Evoking history’s most shameful instances of discrimination, local lawmakers on Thursday angrily denounced Arizona’s new crackdown on illegal immigrants as “un-American” and pledged that New York would never entertain similar legislation.
“It is designed to strike fear in the hearts of immigrants in Arizona,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said Thursday at City Hall, surrounded by immigrant rights groups. “It strikes against everything the founders of this country had in mind.”
Arizona’s law — set to go into effect this summer and requiring its police to demand documentation from suspected illegal immigrants — unjustly profiles Hispanics and could inspire copycat proposals in other states, protesters argued. They demanded boycotting many things Arizona until the law is repealed.
Quinn said she supports an economic boycott of Arizona, playfully adding that she’d make an exception for those who traveled there to protest. State Assemb. Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan) similarly urged MLB players to boycott the All-Star game set for next year in Phoenix.
“Go all the way,” said New Yorker and baseball fan Nelson Guzman, 55, of boycotting tactics. “This is not what the United States of America stands for. It’s going back to the McCarthy era.”
Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have countered that the law will secure borders and can be enforced without racial profiling.
Meanwhile, New York leaders on Thursday said Arizona’s legislation recalls Jim Crow segregation laws, gay persecution around the Stonewall riots, South African apartheid and even Nazi Germany. The City Council on Thursday announced a resolution formally slamming the legislation.
“Arizona has troubled the waters,” said Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James.
The outrage in Gotham over the Arizona law is not surprising, given that 36 percent of the city’s 8.3 million residents are foreign-born. In Arizona, only about 14 percent were born outside the U.S.
In a show of numbers, tens of thousands are expected Saturday at May Day rallies — traditionally held for pro-immigrant causes — to show disapproval over the new law, and the Rev. Al Sharpton last week riled up “freedom walkers” for a civil disobedience protest in Arizona.
The anti-immigrant sentiment “can transcend borders,” said Danny Bowens, 47, of Brooklyn, who added that he has experienced racial profiling as a black man. “It can spread like a cancer if you don’t eradicate it right away.”
Mexican immigrant Elizabeth Bernabe, 21, of Staten Island, said what hurts Mexicans in Arizona hurts Mexicans here. “Arizona and New York are brothers,” she said.