July 23, 2010

By Ofer Tirosh

2010 CA Political Candidates Use AZ Immigration Law in Spanish Translation Campaigning

There has been a lot of controversy over the Arizona Immigration Law, which has resulted in a federal law suit and a flood of media coverage, headlines and editorials. Gubernatorial candidates in California have allegedly made contradictory claims of their stance on this law, when compared to Spanish translation of Arizona Immigration law campaigning to Latino voters, as part of politicial campaign strategies and platforms. Among the political strategies aimed at southern CA Latino voters include Spanish advertising translation for radio, and Spanish document translation for signs and billboards about the Immigration Law.

For those that aren't familiar, the S.B. 1070 Immigration Law in AZ allows for law enforcement to stop, question, and demand proof of legal status from anyone who looks suspicious. To many residents in AZ, Spanish translation of S.B. 1070 means "anyone Mexican and/or Latino is a suspect of illegal immigration, and can be questioned at any time for any reason." The S.B. 1070 was not written because Arizonans are upset by illegal Russian immigrants, or AZ illegals who require German or French translation. Arizona borders Mexico, and therefore only Mexican illegal immigrants are a problem - according to most Arizonans, and those that support this law - which happens to be the majority of Americans (except for this one).

There are two basic sides to this so-called controversial immigration law. While all those who are taking ESL classes and need English to Spanish translation and interpreters are obviously not all illegal immigrants and have just as much right to be here as any citizen - they can be targeted, harassed, and even arrested at any time, merely because a law official has found them "suspicious." However, the opposite perspective which supports the S.B. 1070 Arizona Immigration law, claims that too many illegal immigrants are earning incomes under the table without paying taxes, using federal welfare programs and subsidized housing, and many other things that American taxpayers are footing the bill for.

Professional Spanish Translation of AZ Law Not Needed for Latino Immigrants

Meg Whitman, a Republican candidate for California governor, posted billboards around southern California that read "NO a la Proposicion 187 y NO a la Ley de Arizona." The political marketing translation from Spanish to English is - No on Proposition 187 and no on Arizona Law.

However, the Spanish translation of Arizona law does not translate to English speaking Republican voters the same way, because Whitman needs both Republican and Latino votes in order to have a chance at being elected governor of California – and she is not the only politician who is making somewhat contradictory claims about their position. As with many controversies, politicians change their tune, depending upon the language and color of their potential voters. This is one case when politics behind professional translation from English to Spanish is purposefully mistranslated to something completely different. One kind of claim is made to Latino constituents, while something else entirely is promised to others.

Many Americans forget that nearly one third of all illegal immigrants are not from Mexico. Nor are they remembering that Mexican immigrants have been supporting the economy for years – this is not a new issue. In fact, immigration is at an all-time low, currently. Unfortunately, as history has shown us, whether it is war, civil uprisings, or an economy in recession and high unemployment rates, America targets a scapegoat – and right now, sadly, the scapegoat is brown.

The Arizona S.B. 1070 law allows for law enforcement to stop, interrogate, and even arrest anyone Latino who does not have proof of legal status with them, if they are found to simply be "suspicious" - which is conveniently vague and subjective. While the Obama administration has opposed Arizona's self-legislation on a constitutionally federal issue, by filing a federal suit, Mexican immigrants do not need Spanish immigration translation for the opposition toward them. They do not need a Spanish translator to see, hear and feel the spreading epidemic of resentment and open protest to their presence. Whether here legally or not, laws like the S.B. 1070 of Arizona imply that anyone Latino, and especially Mexican - is a suspect. Meanwhile, illegal Canadian immigrants are left alone, and those needing Croatian document translation for job placement assistance are never suspect. No one is raiding the backs of Asian restaurants and demanding notarized translation of immigration papers.

Because right now, our only scapegoat is brown.

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