Monday, February 2, 2009

US economy and laws are cause of inhumane criminal activities against undocumented

I got an email calling for action against this candidate for city council. Included was this:

DiCiccio himself says Hispanic immigrants are bringing a "corrupt culture" to America. Here's what he wrote in The Arizona Republic in 2007:

"It is only a matter of time before a wave of violence will be coming our way. The gun battles with police; the beheadings of journalists, the kidnappings of families -- these are a line in the desert away from our country and state….It is here and more will come….Kidnappings are a way of life for the middle class in Mexico. The kidnappings that are occurring today are now isolated to illegals. They will soon be a way of life for the average American….Politicians talk about political solutions to the immigration debate. But it is not about politics. It's about the future of our families and how we want to live."

The quote above brings up an important issue that the immigrants' rights movement has sorely failed to address. Although the criminal activities described by DiCiccio are being committed by only a fringe element of people from Mexico, they are still happening and only increased law enforcement has been proposed as a solution. But in fact the law and in many ways the U.S.' influence on the Mexican economy are the reasons for these activities.

We can't deny the kidnappings, the drug trafficking, the slayings, the rape and femicide happening in Mexico, and we can't deny that some of this is touching immigrants in the U.S. as well. But is it happening because Mexicans are naturally corrupt? No. But we have conflicting opinion in the media. While the "rescue" by the police of immigrants held against their will at drop houses clearly distinguishes from victims from the victimizers (except they don't also include police as the victimizers), we also see the kidnappers and drug traffickers, and the tendency to corruption, lumped in with all undocumented immigrants, which we see in DiCiccio's quote.

Although i have limited understanding of what has created the situation in Mexico, i have no doubt in my mind that the activities mentioned above are caused by the economic situation that has been shaped by the U.S. U.S. elites have been interfering in many ways with Mexico's resources and politics. Mexican presidents have been trained through U.S. universities on neoliberal economics and have certainly been rewarded for allowing foreign (mostly U.S.) access to resources and investment (read privitization). NAFTA is a prime example of U.S./international meddling in Mexico which has caused, to only name one example of disaster, the millions of people who have had to abandon their corn farming because they could no longer survive on what they could earn. Our tax dollars help subsidize the mostly genetically modified U.S.-grown corn that then can be exported to Mexico at a much lower price. U.S. citizens have to take responsibility for this situation.

Drug trafficking is one of the few ways for people to make money in Mexico. Because it's illegal activity, they have to arm themselves and end up participating in turf wars and worse and worse brutal actions. Recently the U.S. government has handed over a million dollars to the Mexican government for a project called the Merida Initiative or "Plan Mexico" to fight the drug war. This, despite the fact that all efforts so far in the drug war have been failures. We all know power and money corrupts, and yet I suppose it's pretty much run of the mill for the U.S. to add more fuel to the corruption in Mexico.

So we understand that people are desperate to find work, but we also have to see that this desparation creates a lucrative market for people who can make money off them. Sure, undocumented immigrants don't have much money, but when there are so many, and when ransom can be acquired from other family members, kidnapping is quite profitable. Because the U.S. government and most of its people don't value the lives of undocumented immigrants, there are little efforts made to prevent this from happening. And those of us who do care feel so overwhelmed by it that we avoid addressing it.

Border security and law enforcement has created a situation where people have to travel through the harsh terrain of the desert instead of in urban areas, have to accept assistance from sketchy people to find their way, and are not deemed worthy of safety or dignity. So does it make sense for us to expect or ask the police to fix the problems DiCiccio mentions? Hell no. Because they create the problem. Arpaio and other police use the crimes against undocumented immigrants as an excuse to pull over and arrest all undocumented immigrants. There is no excuse for this.

We need to call for the decriminalization of immigrants (and many other people who are criminalized for being less valued in this society) as the only way to gain safety and dignity for the people. And this decriminalization is not the end-all solution. Major economic and foreign policy changes will have to occur. But if we ignore these problems, hope Obama will legalize everyone, or leave it to the police, we will not achieve anything.

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