When people from other parts of the country see New Mexico and Arizona on a map, they see two square states and imagine a land of deserts and mountains. They likely see our two states as very similar.
But when it comes to politics, the two states are quite different. Thankfully.
In recent weeks, Arizona has passed a law requiring police officers to ask for papers from those they are suspicious of being illegal immigrants. For starters, this will scare undocumented people from reporting crimes and coming forward as witnesses. But it will also give a green light to racially profiling Hispanics. It’s not right to harass law-abiding American citizens.
Arizona has also enacted a law that will prohibit ethnic studies programs. This bill was specifically targeted at a Chicano studies program in the Tucson schools. Let’s face it: Mainstream history courses often miss the perspective of Hispanic Americans, African Americans and Native Americans. That’s why ethnic studies are so important.
Additionally, the Grand Canyon State’s education department is trying to get rid of all English teachers with heavy accents. Obviously, this effort isn’t targeted toward those with a Texas drawl; it’s intended for Hispanics. Can’t people be qualified to teach English but also have accents? Of course, they can.
The latest anti-Hispanic efforts are largely the work of right-wing Republicans, preying upon people’s worst feelings.
Make no mistake about it: You wouldn’t see this happen in New Mexico. We’re not perfect, but we don’t see the hatred prevalent in politics in Arizona and, for that matter, California. We are more laid-back and more comfortable with who we are.
Even Republicans in New Mexico avoid such offensive measures. Our last GOP governor, Gary Johnson, has told the media he wouldn’t have signed the bill targeting immigrants. The current Republican candidates for governor have credited their Arizona counterparts for the recent legislation, but they’re vying for the extreme tea-party contingent. Once the general election rolls around, the winning GOP candidate will almost certainly tame his or her anti-immigrant rhetoric. That’s because in New Mexico, we won’t stand for it.
To be sure, most of us get tired of the political shenanigans in Santa Fe. But it’s reassuring that no serious leader in our state spends his or her time trying to divide people by race or ethnicity. It just doesn’t work in the Land of Enchantment.