Friday, April 30, 2010

Racial Profiling Focus is Still a Distraction

(This is an updated version of a post I made a few months back).

I keep hearing people (such as at the last anti-SB1070 rally) repeating their concerns about racial profiling as if this is the main problem with the bill. Racial profiling is a legal term and is against the law. Unfortunately, "illegal" immigration is also against the law. So when people talk about racial profiling, it sounds like they are only concerned with "legal" people.

I have become convinced that the focus on racial profiling is a distraction to the detriment of migrants' freedom. I am not saying racial profiling is okay, but it implies that what is wrong is that people who are being stopped because of their skin color (or other physical cues) are innocent, implying that those who have broken immigration law are not those worth our concerns. Yet, i would hope that those who claim to be allies or advocates for undocumented immigrants would not allow this idea to be promoted.

We've been hearing about racial profiling for a while. Anti-Arpaio folks have been so focused on these sweeps and the racial profiling and all that, yet only 6% of the arrests of undocumented immigrants occur out in the community, whereas the other 94% of migrants are identified for deportation when they go through the jails (and the folks in the jails are those arrested by the various police departments in the valley) (Source). (This is partly why DHS is continuing the agreements of 287(g) that involve jail checks.) Other police departments are arresting more migrants than the MCSO without these hyped-up "crime supression sweeps", as i discussed further in If Phx and Mesa PD are arresting more immigrants, why is focus on Arpaio?

Clearly, if we are concerned about migrants, we would be focused on the various police departments' arrests, on the jail checks, and on opposing wholesale the legislation Pearce has passed and is trying to push, as well as on the federal laws. If it weren't for the federal laws, there wouldn't be arrests and deportations of migrants.

Representative Kirsten Sinema was heard on KFYI 550 (radio) that she doesn't have a problem with all of the anti-immigrant bill that just passed, just a few parts. In the paper she said, "This bill criminalizes people who appear to be Latino and puts them at risk for racial profiling and prosecution and harassment in the state."

Likewise, of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, cheered on at the last rally, Fox News reported:
"Gordon, a staunch opponent of the state law, said that means anyone who doesn't carry an Arizona license -- children under 16, seniors who don't drive and people from out of state -- could be "at risk of being arrested and turned over to (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)."

"It tramples civil rights," Gordon told Fox News on Sunday. "Now everyone has to show and prove that they're a legal resident or citizen."

And yes, this is a problem. A Native American 16 year old was stopped by the police while he was walking and asked for ID. Because he didn't have it, if I got got the story right, he was ticketed or arrested (I just heard this story last night).

Overall, the lefty migrants' rights movement is unwilling to oppose the federal laws, and is therefore limited to using the available laws to advocate for migrants. When the justice department and the fbi announced their investigations of Arpaio, many activists jumped on the opportunity to bring Arpaio down. Yet they are obviously limited to what is already against the law. "The Civil Rights Division has an open and ongoing investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office into alleged patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures, and on allegations of national origin discrimination. As part of that investigation, we had observers on the ground in Arizona last week." (Source). Ignoring that the federal government is oppressing the migrants just as much, incidents of racial profiling and perhaps other things were reported to the feds.

When we look to the federal government to protect us (or others) from the local government (or anyone), we are confined to the law. If detaining migrants is legal, but racial profiling is illegal, then we document the racial profiling and hand over the videos to the feds, hoping something will come of it. The problem is, much of the injustices against migrants are perfectly legal.

And so while folks are still waiting for the federal government to save the day (maybe they've given up?), they mustn't question the immigration laws or the enforcers themselves. I discussed this back in April in Racial Profiling Discussion Undermines Solidarity with Immigrants when Al Sharpton and a representative of ACORN were on the Lou Dobbs show discussing racial profiling.

The problem is that the way it's being discussed constructs a hierarchy in which people who are not "illegal" are the unintended targets who do not deserve to be stopped, while undocumented migrants are the correct targets of the racial profiling sweeps. Unfortunately, it is difficult to characterize commentators' position on the issue, and to separate media interpretation from advocates' stances. Additionally, racial profiling is often not defined, nor is it explained why it is wrong.

The ACLU defines racial profiling in this way:
"Racial Profiling" refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin. Criminal profiling, generally, as practiced by police, is the reliance on a group of characteristics they believe to be associated with crime. Examples of racial profiling are the use of race to determine which drivers to stop for minor traffic violations (commonly referred to as "driving while black or brown"), or the use of race to determine which pedestrians to search for illegal contraband.
The idea here is that one should not be suspected of a crime because of how they look, but if one has committed a crime, the way they are caught should not be by appearance. However, one could argue that those who are guilty of a crime should be caught no matter the means. Frankly, there are people who would make themselves out to be advocates for migrants when in fact they do not want to question the law, and therefore do not openly oppose the arrests of migrants under any conditions, involving racial profiling or not.

