El Paso Times Column on SB1070

Ramón Rentería: Arizona’s immigrant law raises a ruckus

Posted: 05/02/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO — What are the blankety-blank leaders in Arizona smoking now?

Did they all get stung by an angry saguaro cactus?

Once upon a time, we zipped across the Arizona desert in the middle of the night on the way to L.A. Our tíos always said if we crossed at night, the family clunker might not overheat.

Now, people are saying that Mexicans and anybody else who looks Mexican is at risk of being racially profiled in Arizona, a former colony of Mexico. That the police may soon stop us and ask for credentials that prove we’re legal. Hijole no.

The news said the Arizona governor thumbed her nose at the United States Constitution and signed an annoying law called SB 1070, supposedly the most anti-immigrant piece of legislation passed in the United States in decades.

All the raza is up in arms, threatening boycotts and organizing protests. SB 1070 is muy caliente on television, radio talk shows and opinion pages and at dinner tables.

Even the Mexican government issued an advisory warning Mexicans visiting, residing or studying in Arizona to exercise extreme caution even though the law is not yet in effect.

Anyway, two famous Arizona homeboys — César Chávez and Apache chief Cochise — must be doing somersaults in their graves.

Sitting around the beer cooler, some of us wondered whether you might baffle Arizona profilers if you’re a blue-eyed Mexican güero from San Luis Potosí. We also couldn’t resist thinking of ways that Mexicans, Chicanos, Latinos, Hispanics,

Hispanos, Mexican-Americans and even indios can survive SB 1070.

Take a long, long detour to L.A. through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Nevada and bypass Arizona. It’s too hot, anyway.

“Vieja, forget that Grand Canyon vacation you’ve been dreaming about. We’re going to Salt Lake City — wherever that is.”

If you insist on driving through Arizona, wear a business suit, minimize the accent and ditch the sideburns, super-pointed boots and huaraches. You definitely don’t want to look like Vicente Fernandez.

If you stop in Phoenix while flying, stay in your inexpensive seat. If suspicious-looking law officers board the plane, start talking like you’re from India.

Call your tío in Tucson and tell him the family reunion this summer is going to be in Lordsburg, N.M.

Travel at night through Arizona so the cops can’t tell if you look “reasonably suspicious.” If you get stopped and detained, tell them you definitely don’t want to spend a week wearing pink underwear for that wacko in Maricopa County.

What about los indios de Arizona? They look a bit toasted like us. Just curious: To what country do you deport Native Americans?

Arizona’s state motto is “Ditat Deus” or “God Enriches.” Perhaps the governor should add another line:

“Those who embrace — not divide — people.”

Ramón Rentería may be reached at rrenteria@elpasotimes.com;546-6146.

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