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Obama Should Deploy Arizona’s National Guard To Defend Immigrants and Latinos

Jill Garvey • May 25, 2010

Word on the street is the Obama Administration is dispatching National Guard troops to the Southwest border to beef up immigration enforcement.

Here’s a better idea, rather than using troops to protect the border, let them instead protect those who are truly vulnerable: immigrants and Latinos in Arizona.

Indeed, Obama should dispatch troops to the Southern border, but also to Phoenix and while he’s at it, put the Arizona National Guard under federal command.

Much like Arkansas’ Governor Faubus in 1957, Arizona’s Gov. Brewer has made grievous mistakes in recent months. Mistakes that have left Arizona’s residents vulnerable and in need of protection. President Eisenhower had the good sense to take action when racist activity endangered lives and bigotry stood in the way of democracy. Like Eisenhower, President Obama has a choice, enable an accelerating, vitriolic atmosphere in Arizona or take a stand against it.

Until racist Senate Bill 1070 is repealed, until teachers with accents are not targeted, until students are free to study ethnicity, until violent vigilante groups are reigned in, then Arizona’s National Guard should provide federal protection.

This would help prevent further violence against Latinos, like the kind that claimed the lives of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father at the hands of border vigilantes.

Although, even instituting federal law will not be enough to stop Gov. Brewer and the powerful organized racism that stands behind her. State Sen. Russell Pearce, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the leaders of the anti-immigrant John Tanton Network, and various border vigilante and white power groups don’t care about Arizona’s well-being. Gov. Faubus thought nothing of shutting down high schools in Little Rock to stop integration and these people seem willing to burn down Arizona economically and culturally to decimate multiracial communities.

In case President Obama has forgotten, this is about civil rights, not national security. Federal troops standing guard against anti-immigrant bullying will serve as a warning to other States - the nation will not stand for individual States dismantling and treading upon the Constitutional rights of its citizens.

50 years ago in Little Rock, violence was driven by race. Today, in Arizona, it still is. 50 years ago the President of the United States took action to protect those targeted by violent hatred.

Today’s President can too.

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