Thursday, December 15, 2011

Federal Goverment Prefers Their Way Better Than Arpaio's

The federal government has finally decided it doesn't exactly like how Arpaio has been enforcing immigration, huh?  Admittedly I can't help but get a little kick out of the blow to Arpaio's ego (and career?) but at the same time, I really can't stand the idea that people would be celebrating the federal government for finally putting their foot down against maltreatment of migrants.  Why?

I broke it down almost three years ago in my blog post, Federal Government will not be Maricopa County's Savior, one of the main points being that the federal government is just as bad if not worse in handling the immigration issue.  I think of Arpaio as an extremist clown- he is a spectacle that pushes the limits of what the public will accept.  He makes nearly everyone else who is pro-immigration enforcement (aside from Pearce who was right there with him) look responsible and reasonable.  So the federal government militarizes the border, holds thousands of migrants in detention centers and/or deports them, still conducts huge raids (Obama's raids surpassed previous ones, i.e. here and here), etc,. but they get to decide, to the delight of many, that Arpaio just went to far because he's been using his federal authority to discriminate

"The Department of Homeland Security is troubled by the Department of Justice's findings of discriminatory policing practices within the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office," Napolitano said in a statement. "Discrimination undermines law enforcement and erodes the public trust. DHS will not be a party to such practices. Accordingly, and effective immediately, DHS is terminating MCSO's 287(g) jail model agreement and is restricting the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office access to the Secure Communities program." (Source).

Apparently the federal government knows how not to erode the public trust. For similar reasons I have a problem with people focusing on the "innocent" victims of racial profiling and such.  Sure, go after the real criminals, we won't question that concept, just as long as all the people caught up in the deportation/detention system are the ones you say you're going after- because blatant maliciousness and hypocrisy erode the public trust, the status quo doesn't.

Yes, I'd like to see Arpaio gone, just as I liked seeing Russell Pearce gone (it'd be better if he was goner) but the illusion of victory distracts from what's really happening.  As I've mentioned numerous times, the Phoenix PD continues to deport more people than MCSO, but they do it without all the media hubbub, and therefore without comment from Stephen Lemons and migrant rights groups.  Arpaio is the face that can be pasted to a piñata, but he's not the only one we should be hitting with the metaphorical (or not) stick.

Some of what I wrote in early 2009 is pretty out-dated, but the following concluding paragraphs are more timeless.

One problem with appealing to the government is that to do so would require not being a threat. But any real just solution to the “immigration problem”, inevitably involving the dismantling of NAFTA and other neoliberal projects, as well as a serious change in social/political structure, is and always will be a threat to the government.

Another problem is that the government has an interest in appearing to be able and willing to deliver justice. But overall it is not in its interest to truly liberate the people from injustice and in fact its existence is actually antithetical to such an action. It would like to have people ask instead of demand changes, however, and would like us to think of it as a benevolent force in such cases when it’s actually worth the time to make reforms that benefit the people. Therefore, if we ask and they give, they are the heroes. If we demand and they give, they are still the heroes although we still have some sense of having played a part.

Related, the government is not a just one. We cannot expect a government that has been built on racism and continues to practice it in various ways (much higher rates of incarceration of people of color than whites, lack of indigenous rights, wars, just to name some examples) to be a force against white supremacy. The operator of immigration detention centers (or the ones who outsource private detention facilities), the performer of raids, is not the one whose going to save us from the similar actions of the Sheriff. He is doing their work for them. He's just doing it in an extra "look how demeaning i can be to these people" way. If the federal government does anything about it, it will only be to legitimize and continue its own actions and those of other jurisdictions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Law Enforcement Doesn't Stop Sexual Assault: On the MCSO Controversy

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

While it's embarrassing for the MCSO that former investigators' claims led to media attention such as MCSO priorities blamed for sex-crimes snafu, I cringe when thinking about how this will be framed, as usual, that regular police departments who are not led by extremist clowns like Arpaio, do a fine job at dealing with sex-crimes.  Interestingly, the articles I read barely mention Arpaio's focus on immigration, whereas independent media like Sheriff Arpaio ignored rape cases for years does.  It is clear that solving sexual assault cases took a back seat to the politically-motivated anti-immigrant campaign of attrition.  Yet this is not to insinuate that law enforcement is meant to prevent or even solve crime for the most part- particularly when it happens to especially-marginalized people.

Let's contrast this recent MCSO controversy with the situation that is rarely talked about: Immigrant Detainees: The New Sex Abuse Crisis.
There is abundant evidence that rape is a systemic problem in our immigration detention facilities—for women, for men, and, as the Women’s Refugee Commission has documented, for children. In 2010, Human Rights Watch released a report based on over fifty known incidents and allegations of sexual abuse of immigration detainees. The American Civil Liberties Union has discovered 185 government reports of such allegations since 2007, and a senior ACLU staff attorney says this is only “the tip of the iceberg.”
For crossing a man-made line in the sand in an unauthorized way, people are made particularly vulnerable to abuses inside and outside the prison system.  Sometimes the coyotes assault those they're helping to smuggle across the border.  Men have dressed as ICE agents to assault women.  Real ICE agents, police, and detention officers get away with abuses of this sort all the time.  Whether this behavior is excused or ignored because of racism or because the survivor is "illegal", it is made easier and more commonplace because of the criminalization of people.

Police or ICE officials sometimes make themselves out to be saviors of people held against their will, such as in drop-house busts in cases where migrants are held for ransom, only to turn around and hold the migrants in their own cages, where many of the same abuses occur.  The question that arises while people are calling out Arpaio for de-prioritizing sexual assault cases is, whose bodily integrity matters?  Are we considering the cases of those who get picked up for overstaying their visa?  Do they even have the choice to report the crimes perpetrated against them?
Terrified of deportation and separation from their families, immigrants in detention are often extremely reluctant to file grievances against facilities run by the very people who can expel them from the country; and there is little question that deportation is sometimes used as retribution against immigration detainees who complain, and sometimes as a way of forestalling investigations into abuses. And it’s clear that facilities holding people who do not feel able to complain are particularly fertile grounds for abuse, as are institutions that can easily deport witnesses against them. 
What comes to mind is the situation with criminalization of sex-workers, especially where it overlaps with immigration.  While sex-trafficking does occur, laws that are written to supposedly curb sex-trafficking actually make things worse for sex-workers.

As Nandita Sharma said in an interview,
Anti-trafficking legislation is used to target so-called “illegal migration.” Instead of placing the blame for migrants’ vulnerability on the restrictive immigration policies of national states that force people into a condition of illegality, it blames those who are actually facilitating their movement across borders... Anti-trafficking legislation criminalizes people who facilitate migrants’ entry into national states. I think this is the underlying agenda behind anti-trafficking legislation. It offers ideological cover to target both the migrants themselves and the people who facilitate their movement. In this way, anti-trafficking legislation strengthens border policing...
Let me give you two examples of how anti-trafficking legislation actually increases the vulnerability and exploitation that many women migrants face. First, anti-trafficking legislation targets people who are helping women cross borders. This raises the cost of moving across borders and, as a result, women have to go further into debt in order to do so. Second, by imposing these enormous penalties – which, in Canada, can include a life-sentence and in the United States can include a death sentence – those facilitating movement make migrants use routes that are less safe. People are being forced to cross borders in very vulnerable places like deserts and mountains, places where hundreds of migrant bodies are found dead every year. Anti-trafficking legislation is thus making migration less safe for women.
Jessica Yee was also interviewed:
Women around the world, especially racialized women, shoulder the burden of labour that doesn’t get acknowledged or reported. Forced labour and exploitation are reported even less. When we’re talking about “trafficking,” people assume we’re talking only about sex work, and only about cross-border trafficking. We need to remind ourselves that sexual slavery and the forcing of sexual acts are not the only kinds of exploitation, even though they seem particularly salacious compared to other forms of forced labour. We also need to understand that “trafficking” takes place within nation states, and against Indigenous people.
Many people uncritically accept the conflation of trafficking and sex work. The same people who think it is taboo to talk about sex are the first to suggest that this is the number one issue of forced labour, but it’s not. And people who are actually being trafficked and moved against their will receive no attention because the state is so focused on raiding massage parlours and arresting women who are sex workers. This neglect occurs in the name of righteousness and “saving” women, yet it is merely the further colonization of women’s bodies, women’s spaces, and women’s choices.
(Listen to the radio show here).

