Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sheriff Dupnik Toes The Line of Bigotry

In contrast to Sheriff "Concentration Camp" Arpaio in Phoenix, I generally agree with the stance of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's view of the role of local law enforcement and immigration: he doesn't support it.

Immigration is a federal issue in his mind, as it should be; however, remarks he made in light of an appearance before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs last week are unacceptable. After suggesting that legal challenges should be advanced in order to allow immigration checks at schools, Dupnik talked trash about Tucson's southside area, which is predominately latino:

He pointed specifically to the Sunnyside School District where he said as much as 40 percent of the students are illegal immigrants while citing unnamed sources.

Failing schools, high dropout rates and gang affiliation seem to be high in those areas, Dupnik said.

"Sunnyside is I think the area where the problem is most acute," he said.

Tucson Citizen

I'm sick of gringo politicians denigrating the "Mexican" areas of my city. Negative associations slip off the tongue without hesitation because the cultura of barrios are different than some pseudo-preferred, assimilated neighborhood that charges their residents monthly fees to make sure that uniformity and conformity are maintained. Or else.

Sunnyside may have high drop out rates, and yes, there are gangs that operate there, but what makes it an easy target to get support for ridiculous policies like school-based checks of citizenship is the prevalence of latinos living there. Nevermind that drop outs, crime and gang activity are widespread everywhere.

In fact, according to Tucson Police Department's 2007 Crime Density Report, the Oracle Road corridor between Prince and Grant had the highest rate of incidents. Here is the .pdf version overlaying a map of the city. The southside doesn't stand out in any way, you'll notice.

Sheriff Dupnik should apologize to the Sunnyside Unified School District and the residents of southside neighborhoods. As a law enforcement leader in the community, his job is to build the trust of the people so that we can all work collectively as a society to bring about safer schools and barrios, not to snicker down at "them", especially when the facts don't back up his absurd remarks about the safety of certain neighborhoods.

It's all institutionalized bigotry and I'm sick of it. Even worse, suggesting that citizenship sweeps be conducted at our schools is definitely one of those things that would completely unwravel that trust system and erode any political support Sheriff Dupnik once received from southside communities. Unacceptable.

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