Guest Post: Arizona’s SB-1070 and life under the threat of La Migra

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May 2, 2010 by tristan savage

“Alto! Documentos todos! Esto es un operativo oficial! Cooperen o enfrenten las consecuencias!”
(Stop! Everyone show us your documents. This is an official operation! Cooperate or face the consequences.)

It was Sunday, 11:00 PM, not a light was to be found anywhere, other than the overbearingly bright resonance from the flashlight we were all abruptly subjected to. We were somewhere in the middle of nowhere, north of the Belize border, near the state capital of Chetumal, Quintana Roo. The bus I was riding in had come to an abrupt halt and was now being subjected to a flash inspection conducted by members of the Instituto Nacional de Migración, the Mexican version of the dreaded “Migra.”

Officers from the INM rushed in, awaking many of us from a light slumber, barking at us (in their exaggerated machoistic vocal tones) while being backed-up by a strategically-placed AK-47 toting triggerman outside the bus. At the same time, the hairs on every inch of my pale body stood erect! A sinister chill began to jackhammer my internal nervous system. I then realized that I may end up in some far off penitentiary, because I WAS UNDOCUMENTED! I had been pick-pocketed in January, so I no longer had my U.S. id, and I had left my FM-2, or Mexican green card with my wife in Playa del Carmen. What was I to do?

As the stern faced official began to check documents, I thought to myself, “QUERIDO DIOS- NO ME ABANDONES!” (Dear God, don’t abandon me.) I pulled my ballcap down over my face the best that I could and sat up straight. My mind also began to think, “why couldn’t have I been born a little shorter with a darker suntan?” I then looked in exasperation at the front of the bus, where a passenger was being detained, and whisked into federal custody. I thought to myself, “Damn! Nobody is safe here!” At that point, the inspector was getting nervously close to me. A single word occurred to me: “bravucón!” (Be brave.) Play it bold and nothing will happen. So despite by palpitating heart, I managed to exhibit a half-smile and decided to answer back in a stern, but pleasant tone, “Buenas noches, oficial!” (Good evening, officer) The inspector WALKED PAST ME, without even questioning me! I was the only one on the bus not subjected to what appeared to be at the moment, “la santa inquisición.” (Holy Inquisition).

I could hardly believe what had transpired before my eyes. I learned that after being roughed-up, a Central American had been detained and would not continue the journey to Puebla (final destination point) with the rest of us.

To many Mexicans, who are exposed to repeated immigration, customs and drug checkpoints, it may have been another mundane event in their daily life. To me, it was an eye-opener! It then dawned on me that this “gabacho” (white Anglo) was experiencing the similar horror that my Latino brothers and sisters often see on daily basis in the United States. It was a parallel nightmare that I had often seen working in radio and television, but never had the “privilege” of being subjected to. My mind was drawn to the prospect of the thousands of undocumented workers who deal with the abuse of Sheriff Arpaio and his corrupt minions in Arizona. I also began to ponder the fate of the Central American who was singled-out due to his appearance. What will happen to the Hispanics in Arizona who will now be racially profiled thanks to the draconian SB-1070?

I said to myself, “It’s a damn shame Russell Pearce wasn’t here!” Maybe in the reverse role as an immigrant, he might think a little differently and SB-1070 would have never come to pass. I would have loved to have seen how HE (or Arpaio) acted in my shoes, confronted face to face with their own tactics.

But then my mind wandered off, thinking about the Central American traveling companion. I had surmised
that humanity knows no bounds, borders nor ethnicity when it comes to cruelty. Power, privilege, and national “pride” corrupt mankind. The Mexican aggressors to a certain degree, were no better than their northern counterpart.   As George Orwell would argue, “The oppressed become the oppressors.” Or in a more modern sense, Guatemalan recording artist Ricardo Arjona penned this refrain: “If the southern hemisphere were in the north, it would be the mess!” Such wisdom, such eloquence from a mere troubadour. Now, if only the oligarchy would understand….

