Monday, April 27, 2009

Sheriff's officers harassing protesters

Please check out how the cops were acting during the latest sweep.

On April 23, 2009 Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his deputies and his posse members conducted their 9th crime suppression sweep in Maricopa County. In this video the arrogance and the abuse of power shown by two of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's highest ranking officers is illustrating of the urgent need to stop Joe Arpaio!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chandler Businesses Surveil Day Laborers

Chandler group's cameras watch day laborers

Downtown Chandler business representatives have erected video cameras in the historic square, in part to deter day laborers from congregating there, and city officials are not happy about it.

The cameras have been up for about 6 weeks and are said to have deterred people from picking up day laborers but have not deterred day laborers from congregating in the area.

City officials have said none of the local loitering laws gives the city the authority to disperse day laborers. But portions of Arizona Avenue have been made off-limits to parking or standing vehicles during certain times of the day in an effort to discourage vehicles from stopping to pick them up, thereby blocking traffic and creating a safety hazard...

Colleen LeBlanc, ProGuard vice president, said that despite the red and blue lights sitting atop the camera structure, the surveillance is not related to any law enforcement agency. The cameras meet Arizona Department of Public Safety guidelines, LeBlanc said.

Killgore said if the blue and red lights are creating the perception that the cameras are associated with law enforcement, city officials might need to address the issue.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Concerned about Overpopulation?

I've heard that the anti-immigrant movement has been renewing its efforts to get more of the environmentalist movement on their side of the immigration issue. Andrea Smith makes some really good points in Chapter 3 of her book Conquest. This is some text i put together for a flier.

Concerned about Overpopulation?

(Excerpts from Andrea Smith’s book Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide)

Since the fertility rates of the industrialized world are stable at replacement levels, population control advocates can devote their time and energy to the burgeoning growth rates in the Global South and immigration issues in the U.S. In effect, women of color, immigrant women, and women from the Global South then become the perpetrators, rather than the victims, of environmental degradation...

Poverty, starvation, environmental degradation, and overpopulation are the direct result of specific colonial practices. When colonization forced women into cash economies, it became necessary for them to have more children in order to raise more cash crops. Also, increased mortality rates that have resulted from the effects of colonialism and structural adjustment programs motivate women to have more children in hopes that some will survive. Over the last 25 to 30 years, structural adjustment programs have cut social services in the Global South, making children necessary for old age security and for helping with womens' increased workloads...

Some populationists say population growth contributes to starvation. Yet there is actually enough food produced in the world to sustain every person at a 3,000-calorie-per-day diet. However, land is used inefficiently in order to support livestock for environmentally unsustainable Western meat-based diets. The same land that is used to maintain livestock for 250 days worth of food could be used to cultivate soybeans for 2,200 days… By cycling our grain through livestock, we end up with only 10 percent of the calories for human consumption as would be available if we ate the grain directly. In addition, food produced in the Global South is often exported to pay off debts to the World Bank rather than used to meet local needs. Consequently, even countries that are stricken by famine export food…Unfortunately, rather than look at the root causes of environmental destruction, poverty, and rapid population growth, population alarmists scapegoat "overpopulation" as the primary cause of all these problems, allowing corporations and governments to remain unaccountable.

Rather than being caused by overpopulation, significant environmental damage is actually caused by the environmentally destructive Western development projects, such as hydroelectric dams, uranium development, militarism, and livestock production. These projects ultimately benefit the wealthy living in industrialized countries, which are responsible for producing over 75 percent of the world's pollution. Development projects also cause unparalleled environmental damage, such as damming programs that flood entire biosystems or projects that rely on massive deforestation. More than one third of World Bank projects completed in 1993 were judged failures by its own staff, with some countries experiencing a success rate of less than 50 percent. Any damage done by indigenous people, peasants, and Global South farmers cannot compare to the damage done by multinationals and the World Bank, so the claim that stopping the "overpopulation" of peasants and indigenous peoples in Global South countries will "save the environment" is baseless.

Furthermore, Fatima Mello of FASE (Federation of Educational and Social Assistance Organizations — a Brazilian environmental and development NGO), notes that in Brazil, a higher density of population in certain areas of the Amazon often helps to stop encroachment by the World Bank or multinational corporations and their environmentally disastrous projects...

As the U.S. extracts resources from the Global South, people naturally follow these resources to the U.S. Yet, some mainstream environmentalists complain that the U.S. is now "overpopulated" by immigrants. Immigrants, Garrett Hardin claims, cause "global warming, species extinction, acid rain, and deforestation. threatening the carrying capacity limits of the natural environment." Because of "their excessive reproductive rates," immigrants cause mass environmental damage, "compete with our poor for jobs," and burden the taxpayer through "increased funding obligations in AFDC, Medicare, Food Stamps, School Lunch, Unemployment Compensation, [etc.]...

