BBC journalist Greg Palast has written a new article for TruthOut suggesting that perhaps the real reason for the insane-o “Papieren, bitte” (that’s “Papers, please” to you non-Nazis) law in Arizona is not actually about illegal immigration, so much as it is about voter suppression of LEGAL Hispanic residents.
If past trends in that state are any indicator, he may not be far off the mark. He writes:
What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote — and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.
In 2008, working for Rolling Stone with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters … directed by one Jan Brewer.
Brewer, then Secretary of State, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer’s command, no less than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanics, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.
That statistic caught my attention. Voting or registering to vote if you’re not a citizen is a felony, a big-time jail-time crime. And arresting such criminal voters is easy: after all, they give their names and addresses.
So I asked Brewer’s office, had she busted a single one of these thousands of allegedly illegal voters? Did she turn over even one name to the feds for prosecution?
No, not one.
Which raises the question: were these disenfranchised voters the criminal, non-citizens Brewer tagged them, or just not-quite-white voters given the José Crow treatment, entrapped in document-chase trickery?
The answer was provided by a federal prosecutor who was sent on a crazy hunt all over the Western mesas looking for these illegal voters. “We took over 100 complaints, we investigated for almost 2 years, I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case.”
This prosecutor, David Iglesias, is a prosecutor no more. When he refused to fabricate charges of illegal voting among immigrants, his firing was personally ordered by the President of the United States, George W. Bush, under orders from his boss, Karl Rove.
[More at TruthOut]
In 2004 alone there were 3.7 million people under the age of 30 who registered as new Democrats, whereas only 1.2 million new voters registered as Republicans. This trend does not speak well of the GOP’s future, so it is reasonable to ask, what is the real motivator behind this new law? Why would a bunch of corporatists, who frankly PROFIT off of having what amounts to a cheap labor force at their disposal, care whether illegals walk our streets or not?
There clearly is racism at play here, but the only way political party hacks like the Governor of Arizona get behind anything, is if it keeps them in power. They don’t really CARE what the excuse is.
Palast has been keeping a good eye on this for some time, and he noted as far back as 2004 that there were weird going’s on with respect to not just brown people’s votes in Arizona, but with the red man’s as well in places like New Mexico.
You can read about that in his article at TomPaine.com:
“If the vote is stolen here, it will be stolen in Rio Arriba County,” a New Mexico politician told me. That’s a reasoned surmise: in 2000, one in 10 votes simply weren’t counted—chucked out, erased, discarded. In the voting biz, the technical term for these vanishing votes is “spoilage.” Citizens cast ballots, but the machines don’t notice. In one Rio Arriba precinct in the last go-’round, not one single vote was cast for president—or, at least, none showed up on the machines.
Not everyone’s vote spoils equally. Rio Arriba is 73 percent Hispanic. I asked nationally recognized vote statistician Dr. Philip Klinkner of Hamilton College to run a “regression” analysis of the Hispanic ballot spoilage in the Enchanted State. He calculated that a brown voter is 500 percent more likely to have their vote spoiled than a white voter. And It’s worse for Native Americans. Vote spoilage is epidemic near Indian reservations.
Indeed, it’s a bit of a long-term trend. Vote dilution/spoilage has been an ongoing struggle on the reservations. Back in the 1980’s Republican state lawmakers even attempted to create an all-Indian county through redistricting, a proposal one state senator called the “Arizona Apartheid Act.”
Back in 2004, Republicans put a referendum on the ballot called the “Protect Arizona Now” measure (Proposition 200), which would have done several things, including requiring proof of citizenship for anyone registering to vote – in other words, have police standing out in front of polling places intimidating brown-skinned Arizona citizens. Indeed the state was absolutely flooded with GOP-controlled astroturf organizations (like the Southwest Voter Registration Project, New American Freedom Summer, Truth in Action, and Moving America Forward) pushing such measures. Truth in Action even sent thugs in black t-shirts with “U.S. Constitutional Enforcement” written on the back and the image of a badge on the front to polling places to “monitor” things.
So to me at least, I think we need to ask broader questions about what is really behind this anti-illegal immigration law. Illegal immigration is a huge problem, no one’s denying that, but I think we would do well to think critically and ask ourselves just who is exploiting that fact, and for what reasons?