As a post-script, on Thursday, April 29th, just 3 days after writing this commentary, Amnesty International confirmed my suspicions, officially categorizing it on par with Arizona in regards to human rights abuses of Central Americans. (http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/primera/34853.html or for English: http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.eluniversal.com.mx%2Fprimera%2F34853.html&sl=es&tl=en&hl=&ie=UTF-8)
Central Americans suffer greatly at the hands of Mexican officials, but they too often look down on their neighbors with their own prejudices.

As we debate the issue, we often forget about one of the most important illegal immigrants of all time- Jesus Christ. The infant Christ fled with his parents to Egypt, to avoid infanticide. I doubt if Mary and Joseph bothered to obtain a visa or a green card in order to properly enter. Had immigration agents deported them, his Messianic mission would have been violently truncated. Maybe to gain some consensus among the sometimes vitriolic atmosphere, we should shake up the Evangelical mantra, “WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?” and change it to “What would have they done to Jesus under current immigration laws?”

This guest post comes to us from Benjamin R Reed (“El Chupacabras”), a Mormon radiojournalist with KFTA AMLa Fantástica 970 – Rupert, Idaho

His story -from conservative radio host to Chomskyite defender of migrants’ rights- was profiled in the LA Times last year.  He is from Idaho and lives in Queretaro, Mexico.

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69 thoughts on “Guest Post: Arizona’s SB-1070 and life under the threat of La Migra

  1. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    …and Calderon is downright indignant, that one of our states would try to enforce immigration with any sort of determination (still nothing compared to how Mexico does it) Arizona is overstating their point to force the feds to do something about the pitifully unsecured border, same thing the minutemen were doing. Drawing attention to the fact that the border is wide open.

    So Jesus would want us to not secure the border huh, well I kind of think maybe if everybody was doing what Jesus wanted, stuff like border security might not be an issue. But that’s not the case and until we all reach that end, secure the freakin border.

    Oh and if you really think this proposed Arizona law is really “the strictest worst border control measure in the world” you need to get out more.

  2. tristan call says:

    I’m not sure where you got that quote from.

  3. SUNN…

    The message is that the approach from BOTH countries is wrong. Arizona is not trying to force the federal government’s hand- the purpose is to create “voluntary deportation” of immigrants. If you read up on Russell Pearce, the man is a racist who despises people of color. Take a look at his NAZI ties, in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bi9izfNXxzo

    Also, look at this article about Pearce’s awful history of corruption: http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=es&ie=UTF-8&sl=es&tl=en&u=http://www.univision.com/content/content.jhtml%3Fchid%3D3%26schid%3D278%26secid%3D0%26cid%3D2381239&rurl=translate.google.com.mx&usg=ALkJrhhhh7JmPvWT5shTTrBUZ-RIQxKe3g

    ( http://www.univision.com/content/content.jhtml?chid=3&schid=278&secid=0&cid=2381239 )

    The idea of securing “the freakin’ border” (your words) is often too politicized, and an many cases a mantra (and excuse) for hate. If you really wanted to control “immigration,” you’d get rid of NAFTA, legalize drugs (that would stop the violence on BOTH sides) and stand up against imperialism. At that point there would be few problems. You need to understand that immigrants don’t come into the U.S. “for the hell of it!” They come, the majority, as economic refugees!

  4. I meant to write “and in many cases is a mantra (and excuse) for hate.”

  5. Jason Brown says:

    It is ironic to me when marketeers get so upset about a porous border. Capitalism is about the free flow of capital, information AND labor. But because Capitalists dont actually believe in free markets (only socialism for the rich and tough love for the poor) the irony never seems to show up. Immigrants from the south are simply following the capital. And if you really believe in the market thats a reality you will have to celebrate. You cant have it both ways.

    • Mike W. says:

      Well said, Jason. The right isn’t about free markets. They want to maintain an underclass to perpetuate the access to cheap labor.

  6. elchupacabras says:

    Excellent point, Jason. “Immigrants from the south are simply following the capital.” (and/or trying to survive.) You would think the Capitalists would love them for embracing the market philosophy, but because they truly are full of hate, they only concentrate on color and culture.

