Profile in Prejudice

National Affairs: Arizona's SB 1070 is an embarrassing piece of discriminatory legislation; Berkeley should participate in the boycott.

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Yesterday, scores of students could be found detained at the heart of campus, near Sather Gate. While these students were just part of a protest, once Arizona's SB 1070 law takes effect, that demonstration could very well represent the new reality.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill last week, as part of an effort to enforce federal immigration laws and crack down on illegal immigration.

However, a provision to empower law officers to demand a person's documents based solely on the "reasonable suspicion that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S." clearly opens the door to racial profiling. This component, in particular, has sparked outrage across the country, including strong disapproval from President Obama.

This widespread anger is completely justified, and we are embarrassed that such an offensive law was even considered. This doesn't just affect the people in Arizona and doesn't just affect those who might be perceived as immigrants. It's an affront to the civil rights we all cherish, and should be repealed.

In California, the opposition has been rightfully strong. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has barred city employees from official travel to Arizona with few exceptions. And both the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council, among several other cities, are leading the charge for a boycott of the state.

Berkeley, oftentimes at the forefront of social justice issues, should certainly join the boycott effort. And we call on city leaders and Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to publicly express their opposition to SB 1070.

There may not be much we can do to change the laws of other states, but we cannot let such an outrage stand without making a statement and voicing our opposition.

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