While some may say that this racial profiling is only wrong when it catches legal residents and citizens up in its net, others may say that what is wrong is for officers to investigate someone's citizenship status just because of the way they look- that a person who is undocumented should have the benefit of the doubt like everyone else. Yet the immigration laws themselves are rarely questioned. Some might state that the offense is only a misdemeanor and therefore should not be treated like worse crimes, yet hardly anyone says that movement should not be a crime. Well, I'm saying it: Movement should not be a crime.

Okay, so say we stop the racial profiling. What then? Are we done or do we move on to the injustices that are sanctioned by the government?

Free movement for all!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

OSAB: Movement Demands Autonomy: An O'odham Perspective on Border Controls and Immigration

from O'odham Solidarity Across Borders

This article has already been distributed in pamphlet form, the few paragraphs immediately below are a few notes on recent developments.

In light of the state's new attack of SB 1070 on migrant communities, OSABC would like to show a perspective and experience that is often overlooked in the immigration struggle, that being the indigenous impacts. Indigenous communities have, and still are being attack by the state (meaning the political entity, also called "government") since the first migrants, European settlers, arrived to this hemisphere. But that, we already know. What OSABC would like to express is, WE ARE STILL HERE. As O'odham, we have seen our lands occupied by three colonial states (Spain, Mexico, and now the United States), and STILL, we have endured in the face of colonization. The very land that this bill was passed on, is still O'odham land! From the Phoenix Valley, to Scukson (Tucson is from an O'odham word), to Rocky Point, to the Sierra Madres in Mexico, this is O'odham jewed.

The passing of SB1070 leads us to the police state, and does not just affect migrants, it affects us all! SB 1070 like policies already occur on the Tohono O'odham Nation since the mid-90's with the states push for immigration enforcement. Border Enforcement that would be a Berlin-like Wall through our lands to control movement. The current push for immigration reform by politicians and by reformist activists includes the push to secure “their” borders which would be the forced removal and relocations of all indigenous tribes that live in the border region (Yaqui, Lipan Apache, Mohawk to name a few). This dismissal not just shows the colonial attitude that both reformist activists and politicians have, but also the settler privilege that they evoke when constructing border policies.


PCWC: No state has the right to control movement of free people


No state has the right to control movement of free people.

As news comes again today that Democrats are committed to "securing the border" as a prerequisite for immigration reform, I think it's quite fortunate timing that our comrades over at O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective have posted up their compelling piece, "Movement Demands Autonomy: An O'odham Perspective on Border Controls and Immigration". Previously appearing as a pamphlet, this article does a fine job as a primer on understanding the point of view of the O'odham on questions of movement and the border -- a perspective that is sadly marginalized to say the least.

Monday, April 26, 2010

SB 1070 and Homeland Security's Secure Communities

This is a post from last June when there was a similar bill to 1070 in the legislature and it didn't pass at the time. I bring up some points which I think are important regarding the wider strategy of the state. The federal government may attempt to justify their actions by distinguishing "criminal aliens" from others in order to ease migrants' allies' worries, but clearly any undocumented migrant in AZ could be considered a "criminal alien". We don't know yet how they will determine who gets this label.

Immigrants-as-Trespassers Law Closer to Passing
Seriously, this could be the most f-ed up thing that happens this year, as far as state legislation goes. A bill that Arizona Senator Russell Pearce wrote (SB1175) would make it so undocumented immigrants' existence in this state would be considered trespassing, and would also prevent any policy that restricts the police or other state agencies from enforcing federal immigration law. This bill just passed in the senate this week.

This means that undocumented immigrants' presence in the state would cause them to be breaking a state law. Although i think it's a stretch and might be unconstitutional, the idea is to override the federal immigration law, as far as enforcement goes. As long as police attempt to enforce federal law, they are on shaky ground, but they can much more easily enforce state law. This is what arpaio has been doing by enforcing the smuggling law, the employer sanctions law, and other such laws to go after undocumented immigrants). Although his actions are controversial and he does say that he is enforcing federal immigration law, his primary means of attacking the immigrant community is by enforcing (though many would say inappropriately) the state laws.

Pearce's bills aim to create more crimes out of the actions (or mere existence) of undocumented immigrants so they can more easily be arrested and removed. He wrote a bill (SB1337) that would make a class I misdemeanor out of not having a state-issued drivers' license (you have to be legal to get a legal one), which is in the legislature at the same time as various state police departments are discussing not recognizing the Matricula Consular, the ID issued by the Mexican government. Additionally, another bill (SB1177) would make it a crime to solicit for work.

