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Minnesota Republicans introduce Arizona-like bill in legislature

By Brad Sigal |
May 7, 2010
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Protesters denounce SB1070 at May 1 march in Minneapolis
Protesters denounce SB1070 at May 1 march in Minneapolis (Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco)

St. Paul, MN - On May 6, Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Wabasha) introduced a bill in the Minnesota House of Representatives that would bring Arizona's new racist anti-immigrant law SB 1070 to Minnesota. This comes on the heels of Minnesota Republican Gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer saying he thinks Arizona's racist law is "wonderful".

Rep. Drazkowski's Minnesota bill imitates the Arizona law which institutionalizes racial profiling, by mandating local police to check proof of citizenship of anyone they encounter who they think might be undocumented. So in Arizona, anyone who the police might think looks Latino must now carry their identity documents with them at all times or be immediately suspect and subject to police harassment and arrest. Many people have compared Arizona's new law to the Pass Laws in South Africa under apartheid. Those laws required Black South Africans to carry their pass books with them whenever they left their ‘designated’ areas. If they didn't produce a pass, they were subject to immediate arrest. There are also many comparisons to the Jim Crow segregation laws in the U.S. South.

Arizona's Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, the most extreme anti-immigrant legislation in the country, into law in Arizona on April 23, provoking large protests in Arizona, outrage around the country, and a growing boycott of Arizona until the law is repealed. This year's May 1 demonstrations around the country, coming just a week after SB 1070 was signed, were notably larger than recent years, with a central message being a sharp rejection of SB 1070. Showing the depth of the movement, in an unprecedented action the National Basketball Association (NBA) team from Arizona, the Phoenix Suns, made a strong political statement as a team against SB 1070 by changing their jerseys to read "Los Suns" in solidarity with Latinos in the state in their opening playoff game. Before the game they held a press conference to explain this bold anti-racist action against their own state government.

In respose to Rep. Drazkowski trying to copy the Arizona bill in Minnesota, local immigrant rights leader Francisco Segovia said, "Martin Luther King said that he had a dream, and when we see these congresspeople in Minnesota doing this, here it's not going to be a dream but a nightmare, a nightmare directly against the spirit of Martin Luther King. In Minnesota we won't rest or allow this archaic thinking to get established here. Millions of Minnesotans don't share this racial way of thinking. We're going to get out in the streets to protest, and if they pass a bill like that here there will be boycotts, like there are against Arizona right now. We won't allow these congresspeople to turn Minnesota into a 21st century apartheid state. We call on everyone in Minnesota to speak out against this."

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