Sunday, December 28, 2008

Employer Sanctions or Employee Sanctions?

A perfect example of the nativists and capitalists both getting their way (not to say they're mutually exclusive) is in today's Arizona Republic.

When the state's employer-sanctions law took effect nearly a year ago, it threatened to shut down businesses that hired illegal workers.

But not a single employer has been taken to court in Arizona, mainly because the landmark law is too difficult to enforce, authorities say.

In Maricopa County, where the law led to raids on a dozen businesses and the arrest of 159 workers and a manager, investigators have not been able to assemble enough evidence showing that employers actually knew the arrested workers were illegal, which the sanctions law requires.

The racist motives of the nativists often run counter to those who wish to profit off of the otherwise unwelcome laborers. Business groups did what they could to prevent the employer sanctions law from going into effect, but the nativists pushed it through. I've written previously about how the employer sanctions law was obviously just a way to target employees, not employers, and sure enough, even the local newspapers are noticing... well, at least they're noticing that the original intent of the law is not taking place.

Authorities have obtained records up to now with criminal search warrants, allowed because the raids were carried out as a probe into immigrants' criminal identity theft. But Thomas said officers need subpoena power to make a civil case directly against an employer and prove intentional hiring of illegal workers. Employers in violation can have business licenses suspended or revoked.

Business groups oppose the change, saying the sanctions law is already the toughest in the nation and most employers are complying. Giving law enforcement more powers would lead to further harassment of businesses when the state's economy is already suffering, they say...

The law applies only to hires made after Dec. 31, 2007, and many of the 151 illegal immigrants arrested in the 12 raids had been hired earlier, authorities say.

Still, supporters say the law is fulfilling its purpose of turning off the job magnet that draws illegal immigrants to Arizona. Employers fearful of losing their business licenses are taking extra steps to make sure they aren't employing illegal workers, which in turn has driven many undocumented immigrants and their families to leave the state, officials said...

Critics, however, contend that the Legal Arizona Workers Act is being used as an excuse to target only illegal workers, not employers, an ineffective way to fight illegal immigration.

"It (raises) the question: After all the expense and resources put into this law, were the employers the real target?" said Phoenix immigration lawyer Gerald Burns. "Probably not. It was to instill fear and to vet out suspected undocumented workers or drive them out of the state."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hypocrisy of a law-breaking anti-immigrant legislator

It's good that the Bird (New Times) brought up that Russell Pearce (AZ Representative) had been fired from the Motor Vehicle Department for tampering with someone's record (to remove a DUI as a favor). Not only has Pearce been outed as associating with neo-nazis and forwarding white supremacist literature (OOPS! Racist AZ politician "accidentally" sent out article from National Alliance and see this video), and that he has a violent temper and has abused his wife (see this video, but we are also informed (or reminded if we already had heard) that Pearce had broken the law to help someone who had broken the law.

So, it's okay for him to break the law, and for his friends to break the law, but it's not okay for people to take desperate measures to survive, that just happen to be illegal. This is just blatant hypocrisy and it's just ridiculous that people don't get that.

You might say, well, he wasn't charged with anything. He did get fired, though, but most of us know that people with political connections often get away with committing crimes without punishment.

There is a double standard when it comes to which crimes are acceptable and which are not, and which criminals are acceptable, and which are not.

Another thing that i think is interesting is that anti-immigrant folks regard the law as infallible and not something to be questioned or changed but pretty much only when they're talking about immigration law. People like Pearce obviously think the law in not perfect and should be changed, otherwise he wouldn't be in the legislature making up all sorts of new laws and changing existing ones. How about those people who say that they're okay with legal immigration and legal immigrants, as though access to legal immigration is easy and the people who don't do it legally choose that route when they could do it legally. You and i know (whether you agree with me on these issue or not) that if it really was easy for all these people to be "legal" immigrants, all the anti-immigrant people would be screaming about how easy it is for so many people to get into (and stay in) the country legally!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Police Raids on Immigrant Communities, Local

On July 8th, the Maricopa County Sheriff's department did a sweep on Mesa unannounced. Arpaio said they arrested 19 people in 5 hours and 18 of them were undocumented. The next day, they did a sweep in response to citizen (read racist) complaints in Cave Creek focusing in and around the Good Shepherd of the Hills Church, which was a location of a day labor center up until a few months ago. Also an article states, "Recently a federal court shot down an ordinance which would have loitering or soliciting work from a roadway illegal" (Source).

On July 15, the Phoenix PD brought over a dozen patrol cars to the area of Home Depot near the Macehualli day labor center. From an eyewitness account, a few people were detained in different locations, but the police did not stick around the area for long.

Arpaio is likely to hit Mesa soon again. It is highly likely that it will be unannounced.

There will be a protest against Arpaio at his booksigning at borders books at 2402 E Camelback Road, phoenix tomorrow/saturday at 12:30pm.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Graffiti targets sheriff

One or more graf artists hit an area of mesa, depicting the sheriff with the words "NAZI JOE". Sheriff joe had recently done one of his immigration sweeps in the area. But this is how channel 5 tells it:

Graffiti vandals hit a building in Mesa but the taggers had a message of hate aimed at Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Hate message? More like telling it like it is. He said he was honored to be compared to the KKK. Even if they do hate the sheriff, how could it be considered a hate crime? That's the most ridiculous thing i've ever heard. If they consider that a hate crime, certainly his racial profiling sweeps is a hate crime!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Immigrants Rights/Police Brutality Disconnect

People have been terrorized by police violence since, well, probably the the first police existed. The poorer you are, the darker your skin, the more likely you are to be effected by police brutality, whether directly or in your family. Because the police are viewed/portrayed as infallible and because their victim/survivors are portrayed as criminals, it is seen as okay. The treatment of undocumented people is also seen as okay because they are portrayed as criminals. The law enforcement terrorism brought against undocumented immigrants (and some who are not undocumented) include fear of deportation, separation of family members, bad conditions during detainment, and physical abuse. Getting justice for police brutality or other abuses is nearly hopeless for anyone, but must be so much worse for the undocumented who have rights, yet can just be deported.

While many understand this, somehow, many immigrants' rights advocates separate the issues in their mind. They celebrate politicians/cops who criticize sheriff joe's actions, but excuse the actions of the officers in their jurisdiction, no matter the abuses.

Take Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who, upon finding out about an image-damaging article in Colorlines (Why So High?), denied the findings of their research about the high number of police shootings in Phoenix, particularly those against latinos. (I mentioned it in a previous blog post, High Number of Police Shootings in Phoenix). He insulted families and friends of lost loved ones killed by cops, implying that anyone hurt by the police deserve it because cops are infallible. The mayors' allegations about the data being incorrect were disputed by Colorlines, as discussed in the phoenix-based online publication, Barriozona.
This mayor also intiated a change to the phoenix police department's policy that makes it so that they ask all arrested persons about their immigration status. He was able to save face by being two-faced- criticizing Arpaio's tactics when the timing was right.

How about mesa police chief gascon, also criticizing arpaio's tactics, but not the actual act of immigration enforcement. Just days after the recent sweeps in Mesa, the media reported that Mesa was changing their policy to one that sounds similar to Phoenix's. Gascon hails from L.A. where he was an officer of increasing ranks through the years. He was there for the Rodney King beating and the various other incidents of police brutality. He has been the Mesa PD chief for nearly 2 years, and as far as i know, has not done anything to rectify the 2003 mesa police shooting of Mario Madrigal Jr., who was 15. I hope his family can get some justice. Not very appropriate is the feathered bastards' recollection of the recent mesa sweeps, "Gascon... resembled a rock star, cheered by the crowds and hailed as a hero for his actions." (Source).

Guess who was in the mesa pd when this and several other shooting deaths occurred: Dan saban, the guy who several immigrants rights advocates are helping in some way to campaign to oust arpaio as maricopa county sheriff. Running as a democrat, although a republican most of his life (Source) (and probably still), Saban is being painted as an advocate of immigrants, although really he just feels that it shouldn’t be the job of the police to enforce immigration law. He has said he’d keep tent city (Source) which is one of the worst crimes committed in this county. Sure, he’s probably not as bad a guy as arpaio, but will those who are helping him campaign protest his abuses?