The wider picture involves a new ICE program called "Secure Communities" which will target "criminal aliens" by linking up various law enforcement and immigration databases to be accessed when a person is in police custody. The new and existing laws and policies would give the police cause to arrest, detain, and check the databases on the suspect, and since undocumented immigrants would then have charges against them that they wouldn't otherwise have had, they will more likely be face the consequences of being labeled "criminal aliens".

Clearly "criminal alien" will mean nothing different from "illegal alien", or to us, "undocumented immigrant" because anyone without papers could be categorized as a "criminal alien". The criminal alien term will be used to make the general public feel that the right people are being deported. However, just as previous ICE raids have been purported to target dangerous criminals, they have in fact caught in their nets mostly people without criminal records. Now, creating more people with criminal records will justify various actions against the undocumented community.

If you like this post, you might also like Satire for Russell Pearce

Phoenix Anarchist Actions in Response to SB1070


On Friday morning, AZ governor Jan Brewer passed the newest and perhaps most violent in a succession of racist bills, 1070.

1070 means:
It is now illegal for any person to be on public or private land (meaning in any location within the state) without carrying verification proving citizenship or legal residency.

Every person must now carry proof of legal residency at all times in Arizona,and may legally be asked by any state employed to present documentation.

It is now illegal for any person to house or transport any person who cannot provide legal documentation within the United States.

It is now illegal for any person who cannot provide legal documentation to look for employment or to be employed in the state of Arizona.

1070 makes no bones about it: the bill is one of the most honest in demonstrating the progression of Arizona into the furthest depths of a Police State, and of the racism that necessitates it.

Phoenix area anarchists were quick to respond- in a matter of 2 days, a multitude of actions were organized around bringing the conflict more visibly to the streets of Phoenix (for the mainstream unaware of how issues of state racism and indigenous colonialism affect everyone).

With black flags, signs, and banners, a march of approximately 40 anarchists proceeded South on Central Avenue towards Van Buren. Pedestrians cheered as the group approached. The street, artistically peppered with messages of resistance- stickers, paintings and the like- became a ground for insurrectionary conflict as the loud cadre erected a border wall across Central Avenue: “DO NOT CROSS: VIOLATORS MIGHT GET FREE".

The business district was an obstacle course as drivers and passersby were forced to negotiate the obstruction of their space and the impediment of their movement- a burden placed daily on the shoulders of the indigenous whose land has been militarized and the undocumented- hunted daily.

As the public on Van Buren at Central were left to respond to the ruptures that their political complicity facilitated, the group rambunctiously proceeded along Van Buren to third street. “No Borders; No Nations; No Police Stations!” Chants rung about the cold concrete high rises as police suddenly and forcefully halted the march. Throwing marchers to the ground and threatening them with tasers and mace, the pigs detained the majority of march participants. The police demanded the names and birth dates of all detained at the threat of mass arrest. After approximately forty minutes all were released without charges or citation, except for one comrade who was arrested for “obstructing justice by not giving his true name”; a fabricated accusation.
Demonstrations this past week indicate an escalation in radical protest and dissent that will not be ameliorated by any form of legislation or representative polity. The popular resistance in Arizona thus identifies with anarchist principles, and Arizona anarchists locate themselves fittingly within a timely social war for total liberation.

Arizona: attack! Let’s get free.

Thoughts on SB1070 by Survival Solidarity

from Survival Solidarity:

Thoughts on SB1070….

April 23, 2010
by survivalsolidarity

All of this without SB 1070 being passed…

There was a massive show of force, with helicopters, dozens of agents, police vehicles and weapons, assaulting our community in a fashion never seen before…This action clearly demonstrates what we have predicted, that we would all be living in a police state here in Arizona. Kat Rodriguez, of Derechos Humanos, in response to the April 15, 2010 raids.
From October 2003 to October 2009 there have been at least 107 reported deaths within US detention centers. Since October 2009 there have been 87 deaths on the Arizona border. Most recently the Arizona Daily Star reported finding the body of a migrant along the Arizona-Mexico Border on April 19, 2010. The same report claimed that it was the third body found within a three-day period.
On April 15, 2010 “Operation In Plain Sight” the coordinated effort of more than 800 Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) officers and law enforcement officials from local to international levels resulted in the largest ICE raid of it’s [ICE] seven-year existence.  Five shuttle bus locations, four in Tucson and one in Phoenix, were targeted in the raid. ICE officials claim that these bus services were narcotic-traffickers and human smugglers. 50 vehicles and seven vans were confiscated. At least 47 people were arrested. Some reports have reflected larger numbers of arrests and prolonged detentions.
In communities where these raids have taken place many have experienced fear sweeping through their neighborhoods. The images from these raids have been very unsettling. Unfortunately gun totting, mask-wearing cops rampaging through neighborhoods raiding homes and businesses like car washes and Day Laborer sites is anything but new.
“…. We are concerned about the timing of an ICE operation that seems to be as much designed for media consumption as anything else,” Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said in a statement. “We are worried ICE Director Morton’s intense media campaign to publicize this action will only contribute to a climate of fear that is already sending shockwaves across the state and country.”
After a callout for emergency rallies in response to the raids, demonstrations erupted in both Phoenix and Tucson. The following week more demonstrations and walkouts happened with small escalations at certain points. In Phoenix nine students felt compelled to chain them selves to a door of the Arizona Capitol Building resulting in all of them being arrested. One of the student’s attorneys said that the action was taken to send a message to Gov. Jan Brewer and “block the bigotry that was emanating from the Legislature”.
One doesn’t need to look far to see why Arizona state officials would be grasping for straws.  The AZ central Star’s (Main newspaper of Phoenix) number one story of 2009 was recounting the deficit that Brewer and legislature faced:

