Saturday, July 24, 2010

Borderline racism drives Hispanic exodus | The Australian

Borderline racism drives Hispanic exodus The Australian

The fear sweeping through the community is palpable. At St Martin's, Sunday's Spanish-language mass was followed by a crisis meeting where trainers briefed congregants on what to do if stopped by police. "Don't panic, don't pretend - plan," a flipchart reads. "I choose to remain silent," the class parrots back in heavily accented English. "I want to see a lawyer."

From their pews, the congregants speak of the fear and vigilantism springing up ahead of the law. Children are bullied in school, facing calls of "go home, dirty Mexican". Rent supervisers are extorting money from tenants under threat of being reported; wages are being withheld by unscrupulous employers. "Racial profiling has become the official policy of the state of Arizona," said Connie Andersen, a co-ordinator for the Valley Interfaith project. She believes the law is aimed at distracting voters from the real issue: that Arizona is bankrupt. It tolerated illegal immigrants while their labour fuelled its boom; now it has turned on them.

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