Again, anti-immigrant environmentalists presume that all people consume equally. But the impact of an immigrant family living in a onebedroom apartment and taking mass transit pales in comparison to that of a wealthy family living in a single family home with a swimming pool and two cars. Much of the environmental decline in this country has nothing to do with population growth or individual consumer choices. For example, in the 1930s and the 1940s, General Motors, Firestone, and Standard Oil (or Chevron) bought out and dismantled the electric trolley systems in Los Angeles and 75 other cities to create demand for their products...

I often hear pro-population control environmentalists say that the world would be much better off if people just died or that the world needs to cleanse itself of people. Again, this sentiment assumes that people are not part of the world. This sentiment also assumes that all people, not just those with wealth and institutional power, are equally responsible for massive environmental destruction. It is racist and imperialist to look at the people who are dying now from environmental degradation (generally people of color and poor people) and say that it is a good thing that the earth is cleansing itself...

Plan Mexico and the SPP/NAFTA

I realized while researching more on the merida initiative, that there is a lot of evidence that the initiative is part of the larger globalization picture, specifically as it relates to the Security and Prosperity Partnership, what some are calling "NAFTA on steroids". Please view/read the following for more info. (The video doesn't touch on NAFTA as much as the piece below, but is still informative and relevant).

InsideUSA with Avi Lewis on Al-Jazeera English (July 26)
Watch this interview with footage from the drug war and a rooftop Mexico City
interview with Laura Carlsen and Jorge Chabat on Plan Mexico, the war
on drugs and the human rights casualites of militarization:

Part One (15 minutes):

Part Two (8 minutes):

From "A Primer on Plan Mexico":
The NAFTA Connection

The "Merida Initiative" received its name from a meeting between Presidents Bush and Calderon in Merida, on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, in March 2007. The official story is that President Calderon, already committed to a "war on drugs" that relies heavily on the use of the army in supply interdiction, requested U.S. assistance at the Merida meeting and, after negotiations on the details, the U.S. government acceded.

With the emphasis on counter-narcotics efforts, in the lead-up to the October announcement of the package, both governments marshaled studies and statistics to support the contradictory thesis that drug-trafficking and related violence in Mexico had reached a crisis point, and that Calderon's offensive against the drug cartels was working.

This is not the real story of the plan's origins. The Bush administration's concept of a joint security strategy for North America goes back at least as far as the creation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) as an extension of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).4 When the three North American leaders met in Waco, Texas in March of 2005, they put into motion a secretive process of negotiations between members of the executive branches and representatives of large corporations to facilitate cross-border business and create a shared security perimeter. Subsequent meetings, including the April 2008 trilateral summit in New Orleans, extended these goals amid mounting criticism.5

Through the SPP, the Bush administration has sought to push its North American trade partners into a common front that would assume shared responsibility for protecting the United States from terrorist threats, promoting and protecting the free-trade economic model, and bolstering U.S. global control, especially in Latin America where the State Department sees a growing threat due to the election of center-left governments. While international cooperation to confront terrorism is a laudable and necessary aim, the Bush national security strategy6 entails serious violations of national sovereignty for its partner countries, increased risk of being targeted as U.S. military allies, and threats to civil liberties for citizens in all three countries.

Moreover the counterterrorism model, exemplified by the invasion of Iraq, has by all accounts created a rise in instability and terrorist activity worldwide.

Extending the concept of North American economic integration into national security matters through the closed-door SPP raises grave questions about how security is defined and who does the defining.

Thomas Shannon, sub-secretary of Western Hemisphere affairs for the State Department put it bluntly in a speech on April 8, saying that the SPP "understands North America as a shared economic space and that as a shared economic space we need to protect it, and that we need to understand that we don't protect this economic space only at our frontiers, that it has to be protected more broadly throughout North America. And as we have worked through the Security and Prosperity Partnership to improve our commercial and trading relationship, we have also worked to improve our security cooperation. To a certain extent, we're armoring NAFTA."7

The SPP effort seeks to lock in policies that do not have consensus and have not been debated among the public and within Congress. Citizen groups in all three countries have called for a halt to SPP talks due to the lack of labor, environmental, and civilian representation, and transparency to the public. On the security front, the Bush administration's concept of military-based rather than diplomacy- and social policy-based security is strongly questioned in the United States and outright rejected among the vast majority of Mexicans and Canadians.

In this context, instead of reviewing policies and opening them up to public debate, the Bush administration has launched its boldest advance yet within the SPP context—Plan Mexico. Speculation was that the plan would be announced at the Montebello SPP meeting in August of 2007, but perhaps because of the presence of SPP protestors at that meeting President Bush delayed the official unveiling of the "Merida Initiative" several months. However, the last two SPP meetings have included discussions of Plan Mexico and the State Department has been clear about its crucial role within the overall SPP economic and security framework.