Gerald Richard, a name not well known, might become more popular as his campaign against Andrew Thomas gets more public. He showed up to the Citizen’s Walk for Human Dignity in May to get his petitions signed. Richard was until recently, a legal advisor to the Phoenix PD. Micheal Lacey of the New Times newspaper, who had been acquainted with him for several years said, "He never gave an inch when it came to defending a cop." (Source). Which must be why he played a role in keeping Louie Arriaga Jr. in prison for defending himself against police brutality. Richard apparently claimed that Louie Jr.’s father insulted him and that’s why he opposed a settlement even after the officer involved said he’s cool with Louie going on time served. Luciano Sr. says he has witnesses that he did not disrespect Richard. If you don’t know about Louie’s case, please check out Gerald Richard was quoted as saying “I’m waiting for someone to call me a liberal. Because when they do, I’m going to tell them, ask the guy I put away for 10.5 years how liberal that was. Ask the one who got 15 years how liberal that was.” Looks like he’s got something to prove. Oh, and he also said, before the Phoenix PD policy change on asking about immigration status, that he supported the proposed changes (Source).

It is not a coincidence that these men are being supported by immigrants rights advocates yet they have ties to police brutality. You could pick any cop or politician and they probably have ties to police brutality and they are probably two faced. It’s part of the job. The point is not “don’t vote for that guy, he’s a jerk,” but that none of these people are a solution to the problems facing our communities today. Police and politicians do not stop crime. Crime exists for reasons way beyond their direct control- and actually in many cases they contribute to the reasons for crimes- these reasons include inequality in access to basic needs like food, shelter, and a healthy environment.

I could go on and on about this. I guess if anything, if you have to campaign for or celebrate one of these guys or someone like them, at least keep the perspective that these men are not true choices- just the only choices on the ballot. And show your support for those fighting against police brutality and other various abuses by the system.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Employer Sanctions Law Applies to New Hires Only

A while back, i commented on the amazing confusion about to whom the new employer sanctions law applies (WTF Just Happened? Employer Sanctions for new hires or not...). Today, while catching up on reading the local news, i found a casual acknowledgment that the legislature had worked it out and decided that it applied to those hired on/after January 1st. From what i could find (and i admit i hadn't had the time/access to be up on the news), there were no news stories that focussed only on this change. But considering the major confusion and the pure insanity of the fact that a law was passed and thousands of workers who were hired before january 1st didn't know if they could legally be fired, and businesses were firing people BEFORE the law went into effect so they wouldn't get in trouble, yet the law didn't even apply to the folks who were hired before january 1st. I can't believe the audacity of the people who left this in limbo until several months after the law went into effect. And no one makes a big deal out of it!

While searching for news articles on the change to the law, i found a number of articles about lawsuits, panels, etc. which may lead to another change to the law. The issue about whether E-verify is accurate enough, whether the state can force businesses to check legal status, etc. are up for debate. In addition, the sheriff's raid on golfland will apparently also "test" the law. And speaking of this raid, why did folks not make a big stink about this either?

Some good news: a couple ballot initiatives brought by racists pearce and goldwater (grassroots my ass) called L.A.W. and S.O.L.E. aren't going to the ballot. Not enough funding from Tanton's national organizations to go around anymore fellas? Another piece of good news is that a guest worker program failed to get a vote.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cop vs. Cop: Sheriff and Mesa Chief spar over sweeps

One of the news reporters stated that the drama surrounding the sheriff’s sweeps in Mesa was like “Cop vs. Cop”. The news was more about the disagreement between county sheriff joe arpaio and mesa police chief gascon. If you watched some of the video footage, you could see arpaio so pissed you figure any moment he’s going to snap. He claims that gascon tried to stop him from doing his sweeps, although it’s not clear exactly how. Gascon claims that the sheriff was putting the people of mesa and his officers in danger, which I think is an interesting assertion. The cop on cop action overshadowed the real injustices occurring, yet anytime the cops are brawling, it’s usually a good thing for the people.


I was amazed at how convinced gascon was that a riot was going to break out due to the sheriff’s sweeps.
Mesa Police Chief George Gascón, citing growing concerns over possible civil unrest tied to anti-illegal immigration sweeps by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is stepping up efforts to ensure public safety… [Sgt. Fabian] Cota said officers were recently told to make sure all their equipment was working properly including gas masks in the event of demonstrations. (Source).

The anxiety may in part have been due to how heated things got in Phoenix during the second round of sweeps, which included a mysterious man bringing a gun to the demonstration/counter-demonstration (gascon referenced Guadalupe as well, but there was hardly a protest, much less a riot there). I imagine it has to do with the fact that Gascon was an LAPD sergeant when the LA riots of 1992 broke out, which is also probably why he wanted so much to avoid a riot. Unless of course, he wasn't trying to avoid it. As one commentator on said, "For someone who doesn't want a riot, he sure does talk about it alot..."
Either way, I wouldn’t claim I could know whether or not a riot would happen, but I am surprised at how sure of it he was. I overheard an officer talking about the possibility of the vehicles near the protest site getting damaged.

There are several factors that could play into things getting heated again. That includes large numbers of racist counter-protesters. For the mesa sweeps, however, Riders USA, via, urged their members and members of other anti-immigrant groups not to show up, so the MCSO “can concentrate on performing their duties efficiently and most importantly safely”. It seems they also realize they contribute to an unsafe situation. A few anti-immigrant protesters showed up anyway. Back in April, Gascon also expressed his concern about a group of about 15 raucous pro-Arpaio demonstrators in early April, soon after Arpaio announced he’d be heading to Mesa.

Mesa PD are also in a unique position as far as information goes, because they had a Mesa PD officer undercover in white-supremacist groups.
Detective Matt Browning of the Mesa Police Department said he spent 12 years working undercover with three border militia groups and six White-supremacist organizations in Arizona, who he said are some of the "most violent, racist skinheads in the nation."

"Every meeting revolved around immigration," Browning said. (Source).

Yet, more amazing is how the Mesa PD talked about the possibility of violence being the sheriff’s fault. A man from the Mesa Police Association said, “Lives are in jeopardy, and MPA wants to prevent acts of violence and accidents from occurring. The Sheriff is creating a dangerous situation when emotions run high and weapons are involved.” Arpaio's Mesa crime suppression begins in new location. I have seen several clear examples of the cops initiating violence at mass gatherings, but usually it’s the people who are blamed for starting scuffles that are called “riots”. And despite the blow to Mesa PD’s ego caused by arpaio stepping on their turf and claiming they’re not doing their job, it’s really in the cops’ interest to maintain the concept that criminals start riots, not cops.

Although the media mostly makes it appear that Gascon prevented violence by causing the Sheriff to move out of the original location, Gascon’s preparation for the event was quite heavy-handed. Dozens of cops surrounded the medium-sized demonstration at the original site of the sheriff’s command unit. Police were equipped with pepper spray, riot gear, and there were SWAT units in hidden places. It seems that because nothing dramatic happened at the protest, that Gascon and/or the media purposely focused on Gascon’s preparation as it related to Arpaio. However, before the sweeps began, Gascon had a clear focus on demonstrators, as he said, in Gascon: Mesa ready if protesters turn out for crime sweep, “We had a group of people who have already been trained to deal with civil disobedience in handling crowd control. We've added some more people to that number and we have done some recent training…”

Arpaio was Pissed

Basically two things, from what I can determine, pissed Arpaio off. He claims Gascon leaked the information about the sweeps, and that Gascon was trying to prevent Arpaio from doing the sweeps by setting up a space for the protesters near the command center, and surrounding the area with mesa cops. The Feathered Bastard reported that Arpaio said, “The bottom line, he's doing everything to keep me from going into that city, lockin' up illegals." (Source).

Two other reports mentioned Arpaio’s attitude:

The Maricopa County sheriff blamed the city's police chief, George Gascón, for upstaging the event by creating safe places for protesters and having officers ready to quell violence should it break out. (Source).

Still, after the sheriff decided to change his game plan on Thursday and move deputies away from where protesters gathered, he blew up at Mesa's police chief and accused Gascón of actively seeking out media attention.
"We had to change our operation up because of all the hype," the sheriff said on Thursday night, adding that because of the "leak" he will not tell Gascón about future sweeps. (Source).

Funny, Arpaio said at a different time that he was trying to trick demonstrators by moving around.
… Arpaio said he intentionally stayed away from Mesa was to thwart the demonstrators.
"I wasn't afraid to go," Arpaio said. "The reason I did this was because they were waiting. I played a little game with them." (Source).

So which is it, Arpaio? And why does he think it’s okay to admit to playing games with the residents’ tax dollars?

Perhaps in private, Gascon has been more vocal about opposing Arpaio’s mission (you’d think there's something more that Arpaio is so pissed about), but he has not outright said that the sweeps are wrong. He has only criticized the sweeps as being a publicity stunt that could create danger for the people and the officers. He also critized the sheriff for not being cooperative and communicating with him. Also, Gascon was not the one who leaked the information about the sweeps. He actually found out from community members and the press before he got word from the sheriff. All this makes the sheriff look pretty paranoid.

