Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why Margaret Dayton should not be allowed to sit on the senate education standing committee (among other things)

The legislative session has barely begun and already the purveyors of hate and xenophobia have declared war on our children. Today Senator Margaret Dayton attempted to amend SJR2: Joint Resolution on Combating and Reducing Gang Activity—sponsored by Senator Luz Robles—with some startling language that makes a number of seriously flawed racist assumptions that highlight her xenophobia.

Senator Robles' original bill "expresses support for sports, arts, academic, targeted counseling, and employment programs to counter gang recruitment." Senator Dayton, on the other hand, has proposed an amendment that strikes this support for sports, arts, academic, and employment programs, and replaces it with the following:

"expresses support for a coordinated effort between state and local law enforcement agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to remove illegal alien gang members from Utah communities."

Clearly the minutemen have been whispering their lies in her ears, but Dayton's own record speaks for itself. She is afterall the same woman who killed a bill last year that would fund International Baccalaureate programs because the organization was, *gasp* based in Switzerland, and IB programs promoted an anti-American, UN agenda, so it's no surprise that her solution to the "gang problem" is to cross deputize local law enforcement officials to act as ICE officials to deport "illegal alien gang members."

My first question for Sen. Dayton, is how will her strategy address or inhibit the growth of white supremacist gangs? Will she add another amendment to revoke their citizenship so that ICE can deport them back to England or Germany (or wherever their ancestors came from)? Or is Sen. Dayton incapable of even considering the possibility that white folks participate in gangs? Is she so entrenched in a xenophobic, racist worldview that she can only imagine that brown people, and more specifically "illegal alien" brown people, are gang members?

Ironically it's not undocumented workers that commit the most malicious identity theft, rather it is white supremacist gangs. It's the white supremacist gangs who are taking the credit card applications out of your mailbox and applying for the cards, which they then max out, but of course the minutemen would have us believe the opposite.

My second question for Sen. Dayton is, "why do you hate children and education so much?" I mean, really, who proposes an amendment to a resolution that strikes support for sports, arts, academic, counseling, and employment programs and replaces it with draconian policing policies? What kind of worldview informs her opinion that cutting youths sports and arts programs and replacing them with increased law enforcement is good policy?

And this leads me to my third question for Sen. Dayton? What empirical evidence shows that increased law enforcement and policing of communities is more effective at reducing gang activity than providing education, after-school programs, counseling, or employment services? All of the research I’ve seen suggests that Dayton is dead wrong on this one. There’s good reason why Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank has refused to cross-deputize Salt Lake City police officers. He recognizes that taking such actions can greatly decrease trust and community relationships and create an even greater public safety threat (and potentially more gang activity), but Dayton, in her myopic nationalistic fervor, no doubt was amongst those who railed against Burbank for his decision.

Sen. Dayton’s amendment is not a thoughtful, measured attempt to reduce gang activity. It is, in reality, nothing more than a racist and calculated attempt to criminalize undocumented people by conflating them with gang activity regardless of the fact that most undocumented people are hard-working, family-oriented people who contribute to our economy more than Sen. Dayton would ever dare admit.

So what can you do? Call or write your senator immediately and tell them to support SJR2 as is, without Dayton’s proposed amendment. Voice your support for youth sports, education, and arts programs and let your senators know that increased policing is not the answer. You can look up your legislators’ contact info here:

And you can read the original resolution and Dayton’s proposed amendment here:

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