E Pluribus Unum in Arizona and University City

| Staff Columnist

In a heterogeneous society, a fear of the other causes tremendous problems; we should embrace people different from ourselves to make our communities the best they can be. Our national seal displays the Latin phrase E Plurbius Unum meaning “Out of Many, One.” This short phrase exemplifies the concept of America as a melting pot.  People from all over the world with different cultures have come together to form one diverse but fairly united country.

A recent bill passed by the Arizona legislature represents a rejection of this fundamental American principle. Since Republican Jan Brewer’s signature of approval made this bill into law, police in Arizona are now required to stop any individual they reasonably suspect of being an illegal immigrant. If those stopped by police cannot produce an Arizona driver’s license or other form of acceptable identification, they can be arrested.

This law shows a great level of general distrust. Arizona considers individuals to be illegal immigrants if they lack proof of legal residence. They are an “other” unless proven to be one of “us.” In Arizona this type of monitoring of the “other” goes even further: individuals can legally be harassed and arrested if they do not have proper identification on them when stopped by police

Supporters of the legislation say the new law protects citizens from illegal immigrants. While this law may help police find illegal immigrants, the requirement to check for identification institutionalizes profiling. As a result, police will racially profile and question Hispanics, but any person that does not “fit” could be stopped.  Furthermore, any person without identification  would be arrested. According to the law’s opponents like the Democratic Mayor of Phoenix, Phil Gordon, children or seniors without identification and non-Arizonians with licenses from other states could all be arrested.

This new law discriminating against the other bares resemblance to the new University City zero-tolerance policy towards noise.  Violations of this policy have led to several student citations and arrests. While supporters of both policies may say they help maintain law and order, they clearly lead to discrimination.

Both issues could be mended by remembering E Pluribus Unum which encourages the blending of many diverse people into one group. In Arizona, xenophobia should be abandoned with the realization that the new community members are here to stay. Immigrants, legal or illegal, seek to contribute to society.  They have embraced American culture and mythology in pursuit of a better life for themselves and for their children. Their success contributes to the betterment of the state.

The issue in University City is complex, but could also benefit from a renewed sense of community. The permanent residences of University City should accept students who live in their community. These students are often active community members who creative positive change: volunteering in schools, supporting University City business, and participating in civic life by sitting on juries and voting. These things must be done on the side of the permanent residents, but a bigger deed must be done by these student residents: they must realize they are residents of University City and treat their new community and neighbors with respect and dignity. Loud, late night partying may seem like a fun idea, but when this rowdiness disturbs sleeping neighbors, it shows disregard for others. Both the students and permanent residents of University City must look at each other as partners in the community, embodying the American principle of E Pluribus Unum and coming together to improve their neighborhood.

Daniel Fishman is a junior in Arts and Sciences. He can be reached via email at [email protected]

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