Thus, compared to arpaio, gascon seemed like a good guy. Protesters apparently cheered for him. But i think it's very important to keep some things in mind. One, that he never said that enforcing immigration law was wrong, just that arpaio wasn't doing it preoperly. Additionally, what would have happened to protesters had things gotten heated? Mesa PD is known to kill people. (I plan to discuss the disconnect regarding police brutality and immigrant advocacy in a future post).

Today, news came out that the city of mesa is changing it's police policy (Source). It sounds similar to what the Phoenix PD recently adopted. Interestingly, phoenix mayor phil gordon initiated the change to that policy but is to some extent seen as a good guy for criticizing arpaio. Let us not be fooled into thinking these politicians are advocates for immigrants.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Arpaio's Mesa Sweep coverage

It is very interesting to check out the media coverage, especially video, of the sweeps that took place thursday and friday (likely not continuing today, but we'll see), if only to see how pissed off arpaio is. It is also interesting to hear the discussion of the reasoning behind mesa pd's chief gascon talking about why he responded the way he did to arpaio's sweeps. I plan to comment on that in the future. Also check out the coverage of the people who copwatched.

Sheriff's Sweep Continues in Mesa (video) More videos on the side-bar at this link.

some links a friend sent out about thursday's coverage:

Video from Thursday's sweeps

More videos about the sweeps

Slideshow from AZ Republic, showing migrant arrested

Surprisingly good coverage from Fox 10

Slideshow from East Valley Tribune

New Times slideshow

Text media:
Ringmaster Arpaio a no-show at circus in Mesa

Police many, protesters few on Day 2 of Mesa crackdown

Arpaio statements about Gascón leaks questioned

Gascon praises officers, criticizes sweeps

Sheriff's 'Operation Ghost' sweep in Mesa in 2nd day

Activists asking "Where is Sheriff Joe?"

Sheriff's 'Operation Ghost' sweep in Mesa in 2nd day

Sheriff Joe Wusses Out: Mesa Police Chief George Gascon sends ...

MCSO sweep continues; 14 illegal immigrants found

28 arrested in Mesa sweep

Demonstrations over sweeps in Mesa stay peaceful

Immigrant advocates protest sheriff's crackdown

State, Feds to watch over Arpaio's Mesa sweep

Protestors precede sheriff's Mesa sweeps

Monday, June 23, 2008

Arpaio Protests Increase

There have been a series of protests against Sheriff Arpaio since his immigration sweeps. Arpaio's last sweep was in Fountain Hills on May 6th. In the month and a half before that, the MCSO hit Guadalupe, Bell Road, starting with the area around 25th St. and Thomas (these events were "crime suppression operations" in specific places which seemed to be arranged for media attention. MCSO has also been making arrests of "smugglers" as well). MCSO also recently did a raid on a waterpark.

Many people have come out to protest the sweeps. Since the MCSO took a break from the sweeps, people have become a bit more proactive, going after him at his personal events. The first protest of this sort was on May 12 at an event where he spoke to an anti-immigrant audience. With less than a day's notice, close to 100 people showed up to the protest outside the building. The book-signings have involved questions being asked on film that the mainstream media don't ask, a request to have a book signed for Scott Norberg, a man who was killed by officers in Arpaio's jail, and disruptions at a speech portion of the book-signing event, in addition to a visible group of protesters outside the store holding signs. Over 300 people showed up to protest Arpaio at the County Board of Supervisor's meeting.

Here's a breakdown of the media on these events:

June 21 Scottsdale Barnes & Noble

Arpaio book signing in Scottsdale draws protests

Arpaio book signing draws supporters, protesters (to see pictures, click "Arpaio book signing gets mixed reaction" under "MORE ON THIS TOPIC"

Dozens protest Sheriff Joe Arpaio's booksigning, policies (see video on the right)

Sheriff Greeted by Protesters at Book Signing

June 19 County Board of Supervisors Meeting

Set to Boil: Board of Supervisors backs Sheriff Joe Arpaio; citizens vent rage, frustration at do-nothing Supes

Protesters demand crackdown on Sheriff Arpaio

Immigrant rights activists urge more oversight of Arpaio, sheriff refuses to alter approach

May 31 Goodyear Barnes & Noble

youtube video
Barnes and Ignoble: Sheriff Joe Arpaio autographs a book for Scott Norberg, suffocated to death June 1, 1996 in one of Joe's gulags

May 20 Deer Valley

youtube video

Another citizen makes Joe Arpaio's enemies list. His crime? Asking questions at a Barnes and Noble booksigning.

May 12 Italian American Club/ L.A.W. & S.O.L.E. event

youtube video

Columbus D-Day: Activists crash Joe Arpaio fete at Italian Club; Joe and Andy Thomas hang with redneck bikers

Sunday, April 6, 2008

AZ Immigration News

These are a few of the stories i have been meaning to blog about...

Governor OKs bill keeping illegal immigrants for having guns
Gov. Janet Napolitano signed legislation Friday designed to restore a state law keeping illegal immigrants from having firearms. The measure revamps a 4-year-old state law that was designed to mirror federal statutes that regulate who can and cannot possess a weapon.

But the state Court of Appeals ruled last year that federal statute - the one referred to in state law - specifically refers to weapons involved in interstate commerce.

The judges said that means people could be convicted of violating the state gun law only if prosecutors could prove the weapon in question was "shipped or transported in interstate commerce."

The new version fixes that by saying all foreigners in this state are forbidden from having guns.

House Supports Requiring Cops to Confront Immigration
PHOENIX - The Arizona House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a proposed requirement that city and county police agencies carry out programs for their officers to confront federal immigration violations.

Arizona Legislation Prohibits Renting To Illegal Immigrants
A new house bill targets where illegal immigrants can live.

The Appropriations Committee voted to make it illegal for landlords to rent to those who cannot prove their legal status.

Landlords who knowingly or recklessly rent to illegal immigrants in Arizona will be subjected to a penalty of up to $250 for each day of the violation.

Report: Hate Groups Growing in Arizona
Hate groups are increasing in America and no where faster than right here in Arizona, according to the "Year in Hate" report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The number of hate groups operating in America swelled by 48 percent between 2000 and 2007 according to the report.

Arizona slams door on illegal immigrants
Some citizens have been bruised, too, as the state cracks down.

The campaign has had an effect: Illegal immigrants complain it's impossible to find good work and are leaving the state.

It has also taken a toll on some U.S. citizens.

Juan Carlos Ochoa, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in an
upper-middle-class subdivision near Phoenix named Laguna Hills, can't find a job because a government database classifies him as a possible illegal immigrant. Pauline Muñoz, a 39-year-old mother of six who was born in Phoenix, has been afraid to leave her apartment since being held by sheriff's deputies for 15 hours for a driving infraction -- an example of what she believes is racial profiling.

And businesses that cater to immigrants both legal and illegal report a huge drop in sales, increasing the drag on the state's already troubled economy...

Third Week of Sheriff's Sweep: Guadalupe

This is the third week of immigration sweeps by the maricopa county illegal sheriff's office. This time, they invaded the town of guadalupe, which is a really small town just south of tempe. The town mostly consists of yaqui and mexican migrant residents.

I urge you to read the sheriff's press release and then view these videos:
youtube video
channel 12 video
See what the mayor says about the press release, what the sheriff had told them, and how the mayor confronted sheriff joe. You can also read about the conflict on the feathered bastard's blog.

There's another video of what happened in guadalupe here. You will see that people were being pulled over for ridiculous things like "improper use of the horn" when they honked at the protesters in support.

Back in 2002, i believe, the sheriff's office invaded guadalupe after someone shot at either a deputy or the person the deputy was dealing with. Either way, the sheriff's office took it as an assault against the deputy, didn't catch the guy, but proceeded to bring their mobile command unit out to guadalupe and pull over nearly every single person. This past weekend was nearly a repeat, except there were many protesters, and because obviously shooting at someone is more of a crime than not having documents, the residents could get behind an opposition to the police.

Friday differed from thursday in that the police did not set up their command center in town on friday, but rather brought their arrestees to a station in mesa. They also didn't pull as many people over. There were also less protesters, partly because there was a big church service, and probably also because there were less people being arrested.

Signs at the protests and left on the streets included, "Arpaio, stop using guadalupe", "Our people deserve respect," "You're on indian land. The only illegal here is arpaio."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Mayor Vs. Sheriff Joe

There's been quite a bit of coverage about how the phoenix mayor has been vocal about the sheriff's recent actions. (Channel 15/ABC, Arpaio at odds with Phoenix Mayor Gordon, War of words heats up between Arpaio, Gordon to name a few).