“The Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer spent 2009 thrashing around the deep end, looking for a way out. It didn’t happen.
Budget cuts were inevitable, and the public began to see the contours of a shrinking state government: Hundreds of state employees were laid off and thousands forced to take days off without pay. For the first time since the depression the state borrowed to pay the bills
The budget quagmire will continue in 2010, where a $3.3 billon deficit looms and most likely beyond.”
Another point of contention for Phoenix politics falling apart last year was another top story of 2009 recounting the US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigating Sherriff Joe Arpaio.
From that article:
March, the DOJ announced an investigation into alleged patterns of racial discrimination based on national origin. Although the DOJ has not been specific, the consensus among Arpaio’s critics is that the investigation relates primarily to racial profiling and illegal searches and seizures. In October, Arpaio complained publicly that DOJ investigators had posed as reporters to gain access to one of his press conferences.
When connecting to the DOJ’s Arpaio tip line, it says, “You have reached the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office investigation line.” Then it prompts the listener to choose between English and Spanish. By lunchtime Wednesday,[of the week the hotline was established] both the English and Spanish mailboxes were full. They have been full throughout the week and are still full as of Saturday morning. The toll free number for the tip line is 877-613-2137.
Taking these two weak points into context definitely sheds light on why Phoenix politicians would be looking for scapegoats and easy ways to pose as if they have things “under control”. The fact that SB 1070 has made it this far should most certainly be linked to the fact that we are in a state of literal crisis rapidly approaching a level of disparity similar to that of 1929’s great economic depression.
“Tucson today is the moral equivalent of Birmingham, Alabama in 1961,” said Mike Wilson, border rights activist and Tohono ‘O’odham tribal member, while attending a rally at the Tucson Federal Building April, 15.
Since the closing of 2009 and now well into 2010 Arizona has been sinking further and further into political unrest and deficit. In 2005 Arizona enacted a law making human smuggling a state crime and prohibited employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants with a law in 2007. What are some of the quotes coming from Arizona’s head political figures in 2010?
Republican Senator Russell Pearce of Mesa, who sponsored SB 1070, said”…. it will take handcuffs off police and put them on violent criminals. Enough is enough,”.
U.S. Sen. John McCain called the bill a “tool that I think needs to be used.” His office later said that wasn’t an endorsement.
“It will be extremely difficult to repair that chain (in reference to the shuttle bus service). It is the missing link that greatly disrupts the infrastructure of human smuggling organizations,” said Dennis Burke, U.S. attorney for Arizona.
Knowing all of this we need to ask ourselves a few important questions: knowing the US government just closed down a way for many people to safely travel from south of the US border to find work and be close to their families, what can we do to help recreate this safety net and lessen the blow that the government wishes to inflict upon those migrating to the U.S.? Knowing that large-scale fear is sweeping through neighborhoods of people that are subject to repression solely on race alone (that will only increase if SB1070 is passed), what can we do to first, reach out and provide safer ways for those affected to share their stories? Second, how can we improve the ways that we disseminate information about our current community projects (i.e. No More Deaths and Derechos Humanos in Tucson) and assure that we sustain them and use this chance to get new people involved in supporting migrants?  We also need to develop community based actions to help alleviate the governments goal of further alienating people of color communities? One project that will surely need more help is the documentation of abuses on Tohono O’ odham land where abuse is already high and will only escalate if it becomes legalized through the passage of SB 1070.
Realistically speaking, what will you do the next time you see police pulling someone over in your neighbor hood? What can/will we do to strengthen some of the past efforts started to rally observers for ICE raids, and get serious about supporting those that will continue to feel less safe and unsupported in our communities after raids increase?
Some may see rallies and direct actions as the answer. The author of this piece definitely supports those actions. Looking at the situation strategically though some of the first steps should be stopping and listening to each other. Building community ties right now could be an empowering step one for the problem at hand. The government can easily cut the chain of a lock-down. But they truly fear a group of organized people. So at the next walk-out and rally be sure to actually connect with those around you. Remember to reflect on feelings and provide a space for more wide-scale communication to occur.
Regardless of SB 1070 passing we can expect things around the border to only get worse. Governor Jan Brewer requesting an additional 250 troops to increase militarization of the border definitely reflects that. As long as militarized borders exist and ICE detention centers continue to operate we can be sure that there will be fear and definite reason for it in our communities. Extreme cases of human rights violations and racial profiling will also continue to occur on Tohono O’ odham land and in our communities. The amount of humans dying on the border will also drastically increase.  The question at hand that needs to be answered is how are we going to lessen that?
It’s like a powder keg and the fires lit, it’s about to explode! — A-Alikes Explode
At the time of this article being written SB 1070 has not been signed into law.
This piece is part of a larger group of short essays later to be released on the topic of response to the militarization on the border and racist repression in our community.  
Another Crucial article for this discussion from friends: 
Thoughts on our role in the emerging struggle against the racist state of Arizona
For more information on resistance to SB1070 visit AZ Indymedia 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Civil Disobedience and Walk-Outs Oppose Racist Bill