This is all to familiar to those of us who had been following the situation of the migrants in Maricopa County who were charged with conspiracy in human smuggling cases.  Even though the law wasn't meant to go after migrants themselves, hundreds of migrants were charged with conspiracy by MCSO over the last few years.  While many who didn't take a guilty plea were not convicted, MCSO was still able to get them caught up in the legal system because they could take them in under reasonable suspicion.  And even though the authors of the bill said they didn't intend for the law to be used that way, it was clearly an effort to cut down on migration, while likely increasing the risks of those involved in a similar way as the sex-trafficking laws discussed above.  This is also similar to the ways in which the Employer Sanctions Law should really be called the Employee Sanctions Law because many more employees have been arrested under the guise of going after employers, few of whom have seen any consequences (Another workplace raid targets workers not bosses).

The criminalization of unauthorized movement, drugs, and sex-work is done allegedly for the sake of minimizing violence, issues of security, and health problems, when in fact it perpetuates these things.
The badges, guns, and official vehicles, this assumption that law enforcement are never/rarely law-breakers, allows violations to occur against people, not to mention the drug smuggling enabled by the authority provided to various agents (Mexican Smugglers Exploit the Corrupt Reputation of U.S. Border Officers).  This is not about the unfortunate bad apples who spoil the barrel- this is a systemic, institutional problem.  And even while Arpaio gets publicly called out for deprioritizing sex-crimes, it is not as though the media doesn't praise the (other) police as well as perpetuate victim-blaming.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

ALEC Resistance Continues with SRP Protest

As a follow-up to my last post, I want to say, that I had not closely seen the banners in the following photo, which clearly show a more radical message. Of course there were others, but I felt that overall it was not an adequate attempt at drawing a bigger picture of people. It's difficult however, as when I found myself explaining ALEC to passersby tonight, since so few people have ever heard of it, it makes sense to just stick to the basics. Anyway, these banners had great messaging.

When I wrote my last piece I also make a distinction between tactics and message. I include the call for shutting down ALEC more as tactics than messaging. Again, many people were down with the "shutdown" message as well as the actual tactics which were as close as could be gotten to that goal, which you can read about here.

Check out this zine also: N30 Shutdown ALEC zine

I was delightfully surprised about the protest planned for the morning of Dec 2nd at the Salt River Project (SRP), which is a local energy company and an ALEC board member, and has collaborated with Peabody Coal (another ALEC member) for resource extraction. I wasn't aware of the issues with SRP specifically and so I imagine very few other people were until this action. This action definitely addressed the broader issue of colonization, which was present at the N30 event, but perhaps a bit drowned out. Although several people involved with Occupy Phoenix showed up, some of whom were down with what was going on while others didn't get it but showed up because they got the message to, this action steered away from the occupy message. It helped to make clear that the opposition to ALEC is not just coming out of occupy, even though the media seems to be portraying the N30 action that way.

Please check out the following independent media: BREAKING NEWS: Indigenous Elders & Supporters Occupy ALEC Member Salt River Project Headquarters
PHOTOS & VIDEO Indigenous Elders & Supporters Occupy ALEC Member Salt River Project Headquarters
and more at

Thursday, December 1, 2011

ALEC Protests: Any more radical than Bush protests?

Considering that ALEC has not been shut down (yet?), I'm concerned that some of the message has been lost in the interest of gaining numbers and exposure. I do think it's important to expose ALEC, and that has been accomplished on a large scale over the last year, with this protest in Scottsdale being the largest and most militant yet.

I've been concerned about ALEC being the new public enemy #1 when in fact they are just a good example of the larger system(s) at work that affect laws to the benefit of the rich and powerful. So we're talking colonization, capitalism, slavery and the continued criminalization of people of color, which included borders and prisons, etc. There certainly are benefits to the exposure of the World Trade Organization (WTO) culminating 12 years ago, but in a sense, it focused on neo-liberalism/globalization at the expense of a focus on capitalism.

While ALEC came to be exposed to us in AZ because of its links to SB1070 and private prisons, I was concerned that the private-ness of prisons would be the focus, rather than the history of criminalization people, primarily people of color, which has also benefited the rich and powerful. But while I don't know a lot about the messages coming out of the liberal/progressive/democrat groups that are also opposing ALEC, it seems that even the private prison connection is not the main focus. And with the occupy rhetoric, ALEC can just be understood as representing the 1%.

Today I asked myself what made these ALEC protests different than the old Bush protests where democrats and anarchists gathered together to oppose a common enemy. Not to say we shouldn't oppose a common enemy, but it is clear to anarchists (for the most part) that democrats can be just as bad if not worse in their slimy deceptive ways. Or they don't have to be deceptive, it's that those who would oppose Obama's higher rates of raids and deportations are more isolated because the left is too afraid or enamored to oppose Obama. It's similar to how Arpaio has been the face of evil anti-immigrant schemes, while the Phoenix PD has made more arrests than MCSO and with hardly a peep from the immigrants' rights movement.

All this is intended as constructive criticism and self-criticism. What is it that we'll wish we had done differently, and is it to late? The indigenous gathering was very encouraging. There will be more media releases that address the wider context. It was great that the "SHUTDOWN ALEC" message did not alienate many people, even if it hasn't resulted in the achievement of that goal. I hope that now that ALEC has been further exposed, we can bring the bigger issues into the forefront. Because if ALEC didn't exist, there would still be prisons, borders, colonization...

It's the never-ending conundrum: say what only anarchists will say at the risk of total isolation, or compromise a bit in hopes that people will slowly be drawn towards being open to what only anarchists will say. I honestly fall somewhere in the middle of these, but sometimes more towards the former.

See also: ALEC protest Wednesday
ALEC in context...
Private Prisons in a Wider Context: Video

Sunday, November 27, 2011

ALEC protest Wednesday

Check out for more info.

Wednesday is November 30, which is the 12th anniversary of the WTO protests in Seattle.  It's also the first main day of the ALEC States and Nation's Summit in Snottsdale.  This is the Summit at which two years ago they agreed upon SB1070 becoming one of their many pieces of model legislation, which corporations and legislators collude on propagating across the country.  In the case of SB1070 and legislature before it (three strikes laws, mandatory minimums, etc.), the three largest private prison companies in the country were involved in the discussions.  It also turns out that various companies involved in resource extraction are also involved.

I haven't spent much time on the details about ALEC because ALEC is just an example of what happens on a large scale, everyday and with a long history.  There are many horrible things about ALEC, but they didn't create the border wall, they didn't build the prisons.  Sheriff Joe's jail is as bad or worse than any private prison or detention center, with the temps reaching 117 in tent city this summer.  When I first learned about ALEC last fall, i wrote What came first: the Racism or the Profit Motive? which i would write a bit differently today, but has some important questions within.   Now i would answer that question by describing it as an intricate combination of the two. I do believe that people will try to profit off something that is already happening, as in the case of private prisons, and that they do try to shape how we see different populations so as to justify criminalization (not to mention the ways that other interests seek to justify exploitation- and this is justified partly through criminalization). But i also think that there is a history of racism that this concept of privatized prisons is built upon. Yet at the same time, as i discussed, this racism is built on a desire for stability for the rich and has ultimately resulted in a divided working class that could not rebel in unity, and therefore could not successfully rebel.