While we might be swayed to see the mayor as a good guy, let us not forget that he moved to make the changes to the phoenix pd policy on asking about immigration status. Let us also not forget that, in the face of every survivor of police brutality, and every family member of a victim of police murder, he denied that we have a problem with police violence in this city.

Please see my previous comments on these subjects: Mayor Gordon Criticizes Anti-Immigrant Racists and Phoenix Mayor Supports Change In Phx PD Immigration Policy.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"This is War" Local AZ Immigration News

I've called it war before, and they all certainly talk and act like it's war, but until yesterday, i hadn't heard a local official call this situation war. Yesterday on a CNN show that must've been on around 4pm, they had sheriff joe on talking about his immigration crack-down. I distinctly heard him say, "This is war". I spent the last 10 minutes trying to find which show it was and if there was a transcript, but i don't have a lot of time right now. I don't think it's all that surprising anyway.

Here are some things going on lately (mainstream news stories on sheriff joe at the end):

Arizona Legislation Prohibits Renting To Illegal Immigrants
A new house bill targets where illegal immigrants can live.

The Appropriations Committee voted to make it illegal for landlords to rent to those who cannot prove their legal status.

Landlords who knowingly or recklessly rent to illegal immigrants in Arizona will be subjected to a penalty of up to $250 for each day of the violation.

Just two years after Escondido, CA gained media attention, when it passed a controversial law that punish landlords for renting to illegal immigrants, Arizona takes on the same route.

In Yuma, many property management companies are already taking their own measures.

Instead of having to figure out and verify who is legal, the legislation says they must ask prospective renters for one of 12 documents.

Governor OKs bill keeping illegal immigrants for having guns
Gov. Janet Napolitano signed legislation Friday designed to restore a state law keeping illegal immigrants from having firearms. The measure revamps a 4-year-old state law that was designed to mirror federal statutes that regulate who can and cannot possess a weapon.

But the state Court of Appeals ruled last year that federal statute - the one referred to in state law - specifically refers to weapons involved in interstate commerce.

The judges said that means people could be convicted of violating the state gun law only if prosecutors could prove the weapon in question was "shipped or transported in interstate commerce."

The new version fixes that by saying all foreigners in this state are forbidden from having guns.

House Supports Requiring Cops to Confront Immigration
The Arizona House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a proposed requirement that city and county police agencies carry out programs for their officers to confront federal immigration violations.

Local agencies could meet the requirement by getting training for their police and jail officers, putting federal immigration agents in units within their departments or cultivating relationships with federal authorities to confront the problem.

"It's one way of dealing the immigration problem that lets the cities use the most efficient way that they have to do that," said Republican Rep. John Nelson of Litchfield Park, author of the proposal.

A small number of local police agencies in Arizona have already sought special training to enforcement federal immigration law.

Report: Hate Groups Growing in Arizona
Hate groups are increasing in America and no where faster than right here in Arizona, according to the "Year in Hate" report from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The number of hate groups operating in America swelled by 48 percent between 2000 and 2007 according to the report.

In Arizona, we saw a 70 percent jump last year compared with 2006, says Matt Potock with the Southern Poverty Law Center. "I the case of Arizona, by our account the state went from 10 groups in 2006 to 17 in 2007 the following year. That really is a remarkable growth."

It's the biggest increase of any state.

"These include several different kinds of hate groups - Klan groups, neo-Nazi groups, in some case black supremacist groups as well as white supremacist groups," says Potock.

"Virtually all of these groups or the vast majority of them have turned almost 100 percent of their attention to immigration, specifically illegal immigration."

Combine that with the latest FBI statistics showing a big rise in hate crimes against Latinos, and Potok says it appears the hate propaganda is making its way into the mainstream.

Potock says there's been an 48 percent increase in the number of hate groups nationwide.

Arpaio launches undocumented immigration sweep in Valley
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio launches another immigration sweep in the Valley on Friday.

Business owners have complained about rising crime connected with undocumented immigrants in the area.

Opposing groups are on guard and ready to protest.

Those groups met with reporters on Wednesday with a message for Arpaio saying, "We'll be watching."

Lydia Guzman believes that Arpaio is breaking the law. "He is not the hero that he talks himself up to be."

Late last year, Arpaio reacted to email he says he received from a Central Phoenix business.

In the email, a business owner complained about the day laborers around 32nd Street and Thomas.

The owner claims the day laborers were causing problems and harassing customers.

The sheriff's office increased patrols in the area and over a period of several weeks, arrested more than 100 people and 94 of them were undocumented immigrants.

Now the sheriff is at it again, in a similar scenario with businesses not only in the central part of the Valley, but also to the north.

Opposing groups are outraged. "He's a villain, he's a criminal, and he's violating the law."

"They call me a racist, they call me KKK...they call me a Nazi," says Arpaio. "That's not going to deter me from doing my job. It's very simple. I will continue to enforce the immigration laws."

Arpaio continued to say that 140 of his deputies are trained in federal immigration laws.

However, close to 200 deputies set up the command post at 32nd street and Thomas, along with jail wagons, to launch the event.

Arpaio's Deputies, Posse Expand Patrols
Nearly 200 sheriff's deputies and posse members are poised to launch a new patrol in two areas of Phoenix after business owners complained of rising crime, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.

Owners complained of increases in criminal activity and other problems largely related to illegal immigrants and day laborers in their neighborhoods, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said.

Arpaio said he will send hundreds of volunteer armed posse men and women along with several ICE-trained deputies to saturate the two areas beginning Friday at 4 p.m....

Sheriff's patrols to target illegals
Sheriff's deputies and immigrant advocates are on a collision course that will send them to two busy intersections in Phoenix where day laborers gather.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he plans to dispatch nearly 200 deputies and armed posse members to the areas to patrol for possible criminal activity by illegal immigrants starting today.

Immigrant advocates countered that they're sending observers armed with video cameras to monitor law enforcement officials for civil rights violations.

The sheriff's office operation is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at 32nd Street and Thomas Road, less than a mile from M.D. Pruitt's furniture store, where a similar operation resulted in heated exchanges and attracted national headlines last year.

Arpaio will also send patrols to 32nd Street and Bell Road two or three days later, though a specific date has yet to be determined.

Criminalizing People as a Political Act

I was listening to NPR today and happened to catch a segment on Talk of the Nation on "The Untold History of Post-Civil War 'Neoslavery'". In this segment, the author of the book called "Slavery by Another Name" talked about how after the emancipation proclamation went into effect, lots of black men were arrested for all sorts of crimes including vagrancy and various made-up crimes so that they could be made to work for free- thus a slavery by another name. First, i was disappointed that no one, no callers, nor the interviewee mentioned that this is still going on today in the prison industrial complex. How many black men are imprisoned right now?
Black males ages 25-29: 11,695 per 100,000. (That's 11.7% of Black men in their late 20s.) (Source).

Anyway, this discussion of laws created to basically continue to enslave mostly black men "after slavery" made me think of a point that i have made before about people being criminalized out of a political/economic motivation- specifically undocumented immigrants being made "illegal" to justify certain treatment. This way, they are kept from being able to fight, to some extent, for basic human rights, and people are made to actually believe that they don't deserve certain rights because they are "illegal". Of course, they are only "illegal" because it is in the interest of the government and businesses to make them so, so that we can have a permanent underclass to exploit the labor of. Anyway, you get the point.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More on Sheriff's Racial Profiling

Last night the sheriff's patrols were shorter than the night before.
Because i wrote my last post quickly, i wanted to add a couple things. One was that there were a few dozen people at the sheriff's department's staging area in a sort of protest. The primary objective was to let the people who were being brought in know that they have a right to a lawyer and they shouldn't say anything. There were people shouting these things by bullhorn. The people who were arrested were being taken to this area, and therefore could possibly see the signs or hear the shouts.
People were also shouting shame to the police officers for being part of this blatant racial profiling.
Another thing i left out was that there was a lot of media there and of course arpaio was there for that particularly earlier on. I have been unable to check out any of the media coverage so far.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sheriff's office starts racial profiling campaign

For the second evening in a row, the sheriff's office is saturating an area of phoenix in order to pull over and arrest as many undocumented immigrants as they can. Last night and tonight, the sheriff's set up a large area in the parking lot of big lots on thomas with a command unit, stadium lights, and other large vehicles. Although they will say that they are only pulling over people committing crimes such as traffic violations, it can't be more blatant that they are going after specific people. For one, just read the press release the sheriff's office put out the other day, below.

Last night, one car that was stopped was pulled over for not having adequate lighting on their license plate. The driver was arrested and taken away.