It is important to understand the roots of Plan Mexico in the Bush administration's deep integration agenda. The plan implies much more than a temporary aid program for fighting drug cartels. It structurally revamps the basis of the binational relationship in ways meant to permanently emphasize military aspects over much-needed development aid and modifications in trade and investment policy. The scope of the Regional Security Cooperation Initiative demonstrates that it goes far beyond a joint war on drugs and cements into place failed policies on immigration enforcement, militarization of the border, economic integration policies, counterterrorism attacks on civil liberties, and the intromission of security forces into social policy and international diplomacy. To do this, the outgoing Bush administration has relied on the support of two economically dependent allies to try to assure that its policies will be irreversible under a Democratic presidency in the United States.8

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Important Items

This article makes me suspect that the federal investigation into 287(g) in maricopa county might just happen to result in an end to that program and an implementation of a new "improved" law enforcement strategy...
Fast-Tracking Secure Communities

"Secure Communities" is coming your way.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that it plans to have the new “criminal alien” program working in most communities in the next four years.

Unlike the controversial 287(g) Program, which cross-designates local police as immigration agents, Secure Communities is fostering “inter-operability” between ICE and all federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The program works by making checks by law enforcement offices of criminal (FBI) and immigration (ICE) databases automatic. (more...)

Also check out this report on the changes in the approach to immigration, as well as how it's not likely to be any better...
Immigrant Crackdown Joins Failed Wars on Crime and Drugs

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Racial Profiling Discussion Undermines Solidarity with Immigrants

The video of Lou Dobbs's show on which Al Sharpton and a representative of ACORN named Bertha Lewis criticized Arpaio has been emailed around. It exemplified my concern about the focus on Arpaio and racial profiling, which overshadows the real issues. Because they don't want to take a stance on "illegal" immigration they skirt the issue and focus on how it hurts the people we should be more concerned about.

Below are some excerpts of the transcript from the show. As you can see, the issue they are concerned with is only the racial profiling. I certainly don't think racial profiling is okay, but the focus on stopping people because of their skin color reinforces the idea that there is a supposedly legitimate reason to be stopping people- but it isn't the color of one's skin. What's left unsaid is that people being harassed and arrested because they are undocumented is not that much of a problem. Either that or it is not strategically useful to address that. Why not?

I understand that addressing the racial profiling exposes the hypocrisy of the sheriff's law enforcement tactics. And when the audience understand that as citizens they too can be caught up in this crazy man's antics, they might have sympathy for undocumented people. But the way the racial profiling thing is being discussed, it creates a hierarchy of people based on value. The citizen is more valuable than the non-citizen. The legal is more important than the "illegal". Sure, if you're on a mainstream tv show, especially Dobbs's show, it makes sense to speak the language. But i tend to think that the idea is not to advocate for the undocumented by exposing the racial profiling.

Despite the fact that Sharpton and Lewis were denying political motivation (as in not trying to gain power for Democrats), they are at the same time buying in to the terms of the debate set by mainstream politics. Even though they are criticizing Arpaio, i do not see them as advocates for undocumented immigrants.

If we want to be in solidarity with undocumented immigrants, we mustn't allow these movement leaders to control the terms of the debate.

SHARPTON:But when we are told that you have a sheriff that are pulling people over constantly because of the color of their skin, they become a suspect of being an illegal immigrant, that's a civil rights violation, Lou.

But on top of that, when you get people that are born American citizens saying because of the color of my skin, I'm constantly pulled over, questioned about show my citizenship papers, this is a violation of people's civil rights...

LEWIS: He actually is giving law enforcement folks who do the right thing a bad name.

Let me just say this. The federal government's job is to protect our borders and to make sure we have the same immigration program and so therefore...we cannot have people like Arpaio taking anything that he wants to do and profiling based on people's color. It's not right.

DOBBS: You conflated a number of things. One, that he is indeed racial profiling which he denies which by the way his department denies and over a fifth of his department is Hispanic, by the way. The rest of the statement that's interesting is, I asked you how is the federal government doing, in enforcing border security, and in enforcing U.S. immigration law. And what's ironic about that is, Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security as governor of Arizona was the first person to call for emergency action on the border in her state.

SHARPTON: Well, again, we're confusing two issues. I think what National Action Network and NAACP board joined with ACORN today was on the violation of civil rights. We're not talking about immigration policy, one way or another on that issue...

SHARPTON: ...Bertha and I may disagree on how to deal with the border. All of us agree that people because of the color of their skin should not be stopped. When they do, we ought to deal with it. That was the basis we came on.