Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
General President Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr.
On the signing of Arizona Immigration Bill
Friday, April 23, 2010
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer today signed a new bill into law, considered to be among the toughest and harshest legislation in the nation. It is legislation that is likely to do more harm to people than help or protect them. The law orders immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and gives police broad powers to detain, and requires police to question, people if there is reason to suspect they are in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transport them.
It is clear that this law will foster racial profiling, and discrimination. Most police officers do not have enough training to look past race while investigating a person’s legal status. Who would think that America, in 2010, would resemble Cold War-era Russia or World War II-era Nazi Germany; where Jews and other ethnic minorities had to “carry papers” and feared being picked up by police “just because?”
Since 1906, members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the world’s first integrated fraternity of college-educated men from “all walks of life,” have been fighting for equality and justice to improve the human condition in America and around the world. We believe in peace and freedom--for all people. It matters not what color a person’s skin is, who their parents are, or what station in life from which they evolve. America’s greatness has always been her openness to others. It is here that the world flocks to realize dreams beyond one’s imagination.
New York poet Emma Lazarus said it best about our country with her words that are engraved at the pedestal of our Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
How ironic that we find ourselves in the midst of this issue, this battle at this time. It was a mere, 47 years ago, this very month that our late Alpha brother the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, in a letter he wrote while sitting in the Birmingham Jail, that “injustice anywhere, is a threat to injustice everywhere.”
Thousands of Alpha men will gather in Phoenix for our 104th Anniversary Convention this summer. We had hoped that upon our arrival--with our hearts, our minds and our dollars--Arizona would be a place that welcomed all people. Today’s action puts that hope in doubt. Will our Hispanic brothers be stopped and questioned, and detained because they “look” suspicious?
The world is watching America, and today Arizona should have acted bravely, and morally.