Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Arpaio is being Investigated

The big news locally is that Maricopa County sheriff arpaio is being investigated by Dept. of Justice. It is being considered a big achievement, and in some ways it is. But the huge march a couple weeks back was calling to stop arpaio and stop 287(g). An investigation is one thing, but let us wait for the results before we get too excited. I discussed many of my thoughts in Federal Government Will Not be Maricopa County's Savior.
One problem with appealing to the government is that to do so would require not being a threat. But any real just solution to the “immigration problem”, inevitably involving the dismantling of NAFTA and other neoliberal projects, as well as a serious change in social/political structure, is and always will be a threat to the government.

Another problem is that the government has an interest in appearing to be able and willing to deliver justice. But overall it is not in its interest to truly liberate the people from injustice and in fact its existence is actually antithetical to such an action. It would like to have people ask instead of demand changes, however, and would like us to think of it as a benevolent force in such cases when it’s actually worth the time to make reforms that benefit the people. Therefore, if we ask and they give, they are the heroes.

When i was informed of this investigation, i immediately thought of the ways that arpaio had been enforcing the state laws and that there may be more on their way. I had also thought of AZ senator Pearce's bills especially when Arpaio commented that if the 287(g) agreement got to restrictive (the rules are apparently being adjusted to prevent abuse) he might drop out of it.

Happily, i read this blog post that my partner emailed me that addressed the limitations of the investigation of arpaio.
At the forefront of this effort is Sheriff Arpaio and the county’s prosecutor, Andrew Thomas. They have found ways to charge immigrants that use the services of a smuggler with conspiring to their own smuggling. They have used a state law created to go after employers that hire undocumented labor against the workers.

Different courts have upheld their use of these laws. And Arpaio himself has vowed to continue to use them if the feds take away from him the power to enforce immigration laws under an agreement known as 287(g).

There’s also a bill in the works that would charge undocumented immigrants with “trespassing” into the state's land.

The trespassing bills have been attempted in the past. I'm not sure if those are among those former governor napolitano vetoed. While i do not believe napolitano was an advocate for undocumented immigrants, she certainly vetoed a lot of crazy laws. The new governor is not as likely to do so.

Having witnessed the gradual build-up in the war against undocumented immigrants, i have to say that it is important to view each attempt at increasing this war as a piece of a larger puzzle. Each law, each change in ability to enforce, each attitude promoted through the media builds up to a larger picture which becomes more and more overwhelming. Which is why stopping arpaio and 287(g) is important, but also paying attention to what pearce is doing, as well as the increasing threat of violence by the drug cartels/kidnappers, which i intend to write much more about.

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