I also heard that rusty childress was deputized as a posse member by sheriff joe. This is not the first anti-immigrant organizer to be part of his posse. Please see the article, MCSO Posse Member 's Hate Speech Against Immigrants. The sheriff allegedly spoke at one of the united for sovereign americans meeting the other day. It is rumored also that rusty childress was also caught prank calling a supporter of the local day laborers.

The press release below mentions written requests for police presence, which i heard that buffalo rick (the one who peed in public and got caught) was behind gathering support for this campaign. The mayor has said that the area the sheriff's office is targetting is not higher in crime than other areas of phoenix. There has also been another published study that shows undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than citizens.

Written requests for additional police presence and protection were sent to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio this week from business owners in two separate areas of Phoenix. Owners are complaining of increases in crime and other problems largely related to illegal immigrants and day laborers there.
As a result, Sheriff Arpaio is sending hundreds of volunteer armed posse men and women along with several ICE trained deputies to saturate the two areas beginning Friday, March 21, 2008.

“Businesses owners is these two parts of Phoenix have indicated to me that they are extremely frustrated with the growing problems associated with illegal immigration," Arpaio says. "They say they feel that only this Sheriff's Office will provide the kind of law enforcement help they want and need to reduce the problems."

Arpaio says nearly 200 Sheriff's posse men and deputies will patrol the areas looking for any and all criminal activity there. It is a repeat of the Thomas Road operations that occurred late last year when owners of the Pruitt's Furniture Store appealed to the Sheriff for help with their day laborer related problems. Over the duration of that operation, Arpaio says, over 134 of people were arrested and booked into jail, 94 of whom were determined to be illegal aliens.

"Any illegal immigrant whom we come across in the course of our crime suppression program in these two valley areas will be arrested and taken directly to jail," Arpaio says. (Source).

Monday, March 17, 2008

AZ Immigration News

Last week's news included, Immigration enforcement captures hundreds in state and Smuggling tie mulled in deaths.

The first article says,
More than 600 undocumented immigrants were arrested across Arizona in recent days, about double the average for this time of year, according to officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Roughly 110 undocumented immigrants also were discovered Monday at separate suspected drophouses in the west Valley, capping nearly a week of large busts of human-smuggling loads throughout metro Phoenix.

Katrina S. Kane is director of ICE detention and removal operations in Arizona. She said that cooperation between ICE and local law-enforcement agencies is "making it much more difficult for human smugglers to avoid detection in the Phoenix area."

Activity in illegal immigration typically is at its highest through May, but January and February were "relatively slow," said Vincent Picard, with ICE in Phoenix.

The second article is a very sad one, but it sheds light on the situation created by criminalizing people. In the article, sheriff joe has the nerve to say, "Every life is precious" but there is no doubt in my mind that he is directly contributing to this situation.
A spate of bodies that have turned up recently in the West Valley has Maricopa County sheriff's officials concerned that human smugglers are once again resorting to deadly violence.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating the killings of six people whose bodies have surfaced in locations around the West Valley in the past three weeks.

Sheriff's authorities said some of the tactics used in the murders, including a male victim found on Feb. 26 near an Avondale farm with his hands tied behind his back and a bullet wound to the back of his head, resemble those used by smugglers.

Three of the victims were determined to be in the country illegally; the identity and immigration status of the latest two, whose charred bodies were discovered in a car near Buckeye last week, are not yet known, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.

AZ Immigration News

Last week's news included, Immigration enforcement captures hundreds in state and Smuggling tie mulled in deaths.

The first article says,
More than 600 undocumented immigrants were arrested across Arizona in recent days, about double the average for this time of year, according to officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Roughly 110 undocumented immigrants also were discovered Monday at separate suspected drophouses in the west Valley, capping nearly a week of large busts of human-smuggling loads throughout metro Phoenix.

Katrina S. Kane is director of ICE detention and removal operations in Arizona. She said that cooperation between ICE and local law-enforcement agencies is "making it much more difficult for human smugglers to avoid detection in the Phoenix area."

Activity in illegal immigration typically is at its highest through May, but January and February were "relatively slow," said Vincent Picard, with ICE in Phoenix.

The second article is a very sad one, but it sheds light on the situation created by criminalizing people. In the article, sheriff joe has the nerve to say, "Every life is precious" but there is no doubt in my mind that he is directly contributing to this situation.
A spate of bodies that have turned up recently in the West Valley has Maricopa County sheriff's officials concerned that human smugglers are once again resorting to deadly violence.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating the killings of six people whose bodies have surfaced in locations around the West Valley in the past three weeks.

Sheriff's authorities said some of the tactics used in the murders, including a male victim found on Feb. 26 near an Avondale farm with his hands tied behind his back and a bullet wound to the back of his head, resemble those used by smugglers.

Three of the victims were determined to be in the country illegally; the identity and immigration status of the latest two, whose charred bodies were discovered in a car near Buckeye last week, are not yet known, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.

Anti-immigrant group confronted with mockery

Some coverage of the protest against the protesters who have been harassing day laborers and others for several weeks outside a day labor center:

Arizona Indymedia: Alienating the Minutemen

Feathered Bastard of New Times: Arty "aliens" lampoon nativists at Macehualli Work Center, ridicule Rick Galeener's alleged public pee fest.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Problem with "Illegal"

a flier i made (you can download it at the end):

Have you been duped into believing that a person can be an "illegal"? Why is a person who speeds not called an illegal? Is it not obvious that there are some unfair standards put towards undocumented immigrants, their offense often simply a civil misdemeanor?

The argument goes something like this: undocumented immigrants have entered or stayed in the U.S. in a manner that is against the law, and therefore they are subject to consequences and less rights. This argument is made to appear simple and reasonable, yet there are various problems with it. We must question why breakers of immigration laws (particularly specific breakers of these laws) are targeted more than breakers of other laws. The existence of these laws must be questioned in the first place.

Some out there are saying that people, including kids who die crossing the desert to come into the U.S. deserve it because they are "illegal". The same is said about the people who are dying in custody after raids. The same is said about the mothers who don't know where their children are because they were separated in a raid. The same is said about women who get assaulted by ICE agents.

Different Laws, Different Standards
Laws are broken everyday, but somehow the immigration laws are regarded to be more important. It is widely assumed, because of the way it is discussed, that entering and/or over-staying in the U.S. illegally is a criminal offense. However, technically speaking it is a civil misdemeanor, unless the person has re-entered after being deported, in which case it is a more serious offense. Opponents of "illegal" immigration state that immigrants should migrate legally. In reality this is quite impossible for most people. And you can bet that if it was possible for all the people who need to enter to do so, the laws would change to make it nearly impossible. Despite these points, "illegal" immigration is treated as worse than most other crimes and is often intentionally associated with terrorism, murder, and rape. This, despite that fact that studies have shown that the crime rate among undocumented immigrants are lower than that of citizens. Terms such as "illegal alien" are used to demonize a certain group of people while other crimes go overlooked.

Although employers of undocumented immigrants are now being targeted for providing jobs to those who have crossed the border, they are targeted only on the basis that they are providing jobs and livelihood (as limited as it is) to undocumented immigrants. Employers have not significantly been persecuted for crimes such as human rights violations. In the months since the immigration employment issue came to the forefront, many things have been exposed such as sweat-shop conditions, child labor, people often not getting paid, people held as slaves, people provided with horrible housing conditions, etc. These crimes are not seen as important as the crime of stepping across a man-made boundary. As elaborated on below, various abuses have been committed by law enforcement officials and border security including poor treatment of detainees, sexual assault against women, and the dividing of families. Imagine if all people who dumped toxic chemicals on the land and water were treated like undocumented immigrants are now. What kind of world would have to exist for that to happen?

The same day news came out about the large number of illegal music and movie downloads by college students, news also broke about a game played by NYU republican students called "Find the Illegal Immigrant". Would college republicans or any students for that matter ever start hunting illegal downloaders? Why aren't illegal downloaders called "illegals"? This is just one example of the many crimes committed by citizens or companies that are not seen as serious as people crossing a border to seek a better life.

Laws Can be Racist
The law has historically been racist. Genocide, slavery, internment camps- most people today can agree that these things were wrong. But they were completely legal. It was illegal for slaves to escape. Even after slavery, we know that many racist laws were left on the books and new ones were made. Many people today have a concept of the law as something infallible that everyone has agreed is best for the well-being of all (well, every citizen maybe), yet it certainly was not during the time of slavery, nor during the times treaties with native people were broken, nor when thousands of Japanese and Japanese-Americans were put in internment camps. It is not as though Euro-Americans all just had to learn a lesson and there was no opposition to those laws back then. Why is the law not to be questioned now?

