Grant Woods Acceptance Speech for Award at Chicanos Por La Causa Dinner on 5/5/11

Grant Woods Acceptance Speech for Award at Chicanos Por La Causa Dinner on 5/5/11

Thank you to Chicanos Por La Causa for this award; it is especially meaningful coming from such an important and wonderful organization. It is also great to be here on Cinco de Mayo, or as it’s known in the Legislature, May 5th.

Arizona is no longer at a crossroads, we are on a downslide, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the State’s actions on immigration. What many do not realize is that we are a State born of diversity.

To be an Arizonan is to be part of the Native American culture. To be an Arizonan is to be part of the Mexican culture. And so it has always been. So to deny basic respect and compassion to any of us is to deny it to all of us. When our so-called leaders denigrate any segment of this community by calling them names, rather than by their names, they denigrate all of us. As Cesar Chavez said: “Our language is the reflection of ourselves.” A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.

We can do better. The immigration issue is complex and it is difficult. But it is a challenge that can be met if we have the courage to do it right. It is a challenge that can be met without trampling on the constitutional rights of American citizens and the basic human rights of all people.

A couple of years ago, I accepted the job of prosecuting a border patrol agent accused of killing a young Mexican man who had crossed illegally and was in the act of surrender. The first thing I told that federal jury was this: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

These rights are given by God, not government, to all people, regardless of citizenship. When we fight for human dignity in this immigration debate, we are not the radicals – - – we are fighting for basic American values embodied in our most sacred beliefs.

And if we are to be called radicals, then we are joining with radicals of the past such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Cesar Chavez, and Dr. Martin Luther King. There is a reason we are in good company – - – it is a righteous fight.

But it is still a fight, and one worth fighting by those of us who still have that dream . . . who still dream that one day our children and our neighbors will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character . . . who still dream that one day our State and our country, in speech and in action, will reflect humanity and compassion for our fellow man, regardless of race or ethnicity, and always show the respect for human rights that all of God’s children deserve.

Thank you all again for this honor.