Based on this, i was motivated to create this video, which is explained further at this link: Private Prisons in a Wider Context (maybe you watched part one, but did you watch part two?). It brings the focus more towards a historical arc that incorporates colonization, the criminalization of slaves then ex-slaves, and the continuation of criminalization of people of color. This doesn't have to be directly for profit as in the case of private prisons.

Anyway, hope to see you out at the ALEC protest events (there's more going on than just wednesday by the way).

Monday, November 21, 2011

ALEC in context...

This is the text of a flier, which can be viewed or printed, here.

What!? Politicians and private companies get together to create laws that benefit those companies? AZ Senator Russell Pearce and other legislators from around the U.S. meet in a group called ALEC*.
You never thought it would be so blatant as private prison companies** having a say in laws that can create more demand for their facilities and services.  How could people be criminalized so companies can profit from imprisoning them?!?! Not only is ALEC behind mandatory minimums and three strikes laws, they also had a hand in SB1070. When they see immigrants, they see dollar signs, and so they participate with other racists to paint immigrants as a problem--deserving of imprisonment.  This is nothing new...

The deviousness that occurs within ALEC is just an example of how people are criminalized for profit.  But it does not have to be as directly profitable as this. Colonization has of course provided settlers with land and other resources at the expense of those who are native.

Slave codes & convict leasing created crimes that made it easier to exploit the labor of people of color. Criminalizing unauthorized migration did the same thing, specifically affecting the Chinese and Mexicans for many decades.  More recently, the drug war also criminalizes people of color more disproportionately to maintain racist policies without them appearing race-based.

* American Legislative Exchange Council ** Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Geo Group are the largest private prison companies.

More info:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Satire for Russell Pearce- again, because he's GONE

I haven't posted in a while as things seem somewhat tame for a bit, and I've been working on other projects. 

In celebration of Russell Pearce's ouster, i'd like to repost this piece i compiled/edited/wrote which i have always felt somewhat awkward about, but nonetheless gets the point across in a more creative way.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Satire for Russell Pearce

No more catch and release of the unwelcome male
(or, what if you took the extremist position of our anti-immigrant Arizona Senator Russell Pearce, and put it in a different context?)
by Senator Valerie Solanas Pearce

I sat ashen as I watched the news reports. Several chiefs of police stood at a press conference and publicly refused to enforce the law. Less than a month after the brutal murder of a police officer at the hands of a male, they snubbed the opportunity to make necessary changes and violated their oaths of office for the sake of political correctness. Meanwhile, people are killed, maimed and raped. Men cost citizens billions to educate, medicate and incarcerate, and they take jobs from women.

Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to prevent the potential crimes that men commit, by destroying or at least repressing the entire male class. I will not stand by and be a spectator to male-perpetrated violence because we refuse to enforce our laws and fail to put women first.

The courts have not identified any policy or humanitarian argument that would negate the fact that men in the United States are more likely to abuse others. The male is, by his very nature, a leech, an emotional parasite and, therefore, not ethically entitled to live, as no one has the right to life at someone else's expense.

Women have a constitutional right to expect the protection of federal laws that prohibit unauthorized activities by men, cluttering up the world with their ignominious presence, and are denied equal protection by law enforcement, police departments or magistrates that fail to enforce those laws.

This is the only law we put conditions on before a police officer can enforce it. Men as a social category are the only criminals we protect by policies. No other crime or criminal gets this protection by our elected officials. The sick, irrational men, those who attempt to defend themselves against their disgustingness, when they see us barreling down on them, will cling in terror to Big Mama with her Big Bouncy Boobies, but Boobies won't protect them against us; Big Mama will be clinging to Big Daddy, who will be in the corner shitting in his forceful, dynamic pants.

Studies and reports have cited alarming statistics: Men commit about 91% of all homicides, and they commit 98% of all sexual assaults. Gratuitous violence, besides 'proving' he's a 'Man', serves as an outlet for his hate and, in addition--the male being capable only of sexual responses and needing very strong stimuli to stimulate his half-dead self--provides him with a little sexual thrill.

Phoenix runs second in the world in kidnappings and third in the United States for violence. Arizona has become the home-invasion, carjacking, identity-theft capital of the nation. These are not statistics Arizona should be famous for.

The elimination of any male is, therefore, a righteous and good act, an act highly beneficial to women as well as an act of mercy. Enough is enough. The laws must be enforced.

I pledge that if we eliminate all men in this state, the result will be less crime and lower taxes. The costs of these crimes are far more than financial to our citizens, and HB 2280 will help make Arizona a safer place.

"What is this?" you must be asking. An op-ed piece taken from a sci-fi novel depicting a feminist semi-utopia? Well, it is a stretch to imagine women's livelihood and bodily integrity being considered valuable, much less a priority, but it is not sci-fi or fantasy. This is a hodgepodge of an editorial by Russell Pearce with some nouns and statistics altered, with some gems from Valerie Solanas’s SCUM Manifesto (SCUM stands for Society for Cutting Up Men).

While I disagree with most of Solanas's manifesto, it is an example of an extremist position. And though Russell Pearce, our dishonorable anti-immigrant senator, would be repulsed by the SCUM Manifesto, I insist that his position is equally unreasonable. He has been advocating for dealing with the crimes committed by some of a certain class of people by removing the whole class of people (undocumented immigrants), even though those crimes are also committed by others. He has praised Sheriff Arpaio for being the only one to do “preventive law enforcement”. What can be made of that other than he prefers to stop crime before it is even committed. What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

Of course, Pearce is saying that undocumented immigrants have already committed the crime inherent in being in the country illegally, though clearly he needs to defend this point ad nauseam because crossing a man-made line is just not something most people find important. The satirical piece is a bit of an exaggeration, as Pearce probably wouldn't publish such harsh words about immigrants as Solanas did about men. For one, he learned his lesson when he forwarded out an email from the National Alliance, a white supremacist organization. And two, it's just not politically useful. In addition, Pearce doesn't have to make insults--it is implicit in his position. He unflinchingly equates all undocumented immigrants with murderers and rapists.

The change in references to “illegals” to men in Pearce's op-ed were made so one can see that he is targeting a whole class of people to prevent the violent crimes that some of them commit. No doubt it seemed really extreme to the reader, particularly because men in general are not seen as the "other" like immigrants are. Despite the fact that the statistics about men committing such crimes are true and far worse than the statistics about undocumented immigrants, no one, aside from Valerie Solanas perhaps (tho she seemed less concerned about violence than men’s dullness and egocentricity), would propose that such pre-crime fighting should be exercised to thwart male-perpetrated violence.

What would seem absurd to most people, unfortunately, is to actually get at the root of the problem regarding violent crime. Mental health issues, poverty, social alienation; racist, heterosexist, capitalist patriarchy. But instead, undocumented immigrants are scapegoated for various problems including the crimes that a few commit, usually due to the fact that they must live a criminal, clandestine, and desperate lifestyle, one which is rewarded by exploiting others. Meanwhile there are worse criminals who don't have to be secretive because they are part of the establishment.

Russell Pearce's op-eds which ran with similar tho not exact text in two publications:
The SCUM Manifesto:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

ALEC thinks they're meeting in Scottsdale, AZ this November...

