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ND Expert: Arizona Immigration Law Fuels Misconception That All Latinos Illegal

Author: Shannon Chapla

Allert Brown-Gort

Allert Brown-Gort, associate director of the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, is critical of Arizona’s immigration law that goes into effect next month. The law requires an officer to determine a person’s immigration status if he/she is stopped, detained, or arrested and there is “reasonable suspicion” that person is in the U.S. illegally.

“The law adds fuel to the popular belief that ‘Latino-equals-immigrant-equals-illegal,’” Brown-Gort says. “This means that apart from any issues with law enforcement, any Latino is already guilty of all the ills that have long been attached to immigrants. In a country where more than two-thirds of Latinos are citizens and more than half are native-born, we should not be surprised when people do not appreciate being questioned about their right to live in their country, to belong to a society they have helped to prosper, or to have their history erased. In that sense, the issue of undocumented migration affects all Latinos directly.”

However, Brown-Gort says the Arizona law may end up benefitting Latinos in the long run.

“A reaction to this law and similar laws will likely result in increased civic participation of Latinos and cooperation from among all national origin groups, and will encourage Latino youths to vote,” Brown-Gort says. “For those who see Arizona-style laws as the mechanism to stop the growth of Latino political power, the end results might be surprising.”

Brown-Gort is a citizen of both the United States and Mexico, an expert on immigration policy, civil service reform, and the political views of Mexican nationals in the United States. In addition to writing numerous op-ed pieces on immigration and being interviewed on NPR, CBS News and the Lehrer Newshour, among others, he has served as an advisor to the U.S. Senate on Hispanic issues.

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