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Immigration and race topic of event in Phoenix

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Dr. Cornel West, professor of African American studies at Princeton, spoke Saturday at North High School in Phoenix as part of a panel discussion on the historical roots of the immigration legislation, racial justice and human rights. Over nine hundred people gathered for the event which was sponsored by Puente Arizona and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

According to the Arizona Republic, West chastised what he sees as white supremacy that has “kept people stigmatized” with too much greed and revenge, attitudes that have hurt people of color. He stated that SB1070 was hurting “our brown brothers and sisters.”

That is quite a sweeping statement; one that intimates that all Latino people are against SB1070, which is simply not true. According to NPR, “twelve percent of second-generation Latino voters in the state say they support S.B. 1070, according to a recent Latino Decisions poll. That jumps to nearly 30 percent in the fourth generation.”

In an interview with NPR, Jesse Hernandez, a second-generation Mexican-American and a product of Arizona’s public housing said, “I just don't like the fact that they're going to say that an American Latino has the same concerns as a Latino from Mexico. No, we don't." Regarding illegal immigrants Hernandez said, his Mexican-born parents came to the U.S. after years of waiting at the border to secure papers. He says illegal immigrants need to get in line, just like they did.

Claiming that SB1070 is about race rather than the rule of law may make for a better sound bite but it does not make it true. The truth is that a significant number, 57%, of Americans support SB1070; not from a racist standpoint but from a belief that this country’s laws should apply to everyone, equally.

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