‘My People Are Being Hunted’

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‘My People Are Being Hunted’ 1

P.hoenix –In 2010, after the most criminal law against immigrants in the nation was passed, the Arizona Senate Act, 1070, at a meeting of predominantly white community and business leaders, I stood up and complained angrily, “My people are being hunted.” Nobody in the room said a word, but I’m sure most of them knew it was true.

The main sponsor of this infamous “Show Us Your Papers” bill, then Senate President Russell Pearce, the self-described head of the Tea Party Republicans in Arizona, had made it clear that no matter how many immigrant families were terrorized and segregated, or how much it was Costing the state’s economy, which relied heavily on the cheap labor of undocumented immigrants, he was determined to deport as many of my immigrant brothers and sisters as possible and as quickly as possible. My wife and I are US citizens, but the insidious nature of the legislation was felt when my 7-year-old daughter tearfully asked me one evening if we were going to be arrested. I held her and assured her that this would not happen, knowing that tens of thousands of immigrant parents across the state couldn’t say the same thing.

A lot has changed in 10 years. The SB 1070 in Arizona and the Trump administration’s persecution of immigrants and refugees have sparked a wave of grassroots resistance here and across the country that has helped vote more progressives for Congress, and the Arizona likely in the November will turn blue. But for now, at least, my people are still being hunted by federal immigration and complicit local police – and now a deadly coronavirus.

At the time of this writing more than 42,000 Latinos died of Covid-19 and died at one and a half times the rate of whites, according to the COVID Tracking Project. More than 39,000 blacks have died from the coronavirus – worse, almost two and a half times as likely as whites. Latinos and blacks are hospitalized with the virus more than four and a half times more than whites, and both communities have been depressed by the economic fallout from the pandemic. When asked at press conferences in early April about the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people of color, Trump called it “terrible,” insisted that his administration “do everything in our power to meet this challenge,” and left how low it is. Unemployment rates were for blacks and Latinos before the pandemic. For the past five months, the president has been pushing for low-income Latinos to work in agriculture, restaurants, hotels, and meat-packing plants across the country.

In Maricopa County, which also includes Phoenix, around 50 percent of the 141,000+ Covid cases were among Latinos. (We make up 31 percent of the county’s population.) In Phoenix, almost every city block in our Latino neighborhoods could be littered with shrines to the sick and dead.

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