Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No More Deaths: Recent abuse interviews from Nogales

From a No More Deaths Newsletter:

No More Deaths volunteers working in Nogales continue to document and denounce abuses experienced in custody by deported migrants and immigrants. The following interviews were conducted in the last week. Please share these stories with your friends, family, congregation, and community.
  • Interview conducted 18 February 2010. Interviewee, man from Sonora, Mexico, requested to remain anonymous. Interviewee reported that while attempting to cross for a second time, after walking for three days in the desert, he and his friend were apprehended by three US Border Patrol agents in green uniforms. The agents apprehended them on 15 February 2010 at approximately 10-10:30am. The agents spoke Spanish. The agents accused the interviewee of carrying drugs and beat him in the head with the butt of a pistol. He collapsed to the ground and was bleeding heavily from the gash in the left side of his head. The agents called an ambulance (presumably a BORSTAR ambulance) which came and brought the interviewee to a hospital. He reported that he received staples in his head at the hospital but when he was released from the hospital he did not receive any papers or documents about the injury he sustained or the treatment he received. He reported that the hospital was small and the doctor who treated him did not have any identification. After being released from the hospital he and his friend were taken to custody in Tucson where they were given deportation papers, in English, to sign. They were given only crackers and juice to eat. They were deported 18 February 2010 to Nogales, Sonora. The friend, who witnessed the assault and was present during the interview, confirmed the interviewee's testimony. At the time of the interview the interviewee appeared to be in a state of shock.
  • Interview conducted 19 February 2010. Interviewee Bernabel R------ A------, from Guanajuato, Mexico. Mr. R------ is blind. He reported that he was taken into immigration custody in November 2009 in Texas, where he was held for three months before being taken to court in El Rio and deported to Nogales, Sonora. He had lived in Seattle, Washington, for three years and still has brothers there. In custody in Texas all of his papers (for a bank account at Bank of America, his passport, and other documents) were taken. When he asked for them to be returned he was told that they had already been thrown away. He was deported to Sonora, Mexico, in February 2010. He stated that he wanted to report the loss of the documents so that other people would not have to endure similar abuses.
  • Interview conducted 19 February 2010 collectively with three women who were held in custody in Tucson from 17 February 2010 to 18 February 2010. One of the women, from Chiapas, has three children in Chiapas, aged 8, 10, and 12. She stated that she was attempting to cross for the first time in order to find work to support her children. She was taken into custody in Tucson and brought to streamlining at the Tucson courthouse. She stated that guards pushed the detainees who were chained and could not walk quickly. She stated that one guard held her nose in front of the detainees and said they smelled. Another interviewee stated that when she was apprehended with a group in the desert a Border Patrol agent accused them of carrying drugs and threatened to shoot them. The third interviewee reported that guards shouted at them and used racist language. She gave the name of one agent in particular in Tucson, Mr. J. V------, who was especially abusive. All three women reported that they had their clothes taken from them and were held in extremely cold temperatures while in custody.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

PCWC: Reflecting on what the immigrant movement might learn from the "6A" statement

Reflecting on what the immigrant movement might learn from the "6A" statement
from FiresNeverExtinguished.blogspot.com

We were watching the local news a few years ago. A cameraperson for a local news broadcast was following Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio on a tour through his notoriously awful jail facility. It was being broadcast live and Joe was his usual cocky self.

Typical of the kind of uncritical platform that the media regularly gives Joe, he was armed with the mic himself. Obviously thrilled at his chance to speak directly, unfiltered, through the media, and filling the role himself that would normally be played by a reporter, he approached an inmate. "You enjoying your stay here?" he asked, chortling in that characteristic farm animal way he has.

"No, sir," replied the inmate, looking down and stating the obvious.

"You got anything you want to say?" grunted the sheriff to the inmate, sticking out the microphone again.

"Yeah. I do," said the prisoner, a visible rage welling up inside him. "I just want to say that every night before I go to sleep I pray that in the morning you'll wake up, go out to get your morning paper and get hit by a truck."

Reading up on O'odham border struggle

Far too often in my writing and my actions, I have marginalized O'odham experiences and struggles regarding the border and the effects of immigration enforcement on the reservation and in the city. I am not the only one, so in reading up on the issues, I am sharing the links below with you so you can also read up. These issues should really be central for so many reasons.

