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The Golden Rule, Immigration, and Gov. Brewer’s Arizona: What Americans Really Want from Immigration Reform
Topics: Immigration

Note: Full article appears in Newsweek/Washington Post On Faith.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer met with President Obama yesterday to discuss the controversial immigration law (SB 1070) she recently signed. The law would require state law enforcement officers to ask for proof of citizenship from anyone they suspect to be an illegal immigrant, and authorize them to arrest anyone without such proof.  President Obama has said he is troubled by the law, which he called a “misdirected effort,” because it could lead to racial profiling, with one group of Americans being treated differently than others simply because of the way they look.

One little known fact about Gov. Brewer is that as Secretary of State she launched a program in 2003 to establish Arizona as a Golden Rule state, recognizing “those who treat others the way they would like to be treated and who make a difference in Arizona.” At the opening ceremony of the initiative, Brewer handed out Golden Rule marbles, saying “Living the ‘Golden Rule’ really is contagious. The positive effect from just one person living the rule often influences many others to do the same.”


As part of the initiative, Arizona stamped out specialty “Live the Golden Rule” license plates, and Brewer continues to promote the Golden Rule program as governor. Just last month she was honored by the Arizona Interfaith Movement for promoting the Golden Rule in Arizona.  But now, since she signed SB 1070, Bishop Kirk Stevan Smith of the Episcopal Church in Arizona has suggested that Brewer give back the plaque.

Indeed, there is good reason to think that Gov. Brewer may have lost her Golden Rule marbles.

In March 2010, our organization, Public Religion Research Institute-a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization-conducted a nationwide poll on religion, values, and immigration reform. We found Americans strongly supported a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, and also strongly believe that immigration policy and reform should be guided by a set of moral values that include the Golden Rule.   A strong majority of Americans (71%) say following the Golden Rule-“providing immigrants the same opportunity that I would want if my family were immigrating to the U.S.”-is a very or extremely important moral guide for immigration reform.  A commitment to this value carries across partisan lines: nearly two-thirds (65%) of Republicans, 72% of Independents, and 75% of Democrats support the Golden Rule as a very important guide for immigration reform.

See Newsweek/Washington Post “On Faith” for the rest of the article.