Immigration and deportation policies have historically been shaped around prejudices against people of certain origins. The attitudes that brought on the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, that the Chinese were taking jobs and lowering wages, mirror a lot of those towards Mexican migrants and others today (these attitudes were held about black people for decades after slavery ended as well). This illustrates that laws are created to protect white/European people- who are descendants of immigrants themselves. Back then blatant racism was more acceptable and therefore the first "illegal" immigrants were a group from a specific country: China. Although certain newer European immigrants and those from various other countries faced prejudice and discrimination, Chinese immigrants saw this, as well as much violence.

For the next forty years, many groups and individual non-citizens were deported because they were seen as political threats to the country. Then in 1924, the National Origins Quota passed, which was due to World War I-related fears of foreign people. It strictly limited immigration from eastern and southern Europe. Later in 1952, quotas for immigration from Asian countries were severely limited. Much of the organizing later in the civil rights era led to the abolishment of the National Origins Quota. Shortly after 9/11, the federal government broke its own laws holding various immigrants from mostly Middle-Eastern countries in custody for too long without deporting them or charging them with any crime. And today we have people trying to make English the official language while at the same time making it harder for undocumented people to learn English, among other examples targeting people seen as different and unwanted.

Criminalizing People is a Political Act
People of color, especially poor people from other countries are often seen as outsiders and of lesser value. Therefore action is taken to keep certain privileges and even rights from those people. The primary way this is done is to designate certain people as criminals by making acts that are associated by a certain group of people illegal, or worsening the consequences if it is already illegal. The use of the law to criminalize people, to disempower them, and disenfranchise them, is a tool of racism. Today "racism" is taboo and therefore most efforts are made to avoid seeming racist. People are "justified" in having certain attitudes about certain groups of people, or the state is "justified" in imprisoning and exploiting certain groups of people because they've been made criminals. So now it's not called racism, it's called the rule of law.

An example of current racist laws besides those relating to immigration may be useful here. The drug war is an interesting one. There are interesting statistics on the disproportionate rate at which people of color are stopped by law enforcement, searched, arrested, imprisoned, their sentences often made longer. Despite crack and cocaine being very similar, crack tends to be associated with people of color, while cocaine, being more expensive, tends to be more associated with white non-poor people. Not surprisingly, the consequences of possessing crack are far worse than for possessing cocaine. Drugs in general are more associated with people of color, and so therefore we have a very high rate of prisoners imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses, while richer (white) people can exploit people and the earth everyday and get away with it. (International aspects of the drug war are relevant here as well, but let us move on.)

New Laws Created to Discourage Immigration and Disempower
Immigration policy is constructed to make it difficult and slow, and mostly impossible, especially for poor people, to become legal residents or citizens. It is commonly known that it is not possible to deport everyone who is undocumented and therefore new laws are popping up that further criminalize people and keep even more opportunities from them. For instance, there are efforts to make "illegal" immigration a felony. There are also efforts to keep babies born of undocumented parents from being considered citizens, thereby changing the constitution. People who say "They're illegal, that's why they should leave," are also trying to make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to rent, to work, to get educated, and to get health care. In essence, their very livelihood is at risk. Despite the fact that many anti-immigrant folks don't agree with the business community and those who legislate for them, both become winners. Token amounts of people are deported, jailed, separated from their families, and discouraged to live in various towns, while they can be further criminalized and made more desperate and therefore more easy to exploit by businesses.

The Government Breaks the Law
This is not a country that holds everyone to the same standards. After all, the U. S. government has not been held to its own standards for having broken plenty of laws and continuing to do so. They've broken many treaties, they've stolen land, they've lied, they've cheated, they've murdered. There are various international laws that have been broken by the U.S.

Crimes are committed probably everyday by law enforcement officials and armed services members such as rape and sexual assault, police brutality, murder, racial profiling, and even drug running. Not only do they do those things, but they have more ability to do them with the power of their badges and guns. And the punishment for their crimes if/when caught are nearly always much less severe than those who have committed similar crimes but are not police, prison guards, border patrol, or military.

A border patrol agent served under 3 years in prison of his 24 year sentence for sexually assaulting an undocumented woman in 1992. ICE has deported several legal residents of the US without consequence. Border patrol often harasses and points their guns at native O'odham people whose land straddles the border. Many military and border patrol officials have been caught running drugs across the border on several occasions yet undocumented immigrants get the sole blame for, and stereotypes due to, the cross-border drug trade. Does that sound fair?

The Bigger Picture Matters
The question isn't asked why people have little or no choice but to use illegal means to work in this country. The combination of capitalism, NAFTA, and corrupt government has created a situation where it is nearly impossible for the large population of poor Mexican and Central and South American people to survive without entering the U.S. for work. Many have had to abandon their land. U.S. citizens' hands are not clean of this situation. Yet the solutions promoted are band aid approaches that involve building more walls, deporting more people, creating more situations where people can be exploited (like a guest worker program). These methods cost billions of dollars, though undocumented immigrants are accused of being drains on the economy (and of course we can't blame the warmongers). Many of these methods, such as building the border walls and shipping out immigrants by airplane are also costly for the environment. Also, U.S. companies are taking jobs out of the country, yet the people coming in are blamed for the lack of jobs. Plain and simple: people choose to ignore the larger picture, and instead scapegoat the people who have no control over the situation. This works in the favor of those with power and money to maintain the economic and color divisions between people.

There is no other way to see this situation other than the value of certain people's lives are treated as lower than others'. In other words, people who were born on one side of a man-made line are by default less important than those who were born on the other side (although race, class, and gender all factor into that equation, making it a bit more complicated). These attitudes regarding people's value is the reason behind the criminalization of undocumented immigration, not because undocumented immigration is wrong. The government breaks laws, not all laws and law breakers are held to the same standards, the law has historically been racist, and even the existing laws don't seem to be enough for some people. Why do these facts not tend to factor into the discussion on immigration? We should instead shift the focus onto real solutions to problems that affect the Americas, starting with corrupt government and economic policies, and the value placed on people based on where they're from.

2007 Retrospective: The Local War on the Undocumented

"It's just crazy here." This is what I tell people who are not from Phoenix, Arizona, the political climate surrounding immigration is like. It's hard to sum up, but having kept up fairly well with local immigration news for the past couple years, I can reflect on 2007 and the direction that things have gone. We have seen ever-increasing repression against undocumented immigrants. In some ways we saw this coming. In other ways, we have been surprised. Overall, things changed gradually enough that it wouldn't necessarily be perceived as an onslaught, though putting it into perspective by looking back at 2007 as a whole might make it hard to be seen otherwise.

Arizona has seen an increasingly unfriendly environment for undocumented immigrants, with the threat of raids, violence, and repression. Within a short time, a select number of officers from different police departments with jurisdiction in Maricopa County were trained to enforce immigration laws. Some agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were deputized as well, giving dual jurisdiction to an increasing number of officials. Immigration law began to be enforced in the jails and prisons as well. The efficiency gained by these changes to enforce immigration laws is likely part of the plan set forth by the Office of Detention and Removal, part of Homeland Security. This plan, which provides strategies to "remove all removable aliens" by 2012 is called Endgame.

The year started out on the heels of a raid on workers of meat-packing plants covering six states, the largest of its kind in the U.S. at that time. On January 23, 2007, a southern California raid that nearly matched that, consisted of arrests of 761 people from countries all across the world. At that time, raids were mostly part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) "Operation Return to Sender" which purported to target undocumented immigrants who were criminals- those who were known to be involved in specific illegal activities, such as identity theft, or having committed serious crimes, were deported and came back into the states. However, on January 24, a Baltimore raid targeted day laborers, which may not have been the first time ICE targeted people looking for work, but nonetheless, seems to show a general shift in focus from enforcing immigration law for removing serious criminals to enforcement that targets undocumented workers in general. We must also not forget that especially the first few years after 9/11, 2001, immigration enforcement was promoted as a way to deal with terrorists, but has since, like I said, shifted focus.

More than 235 people died crossing the border in 2007. A study came out in the beginning of the year that put the blame on border security for the 20-fold increase in migrant deaths since 1990. The article states that the Binational Migration Institute conducted the study that showed the "funnel effect" of causing immigrants to cross the Arizona desert contributed to a great increase in deaths. According to Arizona Indymedia, "In 2007 the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office had to open a new building in order to cope with the volume of remains being recovered. While the majority of deaths occurred as the result of exposure to the elements, an increasing number resulted from trauma, including gunshot wounds. In spite of this humanitarian crisis, which Arizona human rights groups such as the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths argue is a direct result of the militarization of the U.S./Mexico border, border militarization and internal enforcement continue to grow."