  7. Joseph says:

    SUNN,

    Secure the border from what? The poor? Do you really think that the criminal element coming from Mexico won’t have documentation? It is, in fact, quite likely that draconian immigration laws increase crime, since the law abiding immigrants flee and refuse to speak up to police, and the criminal element flourishes:
    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/02/nation/la-na-arizona-crime-20100503

    I lived in Arizona a number of years, and most of my family still live there. But because I was not born there, and I have now spent more of my life outside of Arizona than in it (though just barely) I can thankfully disown the state until they toss the fascists out of the government!

  8. Forest Simmons says:

    Here’s a link to a related counterpunch story:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/moses04262010.html

  9. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    #2 I just made that quote up.

    #3 Of course this is political, the Governor of Arizona didn’t sign this thing because she “hates Mexicans” nothing in your statement gives a good reason why we should “not secure the border” either.

    #6 if youre implying that maybe my concern with “securing the border” is because I hate Mexicans, wellll I’m married to a woman of mexican descent, parents and grandparents born in the U.S. so nice try.

    7. Sure, in Phoenix it might not be that big of a deal in the immediate sense, but I guarantee people in El Paso are glad theres a fence up… http://www.reporternews.com/news/2009/dec/25/el-paso-stays-clear-of-urban-drug-violence/

  10. elchupacabras says:

    To Sunn:

    “if youre implying that maybe my concern with “securing the border” is because I hate Mexicans, wellll I’m married to a woman of mexican descent, parents and grandparents born in the U.S. so nice try.” My reference was to the politicians behind SB 1070. I’m glad you are married to a woman of Mexican descent, now if you head into Aryanzona, are you prepared to take a copy of her birth certificate with you?

  11. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    drivers license should be plenty sufficient. What was this all about again? Oh, yeah. We shouldn’t secure our southern border at all… Who do these Arizonans think they are? The nerve of them to not magnanimously take care of half the population of Mexico.

  12. tariq says:

    Good article.
    Your story reminded me of a great novel about the ridiculousness of borders, papers, and nationalism; B. Traven’s classic, The Death Ship. The novelist B. Traven, (his real name was Ret Marut), was a Bavarian socialist (he later became an anarchist) who, during WWI, edited a radical paper called The Brick Burner. He had to flee the country for his life and eventually ended up living in Mexico. He had plenty of experience crossing borders and dealing with authorities who were more interested in a person’s papers than they were in any notions of freedom or human decency. He ended up writing many novels with anarchistic themes, the most famous being The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which was made into a very good film staring Humphrey Bogart. The Death ship deals with the time period following WWI, which was a time when nations were militarizing their borders and instituting a level of centralization, division, bureaucracy, and control of movement that was seemingly unparalleled in human history up to that point. Traven used dark comedy to drive home the cruel absurdity of drawing imaginary lines on the globe.

  13. Joseph says:

    SUNN #11,

    Driver’s license won’t work if you are from Utah, Michigan, New Mexico, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, or Maine. Those states allow undocumented workers to get driver’s licenses, so you’ll need a passport or birth certificate if you’ve got a driver’s license from any of those states.

    http://reason.com/blog/2010/05/04/if-youre-going-to-arizona-be-s

  14. Forest Simmons says:

    Why should it be harder to get into the USA than into Heaven?

    There are plenty of evangelical Christians that believe in absolutely no red tape for getting into Heaven; just sincerely confess Jesus as your personal Savior.

    For Mormons; why should it be harder to get into the USA than into the Kingdom of God on earth? Take four or five missionary lessons and affirm in a baptismal interview that you are willing to keep the commandments.

    A temple recommend takes another year … much easier than USA citizenship.

    The USA is a very exclusive club compared to the Kingdom of God.

  15. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    She’s got a california license and speaks perfect english, i’m surprised that Utah lets illegal immigrants get drivers licenses even California wouldn’t let that happen… but i’m sure the intended purpose of this is to bring the problem of illegal immigration to the forefront once again. So aside from vague “not believing in imaginary lines in the sand” and “Jesus doesn’t believe in border security” stuff, why shouldn’t we secure our border and control who comes into the country?

  16. Joseph says:

    #15

    Because the whole nation-state thing should have gone the way of the dinosaur in the last century. It was already failing in the 19th century, it limped along through the 20th century, and now it’s time to put the poor thing out of its misery.

