Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No Borders or Prison Walls: as it relates to racial profiling focus

I started writing something that ended up being very similar to what I had written about a year ago, so I figured I'd re-post it since it is still very relevant.

I've written a number of posts criticizing the focus on racial profiling, since when it is discussed, particularly by various politicians, it implies that the profiling catches innocent people up in it, while the true criminals deserve to be caught. Yet, racial profiling is certainly an important issue and has been occurring since race has existed. In fact in many ways law enforcement is what has shaped race in the first place. I discuss this further in this article.

What I feel is important to bring into the racial profiling discussion is that most people seem to agree that it is wrong--in fact I believe it is technically illegal. But what has been happening is something that perhaps can be called racial criminalization. The intentional criminalization of people because they are not white. This is exemplified in immigration law where undocumented immigrants (mostly poc) are criminalized because of their situation as migrants who cannot attain legal status. But it's not only that they are automatically "illegal" when they cross the border or when their visa expires, etc., but that people place a significance on that particular crime vs. many other much more serious crimes. Additionally, as we can see with Arizona bill SB1070, the criminalization of these migrants is compounded with more laws that make them criminals- the trespassing part of the bill and the part that criminalizes day laborers. Read on.

No Borders or Prison Walls: Beyond Immigrants' Rights to Ending Criminalization of All People of Color

How bad do things have to be for a group of people to be afraid to leave their houses because la migra might pick them up and place their family members in separate detention centers to eventually deport them? Or that people crossing the border not only have to be concerned about the environmental dangers, but also the more recent upsurge of people who kidnap migrants, steal from them, assault them, and hold them for ransom. The police or ICE commit similar atrocities, but masquerading as heroes; “saving” the immigrants from the drop houses. Many citizens believe undocumented immigrants deserve the harm or misfortune inflicted upon them because they are here “illegally”.

Nearly any debate about “illegal” immigration comes down to one thing: the law is the law. They say illegal people have no legitimate claims in “our” country. Despite the many illegal actions that people take everyday without feeling an ounce of guilt (speeding, downloading music), being in the country “illegally” is seen as a crime against the citizens. Despite the fact that many of us see this law, like so many others, as illegitimate and hypocritical based on its historical roots and the context in which it is enforced, as a means to maintain an exploitable class, as enforcement of the color line, and as a tool of government to control people and quash dissent; we seem quite silent about what we think about it.


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