ALEC thinks they're meeting in Scottsdale, AZ this November...
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a massive non-profit body that brings corporations and legislators together to draft "model" legislation.  For example, AZ Senator Russell Pearce and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest private prison firm, have been members for years.  ALEC finalized the model legislation which became, almost word for word, Arizona's SB1070, aka "Support Our Law Enforcement."  It's the latest in the historical pattern of colonization, slave codes, convict leasing, and the drug war, that CREATES crimes and therefore criminals, for profit.
With British Petroleum (BP) and the Koch brothers as some of their funders, ALEC has pushed for Three Strikes and Mandatory Minimum sentencing, as well as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.  More than 200 of ALEC's model bills became actual laws throughout the country over the past year.

We're a group of people in occupied Indigenous lands, now called Arizona, who demand the end of SB1070 and 287g, the criminalization—and then the incarceration—of migrants, and the militarization of the border. We oppose private prisons, detention centers, and security companies, not simply because they are private, but because we are sickened by profiteering on human misery.   ALEC desires "free markets" and "limited government," which means they use the state to support profit-making, the continuance of colonization, and neo-liberal policies (NAFTA, CANAMEX, etc.) that draw lines, make laws, and build freeways and prisons to exploit labor and the earth.

Whether maintained by the state or corporations, we're against all systems of control.  We are for freedom of movement for all people.
ALEC should know there are a million better things to do with their time than plotting mass incarceration.  But there’s nowhere we’d rather be than confronting their meeting. We're calling for four days of action here in occupied Onk Akimel O’odham lands from November 29th - December 3rd, 2011, with an emphasis for action on November 30th (N30!).  We encourage a creative diversity of tactics on N30, the 12th anniversary of the Seattle uprising against the WTO.  No matter the acronym, ALEC is no different than all the other gangs of businessmen, politicians, and bureaucrats that we’ve been resisting for over 500 years.

In solidarity with everyone locked up and locked down in AZ, and all O’odham, Yaqui, Lipan Apache separated by the border, and anyone dispossessed by the wealthy and powerful… 

Project Baldwin

see also:

Friday, July 22, 2011

NOLA Anarcha- Why Anarchists Should Protest the ALEC Conference

It is important for everyone interested in the topics I write on here to know what ALEC is.  I've written a bit about it on a few occasions, and included a bit about them in the video I compiled.

ALEC is meeting in New Orleans in just a few short weeks.  ALEC protests have thus far mostly called for transparency and similar watered-down demands.  The article I include below calls on anarchists to participate.  What I like about the article is that it argues that anarchists should be involved not so much because of the specifics of ALEC's heinousness, but because of what they represent.
While ALEC's dealings aren't a meaningful divergence from the normal machinations of power, it is easier for people to see that the system's a sham, and easier for them to finger the true culprits, when corporations are writing their own legislation. This is why the anti-ALEC organizing to confront those economic power structures is worth supporting.
The article below didn't emphasize the privateness of prisons the way a lot of websites and articles do.  At the same time, the reason I put together the video "Private Prisons in a Wider Context" is because ALEC and privatization of prisons is part of a broader trajectory that we must oppose on that macro scale, which is something I'm seeing very little discussion of so far.

Why Anarchists Should Protest the ALEC Conference in New Orleans, August 5th

via NOLA Anarcha Blog ---

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is coming to town! They are a bunch of nasty fuckers who bring corporations together with state legislators so corporate lawyers can hand pre-written bills to the politicians, who then try to get the bills passed in their state legislatures.

ALEC has been making the news a lot recently, with NPR pieces[pt.1, pt.2] about how, in meetings with private prison corporations, they wrote the infamous SB1070, the anti-immigrant law that anarchists and others have been fighting against in Arizona.

Leaked documents from inside ALEC prompted an interview segment on Democracy Now! The documents show that ALEC, in partnership with it's corporate members, actually wrote many pro-corporate laws that have since gone into effect, including free trade agreements that were a main focus of the anti-globalization movement many anarchists participated in after the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999.

And on the Huffington Post, an article explains how ALEC is carrying forward the ideological program of deregulation and privatization pushed by Milton Friedman. This simplistic, fundamentalist capitalist ideology has had many negative local effects, as was mentioned in a recent article on this blog.

Now, anarchists have no illusions about the fact that big business owns and runs the government, but at least corporate power usually fears public anger that arises from the blatant merger of State and corporate power enough to put on a political puppet show for us! Mostly, the way elites legitimize the unequal and unjust system that they preside over to the rest of us is to make sure that it at least has the appearance of people, through elected politicians, getting to decide democratically what happens in our country. ALEC doesn't bother with that populist song and dance, they facilitate the outright penning of legislation by corporations themselves becoming law. So we end up with things like Immigration Policy, brought to you by Corrections Corporation of America! etc...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Beware the Funders of Immigrants’ Rights

What would make a giant foundation headed by rich people be interested in donating money to so many groups promoting social justice? What’s Ford Foundation’s interest in all the immigrants’ rights non-profit organizations that are involved in Arizona (and beyond)? While a member of the Board of Trustees at Ford Foundation is simultaneously on the Board of Directors at none other than the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)[1], Ford funds groups who have campaigns against CCA.[2] Other groups[3] also funded by Ford, are working on campaigns to counter the racist overpopulation myths that have been promoted by institutions like the Population Council who have received close to $100 million from Ford[4]. This speaks not so much of blatant hypocrisy, but that those in charge of the Ford Foundation have a completely different agenda than a lot of the groups they fund.

The publication in 2007 of the book The Revolution Will Not Be Funded put out by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence sparked discussions about the role of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC)[5] in movements. The book delves into “…the way in which capitalist interests and the state use non-profits to (1) monitor and control social justice movements; (2) divert public monies into private hands through foundations; (3) manage and control dissent in order to make the world safe for capitalism; (4) redirect activist energies into career-based modes of organizing instead of mass-based organizing capable of actually transforming society; (5) allow corporations to mask their exploitive and colonial work practices through ‘philanthropic’ work; (6) encourage social movements to model themselves after capitalist structures rather than to challenge them.”[6]

This article will focus on points one and three, addressing not only Ford’s historical involvement with the CIA and violent coups, but also their tendency to channel resistance into “reasonable” and “responsible” activities like legal defense and reform, and how their hollow push for “equality” is part of “progress” on their terms. Although there is emphasis here on the Ford Foundation and how it may impact the immigrants’ rights movement, this article also addresses funding from other foundations[7], private donors and the government, which may have similar impacts on groups, as does the desire to win over politicians, mainstream media, etc. This is about whether the world we want to live in is compatible with that of any funder or anyone in positions of power whether they’re promoting social justice or not. This is about how people orient themselves in relation to the current power structure. 

History of Manipulation

Many of us are engaged in a battle against the deeply engrained myths about overpopulation which are part of the attack on the fourteenth amendment which gives citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil. The argument that immigration means overpopulation and destruction, reeking of racism, has infiltrated various sectors of politics and activism, including environmental groups. These myths can partly be traced back to the Population Council, which Ford Foundation has been funding since 1954. What does it mean for organizations working to fight these ideas about immigrants and overpopulation to accept Ford Foundation funding?

A little context: “The 1957 report of an ad hoc committee, consisting of representatives from the Population Council…outlined the emerging strategy of population control. Titled Population: An International Dilemma, the report depicted population growth as a major threat to political stability both at home and abroad.”[8] As I have written in “Invasion by Birth Canal?” “The efforts to supposedly end poverty through population control…is actually an attempt to decrease the threats that Black/Brown and poor people’s desires for freedom and equality (or even just survival) represent to these systems,” and to deflect responsibility for the poverty which is usually due to “resource/labor extraction as part of colonialism, capitalism, and neo-liberalism.”[9] Ford Foundation and others, making themselves out to be benevolent funders of the “empowerment” and “education” of poor (brown) women, are making deflecting responsibility for poverty and environmental problems onto these same women in the U.S. and abroad.

