Monday, November 30, 2009

Immigration Rhapsody: Song Interrupts Arpaio

Protesters started singing towards the end of the event at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU on Monday. They sang the following song:

Immigration Rhapsody

Is this legitimate?
Is this atrocity?
Caught up in politics-
No sense of reality-
Open your eyes
Look down to the south and see-
The border stops brown folks, they cannot cross the line.
But its easy come, easy go,
for the rich, n’their cargo.
Anyway the migrants flow, doesn’t really matter to me,
To me

How do you… just kill a man,
Let him wither on his route,
Criminalized and shut out,
How do you… detain someone,
Because you perceive a threat to your privilege?
NAFTA, ooo,
Caused folks to lose their land
Just so the rich could profit off the outcome
Limit choice, lower pay, as if their lives don’t matter.

The hate, minutemen promote,
Sends shivers down my spine-
Heart is aching all the time,
Goodbye to bigotry –you’ve got to go-
Gotta leave this place behind n’reveal the truth-
Freedom ooo- (any way the migrants flow)
Without walls and jails,
What does it take for freedom to ring for all?

I see a little editorial ‘bout some creeps,
Russell Pearce, Russell Pearce could you be more fascistic?
Andrew Thomas presiding -very very frightening me-
Hey Arpaio , Hey Arpaio,
Hey Arpaio Hey Arpaio
Hey Arpaio payaso- payaso-o-o-o -
The border stops brown folks, they cannot cross the line -
Yeah the border stops brown folks, breaks up a family-
Spare all these folks from this monstrosity-
Easy come easy go, will you let them go?
Tent City! no-,they will not let you go-let ‘em go-
Tent City! they will not let you go-let ‘em go
Tent City! they will not let you go-let ‘em go
Will not let them go-let them go
Will not let them go let them go
Hey Arpaio , Hey Arpaio, Hey Arpaio , let them go-
Rising up are the people in the streets, you see, you see, you see -

So you think you can jail me and spit in my eye-
So you think you can hate me and leave me to die-
Oh Arpeeo-cant do this to me Arpeeo-
Just gotta get out-just gotta get out of Tent City-

Media only matters,
Anyone can see,
Attention only matters-, ego only matters to he/me

Update: read Why We Sang Sheriff Joe off the Stage

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Anti-Immigrant Legislation Opposed

In case you haven't heard, Russell Pearce and friends snuck an anti-immigrant policy into the budget bill during a special session. A lawsuit brought by the League of Arizona Cities and towns says that "Wrapping the policy changes into an appropriations bill violates the state Constitution". They're not opposed to the change, per se, but to the way it was passed.

However, there are many who are against it because, although it is already against the law for undocumented migrants to receive state services, this would now make it illegal for state workers to not report violations of this law, and would allow citizens to sue if they thought the state was providing services to undocumented migrants. This would apply to library accounts, among other things.

More later...

No More Deaths Volunteer Rejects Sentence, Charges US with Human Rights Violations

Walt Staton, the No More Deaths volunteer who was recently sentenced for "littering" near the border, has been given a new sentencing hearing after sending a letter to the judge opposing the punishment. His letter stated, "The simple truth is that US border enforcement strategy intentionally leads to the suffering and death of migrants - a clear violation of human rights...."

This past August, Walt received a sentence "consisting of a year of unsupervised probation and community service. He was ordered to complete 300 hours of trash pickup on public lands within a year. He was also banned from the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge during that time (Source)."

This case has received much media attention, and hopefully will continue to do so, with this message of the reality of the security practices having created a tunnel effect by securing areas like San Diego/Tijuana, El Paso/Juarez so that migrants have little choice but to travel across areas of the border that are much more dangerous. In addition, even in these areas with no walls (yet), migrants have to choose trails that keep them more hidden from Border Patrol, and sometimes have to switch routes, which increases the chances of getting lost or worse.

In the time since Walt was charged, and just after thirteen more people got tickets, I was also able to see the area that a lot of the migrants have to travel through, while volunteering myself for No More Deaths. Although we were not on the Buenas Aires Wildlife Refuge, which is where NMD volunteers have been ticketed, I was not too far from there. Some of these areas are so mountainous that they can easily get lost or get hurt, taking days to get just a few miles north- if they make it at all. Although I had assumed that we would be in flat terrain with cactus and the chaparral, we were in rocky areas where trails are hard to follow (imagine a trail leading to the top of a bunch of rocks and you can't see the trail forward and you can't go north- where do you go next?). The heat of the summer made it many times worse. We were told by one group of migrants that their guide had told them it would only be a few hours to get to Phoenix from the southern side of the border. We saw them a couple days into their journey, one a seven year old boy, three of them sick, alternately in the summer desert heat and the drenching rain.