A series of shootings against undocumented immigrants around Arizona started 2007 on a bad foot. Immigrants were shot on January 27 in Eloy, Arizona, by four men in military-style berets and camouflage clothing. Described as three white men and one Hispanic man who spoke limited Spanish, they shot on 12 undocumented immigrants and the driver. One man was injured in the leg and the driver, apparently a citizen, was killed. About a week later, near Sasabe, undocumented immigrants were robbed at gunpoint by masked men. The next day, north west of Tucson, two men and a fifteen year-old girl, in a pick-up truck with 7-8 survivors, were killed by gunfire from another truck. The Tucson Citizen printed an article a few days later about hate crimes in Arizona, saying "Law enforcement officials blame rival immigrant smugglers for last week's violence against illegal immigrants. But others say the anti-illegal immigrant hatred saturating southern Arizona cannot be discounted. At the very least, it enables these crimes to occur." Indeed, undocumented people are being robbed, held for ransom, assaulted, and killed by other undocumented people. All of these issues- even the fact that immigrants die while crossing the desert- are related. They're related because immigrants are seen as exploitable and disposable, and therefore crimes against them can continue. Another attack occurred in Chandler, Arizona on February 22nd. These types of attacks have continued, though perhaps at a lower rate, and they remain mostly unreported by news media.

In February, I read about some efforts to set up a state militia in Arizona. Apparently a number of other states already have similar militias. The idea is that a militia would be able to help the government in emergencies. It's pretty obvious from the article, Security force for state debated, that the focus is on the border. Currently we have the national guard down at the border because governor Napolitano declared a "state of emergency", which the national guard is somehow supposed to fix. Because of the incident where armed people approached the national guard from the Mexico side of the border, forcing the national guard to retreat, some anti-immigrant folks were riled up about some supposed security threat.

Some research into this man, Arizona senator Jack Harper, who's pushing this bill that would create a state militia, shows that he has sponsored a number of bills that would make it harder for undocumented immigrants to live here. The militia bill passed in the legislature, but the governor vetoed it. Of course unofficial militias exist throughout the state (just do an internet search for Arizona militia), and many of these focus on the border. For example, the Cochise Borders Civil Defense Corps is now officially known as Cochise County Militia.

There were several anti-immigrant bills that were introduced in the legislature last year. One would keep immigrants from sending money out of the country if they didn't pay taxes on that money. Another involved allowing the police to enforce immigration laws, obstacles to registering vehicles, and an appeal to the federal government to make it so children of undocumented immigrants born in the U.S. are not automatically granted citizenship (which is still in the works). An anti-day-laborer bill would make it a trespassing offense if anyone blocks a public right of way to solicit a job or hire a day laborer.

Some legislators tried to change Arizona's official definition of domestic terrorism. Kirsten Sinema attempted to have the definition of domestic terrorism include border vigilante activity, which backfired when it was rejected and replaced by Russell Pearce with a wording change that would make it "illegal for undocumented persons to protest against a US citizen by an act that threatens, intimidates or results in physical injury to the citizen, to commit a crime against a citizen, or belong to a criminal street gang that protests against citizens."

None of the laws went into effect except the employer sanctions law, HB2779, which prohibits businesses from knowingly hiring undocumented workers. Businesses would risk their business license if they are found to not comply. Obviously the true target of sanctions is the undocumented worker.

In October, the Arizona Republic covered the racial profiling that was happening even a few months before the employer sanctions law was to go into effect. In late November, the Arizona Republic also carried a story on hundreds of people getting fired due to the employer sanctions law that still had not even gone into effect. Amazingly, completely contradictory information was shared with the public about whether the law would even apply to people who were already employed as we brought in the new year. On November 21st, the Arizona Republic put out a story on the new employee sanctions law only applying to new hires. However, on December 13th, an associated press story in the same newspaper stated the exact opposite of that story and doesn't even make any reference to Pearce's past statements.

There remain various unanswered questions even a month after the law went into effect. Despite the ridiculous lack of clarity around the law and the lawsuits brought against it, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) will be enforcing the new law in this county, which is not at all likely to lessen the controversy around it.

At the beginning of 2007, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was working on his department's ability to enforce immigration laws. He had already been arresting undocumented immigrants and charging them with conspiracy to smuggle themselves. Backed by Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, and using a law that aimed at cracking down on human smuggling, the sheriff's officers began in March of 2006 to arrest folks and put them in the jails to either plead guilty or await trial. This was considered a misinterpretation of the law according to its authors, yet the arrests continue. The last count I heard was over 1000. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is one of few sheriffs with a posse, a group of volunteers who have limited training to help enforce some laws. Joe's posse was involved in many of the patrols to catch undocumented immigrants. Some are armed.

By early February, Sheriff Joe got the go-ahead from the County Board of Supervisors for training one hundred and sixty officers to enforce immigration law.

The Arizona Republic article, Deputies may start arresting migrants stated,

Although the details are still being worked out, Arpaio did not rule out the possibility that deputies could use their expanded authority to question people about their immigration status during traffic stops and infractions as minor as "spitting on the sidewalk."

"Any time we come across an enforcement action and we find there are illegals present, then we will put our federal authority hat on and we will arrest them," Arpaio said. "I will do anything I can to fight this illegal-immigration problem, and this is one more step."

A federal official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, though, said the intent of the program is not to use the deputies for routine traffic stops, as Arpaio plans.

I have always found this to be a very significant set of statements. And we shall see how they relate to his actions.

Meanwhile, outside of Maricopa county, in mid-February it was announced that Lake Havasu City Council gave the OK to the police to enforce immigration laws, and the town of Kingman was working on the same thing. Interestingly, around the same time, the East Valley Tribune and other publications printed a story about a study that showed that undocumented folks were less likely to commit crimes than citizens. However, that didn't slow the law enforcement efforts being made. Later, Prescott was also talking about getting a couple officers trained to enforce immigration law as well.
Also in early 2007, Federal immigration enforcement agents started working with Phoenix Police. The Arizona Republic reported:

Ten full-time Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents joined the Phoenix Police Department to work alongside detectives investigating violent and property crimes.

It's the first time a U.S. city has forged a side-by-side partnership with agents to intensify the fight against the criminal activity related to illegal immigration, including human and drug smuggling, kidnapping and murder.

By late march, a number of Maricopa County Sheriff's officers had been trained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), along with Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers. The MCSO officers would be authorized to detain and arrest suspected illegal immigrants both in the jails and on the streets. Later, some Phoenix police officers were trained to enforce immigration laws as well. The news about all these cops getting trained to enforce immigration highly increased concerns about raids. An email about a press conference stated, "Unidos en Arizona, Iglesia Palabra de Vida, Interfaith Worker Justice and the Hispanic Ministry of Faith Lutheran Church, calls on the Bush Administration to order AN IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM on all detentions, deportations, work-raids, employer sanctions, and the use of the 'No Match' letter which result in the separation of families until the passage of just and humane immigration legislation." But we were reassured by the governor, though not about Arpaio.

"The DPS is not going to be engaged in roundups," she said. Napolitano specifically cited the 1997 incident in Chandler where local police, working with federal immigration officers, went after anyone they thought was in this country illegally.

About 400 people were detained - including some U.S. citizens.

"That's not what they're going to do," she said.

In the beginning of March, a workplace raid took place in Tucson by ICE. ABC news reported,

Federal authorities on Friday raided a construction company accused of hiring illegal immigrants, detaining eight undocumented workers and arresting several other employees. Scores of agents fanned out in Douglas, along the Mexico border, and in Sierra Vista, about 50 miles northwest, in the raid on Sun Dry Wall & Stucco Inc.'s offices, a foreman's home, the home of a suspected counterfeiter and eight work sites...

In Arizona, immigration agents had promised stepped-up examinations of construction, agricultural, landscaping and service-industry businesses in hopes of deterring illegal hiring and lessening the economic incentive for immigrants to illegally cross the border.

Since then, workplace raids in Arizona have been minimal or not reported by mainstream media.

Around late March, an off-duty police officer began patrolling a certain area of Chandler to "write tickets enforcing the no-stopping ordinance, an attempt to discourage day laborers from gathering in the area," according to an Arizona Republic article, Merchants differ on off-duty cop to restrict day laborers. Also around the same time, the City of Gilbert was considering a change in policy. KTAR reported, "The deportation of three teenagers caught drag racing in Gilbert has sparked a push for a policy to turn over all illegal immigrants caught violating the law to federal authorities. If Gilbert adopts such a policy, it would be the first city in the East Valley to do so." As far as I can tell, Gilbert did not end up adopting this policy.