Ford Foundation, along with other institutions has sought stability across the world including within the US. In so doing, it has made itself a player in supporting the promotion of population control, as well as Capitalist-influenced economic change that has been accompanied by coups and horrendous human rights abuses, such as in Indonesia:

“Sukarno’s independent foreign policy greatly antagonized Western powers, and during his regime international agencies such as the Ford Foundation focused on sending the country’s intellectual elite [known later as the Berkeley Mafia] abroad for training, in the hope that one day they would inherit power. Their investment paid off in 1966, when a bloody military coup, which left a million dead, brought the country’s current ruler, General Suharto, to power. Under the influence of Western-trained technocrats, Suharto embraced the philosophy of population control. Today he has become one of its most prominent spokesmen in the Third World.” Naomi Klein describes Ford’s involvement a bit more in depth, “The Berkeley Mafia had studied in the U.S. as part of a program that began in 1956… Ford-funded students became leaders of the campus groups that participated in overthrowing Sukarno, and the Berkeley Mafia worked closely with the military in the lead-up to the coup, developing ‘contingency plans’ should the government suddenly fall.”[10]

Extremely similar was Ford’s link to the 1973 coup in Chile, involving the Chicago Boys who were trained (funded by Ford) in Milton Freidman’s neo-liberal program at the University of Chicago.[11] The coup and the resulting detainment, torture, and deaths are an indirect result of Ford’s vision for stability and development.

Of course Ford Foundation is a different entity now and has turned to superficially supporting human rights efforts in response to the torture, disappearances, and murders. Yet, maybe Ford is not all that different. Naomi Klein wrote, “Given its own highly compromised history, it is hardly surprising that when Ford dived into human rights, it defined the field as narrowly as possible. The foundation strongly favored groups that framed their work as legalistic struggles for the ‘rule of law,’ ‘transparency’ and ‘good governance,’”[12] which, as we’ll see, is part of a larger pattern.

In reading about Ford, one might get the sense that they didn’t fully comprehend the implications of that which was being taught to the Chicago Boys. Compared to many other institutions, Ford Foundation hasn’t pushed a neo-liberal agenda much. However, despite the fact that they have funded projects that are critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), they have also funded organizations with a more successful pro-NAFTA stance.[13] It is commonly acknowledged that NAFTA contributed to the loss of land and jobs in Mexico and so not only is Ford tied to the myths about overpopulation, they also share responsibility for the economic/political conditions that have led to mass immigration. It also appears that they are funding research that would help facilitate Homeland Security, as well as trade and growth in the border region, something that may cause more migrants and indigenous people to face displacement and dispossession.[14]

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Private Prisons in a Wider Context: Video

It has been encouraging to see the awareness about the role of private prison companies in influencing criminalization of people grow and grow in the last year.  SB 1070 and the relationship between various legislators like Russell Pearce and private prison companies like CCA and Geo Group within the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and between governor Jan Brewer and CCA, has been exposed recently.  People had already started to address the connection between Wells Fargo and private prison-run detention centers that hold thousands of migrants in other parts of the country and a tiny bit here in AZ.  Now there are country-wide campaigns popping off against private prisons companies and against ALEC.

However, as horrible as the conditions in private prisons are (and they do tend to be several times worse than state-run facilities), and as obvious as it is that SB 1070 passed with great influence on the part of those who stand to make millions off of putting people in cages, I would hate to see the focus be solely on this most recent phenomenon.  An anti-private prison campaign can easily fall into the same traps as the "go after the real criminals" message, as though there's nothing wrong with the "criminal" "justice" system.  As though the criminalization of people who cross a man-made line is not similar to the criminalization of so many of the people in prisons today and historically.  We should also consider the limitations of previous nation-wide anti-private prison campaigns like the one that targeted Sodexho in the early 2000's. A focus only on the privatization of prisons can only divert energy from addressing the prison system in general; the various reasons people end up in jail or prison, and the ways in which the system will never and is not meant to address the real ills of our society.

I put together the following video to provide a complex yet still simplistic (limited by time and resources) history of criminalization of people for the benefit of the few.  Please share it with anyone you think would be interested.  This video is a follow up from several of my blog entries including No Borders or Prison Walls and What came first: the Racism or the Profit Motive? On Private Prisons' push for SB1070

Please also view the 2nd part.  It all ties together, and there's some good commentary towards the end.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tucson: Angry community members storm offices of G4S Wackenhut

Press statement
Censored NewsProtest Targets Prison Firm for Profiteering, Police Cite 16 for TrespassingTUCSON --(June 29, 2011) At around 2 p.m., community members burst uninvited into the Tucson offices of private security firm G4S and declared in no uncertain terms their opposition to the company’s profiteering at the expense of immigrant communities in Tucson, across the nation and throughout the world. Incensed by G4S’ role in promoting the criminalization of immigrants and the expansion of the private prison industry, the protestors entered the G4S office complex, delivered a letter to company representatives and unfurled a banner reading “G4S: Prison profiteering destroys communities.”

Today’s action, which was organized autonomously by Tucson community members, was carried out under the banner of Direct Action for Freedom of Movement. Although the protesters were never asked to leave the building, and were there only 10 minutes, the Tucson Police cited 16 individuals for criminal trespassing.

G4S is the world’s largest security company and has public contracts to transport, detain and imprison immigrants throughout the world. The company is infamous for the mistreatment of individuals in its custody, with the most atrocious examples including the senseless deaths of two inmates in 2010. Since 2006, G4S has provided transportation for Customs and Border Protection and, in 2010 alone, secured over 125 million dollars in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security. Read more ...

Also see:
Australian Aboriginal elder cooked to death by G4S
Duty of Care: beyond the case of Mr Ward, cooked to death by gigantic outsourcer G4S
Clare Sambrook, 8 June 2011
Last week in Western Australia, Graham Powell and Nina Stokoe, two former private security guards, pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the death of renowned Aboriginal elder Mr Ward, cooked to death while being transported more than 220 miles across searing Goldfields in a badly maintained van with faulty air conditioning in January 2008.
Read more:

Lulzsec/Antisec Hackers Fight SB1070, Police

Chinga la Migra!  Here are some recent articles on the hacked websites and information that targeted Arizona police agencies in response to racism.

Hackers slam Arizona police for third time
Minuteman group talked of shutting down Arizona freeway

Leaked memo shows Border Patrol found roadside bomb along smuggling route

Tucson: Hackers reveal data targeting ethnic studies

Hackers slam Arizona cops again to expose racism and corruption

I know various people are making suggestions as to who could be targeted next.  In my humble opinion, Arpaio might be on the top of the list, Arizona Legislative Exchange Council, Geo Group, Corrections Corporation of America, Arizona-Mexico Commission...

See also:

OSABC: Border Patrol Headquarters Occupation Protesters Found Not Guilty-Reaffirms Call to End Border Militarization

DATE: Thursday June 29, 2011
Contact: Alex Soto
Phone: 602-881-6027

Border Patrol Headquarters Occupation Protesters Found Not Guilty
Reaffirms Call to End Border Militarization

Chuckson (Tucson), AZ - The six protesters who locked-down and occupied the United States Border Patrol (BP) – Tucson Headquarters on May 21, 2010 were found not guilty on the remaining count of a disorderly conduct "with serious disruptive behavior” charge.