    But, since I know you’re not gonna buy into that, I’ll point out that many who oppose Arizona’s draconian law aren’t necessarily opposed to any restrictions on who comes in, just that Arizona’s law is the wrong approach. Which it is. Just like right-wingers like to point out about gun laws (which, being on the libertarian left rather than being a liberal I’m not too fond of myself) this law will mainly affect the more honest people. Or like locking your door at night, it’s only going to keep honest people out. More dangerous criminals know how to get around this kind of stuff. They thrive on it, because it ties the hands of the innocent, who are too busy hiding from the agents of the police-state to be concerned about addressing real crime. And, while I’m not a fan of SNL, I do agree with the statement made on the weekend update a couple of weeks ago “Is there anything more Nazi [or Communist] than ‘show me your papers’?”

  17. elchupacabras says:

    SUNN:

    She is a person of color, and her driver’s license is worth nothing, especially in the hands of a “privileged” racist. Take a look at this Texas case:

  18. tariq says:

    This new Aryanizona law is a gift from heaven for every racist redneck cop in the state. In the past, when cops racial profiled, people at least had a leg to stand on if they wanted to defend themselves. Now these racist cops can just say, “Hey, we’re not racist. We’re just following the law”. And they can continue to harass and abuse people who don’t look white, supported by the full force of the state. Aryanizona cops were already pretty sleazy to begin with, and this law just encourages more sleaziness.

  19. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    #17 Texas isn’t Arizona… interestingly enough i’ve been on a greyhound bus and had border patrol among them a “privileged racist”? hispanic officer go down the aisle and ask people if they were a u.s. citizen. I think that was at the border patrol checkpoint around El Paso. If an Arizona or most other states drivers license is proof enough then this Arizona law would actually prevent a situation like that one in Texas.

    Joe, could be the wrong approach in the long run sure, but I can understand why they feel the need to take drastic measures. The feds have left Arizona high and dry on this issue…

    #18 common sense is sleazy huh?

  20. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    But back to your story Chupacabra… of note, I think, is brown skinned people securing their border and controlling which other brown skinned people enter the country. Maybe that example can help some people people separate racism from immigration control. Super simple…

  21. tariq says:

    Yeah, “super simple”. Sunn, you exhibit serious ignorance of the way institutional racism operates. By your logic, apartheid in South Africa wasn’t racist because there were black police who beat down anti-apartheid demonstrators. English colonialism in India wasn’t racist because there were Indian police who excercised repressive tactics against Indians who struggled for self-rule. Slavery in the United States wasn’t racist because there were black overseers who punished enslaved people who were disobedient.

    The fact that there are black and latino cops who enforce official racist policies, such as SB-1070, makes no difference whatsoever. Those black and latino cops had absolutely no say in making that law or in getting it passed. They are just following orders the same as black overseers who whipped other enslaved black people were following orders, just as Indian police who killed anti-colonialist Indians were just following orders, the same as black police in South Africa who helped repress anti-apartheid activists were just following orders. The thing about institutional racism is that it works regardless of the race of the people in uniform. In fact, it works best when you have black cops beating up black people, or latino cops capturing immigrants. You need to ask the question, “Who is behind making the law and getting it passed?” rather than just superficially looking at who is enforcing it on the ground. When you ask that question you will see that white supremacists connected to FAIR, the Council of Conservative Citizens, and even American Renaissance played a major role in crafting SB-1070. In fact, Rachel Maddow of MSNBC did a good expose on FAIR showing their true white supremacist ties.

    I don’t know why you’re so afraid of immigrants crossing the border. Immigrants are a scapegoat and the immigration issue is a tool that right-wing nuts use to appeal to the most fearful, ignorant, xenophobic, racist elements in American society. Without the support of those fearful, ignorant, xenophobic, racist voters, right-wing candidates would have no chance of winning any elections.

  22. Do You Like Worms? says:

    Tariq, according to your logic who’s the white guy that runs Mexico?

    and… why DOES Mexico enforce immigration on it’s southern border? Why does any country? Why do countries that border one another whose people are virtually ethnically identical enforce immigration?

    racism is the only reason countries control immigration? Don’t think so sport….

