Geraldo L. Cadava: Arizona Shows What Not to Do





Geraldo L. Cadava, an assistant professor of history and Latina and Latino studies at Northwestern University, is the author of the forthcoming "The Heat of Exchange: Latinos and Migration in the Making of a Sunbelt Borderland."

Much more is at stake this week than Arizona’s controversial law. The justices’ decision will also determine the future of Latinos, and, therefore, of the country.

Upholding the statute, S.B. 1070, would send a clear message to Americans like my grandfathers, eroding the ideals of racial equality, opportunity and inclusion that they have maintained since my parents’ families settled in Tucson almost 50 years ago.

My grandfathers — one Latino and one white, both tech sergeants in the U.S. Air Force — retired while stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and then stayed in Tucson. They lived right across the street from one another. My parents met there, graduated from high school and had me soon after.

When my family moved to the city after World War II, heady ideas about modernization and progress shaped Arizona. Even though many in the state still preferred to see Latinos — both immigrants and citizens — as “birds of passage” who worked temporarily and then returned to Mexico or somewhere else, others saw them as integral parts of their communities, and even promoted cross-border tourism and commercial relationships....



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