For one, the injustices that O'odham face are sometimes worse because they are invisible to so many. It is also part of an ongoing onslaught of colonialism (on the part of the Spanish then the Mexican State then the US) and white supremacy. We can see many patterns when looking at the historical and present forced removal of indigenous people from their lands in the US, and the way migrants (mostly indigenous) are also forced from their land by economic and other conditions. If we are concerned solely with racial profiling and legalization for the undocumented, we are perpetuating harm by allowing it to continue. Calls for comprehensive immigration reform do not tend to call into question the demand for border security. The government might legalize a bunch of people (maybe) but will there be more border walls? Won't there still be the conditions that have led to mass migration in the first place? I have more to say on this, but I will work on that later.

A quick note though, I included several documents on the border issues, but I also wanted to include some info on the south mountain freeway which you should especially know about if you live in Maricopa County. This isn't so much related to the border, but if it gets built on the reservation, it will displace people and put a border/barrier through their communities. If there is destruction to south mountain, it would disturb a sacred site. There are many to ignore the local struggles of people here, but you should know about it.

O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective

O'odham Solidarity Project

Fear of a Milighan Planet part 1 and part 2

Immigration, Imperialism and Cultural Genocide: An interview with O’odham Activist Ofelia Rivas concerning the effects of a proposed wall on the US / Mexico border Interviewed by, Jeff Hendricks


Traditional O'odham statement at the Zapatistas' Encuentro 2007

Shame on the New York Times for Fueling Border Misery By Brenda Norrell January 2010

Hate and Death on the Border By BRENDA NORRELL December 2009

O'odham: Surviving apartheid on the illegal border By Brenda Norrell November 2009

A Border Runs Through Them: The Struggles of the Tohono O'odham By BRENDA NORRELL November 2009

Indigenous Peoples Vow to Bring Down Apartheid Border Wall by Brenda Norrell November 2007

Indigenous Border Summit Opposes Border Wall and Militarization By Brenda Norrell October 2006

Tohono O'odham and U S Border Patrol (youtube video)

Imaginary Borders, Real Obstructions (youtube video)

Videos on the South mountain Freeway:
South Mountain Freeway Proposal - Public Comments pt 1 and pt 2

South Mountian Freeway Protest

Article on Freeway:
Sal DiCiccio’s Loop 202 Problem: Phoenix Councilman Would Benefit from Reviled Ahwatukee Freeway Extension

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Phoenix PD Conduct Immigration Sweep

It is not Arpaio this time who is conducting an immigration sweep, but the Phoenix PD. I've been told that this has been confirmed for today from 12-4 in Maryvale (west phoenix), and that they will be harassing corn vendors checking for compliance with the laws involved in that. But of course they're checking for undocumented migrants, and since it's the Phoenix PD, they are not going to make a big circus out of it like Arpaio does.

It is important to see that although I don't know if they've done sweeps quite like this before, the Phoenix PD does engage in such harassment and arrests of migrants. They've been known to mess with day laborers, and they also did nothing about day laborers getting threatened with a gun by one of the minuteman-types several weeks back. They also orchestrated an attack and arrests at the recent anti-Arpaio march. In addition, as I've been pointing out, they arrest many more migrants that the MCSO. And all this is not to mention the police brutality and murders that they inflict on the community, as well as their racist treatment of participants of the Martin Luther King Jr events each year after the event ends.

So I ask again, why is Arpaio the bad guy, while Phoenix PD liaisons are welcomed at immigrants' rights meetings? Can we not see that this is a systemic problem? If anything, Arpaio's antics make the other police departments seem more reasonable, yet we should not be fooled!

Update: I'm hearing that the word got out adequately and no corn vendors were out for the police to harass (or worse), but apparently the police were going to people's houses.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Release from the Anonymous Arizona Anarchist Advocates for the Assassination of Arpaio

Very well-written piece on the "Assassinate Arpaio" banner linked below. By the way, I wasn't the biggest fan of the banner (I felt that there were messages on banners with much more useful messages, like "Free them All", and "The Law is a Tool of Racism", etc.) Yet, I saw a wide variety of people at the march with t-shirts that said "Fuck Arpaio" and "MCSO: More Cock-sucking Officers", which leads me to believe that claims of people feeling alienated by extreme language are not quite accurate, although one could make the argument that these statements are different from advocating homicide.
A note on the piece- I feel that it is very cleverly and beautifully written, but I fear that the intended audience will not understand the points made no matter how well-articulated. I also fear that while they placed the disclaimer that they speak only for themselves, it could be used to represent those facing charges. Yet I believe it will be rather entertaining if anyone were to try to quote it in the court room.

Anyway, the piece is here at arizona indymedia...