    • tariq says:

      I’m not talking about Mexico, “sport”, I’m specifically talking about the racist law SB-1070. I can’t comment on Mexico because I’ve never lived there. I live in the U.S., so I’m going to clean up my own back yard before I start criticizing someone else’s. I don’t think that racism is the only reason that countries control immigration, and I don’t think it is the only reason the U.S. controls immigration, but there certainly is alot of racism behind alot of the recent anti-immigration insanity in the U.S., and SB-1070 is blatantly racist, with known white supremacists standing behind it, as Rachel Maddow clearly proved.

      • J. Madson says:

        Tariq

        Is Maddow the best source for his info. I know alot of people who think FAIR is a fine institution.

      • tariq says:

        J.
        I don’t think Maddow is necessarily THE best source for this info as there are plenty of immigrant rights and anti-racist organizations that have worked to expose FAIR’s white supremacist ties, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, despite whatever faults they may have, have done a pretty good job of getting this information to the light of day, but I mentioned Maddow simply because she is the most well-known mainstream media source that has talked about this. She interviewed FAIR’s president Dan Stein on her show recently, and brought up the facts concerning FAIR’s ties to the white supremacist movement, and Stein did not refute a single one. What he did do is he tried to talk over her alot, tried to keep her from completing her sentences, and tried continuously to change the subject, but he did not refute a single one of the damning facts she brought up. Yes, there are a lot of people who believe that FAIR is just an independent, moderate organization, but now that FAIR has played such a major role in creating SB-1070 – in fact, FAIR is claiming to have actually written the law – eyebrows have been raised, and folks have been looking into FAIR more intently only to find that FAIR isn’t the moderate, fair-minded organization that it makes itself out to be.

      • tariq says:

        To see Rachel Maddow on this subject go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb62cxq6Smg
        I don’t always agree with Maddow, but she is right-on about FAIR.

  23. elchupacabras says:

    Worms and Sun:

    Racism DOES have much to do with controlling the borders and is typically associated with power and privilege of the operative oligarchies. Unfortunately, they go hand in hand. Here in Mexico, the power elites are typically lighter in skin color and go up against the indigenous peoples. (A look at a Mexican telenovela is enough evidence to show the caste system in this country.)

    If you want a real education on the matter, read the writings of Subcomandante Marcos. http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/mexico/marcos_index.html

    And if you look into the background on those who create such laws in the United States, their elitist attitudes are often accompanied by their ethnicity. Sure, I could go on, but I won’t waste my time with individuals who have never seen or experienced it first hand. I have been working with migrant workers in the U.S. for many years now, and experiencing a similar matter as an immigrant in Mexico has opened up my eyes.

    If I have some more time later on, I will write a better response.

  24. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    racism, however can’t be used as the only reason countries feel the need to control immigration and secure their borders, there are very legitimate reasons for doing so.

    • elchupacabras says:

      You didn’t read my prior post, racism is ultimately intertwined with immigration. And by the way, let me add this comment: I went into the Mexican immigration office the other day to renew my papers. I talked with a Peruvian and a Central American about what I had seen a few weeks ago. I told them that I was shocked that I wasn’t asked about for my papers. Their response was shockiing: “No tienes cara de mojado!” (Literally, “You don’t have the face of a ‘wetback.”) (That was THEIR word!) They told me that because I had whiter skin, the authorities let me off the hook. Now tell me, SUNN, that racism has nothing to do with immigration.

      Also, take a look at this story:
      http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2002953607_sanmiguel26.html

      Americans, with white skin, get an easy pass, because of the color of their skin.

      Sorry, you institutional racist arguments are BOGUS!

  25. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    youre right Chupacabra… the racial and ethnic differences between Americans and Canadians are the only reason we have a border.

    • elchupacabras says:

      But it does go a long way to explain why enforcement is so lax up north! Why are there no walls being built there. Thanks, SUNN, for your straw man perspective.

  26. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    right again! Of course the fact that Canadians aren’t pouring across our northern border in droves has nothing to do with that!