The legal defense, William G. Walker and Jeffrey J. Rogers, argued that the remaining charge of disorderly conduct did not apply because it did not meet any of the statutes of the charge. After three hours of deliberation, the judge found the six not guilty.

The city prosecutor had attempted to re-introduce the previously misfiled criminal trespassing as a misdemeanor charge, but this charge was dismissed after the first trial date for the occupiers in February. After an objection by the defense, the state’s motion was denied.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stolen Labor on Stolen Land

The video below of Harsha Walia of No One is Illegal in Canada is a couple years old, but i just came across it and wanted to share it.  She addresses some of the common struggles between indigenous and immigrant communities and what solidarity looks like.  These things are being increasingly discussed in Arizona.  The primary issue is the marginalization of the impacts on indigenous people the border has, and in particular, how Comprehensive Immigration Reform will more than likely bring increased border militarization to indigenous communities along the border.

There is also a marginalization of local indigenous struggles in favor of a concept of pan-indigenism (if indigenous issues are brought up at all).  One local struggle is against the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway extension.  There was a recent action addressing a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors who has come into conflict with Arpaio over his immigration sweeps.  To me, this action not only calls out Wilcox, but those who see her as an ally in the immigrants rights struggle.  It has become more clear that she is not an ally (not even to migrants) especially because of her involvement in the pro-NAFTA Arizona-Mexico Commission which is a private entity influencing policy and development.

 The statement says, "Mary Rose Wilcox... you continue to posit yourself as some champion of immigrant and worker rights... [W]e are pro-migrant, and in our support of immigrants who have been dispossessed by predatory American trade policies, we recognize that it is those trade policies, in particular NAFTA, that are the enemy of all workers in North America. What, then, is solidarity when you support all of these conditions that line the pockets of corporations, while keeping indigenous people, workers, and immigrants down?
It is your involvement in the Arizona-Mexico Commission that signals your complicity with the exploitation caused by neo-liberal trade that continues to impact people’s lives in Mexico by dispossessing them and keeping wages in the toilet, forcing the poorest to migrate for survival... Another of the consequences of increased trade between Arizona and Mexico are the proposed freeways that would devastate the land and air, in particular the proposed Loop 202 freeway extension through the Gila River Indian Community (Akimel O’odham land). Surely, you’re aware that the tribe has opposed the freeway extension, as both District 6 in Gila River, and the tribe as a whole has previously opposed any new freeway, so it should be no surprise that there continues to be opposition..."  Read the entire statement here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Designed to Kill: Border Policy and How to Change it (Crimethinc)

This article is from the Crimethinc. reading library. I imagine it'll be printed in Rolling Thunder. It is definitely worth a read, really well written, and covers so much ground regarding the issues. If this piece of writing had existed 5 years ago, i probably wouldn't have felt so compelled to start my own writing on such subjects.

There are a few things I would've said differently, but one thing i especially wish it would've addressed more was the way the border impacts indigenous communities on the border. I think this is such an important piece of the puzzle, especially when so many anarchists and other anti-authoritarians support others' fight for Comprehensive Immigration Reform which would only contribute to more border militarization.

Designed to Kill: Border Policy and How to Change it

For a number of years now I’ve worked in the desert on the Mexican-American border with a group that provides humanitarian aid to migrants who are attempting to enter the United States—a journey that claims hundreds of lives every year. We’ve spent years mapping the trails that cross this desert. We walk the trails, find places to leave food and water along them, look for people in distress, and provide medical care when we run into someone who needs it. If the situation is bad enough, we can get an ambulance or helicopter to bring people to the hospital. We strive to act in accordance with the migrants’ wishes at all times, and we never call the Border Patrol on people who don’t want to turn themselves in.
During this time I’ve been a part of many extraordinary situations and I’ve heard about many more. Some of the things I’ve seen have been truly heartwarming, and some of them have been deeply sad and wrong. I’ve seen people who were too weak to stand, too sick to hold down water, hurt too badly to continue, too scared to sleep, too sad for words, hopelessly lost, desperately hungry, literally dying of thirst, never going to be able to see their children again, vomiting blood, penniless in torn shoes two thousand miles from home, suffering from heat stroke, kidney damage, terrible blisters, wounds, hypothermia, post-traumatic stress, and just about every other tribulation you could possibly think of. I’ve been to places where people were robbed and raped and murdered; my friends have found bodies. In addition to bearing witness to others’ suffering, I myself have fallen off of cliffs, torn my face open on barbed wire, run out of water, had guns pointed at me, been charged by bulls and circled by vultures, jumped over rattlesnakes, pulled pieces of cactus out of many different parts of my body with pliers, had to tear off my pants because they were full of fire ants, gotten gray hairs, and in general poured no small amount of my own sweat, blood, and tears into the thirsty desert. Read more...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"The New Jim Crow" speech relates to immigration

I'm very interested in the parallels between the criminalization of black people and the criminalization of migrants, and the parallels between the drug war in general and the criminalization of migrants, as I've written about at No Borders or Prison Walls. I recommend checking out this speech by the author of "The New Jim Crow".  She doesn't talk about immigration, but you can see how what she talks about relates to it.

I'm also interested in looking at the roles the private prison corporations might have played in any legislation relating to the drug war, as they have with the criminalization of migrants with SB1070 both through ALEC/Russell Pearce and through Governer Jan Brewer.  I intend to look further into that.  I'm also interested, though, in why it the privatization of prisons isn't the problem per se.  There have been economic and political reasons for people to be imprisoned before prisons were privatized.  I discuss that a bit in What came first: the Racism or the Profit Motive?  You can expect more on this in the future.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Drug War/Anti-Immigrant Hypocrisy

Don't you love when officials get slapped in the face with their own hypocrisy?  I have posted numerous times about border patrol agents and national guard down near the border getting caught trafficking drugs while the general attitude promotes the stereotypical Mexican drug trafficker.  Just recently, the biggest villains in Maricopa County have both had their hypocrisy exposed.

Just recently 3 of Sheriff Arpaio's deputies were arrested for their involvement in drug trafficking.  One is suspected of having been corrupt for ten years.  Arpaio knows that drugs are trafficked by cops and other government officials, but turns a blind eye.  Meanwhile, he acts as though Mexican immigrants are the criminals (some are, but obviously some police are too).  To top it off, he often portrays his officers as saviors of people held captive by human traffickers even as those officers also keep the same folks captive in their custody (and/or transfer them to detention or have them deported).

Senator Russell Pearce's son has gotten into trouble a lot, but the most recent news is that he violated his probation by smoking pot and will serve a year in prison.  This is likely a light sentence for such a thing.  Of course the Pearces, or mormons, or white people are not tinged with the stereotype of drug addicts, nor as law breakers.  Mexicans are said to be the problem.

As I have pointed out before, the media tends to be a lot more understanding of the pressures involved in being an official down at the border and getting caught up in drug dealing.  The big drug traffickers have the money to offer relatively low-waged border patrol agents.  These agents are just parents who want to provide for their family.  They're vulnerable to corruption because things are hard economically.  Yeah, and isn't that the case for Mexicans too?  Somehow we can just picture Mexicans as particularly devious and having no qualms about getting involved in drug dealing, whereas white people/US citizens give some resistance but cave in out of desparation.  We should also consider that there is a wide range of involvement in the drug trafficking industry from the people heading the cartels, the folks who torture and murder others, to the small time pot dealer who could easily be your friendly neighbor who wouldn't hurt a flea.  The thing about being a cop or an agent or a national guardsman is that these folks have the legitimacy and the tools they need to give them access to that which wouldn't be possible for other folks.  They can cross the border unquestioned, they can use their authority and gun for criminal uses.  They've been empowered to be even better drug traffickers than those without the uniforms and badges.