A quote:
Assassination as a tactic is questionable at best, but it’s best to be in the business of asking questions. What's working? Marches? Reform?

Arpaio is the first to point out that he is an elected official. He is also the first to laugh while pointing you, meandering, in the direction of mainstream political channels to fruitlessly attempt social change. Even if extreme measures like advocating assassination were unethical, they would not necessarily be untactical. How desperate does it need to get before people are behaving desperately enough to even CONSIDER socially unacceptable things like assassination? Will manifestations of social desperation soon resemble assassinations- or can we first recall the times in history when uniformed and armed foot soldiers of the State ran rampant with racist agendas?

Update: See also, this discussion from FiresNeverExtinguished.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Arpaio Brings in White Nativist to Train Deputies

Arpaio announced recently that he will be having all his deputies trained to enforce federal immigration law even though the federal government ended the 287(g) agreement that allowed a few of his officers to be trained by and work with ICE (they still have the 287(g) agreement in effect within the jails where they can ask for immigration status and put ICE holds on people). Arpaio has also announced that he plans to do another "crime suppression sweep" soon.

Kris Kobach, an attorney who once worked with John Ashcroft, will be doing the 2 hour (2 hours?!) training and advising Arpaio on related matters. He has garnered some controversy already, however, for being associated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). He has acted as a consultant and advisor for both organizations. As an example, FAIR's founder John Tanton and his organizations have been linked to holocaust deniers and eugenicists (more info below).

Arpaio is controversial enough as it is. I have little faith that his relationship with Kobach will make it worse. (Although Wells Fargo recently told Arpaio they want to terminate his lease agreement- which might be a good sign, although Wells Fargo is a problem also because of their relationship to private prisons). After all, Russell Pearce is also associated with FAIR. A FAIR website mentions him as a supporter. In addition, Pearce was an author of Prop 200 which FAIR provided funds and volunteers to get passed (a friend and I actually went to flier about FAIR's racist connections at a PAN rally- we ended up realizing our efforts would be in vain). Virginia Abernethy was chosen as Chair of the national advisory board for Protect Arizona Now (PAN) the group behind Prop 200, and it turned out she was a self-identified "white separatist" and probably worse (Source).

Mostly, the groups deny the accusations of being racist and then it turns out to not be a big deal. They say they're only concerned with illegal immigration and they say they accept money where it's available- that doesn't mean they agree with the organizations or people they get it from. But we can see by the actions of Arpaio and Pearce themselves that they are racist, aside from their friendliness with local racists (see Arpaio: Judged by the Company he Keeps- video and Down With Russell Pearce: Extremist/Racist Connections). I would argue that Russell Pearce or Arpaio should get the same treatment as Kobach is getting right now, if not worse. Okay, maybe Arpaio is, but what about Pearce?

In a lot of ways it takes being linked to extremists to make people change their minds about a situation or political position. But Kobach isn't quite the candidate, I'm afraid. For one, he's far more charming than J.T. Ready, and these people are good at making it seem that they're not racist. But in other ways, this is a distraction. Someone can do horrible things but doesn't have to have accepted money from or provide legal service to someone who said the holocaust didn't happen or that Mexicans are naturally more likely to commit crimes. For instance, I've brought up several times the amount of immigrants the Phoenix PD has arrested- but they're not being opposed- in fact some immigrants' rights groups are working with them!

On the plus side, learning about John Tanton and all his organizations gives me hope for all the white people who would seem to be racist. I mean, accepting all the lies at face value does make you racist, but at least it's coming more from the outside than the inside. See, Tanton and associates have been working on this anti-immigrant campaign for decades. The article The Puppeteer outlines how the opposition against immigration is far from grass roots- that it is manufactured (and likely funded by rich people who have an interest in keeping the working class divided and maintaining certain workers as eternally exploitable). Certain people in the media repeat the lies and mistruths that FAIR and associated organizations create (see Where Anti-Immigrant Zealots Like Lou Dobbs Get Their 'Facts'.

Anyway, this is a bit on Kris Kobach from the SPLC:
The man behind many of the deeply flawed anti-illegal immigrant laws passed recently is Kris Kobach, the "national expert on constitutional law" who works for the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI). IRLI is the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), recently listed as a nativist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. At IRLI, Kobach has been a prime mover behind ordinances in Farmer's Branch, Texas, and Hazelton, Pa., among other places, that seek to punish those who aid and abet "illegal aliens."