    So what was your reason for why we should let millions of undocumented immigrants pour through our southern border?

  27. tariq says:

    Just as further proof that immigration is just a scapegoat issue, there is this article, surprisingly from the right-wing libertarian think tank, the CATO Institute: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2010/04/27/misguided-fears-of-crime-fuel-arizona-immigration-law/

    The author, Daniel Griswold, points out U.S. Department of Justice numbers which show that, “The crime rate in Arizona in 2008 was the lowest it has been in four decades. In the past decade, as the number of illegal immigrants in the state grew rapidly, the violent crime rate dropped by 23 percent, the property crime rate by 28 percent.”, and “Census data show that immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than their native-born counterparts”.

    So, why all the fear of immigrants? The undocumented workers coming here are not doing so to stir up trouble. They are just looking for work. It’s the behavior of a bully to pick on people who are down and out. The immigration issue is just a diversion to make us hate and fear people who are not our enemies, so that our real enemies, such as the corporations and politicians that are doing actual damage to our country, can get away with their unethical behavior. Immigrants are not my enemy, and, whether you know it or not, they’re not your enemy either. Don’t be fooled by all the racist, FOX News scare tactics.

  28. Mike W. says:

    Tariq,

    I guess Cato can be described as right-wing re:economics, but its anti-war, foreign policy stance puts it out of the conventional “right-wing” of politics. That said, thanks for the link. Reposted it for my Arizona friends who use crime as the reason for the bad legislation.

    • tariq says:

      Yes, Mike, you are right that Cato doesn’t fall into conventional right-wing republican party politics. I consider them to be more libertarian than they are republican. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to see that article on their site.

  29. Joseph says:

    An interesting article:

    “Regardless of our stance on immigration, the SB1070 is unconstitutional”

    http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/05/10/regardless-of-our-stance-on-immigration-the-sb1070-is-unconstitutional/

  30. GNM says:

    Hello, Y’all.

    First of all, I’m thrilled about this website. My guy and I are pretty lonely in our Mormon ward.

    We live in Arizona. Of course, many people in AZ do not support this law, it stems from Maricopa county, more specifically, from the East Valley where the Mormons cluster. The law was written and pushed by Mormon legislator Russell Peace. I don’t want to say it is only Mormons–but Mormons are prominent in this anti-immigrant movement.

    Proponents of the law say that it isn’t racist, because it is the illegality of persons, not their race. But I think of it as a diagram. The circle of who they hate (and hate is the right word) is solely within the larger circle of Latinos in general. It may not be as ugly as hating all Latinos point blank, but it is ugly. And racist. Only brown people are targeted.

  31. GNM says:

    Also, I work on the legal issues of undocumented people, so I am right in the middle of this conflict, by the very nature of what I do.

    Honestly, unless you have seen (and maybe lived) the poverty these people are trying to escape by coming here–legally or not–you should not judge them.

    Many members of the Spanish wards are not here legally. Are they not brothers and sisters too?

    They go “el norte” because it makes more sense than $5 a day in the field. When there is no more work, they will not come anymore. They all know they are risking their lives, and yet they come, because there is work, and they can send it back to feed their children.

  32. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    Of course none of this is a good reason to not control who comes into the country… the issue is illegal immigration, not legal immigration. If anyone is implying that we shouldn’t control who enters the country whatsoever, that’s absolute nonsense. If you have sense enough to concede that yes, we should have some sort of order to who and how many immigrate here, then excuses like “it’s racist, because most of the people who come from Mexico are Mexican” or “Jesus wants Mexicans to come into the U.S. whenever they want because it’s just next door” or short sighted observations like “crime went down and there was a bunch of illegal immigrants from Mexico here!” are just that, excuses. I’m saying there should be a fair and orderly way to go about it.