This week is an intense one, as Russell Pearce's bill SB1070 sits on the desk of the governor signed, vetoed, or let to pass. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, 9 students got arrested after chaining themselves to the doors of one of the capitol buildings. They were really stealth about it, and had a great statement they read during the action, which happened at the same time as the press conference at which various politicians spoke. I fully support them taking their action when they did even if it disturbed the order of things at the press conference- this was far bigger news. The students called for more non-violent civil disobedience because they've tried all the usual tactics like calling their legislators. If anything, many years ago was a time to escalate tactics because now we are at desperate times.

Today I got to witness hundreds of high-school students march to the capitol. They apparently had a walk-out. I'm reading accounts of thousands having marched there, but when I was there, many had left, but there were more on their way! These actions are quite inspiring and will hopefully inspire more actions, even if they don't stop this bill.

This is all reminiscent of the powerful time of the walk-outs and marches during the threat of the federal Sensenbrenner-sponsored immigration reform bill in 2006 and 2007. I am glad to know that this large-scale resistance is not dead. Yes, the Arpaio marches were big, but the walk-outs signify something different.

It will be interesting to see what happens next since the bill is likely to pass. I imagine that many migrants will feel the brunt of it, even if the bill gets caught up with lawsuits and issues with constitutionality. However, although it's difficult for many of us who live in the Phoenix area to imagine what's going on down at the border, we also must be aware of the increasing militarization that is looming. The governor and McCain and others are trying to get more troops down to the border. In addition, as comprehensive immigration reform comes closer to being seriously talked about in the US legislature, there will hopefully be more resistance to guest-worker programs, biometrics, increasing militarization of the border, etc.

See also: Civil Disobedience in Protest of SB1070

Monday, April 19, 2010

Biometrics Still Likely to be Part of Reform

I wrote several months ago about how biometrics (methods for uniquely recognizing humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical traits) is part of the push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. This is UNACCEPTABLE and is likely to only lead many who are for civil liberties to oppose immigration reform only on this point. Those of you who are interested in Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) not only must oppose militarization of the border, but also this form of national identification. (I personally don't have hope for any acceptable CIR going through, but I am concerned about the ramifications for migrants the fight over this bill will have).
While details are still sketchy, Schumer and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have proposed that the new Social Security card be swiped by employers through a machine to match a fingerprint or some other personal biometric feature against data stored on computers. Those who refuse to cooperate or otherwise knowingly hire unauthorized workers would face fines and even prison (Source).
As some of you know, local libertarian and constitutionalist groups and individuals have publicly opposed Pearce's SB 1070, the anti-immigrant bill, because the bill allows the federal government access to personal, county, or state information. Mark Lerner of Consitutional Alliance wrote:
This language in no way prohibits law enforcement from sharing the personal information of citizens of the United States during the "vetting process". I contend that the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has made their intentions clear. They want the personal information of Americans either through direct electronic access or indirect access. I appreciate that currently the "federal government" has much of our personal information already. The fact is "that information" is spread out over many departments and agencies of the federal government. DHS wants a more centralized system and thus we have witnessed the Real ID Act 2005 and now the PASS ID Act.

Because the standards for both Real ID and PASS ID are the adopted standards of two international organizations, AAMVA and the ICAO, the driver's license would become not simply a national ID but more accurately and international ID. International standards are only used to facilitate global information sharing (Source).
Many people oppose Real ID and other such things, and especially when biometrics becomes involved. We know that there are many problems with E-Verify, but will adding facial recognition or fingerprinting make things better or worse? Aside from any errors involved, it is clearly an invasion of privacy. As a blogger writes regarding CIR, "A great concern of mine (and a multitude of others) is the inevitable intrusions upon the liberties of the American people. Just look at the name: Biometric National ID card. What does this tell us? It will enable the government to scrutinize our every transaction and move. It will be a 24/7 GPS (Source)."