Before joining IRLI, Kobach served as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's top immigration adviser, moving on to take charge of Department of Justice efforts to tighten border security shortly after the 9/11 attacks. There, he developed a program — the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System — that called for close monitoring of men from Arab and Muslim nations, even legal U.S. residents. The program collapsed due to complaints of racial profiling and discrimination.

In 2004, Kobach ran for Congress. (At the same time, he worked on a FAIR lawsuit against a Kansas law granting in-state tuition rates to the children of undocumented immigrants. The suit was dismissed.) Kobach lost by 11 percentage points after his opponent accused him of ties to white supremacists.

Kobach also has taught constitutional and immigration law since 2003 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, but has come under attack there for anti-immigrant bias. In January 2007, for instance, fliers appeared on campus accusing Kobach of inflating his credentials and crafting bad law. In the classroom, he uses as a controversial book by political science professor Samuel Huntington that argues that today's immigrants will "divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, two languages."

Kobach, who in 2007 became chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, is far-right Christian fundamentalist. During his 2004 campaign, he accused his opponent of associating with groups supporting "homosexual pedophilia." He was referring to the Human Rights Campaign, a mainstream gay rights organization that has never come remotely close to endorsing pedophilia.

FAIR has accepted "$1.2 million from the Pioneer Fund, a group founded to promote the genes of white colonials that funds studies of race, intelligence and genetics" (Source).

See also: The Tanton Files: FAIR Founder’s Racism Revealed

Disclaimer: Despite the fact that I source information from the Southern Poverty Law Center and appreciate the work they do to expose nativist extremists, I vastly disagree with their relationship with law enforcement and their position on radical black groups and animal and earth liberation groups and I question their motives.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The House Metaphor

this is a work in progress for a poster- i'm asking for feedback, i.e. any omissions, errors, inconsistencies, etc. i realize the hypothetical "i" in the first part is that of the migrant whereas the hypothetical "i" in the second part is that of a white american. does this work okay? could it be shorter, and how? thanks.

A favorite of the anti-immigrant movement:
Let’s say I break into your house and that when you discover me in your house, you insist that I leave. But I say, “I’ve made all the beds and washed the dishes and did the laundry and swept the floors; I’ve done all the things you don’t like to do. I’m hard-working and honest (except for when I broke into your house).”

According to the protesters, not only must you let me stay, you must add me to your family’s insurance plan and provide other benefits to me and to my family… If you try to call the police or force me out, I will call my friends who will picket your house carrying signs that proclaim my right to be there. It’s only fair, after all, because you have a nicer house than I do, and I’m just trying to better myself…

A More honest version of the metaphor:
Let’s say I am part of a group that in the past built a huge house, over time and using slave labor, on top of many smaller houses, killing most of the previous inhabitants and cordoning off the others to separate rooms or dog houses and nearly completely destroying their culture and livelihoods. We feel entitled to this huge house because our culture is better and God said so. Then laws were made up to legitimize these actions and allow more of our kind into our house, while excluding people we arbitrarily don't like*. Then we can say that everyone who broke those laws has no legitimate right to be in our house. Since I wasn’t even alive when the unfortunate consequences of our home-building occurred, I can deny any responsibility for them even while I benefit from them. I do not even have to acknowledge that my house was built on top of others because I have managed to be able to ignore the survivors and that we gave them no say as to what would happen here, despite their resistance (which we vilified). I do not have to acknowledge the political and economic ramifications of the existence or maintenance of my house, nor that resources have been extracted from other houses. I can also ignore that we have a hand in destroying economies and communities through force, manipulation, and by keeping people in perpetual debt to us. I prefer to scapegoat the people who try to gain access to my house rather than address the question of why. I enjoy the lower cost of products and services (provided by exploitable illegal labor) which I need so I can afford to put more useless things on my credit card, which I do to support the capitalism that requires unemployment and low wages to survive. I am encouraged to feel that this is my house so I will defend it against invaders, even though I really don’t have access to decision-making or the riches that the true owners of the house have gained also through my labor and loyalty. My defense of this situation is ensured through fear tactics of the media who are funded by Capitalists and politicians who want to protect their power and riches by maintaining an unfair system. It is also ensured by the rhetoric of white supremacists who have been building a campaign against immigrants and other people of color for decades and using the aforementioned fear tactics to appeal to the mainstream. Despite the fact that I am being bamboozled, I feel threatened by others because I would have to look at the impact of my participation in this system and I would likely feel compelled to make some changes, which would make me feel uncomfortable.

*we have historically excluded people with darker skin as well as the various shades from Asian countries (in addition to Germans, Italians, Irish, and Polish until later when it was deemed useful that they have white privilege as well.)