At the end of March, it was announced that as part of the new ability of officers to enforce immigration law, the Maricopa County Jails would be checking immigration status on all inmates and possibly have those who are undocumented deported. Around the same time, KVOA Tucson reported that "The federal agency that deports illegal immigrants is scheduled to open its first office inside a [Phoenix] prison later this week in an effort to expedite the deportation process."

In mid-July, Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced a set of efforts to combat the "immigration problem", which included a hotline that people could call to report undocumented immigrants. The hotline is believed to be the first in the country, and is printed on the side of some MCSO vehicles. The intent of the hotline was said to gather hard evidence, to go after undocumented immigrants only after having probable cause. This was only one part of the new plan. According to Arizona Republic:

In another part, about 160 sheriff's deputies, cross-trained to enforce immigration law, will saturate Valley cities and roadways to find and arrest those who are here illegally, the sheriff said. The deputies now have broad powers not only to question people about their immigration status during traffic stops, but also if they commit even a minor infraction, such as littering.

In addition, it was stated in this article that 64 ICE agents would be deputized. The East Valley Tribune reported in August that the Maricopa County Jails now have ICE databases as well, and that the Sheriff banned undocumented immigrants from visiting anyone in jail.

The MCSO stepped up efforts in October, arresting undocumented immigrants across the county in such places as Cave Creek, Queen Creek, Maryvale and Phoenix. The arrests were controversial. According to the Arizona Republic, "Others accuse Arpaio of overstepping the bounds of the agreement with ICE by using federally trained deputies to round up undocumented day laborers and corn vendors. ICE, however, says the sheriff is operating within his rights." Arpaio also announced his officers would be going after convicted criminals on probation who are undocumented, arresting them at their homes and workplaces.

Sheriff Joe began having people arrested in October in one of the main areas that day laborers have stood for work, near the Home Depot at 36th St. and Thomas in Phoenix. The area had been the site of minuteman protests in 2005 and later where area business-owners got together to hire off-duty police to patrol with the power to issue citations for trespassing and blocking traffic. Roger Sensing, owner of Pruitt's Home Furnishings, led the efforts against those standing on sidewalks looking for work in the area. His business was therefore the target of a boycott in late 2006 that resulted a few weeks later in an apparent agreement between Sensing and a leader in the boycott effort, Salvador Reza, in which Sensing agreed to stop hiring the off-duty cops if Reza would work on getting a day labor center in the area. Whatever the reason, a day labor center was not started in the area, and so day laborers remained standing on sidewalks in the area, although to a lesser degree by that time. Sensing and other business owners met with Sheriff Joe Arpaio to get him to do something about it. Sheriff's deputies arrested ten individuals in mid-October 2007. Reza and others started another boycott and began a weekly protest on Saturdays which lasted till the end of the year.

According to news reports, the Sheriff's officers were apparently stopping people for traffic violations in the area, not targeting people standing on the sidewalks, although it seemed clear that this was an effort to intimidate if not arrest undocumented workers in the area. The arrests, many of which resulted in deportations, continued as weeks went by. Quickly the arrests were framed as a response to the boycott demonstrations and tended to especially take place on Saturdays during protests. The situation was soon becoming ground-zero for the national immigration debate. At the beginning of December, an article with the title, Illegal immigrants arrested at furniture store protest, was printed in the Arizona Republic. Other publications printed similar articles. The interesting thing was that those eight were not part of the protest. They were just in the neighborhood during the protest. Yet the the former article says,

The eight people arrested Saturday on suspicion of violating immigration laws were the first illegal immigrants taken into custody during the actual protests.
"I thought it was time to do something more about it," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. "The Pruitt's situation is getting out of hand. They are demonstrating every week and destroying this business. I don't think that's fair."

Clearly it was intended to look like Sheriff Joe was arresting participants of the protest even though he wasn't. The language of the articles led back to a press release put out by the Sheriff's office.



The ongoing battle between illegal immigrant day laborers, Pruitt's, and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office human smuggling unit resulted in the arrests of eight (8) more illegal aliens today.

The eight illegals were arrested by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies under federal immigration law, now bringing the total made to 32 arrests within the six weeks since Sheriff's deputies began patrolling the vicinity of the central Phoenix store, and are the first series of arrests to occur as protesters, for and against illegal alien day laborers, line Thomas Road near 36th Street...

In less than a week from these arrests, the Sheriff's Office put out another press release prior to the protest. Quoting the sheriff, it said, "This weekend, I will increase the number deputies [sic] to patrol the Pruitt's area, and I promise that my deputies will arrest all violators of the state and federal immigration laws. I will not give up. All the activists must stop their protest before I stop enforcing the law in that area." It was clear from this that the sheriff was intentionally enforcing this law to protect a business against free speech. In addition, he was looking to either intimidate people from attending, or to convince anti-immigrant folks that he was taking care of their concerns like the great presidential candidate they think he should be, or both. Either way, he managed to make it appear that he was targeting participants of the demonstrations while not actually getting entangled in a legal battle that would ensue if he did. Legal observers, copwatch, media, and others tried to observe and document as many stops as they could on Saturdays.

Before the end of the year, at least one racial-profiling lawsuit was brought against the MCSO. They pulled over a vehicle driven by a U.S. citizen allegedly for speeding, although no citation was given. The passenger was asked for his identification and presented his passport and other paperwork, which despite its validity, was not enough to keep the police from detaining him for 8 hours. The lawsuit also includes a Hispanic U.S. citizen who was stopped while walking and was also detained. Another lawsuit was in the works this January.

In the middle of all of this, in mid-November, we got a surprise from Sheriff Joe. Arpaio was on Lou Dobb's "Broken Borders" show saying "Well, you know, they call you KKK. They did me. I think it's an honor, right? It means we're doing something." He didn't express that opinion back when it was discovered that an image of Arpaio as a KKK member holding a noose to a migrant's neck was circulating through email. At this point also, a recall effort started against him again, and also controversial was the arrest of the director of the ACLU for allegedly trespassing on the property of Pruitt's furniture store during one of the protests. Even though the charge against Dan Pochoda was simply trespassing, for which most people simply get a citation, he was arrested and brought to jail for 10 hours, and his car was impounded. He has a history of challenging the Sheriff's authority, and it was apparent that Pochoda would not have been arrested if he had not identified his position with the ACLU. This all came shortly after a complicated and more controversial situation involving the a local free paper, the Phoenix New Times.

Meanwhile, down in Tucson in early November, the Tucson Police Department officially stated they would not call ICE to schools and churches after a group of around 100 students protested outside the police department in response to ICE deporting a man whose son was caught with marijuana on his high school campus. The father was deported and the rest of the family was removed voluntarily after they admitted they were in the country illegally.

An article in the November/December edition of Color Lines newsmagazine came out exposing Phoenix as the city with the highest number of shootings by police. This article, titled "Why So High?" detailed the statistics that showed a disproportionate number of shootings against people of color. "Among the 27 cities with more than 250,000 people that tracked victims' ethnicities during this time, 23 out of 137, or one in six, Hispanic victims of police shootings were killed in Phoenix, although Phoenix had just 6 percent of the total population." Mayor of Phoenix, Phil Gordon, dismissed the data and expressed his solid faith in the police to do their jobs correctly and with no racial bias. He soon also came out supporting a change in police policy regarding asking about immigration status.

The Phoenix PD at this point, and for the past 20 or so years, have a "don't ask" policy, which means they don't ask about anyone's immigration status. Now, due to pressures from the anti-immigration/racist elements, the mayor is saying he supports a change in this policy which would allow the police to notify ICE when a suspected undocumented immigrant commits a crime, which insinuates that police would be asking about immigration status. The mayor not only said he supported this change, but a new policy is in the works by a four-man advisory panel. About the change in policy, the mayor said, "As mayor, I have seen our situation escalate to a perilous point. Rhetoric is replacing reason. There's too much hate. It's ugly, it's dangerous, and good people continue to suffer." The mayor also recently publicly criticized the racism among the anti-immigrant movement. What doesn't make sense is how he imagines the "hate" justifies changing the police policy.

Just before the end of the year, the Scottsdale police also announced they would be asking "for proof of citizenship from every suspect they arrest" as the Arizona Daily Star words it, and calling ICE on those who were suspected of being undocumented. Although this would apparently only affect those who are arrested, it seems problematic that the burden of proof would be on each individual as far as their legal status goes. Conveniently, ICE is better staffed to deal with local calls, according to the same article.

The year 2007 in this region is but a piece of the wider picture of what undocumented immigrants are facing. Things continue to get worse, and we can only expect it to get worse unless more people voice their opposition.