A lot of these folks are not ones who care about the situation immigrants are or would be facing (many blatantly oppose "amnesty"). They are concerned for their own interests. They come out against an anti-immigration bill (many probably reluctantly) because of the Real ID issues, and they'll come out against CIR because of the same.

My friends at have discussed the possibilities of contradictions among right-wingers:
We also need to be thinking about our opposition and our potential allies. At the Tempe Tea Party rally libertarians stood outside flyering against Pearce's law. This continues to be an important breach in the front of white supremacy and we must recognize it. We must continue to engage it and we must continue to push on that contradiction so that others are emboldened to break with the racist trajectory (Source).
I agree with this, but I am not so optimistic that this shows a complete break with the racist trajectory, as we will see when biometrics is included in CIR. In fact, it is likely that the biometrics will provide a stronger argument against CIR across the political spectrum. I even wonder whether it is meant to turn even more people against so-called amnesty for migrants.

Here's an interesting analysis I quoted in my previous blog post on biometrics:
This national ID move is either a labrynthine [sic] charade designed to give Obama and the Democrats a way out of their commitment to immigration reform-even the conservative, punitive “get tough approach of CIR”- or a very dangerous move to continue the Bush surveillance project under the guise “immigration reform.”
I would add my suspicion that these senators would be or are getting kick-backs from the companies that would provide the technology/information systems that would be involved (Lockheed and Boeing perhaps?), but I believe the overwhelming reason is that the federal government wants to build up the police state by having more centralized information available to different law enforcement agencies. After all, we can see that with Homeland Security's "Secure Communities".

Since things like this is really decided upon by the legislature, the people have little input. There just might be enough support among them to pass CIR with biometrics if this is true:
In explaining the only current bipartisan reform proposal, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has called such a high-tech Social Security card "a linchpin" in efforts to win support in Congress for fixing an immigration enforcement system that many agree is broken. Immigrant advocates are pushing for action on immigration reform this year, and the Obama administration has expressed support, though many analysts doubt the current political climate is conducive (Source).
Still, what will the Tea-Party-like response to "Obamacare" be to CIR? Surely the racists will grab hold of the tea-party and organize it against CIR, and obviously not just because of the privacy issue. I argue that yes, we should push on the contradictions, like Phoenix Insurgent has written, but while we may be able to divide them on Pearce's bill, they will unite against CIR. I believe that while yes, people are motivated by self-interest, if we continue to do nothing but legitimize it by using it where we can against racist organizing, when can we actually get less people to be motivated the self-interest that is overwhelmingly funneled towards racist and divisive ends? At what point do we challenge people's racism as well? After all, much of their racism is based on fear and lies that people in power feed them.

Read my older blog post on biometrics here

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Senator Pearce's "Illegal is not a Race" is about Racism

“Illegal is not a race, it is a crime,” Senator Russell Pearce has been repeating lately. He’s defending himself against the frequent accusation of racism.

Illegal, meaning illegal immigrant, or illegal alien (it never means illegal driver under the influence or illegal shoplifter, so pardon us for seeing it as derogatory), and here in Arizona usually means Mexican, since we’re so close to Mexico and since the rates of migration across the border with Mexico is so high (due to NAFTA). But Mexican is not a race either, yet it makes sense to use the term racism (would he prefer white supremacy?)—even if he hates only a portion whom are so desperate to risk their lives to get a job in the U.S. This especially makes sense since we’re talking about the guy who “accidentally” forwarded out an email from a white supremacist group and uses statistics about the crimes of “illegals” he sourced from an organization (FAIR) that has connections to eugenicists. But that’s sort of beside the point.

I know there’s at least a handful of racists who know they’re racist but they know they should deny it. Most of the anti-immigrant folks, however, feel absolved from accusations of racism because maybe they have a few Black friends or a Hispanic wife or something. Please note: you don’t have to hate all people of color to be racist, and you don’t even have to hate a single one of them to be racist. If you feel entitled to privileges because you have white skin, if you participate in racist discrimination or are complacent with the violence brought against people of color by believing and maybe repeating false information about them, that’s racism too.

But let’s look at this again. “Illegal is not a race, it is a crime.” They could’ve said the same thing in the days when the police—oops, I mean the slave patrols—were checking for the “free papers” of every dark-skinned person they came upon who wasn’t enslaved. “It’s not racist to check to make sure the slave hadn’t illegally escaped her slavery,” they might’ve insisted, except that was long before racism was deemed dishonorable.