Here's an excerpt from an interview with Walt Staton in Splinter Generation about the reasoning behind the tickets.
SG: The fact that they confiscated the water is so upsetting.

WS: It’s such a fundamental thing. When anyone with common sense looks at it says, O.K. whether you agree with immigration policy or not, you have to be a complete crazy wingnut to say I want people to die in the desert. I mean, and it’s a very small minority of people that actually have that stance. You have a federal agency that is now saying our land is going to be a cemetery; we will not allow humanitarians to put water out here; we don’t want to sit down and meet with them; we want people to die. I don’t know, why else. It blows my mind.

SG: I read that patrolling this area is causing more damage than the water bottles ever could.

WS: Oh, border patrol has got all their four-wheel drive trucks, and Hummers, and Jeeps, and they’ve bulldozed all sorts of new roads so they can get into these areas where, supposedly, we’re protecting wildlife. They’ve got ATVs. They’ve got helicopters that are going day and night, that fly real low, and I can only imagine what that does to wildlife. They’ve built the wall right through the wildlife refuge, and nothing bigger than a lizard can get through it. They’re saying we’re trying to protect the wildlife and our refuge, and it’s like ok, show me, because right now you have got border patrol, and helicopters, and walls, and all this stuff all over it. That doesn’t look like a wildlife refuge to me. That looks like a war zone. And it is. It is a war zone.

And my earlier post on the subject: Here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What Happens When Arpaio Serves The Warrants

Because Sheriff Arpaio has been targeting migrants who are just driving, waiting for work, or working, activists have reacted by pointing out that the sheriff has not been serving 40,000 open warrants. Now the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department is serving warrants... in Guadalupe.

As an example of the focus on warrants, a press release from no specific organization but about "Leaders from the civil rights and Latino communities" came out in March 2008 saying,
The people are entitled to have a true lawman for Sheriff, someone who goes after real criminals, not gardeners, cooks, nannies and pregnant mothers. America’s “toughest sheriff” must stop making mothers and fathers disappear in the middle of the night, callously leaving vulnerable, terrorized children at home alone. He can turn a new leaf and start protecting the public by serving the county’s 70,000 arrest warrants that he has allowed to remain outstanding.
If you went to a protest against Arpaio in 2008 or early 2009, you likely would've seen a reference to the warrants on some signs. Often they would be referenced by groups such as the Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability. While the warrants have been discussed very little since the Senate hearing on the issue, you will occasionally still hear the warrants brought up.

What I don't understand is the assumption that these warrants are justified- that all the people who have warrants out for their arrest, or perhaps all the people with felony warrants, are hardened criminals who all deserve to go to Tent City. Do you really believe this? Do you think the criminal "justice" system is infallible? Are not undocumented migrants being further criminalized for political/racist/economic reasons? Isn't that fundamental to the criminal "justice" system? There is much evidence that the police are used to keep people in check and to maintain the social hierarchy. In many ways, the police actually perpetuate the crimes of those who do not have access to many of the opportunities that more privilege people have. And as I write in Chaparral: No Borders or Prison Walls:
Many examples exist of ways in which crime-fighting is not, in fact, intended to end the activities which are considered crimes. The government has no interest in ending crime unless it is targeted towards the government itself, the rich or their property. One could list a number of crimes committed by people who get away with it everyday, and a number of acts that should be crimes because they hurt people, other beings, and/or the planet, yet they are not crimes because it is not in the interest of the government to control those actions. Crimes against people who are seen as less valuable are not important to enforce unless it benefits the system in another way... Crimes committed by government, government agents, businesses, are treated differently, with the perpetrators facing much less harsh punishment than their civilian counter-parts face, if any. Often crimes are enabled by involvement with the government such as the drug trafficking done with government vehicles and physical and sexual abuse by police, border patrol, and prison officials, yet the criminals in these cases are treated as a few bad apples.
And why does it not occur to folks that many of those warrants might be for gardeners, cooks, nannies and pregnant mothers who might disappear at night leaving their children terrorized?

