Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Blog

This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments on an issue that impacts all Americans – and the very notion of what an American is. Nine people are charged with deciding what’s more important: ascertaining an individual’s citizenship status or preserving America’s identity as a country whose immigrants have made it the greatest nation in the world.

The issue at hand is the constitutionality of Arizona’s anti-immigration bill, SB 1070. While the media has portrayed immigration reform in general —and this Arizona bill in particular— as “a Hispanic issue,” the truth is that the impacts are much more far-reaching. First, consider that nearly 14 million new immigrants came to the US between 2000 and 2010.  The number of Arabs applying for a “green card” increased by 25% between 2000 and 2007, and more than 2,300 individuals migrate to the U.S. each year from the Maghreb alone.

Around the nation, the Arab American community is growing, and the anti-immigration trend will impact us. It already is — of the states likely to be impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision on Arizona v U.S., six have some of the nation’s top concentrations of Arab Americans. One of those is Virginia, where the Arab-American population grew by nearly 40% between 2000 and 2010. In fact, the Commonwealth is one of the fastest growing Arab American population centers in the country. 

If you’ve been watching the State House, you know that Virginia lawmakers already proposed Arizona-style legislation and —thankfully— it was defeated. But experts agree that, if the Supreme Court rules that Arizona’s SB 1070 can stand, Virginia legislators will likely resurrect the issue — and this time, it’s likely to pass.

And if you’ve been watching the news, you know that the instances of racial and religious profiling directed at Arab Americans and American Muslims have grown dramatically —and alarmingly— in the last decade. Frankly, it would be naïve to think that newly-conferred immigration authority would not be used as one more means of targeting our community.

While we can’t influence the Supreme Court’s decision, you can make sure to bring up this issue the next time someone asks for your vote. Elections are just six months away, and campaigns are starting to move full-swing. Whether it’s at a fundraiser or a town hall, a meet-and-greet party or an in-face meeting at the State House, take time to ask your incumbents and their rivals what they plan to do about immigration reform if they make it to Richmond or to Capital Hill.

Let them know that immigration reform matters to you — and that you vote.

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