Dear friends and fellow Arizonans,
Arizona has had a rough time lately. The tragic shooting of January 8 is the latest in a long line of challenges the state has faced over the last few years. As Arizona residents, all of us here have felt the stress of these challenges. We empathize with those who have felt the pain of recent events directly.
We are here today to state that we are proud to live in Arizona, and to ask our state’s lawmakers to seize the silver lining in these tragic events.
Calls for greater civility in politics have gone out across the nation as a result of the tragic shooting in Tucson. President Obama, Governor Brewer, Senator McCain, and others all called for “a more civil and honest public discourse” at the memorial for the fallen just last week.
In the spirit of a new civility, the broad coalition of organizations here today call on the Arizona state legislature to pledge a one-year moratorium on:
- Any federal or state legislation to deny birthright citizenship to children born to undocumented migrants,
- Any state legislation to obstruct children's access to public education if they or their parents are undocumented,
- And any other bills detrimental to Arizona families who may have undocumented members among them.
The organizations calling for this moratorium include [see attached list].
Arizonans know that undocumented people make great contributions to our state. While only 7 percent of our population, they make up 12 percent of the workforce, sustaining the construction, agriculture, landscaping, and hotel and restaurant industries, among others. We know that migrants come to Arizona for the simple reason of making a better life for themselves and their families in an increasingly global economy.
Arizonans also know that many of the awful things some our politicians say about undocumented residents are simply not true. We know, for example, that they are not a class of criminals. The crime rate for undocumented Arizonans is no larger than it is for documented ones, and in fact is a little lower. We know that they are not terrorists. There is not one verified case of a convicted terrorist who crossed the Arizona border illegally. We know that they are not stealing public services. The average undocumented person in the U.S. contributes $80,000 more in taxes in her lifetime than she receives in services. We know that they are not sneaking across the border just to give birth. The term “anchor baby” is inaccurate and uncivil. We know that they would come here legally if they could, but the immigration system—which is a tangle of unjust bureaucracy—prevents it.
And we know that they are not here to undermine American freedom. Frankly, the proposal by some Arizona legislators to deny birthright citizenship to children born of undocumented parents is the true threat to liberty. For the guarantee of birthright citizenship in the 14th Amendment is a glorious guarantee, forged out of slavery, blood and civil war among Americans. No amount of heated political rhetoric should let us forget that. Efforts to gut the 14th amendment would create a permanent class of stateless people with no rights anywhere, similar to that of the Roma, or Gypsies, in Europe.
In these difficult times in Arizona, we are saying to the politicians here who support such laws: You have been spreading hatred and incivility. Enough. Stop.
The awful political climate has made Arizona a laughing stock and is the background behind the terrible events in Tucson last week. We call for this climate to change. As President Obama put it, “let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations … and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.”
In this spirit, the coalition of groups here today is united in calling on Arizona’s lawmakers to honor the calls for civility in politics by extending that civility to all of the residents of Arizona. Please, suspend all bills aimed at undocumented Arizonans for this legislative session, including attempts to undermine birthright citizenship, deny children public education, and otherwise harm our families here in Arizona.
There has been too much hatred, harassment, and blaming in Arizona’s politics. Today we call on Arizona’s lawmakers to restore sanity and civility to the political atmosphere of our beautiful state. We call on them to bring Arizona families together rather than drive them apart. To again quote President Obama, we ask them to live up to our children’s expectations—all of Arizona’s children. Thank you.
Organizations Participating in This Call
Phoenix Press Conference
No More Deaths (Tucson, Phoenix)
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Tierra y Libertad Organization (Tucson)
We Reject Racism Campaign (Tucson)
Arizona DREAM Act Coalition
Latino Student Union at Grand Canyon University
Reverend Liana Rowe, United Church of Christ
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix- Sun and Reverend Susan Fredrick-Grey
Flagstaff Press Conference
Northern Arizona Interfaith Council
Friends of Flagstaff's Future
No More Deaths (Flagstaff)
Progressive Democrats of Northern Arizona