As a kid growing up on the US-Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas, I was fascinated by a piece of local history about the Battle of Palmetto Hill. Considered the last battle of the Civil War, it actually took place after the War had officially ended because news of surrender had not yet reached the hinterlands. Ironically, even though the Civil War ended 145 years ago, the news has apparently still not reached all remote areas of our nation, like Arizona.
In that state, whose population is 30% Latino, the government seeks to broaden police powers to identify and apprehend undocumented immigrants, in effect legalizing racial profiling of Latinos, trampling on federal jurisdiction over immigration policy and enforcement, and undermining the ongoing efforts of the US Census to accurately count undocumented immigrants.
Just as the Civil War was largely about race and the balance of power between states and the federal government, Arizona’s bold – and reckless – move echoes an inglorious chapter from our nation’s past.