You see, what Russell Pearce doesn’t get (if he does I’ve under-estimated his intelligence and malevolence) is that race is so tied up with crime, his argument is circular. Race has so much to do with crime and illegality. You see, race was invented through criminalizing Africans. We weren’t taught in school (it wouldn’t be patriotic) that in the seventeenth century the rich European elites of Virginia were compelled, out of fear of rebellions of European indentured servants who joined with African slaves, to create new laws that made crimes of certain activities of Africans (owning property, testifying in court, defending themselves in physical confrontations, and much more). This created, and solidified, the divisions between people based on perceived physical differences so that they could create a clear hierarchy and an alliance between poor whites and rich whites against Africans. Race is not a biological or genetic reality. It is only based on certain physical cues that now have much more social and political significance than they had many centuries ago. In creating these divisions, alliances between races are undermined and poor whites would willingly maintain the hierarchy (even when that meant they’d stay poor) if they were allotted a few privileges and legal liberties. The rich whites won because they prevented the rebellions of the poor and continue to this day to make money off of most people's labor. Extra exploitation of people of color is justified by their alleged criminality.

Even after slavery was abolished, many Black people were charged with such things as vagrancy so they could be imprisoned and made to work for free. But it wasn’t racism since they had committed a crime, right Mr. Pearce? But they say we’ve progressed since then (we just have a much higher rate of people of color in prison than white people and many other examples of institutional racism to point to).

The point is that people are “illegal” because they’ve been made illegal. Clearly since race is not physically real, it exists mainly in the way people are treated. If people are criminalized and treated as criminals because of who they are (as in where they’re from, what they look like), that can clearly be called racism. This is the case, especially when anyone with brown skin can feel the effects of the targeting of immigrants. But let’s consider why Pearce might want to clarify that illegal is not a race. He is denying racism because most people understand racism to be about discriminating against people for no other reason but because of who they are, not what they’ve done. So even if we don’t use the term race, most people would agree that this attitude is wrong. The reason his bill includes criminalizing day laborers is because day laborers are mostly undocumented. The activities of day laborers are targeted because this is a way to catch people because of who they are, not because day laborer activity is harmful to the community. Pearce is contributing to social division between people by also criminalizing the people who transport or harbor undocumented migrants (will renting to them be illegal?).

The criminalization of poor people from south of the border—said to be unwilling to assimilate (why should they?)—is partly justified because of some idea of protecting “our culture”. What culture is this that the anti-immigrant folks claim they are destroying? Our hallowed culture of watching hours of TV and playing facebook games, meaningless jobs and prescription drugs, calling the police on loud neighbors instead of asking them to turn it down? What are they actually trying to protect? Could it be that white people feel entitled to a land that was stolen and built on the backs of slaves? They’re certainly not trying to protect native sovereignty (look at the check points on the Tohono O’odham Reservation).

But let’s look a little bit closer. The media and the politicians have been spending a lot of time and energy on shoving fear down the throats of U.S. citizens. They repeat the horror stories over and over again, and they make a lot of it up. Pearce likes to read off the names of police officers killed by immigrants—how about we read off the names of all the people the police have killed and those who have died in Joe’s jail (too bad so many of their names aren’t even reported)? Pearce likes to talk about “illegals” like they are all the same—even though studies show that a smaller percentage of migrants commit serious crimes compared to citizens, any of them could be a murderer, so we need to get rid of them all (and this makes as much sense as putting all men in jail because most violent crimes are committed by men)! Yes, it takes a lot to convince the average American to hate someone for stepping over an arbitrarily-drawn line in the dirt, and it should.

So why all the effort? There’s a lot to be gained financially from maintaining a class of people who can be treated in such a way—with little legal recourse to obtain unpaid wages, to get at least minimum wage and overtime pay to begin with, to have safe and reasonable working conditions. Some folks are also making a lot of money off of imprisoning hundreds of thousands of migrants in detention centers, building security equipment, the border wall, etc. There are some people, and perhaps Pearce is one of them, who are not motivated by greed, just hate or vengeance—I mean, he and his son, as police officers, have been shot by Latino youth and a Mexican undocumented immigrant, respectively. Pearce claims that to stop the crimes that are committed by those who commit them, all undocumented immigrants must be targeted. Using a war term, he pushes “attrition by enforcement”.

Criminalizing people justifies their exploitation, imprisonment, separation from family or their removal. What makes people “illegal” immigrants is the legal and economic significance of the border. Rich people and goods can cross the border freely. The U.S. doesn’t want to take any responsibility for the economic impact of the neo-liberal projects like NAFTA which prevent people from being able to subsist in the country they were born in. The border wall isn’t even a band-aid approach to the issue—it’s like putting superglue in the wound. Pearce is not interested in real solutions. He is not only interested in the federal immigration law being enforced, but he wants people put in jail because of who they are.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Border Action Network Condemns Arizona House Vote on the Farthest-Reaching Immigration Bill Enacted by a State

I apologize for not posting regularly. I've had other obligations and less internet access.

