheting up as the economy has tanked. That’s probably human nature, but it’s sad to watch.

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