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Arizona Bans Latino Studies Program, Fueling New Immigration Fight

4 years ago
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A new immigration debate is burning in Arizona this week after the state's attorney general declared a Tucson school district's Mexican-American program illegal -- while similar class programs for blacks, Asians and American Indians were left standing.
"It's propagandizing and brainwashing that's going on there," Tom Horne, the new attorney general said earlier this week referring to the Latino program. He ruled it violated a new state law that went into effect on Jan. 1, the New York Times reported Saturday.
When he was the state's superintendent of public instruction, Horne wrote the bill challenging the program. The legislature passed it last spring, and Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law in May at a time when Arizona was mired in protests against its new anti-illegal immigration law.
The state has since been caught in a fierce immigration dispute that has cost it tourism, business with other states, and the cancellation of conventions and other gatherings by national groups. Conversely, some states mostly in the Southwest and West, support the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law and plan to establish similar measures.
Still, Arizona's law set off fiery protests in the state and in California, Washington and elsewhere. Core portions of the statute were held back and suspended by a federal court pending review in appellate courts.
Now, adding to an already combustible racial and ethnic climate in the heavily Hispanic state, 11 teachers have filed suit in federal courts challenging the new ethnic-studies law, the one that is backed by Horne.
In the Tucson school case, the state claims that the Latino program is more about creating future activists and less about education.
Horne's fight with Tucson goes back to 2007, the Times reported, when Dolores Huerta, co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers, told high school students in a speech that Republicans hated Latinos. And Horne is a Republican.
Arizona school districts may lose 10 percent of their state funds if their ethnic studies programs fail to meet new state standards. Programs that support the overthrow of the United States government are banned. Also prohibited are classes that encourage hatred or resentment toward a race, or that focus on one race, or that support ethnic solidarity instead of individuality.
Horne said that Tucson's Latino program violated all those provisions. The district has 60 days to comply with the new law, although Horne indicated that the program would be ended anyway. He said that other districts ethnic-studies programs could continue, absent any complaints.
At Tucson High Magnet School where nearly all the students enrolled in Curtis Acosta's Latino literature class were Mexican-American, students expressed anger, asking how they could protest Horne's decision.
"They wrote a state law to snuff this program out, just us little Chicanitos," Acosta told the New York Times. "The idea of losing this is emotional."
On the other side, Horne was asked if he felt he was being compared to Bull Connor, the Alabama police commissioner whose violence against blacks and other freedom fighters became the image of bigotry in the 1960s. Horne said he had joined the March on Washington in 1963, and lashed out at his critics, saying, "They are the 'Bull Connors.' They are the ones re-segregating."

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One of our Presidents made the statement that when we become a nation of Hyphenated Americans we will cease to have one national identity. This seems to be the case now. I do not consider myself a European - American,,,, just simply an American. More should do so. Whatever your heritage from generations ago,more should identify with the country you are part of now. This seems to be part of the question regarding what country do Illegal Immigrants owe their allegiance? It would appear that many Hispanic activist organizations focus on the differences and make an us against them argument of issues rather than focusing on common goals and the collective good.

February 11 2011 at 10:24 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to david's comment

If we follow Mr. Horne's assessment, shouldn't we then stop learning US history since it is simply the white anglo saxon version of history?

January 15 2011 at 11:58 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

I understand negative sentiment towards divisive programs or propaganda disguised as education in order to mobilize a force. But I believe that we as Americans need to acknowledge that American history contains so many different view points and is so rich that there is a necessity for different programs to educate people on the different perspectives of American History (i.e. Latino American Studies, Asian American Studies, African American studies, etc.). This is not like a language class,in which you are learning a concrete way to communicate with another person, this is history/culture; something that is subjective and ever changing as new pieces of information are uncovered. In the end, any censorship of scholarship should raise red flags, because really, how are we supposed to engage in conversation and enrich ourselves if we don't know as much as we possibly could?

January 12 2011 at 6:43 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Lobo Viejo 7

I see two options to protest Mr. Horne's enforcement of the said law. 1) Fully integrate into the American way of life i.e. learn American history and the American language or 2) go back to Mexico. If we are smart, we will do the former and legally enjoy the opportunity that is America. Simple!

January 09 2011 at 5:43 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

Yay for yet another small step in stopping illegal aliens.

January 08 2011 at 9:16 PM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply

As a proud hispanic I support the ban of all race-divisive programs that paint America as a cultural enemy. It seems odd that some are so insistent on perpetrating hateful propoganda against our nation's people, yet want to live here so badly. If you want to live here, you should do so proudly because you love America not in spite of what our nation stands for.

January 08 2011 at 8:28 PM Report abuse +36 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to John's comment

There should not be any help for the illegal immigrants. It should be for the tax paying citizens. Why is English a second language? Why do we have to pay for their kids to go to our schools? Why do we have to pay for them to have their children for free in America? They say them come here to make a better life and yet they leave some of their children in the country where they were born and have more children here in America. I guess we are the land of the free.

January 08 2011 at 2:59 PM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply

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