Below is a press release from BAN who is working hard to defeat this bill. Please read and share with others.

Border Action Network Condemns Arizona House Vote on the Farthest-Reaching Immigration Bill Enacted by a State

Tucson, Ariz. (Apr. 13, 2010) Earlier this afternoon, the Arizona House of Representatives passed Senator Russell Pearce's (R-18) SB1070, the most extreme immigration enforcement bill ever seen in Arizona or any state of the country.

Border Action Network, a human rights organization in Arizona, condemns the vote. Over the past three months, the organization has facilitated a citizen's response to a bill unprecedented for Arizona: over 15,000 emails have been sent by people across the state to their legislators and Border Action Network has collected and delivered more than 20,000 postcards to Governor Brewer urging her veto of this bill should it arrive on her desk.

"We are very disappointed that legislators don't seem to recognize the massive impact this bill will have on Arizona businesses, tourism, families and our economy," said Jennifer Allen, Border Action's Executive Director. "The consequences would be detrimental to the well-being of our state."

According to Allen, passage of this bill would also be detrimental to the country as a whole, as Arizona has become ground zero for anti-immigrant sentiments and Exhibit A on the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Sen. Pearce has publicly stated that at least 10 other states will try to pass similar legislation if Arizona's passes. The bill may also affect this year's elections: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose anti-immigrant antics have cost Arizona millions of dollars in litigation costs, is allegedly considering a run for Governor, and his main supporter, County Attorney Andrew Thomas, is now running for State Attorney General. Given these potential candidates, Allen says it is now more important than ever to stop passage of this constitutionally questionable bill.

"Stopping this bill would send a strong message to the state and country that Arizonans do not support tactics and laws that pit residents of the state against each other, and force them to live in fear of authorities," said Allen.

The bill will now have to be reconciled with the House version, HB2632. It will then proceed to Governor's office, who, according to Pearce, has indicated that she will sign it.

Border Action and groups across Arizona have gathered at the capitol in Phoenix every week for the past five weeks, demonstrating opposition to Pearce's bills and urging the Governor's veto. According to Allen, they will continue to do so every week.

"This fight is not over," said Allen "People are speaking up against this bill by the thousands, and we will continue to do so until it is vetoed or stopped, whether through legal battles or voter registration to vote these legislators out of office."

Border Action and groups across Arizona will gather at the State Capitol in Phoenix today, Wednesday, April 14th to urge Governor Brewer's veto of SB1070. They will be at the rear entrance to the Governor's office at 12 PM.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tea Party Tax Day

I find it interesting that Russell Pearce and Sheriff Arpaio participate in those anti-tax tea party events. How about we have "NO TAXES FOR RACIST POLITICIANS" signs. How about "NO TAXES FOR COPS" "NO TAXES FOR COPS WHO PROTECT THE RICH AND KILL THE POOR" "NO TAXES FOR PARANOID RACIST LEGISLATORS".

TAX DAY T.E.A. Party With Sheriff Joe!
On Tax Day Thursday April 15, 2010
At Freestone Park in Gilbert, AZ
From 11AM – 1PM

Freestone Park,1045 E Juniper Rd, Gilbert
(At the corner of Lindsey and Juniper Roads-between Guadalupe and Elliot Rd)

Don’t miss this dynamic event!

* The T.E.A. Party Story! The inspiring journey of the T.E.A. Party movement: How far we’ve come, where we stand today and where we will be going in 2010 and beyond!

* Meet the groups! The various conservative groups that will be at the event will introduce themselves and invite YOU to join them in the fight to take back our country!

* Meet the candidates! There won’t be any stump speeches at this event. Conservative candidates will be on hand to LISTEN to YOU one on one!

* Take the pledge! Rudi K of Mainstreet Outloud will lead us in the pledge to defend our constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic!


* Get Involved! Peruse the various tents and tables of T.E.A Party and other conservative organizations in the East Valley. Join the group of your choice and join the fight to take back America!

* Sign planting! Visit the “Sign Planting Table” to get your street corner assignment. Your homemade tax day protest sign will join forces with other anti-tax signs (No On Prop. 406 and No On Prop. 100) on street corners throughout the East Valley because we are Taxed Enough Already!

* Sound Off! Citizens will take turns telling us why they are Taxed Enough Already!

* Food! The Gilbert Kiwanis Club will sell hamburgers, hotdogs, nachos and candy for the whole family!

* Music and more! T-Shirts will be sold by Artcraft Sports Apparel/ Patriotic buttons sold by East Valley Tea Party Patriots. Staging provided by Y-NOT Party Rental / Sound system provided by the Harry Mathews Show

* FREE! It doesn’t get any better than that! This event is the product of lots of hard work by countless volunteers.