And if you agree with nothing else I've said so far about the problems with the rule of law, please realize that you are basically saying that if the sheriff was serving all those warrants, then he would be doing a good job- Tent City, pink underwear, chain gangs, green baloney and all.

Indeed, I have brought up that Arpaio has in fact not been doing as efficient of a job at arresting migrants- other police departments have- yet they don't have this warrants issue hanging over their heads. In fact, they are mostly ignored and in some cases even seen as allies (phoenix pd officers are invited to activist meetings, ex-mesa police chief gascon was celebrated for standing up against arpaio) yet, as i've written in the past, If Phx and Mesa PD are arresting more immigrants, why is focus on Arpaio?
I would say that the myth of the infallibility of law and order is not questioned, for the most part, for to do so would make you vulnerable to attacks by the other side, accusing you of wanting chaos, or whatever else they associate with opposing arrests of so-called criminals. Too many immigrants' advocates are not willing to be outspoken about the racist nature of "criminal justice" and law enforcement, the border, and immigration law in general. The result, therefore, is that law enforcement that can appear reasonable alongside arpaio's media circuses are not to be questioned, but instead even applauded, even if their actual effect is worse than how arpaio's efforts appear.
This past week, the sheriff's department has been bringing a camera crew to stops all over Guadalupe to serve warrants. Guadalupe is a very small town next to Tempe, with a very high number of brown skinned people- mostly Yaquis and Mexican migrants. Arpaio has done a few sweeps there. It is one of a few places in the County that doesn't have it's own police department and pays the MCSO to handle problems. Instead, they've caused many problems. You can read all about it in Guadalupe made it clear that Joe Arpaio’s attacking anyone with brown skin, Joe Arpaio Returns to Guadalupe, with an Army of Deputies to Watch His Back, The MCSO Retaliates Against a Guadalupe Activist.

In fact, this might be retaliation for the copwatching going on in Guadalupe. Whatever the reason, people are being harassed and terrorized by Arpaio serving these warrants. Those who have demanded that the warrants be served are not to be blamed for those warrants being served in Guadalupe (or anywhere) necessarily, but it is necessary to keep all these things in perspective.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On David Bacon's Talk Disappointing

I don't have a lot of time to write at the moment, but I wanted to mention that I was able to hear David Bacon speak the other night. I've been reading his articles on migration for a while, and I have enjoyed his book "Communities Without Borders" as well as the bits of "Illegal People" that I've read so far.

I was disappointed, though, that although he mostly advocated for migrants' rights, he really fell short on challenging white citizens on their racism. He mainly argued that white citizens should not oppose undocumented migrants because migrants can contribute to a stronger political power (we can join with them to get health care), and the economy wouldn't be as great without them. That's why you should care. This bugs me to no end, and it's so common, you hear folks saying it who stand side by side with migrants in their struggles.

Stop buying into those attitudes! Why don't we question why migrants are considered less valuable as people not just as workers, why they're not considered deserving of the same rights and privileges as any other citizen (not that there's anything like equality among citizens). How about we question the legitimacy of the border itself! Seriously, why use the opportunity to speak in front of a big group of people just to talk about how deporting all the migrants will result in us not having so many people to clean the office buildings? Migrants do contribute to social security and pay taxes, and they support our economy, so let's give them a big "bienvenidos"! I really hope David Bacon does not believe in all these things he said.

Okay, I understand that some people will only be open to these arguments, but why validate them? It's almost like a man saying "well, maybe women would give us better blow jobs if we treat them nicer". I just don't understand the willingness to use these arguments.

More later probably...

*Update: This article, Why We Should Defend Undocumented Workers, is very similar to the presentation that David Bacon gave, if you want to read it. It is actually quite good, but again, there were parts that disappointed and frustrated me. Here's a quote, "If everyone went home tomorrow, would there be fruit and vegetables on the shelves at Safeway? Who would cut up the cows and pigs in meatpacking plants? Who would clean the offices of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Chicago?... The vast majority of white people - the descendants of European immigrants - are workers too. We all work. We all need to work to put bread on the table for our families. But without the labor of immigrants, the system would stop."

Neo-Nazi's Hold Anti-Immigrant Rally At Phoenix Capitol

Estimates are that there were about 40 neo-nazis/national socialist movement folks, 200 counter-protesters, mostly anarchists.

Here's a collection of videos from the protest.