We must also acknowledge the ways in which the drug trafficking scene is so much more violent due to the involvement of the government.  Recently there have been massive demonstrations by Mexican citizens demanding that the military remove itself from the war on drugs.  It's making things worse.  Of course the Mexican government is corrupt, and they're likely fighting certain cartels in favor of other cartels.  Weapons and training (such as torture and murder) are provided directly or indirectly (though of course quietly) from military to cartels.  People defect to the cartels because they pay better.

An overarching theme here is that drug trafficking pays better than most other jobs.  In situations where people are hurting for money (such as poverty especially south of the border but also in the US) on top of the social pressures of showing you can purchase expensive things (particularly here in the US) and people getting into huge amounts of debt, how can anyone expect that people will steer clear of drug trafficking?  If the state did not prevent people from (re)obtaining the means of subsistence (such as land), then they would have alternatives to these activities.  If drugs were not illegal, there wouldn't be so much money in it, and there wouldn't be so much violence involved.  If people were not so alienated and beaten down in their daily lives, there would be less demand for drugs in the first place.

See also: National Guardsmen Caught in Drug Smuggling Bust
Ex-ICE Officer Charged in Drug-Smuggling
Authorities bust major marijuana smuggling ring
Ex-ICE Officer Charged in Drug-Smuggling

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tucson Uprising for Ethnic Studies

In case you haven't already seen footage of the lockdown at the TUSD (Tucson) meeting by a group of students calling themselves UNIDOS, here is a video of the action.  The ethnic studies program has been under attack recently.

From my distanced position, it has seemed that the movement to defend ethnic studies has shied away from outright accusing standard education as racist.  Even as a white person, I feel that my education was indoctrination into this white supremacist, colonialist, sexist capitalist society by telling us blatant lies or half-truths and lots of omissions.  Why didn't I learn about Malcolm X or any number of important figures who represent a threat to the mentality that the education system is meant to maintain? 

You might also listen to Tim Wise on this video in which he makes some interesting points about white people not wanting brown students to know their real history or they might hate white people.

I imagine that what is taught in the ethnic studies classes are much closer to the truth than other classes.  But because proponents of ethnic studies are accused of reverse racism and promoting hate of the US government, people are going to tend to avoid giving anyone any more evidence to back up these accusations.  Reverse racism is a crock, and I hope Nonetheless, I would also like to add that someone (I'm pretty sure it was Linda Paloma Allen) made the point in an indigenous panel recently that often the book "Occupied America: A History of Chicanos" is used in these ethnic studies classes, and while this book has a lot of valuable information, it marginalizes the local indigenous folks (like the O'odham).  Although they are not Chicanos, if you're going to write a book called "Occupied America", do a little bit better job of representing those who were occupied in America (and by Mexico previously).  I read the book a few years ago, and hadn't quite noticed this, but as I re-read parts of it when I was working on writing something about the "Baja Arizona" idea (which also had a proposed name of "Gadsden" which is lacking in any consideration of context), and did notice quite an omission.  Of course it is believable that a lot of information is readily available, but something tells me it could've been included.  And given that some folks find it so easy disregard the local struggles of indigenous people, if anyone is going to teach or read the book they should find some supplemental materials.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Constitution and Citizenship based on Genocide

While looking at the various pieces Indigenous feminist Andrea Smith (also part of INCITE!) I came across this discussion about the myths around the constitution, democracy, and "our founding forefathers". I was particularly interested in this because of my examination into what's being framed as an attack on the 14th amendment; the attempt to end (or reinterpret) birthright citizenship to exclude children born of undocumented parents.

I have been concerned with the tendency by the left to defend the sanctity of the constitution- to base the defense of immigrants solely on this amendment as if the writers of the amendment were unquestioningly right, and to change the constitution or its amendments is to be an enemy of democracy.

It is important to discuss immigration outside of the context of the constitution not only because the authors of the constitution and its amendments were not infallible, but also because the closing of borders, the criminalization of people and the reasons people are migrating to the U.S. are based on the same logic of colonialism, domination, and capitalism. Not only this, but it doesn't make sense to talk about something that is already illegal (unauthorized movement) in terms of the law.  The defense of the amendment is only the defense of the children of the undocumented, not the undocumented parents themselves.  We mustn't fall into the trap of defending those who are already "legal" and not those who are "illegal".  Not to mention, I kinda doubt that undocumented immigrants for the most part give a crap about the US constitution.

For all these reasons, now is the time (if not before) to call into question the idea of citizenship in the first place.  What does it mean?  How does citizenship benefit the power structures?

In this essay, "American Studies without America: Native Feminisms and the Nation-State", Smith is discussing Judith Butler's analysis of Bush and the war on terror, but compares it to some of Butler's theory on gender and bodies (which is written in very academic language and is hard to paraphrase- the entire article is under the cut because i don't think it's available to the public).

In even radical critiques of Bush's war on terror, the U.S. Constitution serves as an origin story—it is the prior condition of "democracy" preceding our fall into Bush's "lawlessness." The Constitution's status as an origin story then masks the genocide of indigenous peoples that is its foundation. Thus reading Butler against Butler, a Native feminist analysis might suggest that her analysis of Bush's policies is predicated on what David Kazanjian refers to as the "colonizing trick"—the liberal myth that the United States is founded on democratic principles rather than being built on the pillars of capitalism,  colonialism, and white supremacy. In this way, even scholars such as Butler and Kaplan, who make radical critiques of the United States as an empire, still unwittingly or implicitly take the U.S. Constitution as their origin story, presuming the U.S. nation-state even as they critique it. Consequently, the project of imagining alternative forms of governance outside of the United States remains impoverished within the field of American studies. Certainly, Native feminism should provide a critical resource for this project because the United States could not exist without the genocide of Native peoples—genocide is not a mistake or aberration of U.S. democracy; it is foundational to it.
As Sandy Grande states:
The United States is a nation defined by its original sin: the genocide of American Indians . . . American Indian tribes are viewed as an inherent threat to the nation, poised to expose the great lies of U.S. democracy: that we are a nation of laws and not random power; that we are guided by reason and not faith; that we are governed by representation and not executive order; and finally, that we stand as a self-determined citizenry and not a kingdom of blood or aristocracy . . . From the perspective of American Indians, "democracy" has been wielded with impunity as the first and most virulent weapon of mass destruction.
From this perspective, the Bush regime does not represent a departure from U.S. democratic ideals but rather the fulfillment of a constitutional democracy based on theft and violence.
It's worth pointing out here, as well, that some argue that the constitution was based on slavery as well, or at least the framers specifically avoided speaking on the ethics of slavery, and therefore condoned it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Focus on Bigger Picture in Shadow of Victory

Yes, it's encouraging in some ways that Arizona Senate rejects 5 illegal-immigration bills, yet of course this is no reversal of SB 1070 or anything before it.  As my partner noted to me, it's likely that it was more the pressure from the businesses than the people that made an impact this round, though I'd like to think that protesters are at least an annoyance if not worse to the politicians deciding the fate of so many.

I would like to point out, as I have in previous posts though perhaps buried within my writing, that the overarching goal of anti-immigrant legislation is not to remove all immigrants.  It is to criminalize them so as to make them more exploitable and controllable.  As many of you understand, migrants provide cheap labor.  They would to some extent, even if they were not "illegal", as they have been in the past.  But criminalizing them more and more keeps them in the precarious position that makes them easily exploited.  Of course what makes them "illegal" is their presence in this country, which implies that the law makers want them out--and some probably do.  But where blatant racists and business owners' interests come together is the interest in criminalizing a permanent underclass.

Let us not forget, however, that the prison industrial complex, the private prison industry in particular, directly profits from the criminalization of migrants.  This is a more direct and observable player in this game, especially where it connects with those in government like Russell Pearce and Jan Brewer as I discussed in What came first: the Racism or the Profit Motive? On Private Prisons' push for SB1070.  Then on a larger scale, with more funds and power, are the defense contractors who have been pushing for securing the border with walls and a variety of technological equipment.

 As I wrote in Ending criminalization of people of color must be priority,
Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants, like those whose faces I could barely see, are held in detention centers and jails.  SB 1070 has not yet gone into effect.  This has been going on for so long and will only continue to do so as long as activists only insist upon ending racial profiling and stopping SB 1070 or even all racist bills/laws if it stops before calling for an end to the border and criminalization of people of color.  There are so many undocumented immigrants who are living in our cities whose voices are overpowered by those who want to maintain the status quo.  There are so many indigenous people near the border or even throughout this state whose voices are not heard, who are also impacted by the border and will also be impacted by SB1070 and so much more.
We must not buy the rhetoric that if it weren't for this right-wing attack on immigrants, things would be just fine.  Even before so many people were worried they'd be deported at any moment, they still had to work shitty jobs for low wages.  Even before so many border patrol agents or national guard invaded O'odham land, there were still many problems faced by people in the border regions, or just with brown skin in general.  Let's address the reasons so many are forced here in the first place and why so many people of color are in prisons, who profits, how settlers can decide who does or doesn't belong, and how does it all come crumbling down?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

National Guardsmen Caught in Drug Smuggling Bust

So they say the border isn't safe and that's why we need the national guard there, but then when national guardsmen are involved in a huge drug-smuggling ring, the former AZ attorney general says, "The involvement of uniformed military personnel and children show the extent to which the cartels will go to pursue their illegal schemes."  It doesn't show the extent that national guard statesmen can go because they're not looked at with suspicion?

The involvement in the drug trade by military, police, border patrol, prison guards, not to mention the CIA and such, has been extensive.  It is ridiculous that migrants are the ones stereotyped as drug smugglers (yes there are drug smugglers from south of the border just like there are white drug dealers in middle class neighborhoods) and when people with some sort of authority get involved in the drug trade it supposedly speaks more to "the extent to which cartels will go".  Similarly, I point out in Ex-ICE Officer Charged in Drug-Smuggling, there is much more sympathy towards officials than towards Mexicans.  As though Mexicans are naturally corrupt, while officers get corrupted by the former.

No it couldn't be American demand, plus greed, poverty, capitalism, and the fact that drug smuggling (and human smuggling) is illegal that causes people to get involved in the trade.  And it wouldn't be the impunity, authority, and trust afforded officials that allows them to participate in the drug trade more effectively because of their position that causes them to be involved.  One wonders what the drug trade would look like if nobody tied to the government ever participated in it.

It's especially unfortunate that the drug trade negatively affects the Tohono O'odham and then on top of that, they have people who are "protecting the border" also negatively affecting the community, in addition to some involvement in the drug trade.  People transverse the entry port in the Tohono O'odham Nation and surrounding areas because of tightened border controls in other more urban regions.  It will be interesting whether this will be an excuse to tighten border security on T.O... just before the Unity Run too...

Anyway, here's the article: Authorities bust major marijuana smuggling ring. 
And Ex-ICE Officer Charged in Drug-Smuggling is worth reading too, in my opinion, even though it's a little old.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Private Paramilitary-Style Training Camp Approved for Border

A company called Wind Zero got approval to build a huge private complex for paramilitary-style training, similar to the camp proposed by Blackwater (now Xe).

According to Narco News' $100 Million Drug-War Garrison Approved for U.S.-Mexican Border, the company's founder, former Navy SEAL sniper, U.S. intelligence agency operative and author Brandon Webb said in a YouTube video: 
Mexico is very close to civil war right now; it doesn’t take much to buy off somebody and next thing you know, the president is assassinated and then what? A civil war breaks out, and we have a million Mexican citizens crossing the border into the U.S., and it’s the same situation that you have in Afghanistan and Pakistan. You have all these refugees coming across and Pakistan’s like, “What do we do with this?”

It’s not outlandish for that scenario to happen. So how do you prepare for that? You got to train these guys, and that’s law enforcement and the military.
The article notes that there are likely to be plans to operate drones, aka unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) out of this facility.
Currently, under the oversight of the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency, about a half a dozen Predator B (Reaper) drones are now operating along the southern U.S. border and coastal regions of the U.S., from Florida through Eastern California.
And it seems the Mexican government itself is operating UAVs, or drones, over the U.S.-Mexican border. A recent news story revealed that a Mexican drone dropped out of the sky earlier this month and crashed onto an El Paso, Texas, street...
The U.S. and Mexican governments are already operating joint military missions targeting so-called “kingpin” narco-traffickers. As evidence of that reality, the Washington Post recently reported on a State Department cable made public through WikiLeaks that supports facts reported by Narco News in June 2010...

Would it be any surprise if the U.S. and Mexican governments, via private contractors and/or government operations, also are coordinating drone missions along the border?
(It's worth noting as well that Miami Police have recently purchased a drone for the use of keeping tabs on the residents as well.)

About the training "camp" Narco News continues: 

Beyond its usefulness as a drone operations and training center, the planned Wind zero camp also will offer plenty of other features necessary for training special operations soldiers and/or paramilitary forces.
The camp, which would be developed in three phases at a cost of up to $100 million (some $15 million for Phase 1), also will include numerous shooting ranges allowing for some 57,000 rounds of ammunition to be fired off daily; a mock-up of an urban neighborhood for practices assaults; a 6-mile dual-use race track for teaching defensive and offensive driving (and for private-pay recreational use); and enough housing and RV camper space (along with a 100-room hotel) to accommodate a small battalion of warriors.
The article states that residents of the town, in addition to the Sierra Club have opposed this project, but, "Wind Zero marshaled the support of numerous law enforcement agencies in the region that would be able to make use of the facility for training purposes."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tucson Shooting Overshadows Border Shooting

Before Congresswoman Gifford and others were shot in Tuscon, Arizona , 17 year old Ramses Barron Torres was shot and killed by a bullet originating in Nogales, Arizona. There have been no national moments of silence for the apparently unarmed teenager. No memes speculating on the sanity of the shooter(s) or if violent rhetoric played a role. That’s probably because Ramses Barron Torres is Mexican and was shot by U.S. Border Patrol.
These points, made by Maegan La Mala on VivirLatino recently are ones that didn't really occur to me, even though I try to be aware of these sorts inconsistencies on the part of the media as well as the left.  The article explores some of the stories around the circumstances surrounding Torres' death.  But even if Torres had been throwing rocks, even if he had been on the US side of the border, the shooting was still unjustified.  Certainly violent rhetoric played a role in this shooting, as it did in the shooting in Arivaca a year and a half ago.

Border patrol agents, like cops, get away with shootings and other violence on a regular basis.  Even Ramos and Compean who were sentenced to prison for shooting at a man on the border (he didn't die), got their sentence commuted by Bush.  It will be interesting to see what comes of this shooting.  Either way, though, the outcry (as it is reported by the media as well as how it is coming across on the part of activists) is not nearly what it is in response to this shooting in Tucson.  Yes, it is different that it was so out of the ordinary and that it was several people who were shot at once, but just because immigrants already live in a state of fear for their lives does not mean it's any less painful or traumatic.