    • Tristan says:

      rich-

      while your views represent a lot of the mainstream’s views, at least of white people who are US citizens, you haven’t given any real reasons yet why you think border control is a good thing, just that you think it is obvious. While, among us, I imagine the readers on this website have various views on appropriate levels of ‘law and order’, I doubt many of us believe that it’s obvious that we would use armed troops to forcibly separate families and neighbors by imprisoning people and exiling them from their homes, at gunpoint, simply on the basis of where they were born (I think this is a pretty accurate description of what enforcement of current immigration laws looks like). So, while in the abstract many people might agree with you that ‘there must be some kind of system to help manage all of this chaos’, I haven’t seen any argument as to why that management involves profiling people and selectively harrassing them, locking them up, and deporting them based on national origin (often, but perhaps not always based on race). That argument needs some explanation, not just an assertion that it should be obvious.

    • tariq says:

      The CATO Institute’s observation about crime is not a short-sighted observation. It’s a quite relevant observation considering that the anti-immigration crowd tries to use the threat of increasing crime as one of their main reasons to kick brown-skinned people out of the country.

      Also, considering that one of the main purposes of the Mormon Worker is to explore the social and political implications of Christ’s teachings in the modern world, I think it is entirely appropriate to discuss what the Christ-like thing to do is regarding immigrants who are down and out, looking for work and a better life. Is it Christlike to criminalize and persecute people who are already having a hard time simply because they don’t have papers from earthly governments? The New Testament story of the “good Samaritan” teaches that according to Jesus, we are to reach outside of our comfort zones and go the extra mile to help out people in need regardless of nationality or ethnicity. If you are not LDS, then I can see why such arguments may be meaningless to you, but for Mormons, who have covenanted to do their best to follow the example of Jesus Christ, these kinds of questions should be important. I can’t think of very many things more un-Christlike than picking on the poor and oppressed, but picking on the poor and oppressed in the name of the false god LAW AND ORDER is exactly what the anti-immigration crowd is doing.

      As for racism, no one is arguing that the anti-immigration crowd is racist because “most of the people who come from Mexico are Mexican”. I, personally, don’t believe that everyone who wants to control immigration is racist, and I don’t argue that racism is the ONLY reason for borders and state control of movement (there are many reasons), but I do argue that there is a strong racist streak in the present day anti-immigration crowd, because so many of the main players behind the scenes are members of or have strong ties to white supremacist organizations such as the CCC (Council of Conservative Citizens, formerly called the Council of White Citizens), American Renaissance, PAN (Protect Arizona Now), and the now defunct Minutemen (which was basically the KKK and a bunch of other dumbass rednecks getting public relations savvy and attempting to present themselves as moderate patriots rather than extremist racists), among others.

      As for there being a fair and orderly way to go about dealing with immigration, I’m all ears. What do you propose is a fair and orderly way to go about it? I probably will think that whatever you say is stupid, because ultimately, I don’t believe in unnatural, state-imposed borders, but do go on. Enlighten me with your fair and orderly plan, but if it involves Arizona-style racial profiling, then save your breath because I’m not interested in listening to racist nonsense.

    • Joseph says:

      SUNN,

      Yes, yet another article. Here’s what an actual law enforcement officer whose watch includes over 100 miles of Mexican border has to say:

      http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/05/12-13

      So there’s your argument from someone who believes in law and order. I am not necessarily in agreement with all the views expressed, but it is far more reasonable than the fear-mongering behind the Arizona law.

      I agree with Tristan that there are likely varying ideas on the amount of “law and order” necessary for controlling the border. I personally do not agree with our current political, economic, and legal systems. But my disliking them won’t make them go away. With that in mind, I feel that we do not have enough resources here to make a better life for everyone who wants to come under our current economic order. Mexico needs to improve the quality of life of its own citizens (of course, it might help if the U.S. would stop supporting bad governments and let the Mexican people improve their situations). I also realize that innocent lives are in danger from drug cartels because of federal negligence of the border. I have family who live along the border, so this is a concern to me. So under our current economic and political systems, some control of the border is necessary. But Arizona’s law is the wrong way to do it. I don’t have answers for the problem other than change our economic systems so that the rich can’t exploit the poor anymore. Short of that, nothing is really going to be fixed. But this issues is going to have to be addressed federally. Arizona is broke and doesn’t have the resources to deal with the drug cartels anyway. They’re better armed than the border patrol right now.

      Yes, Arizona’s law is racist. There is no way other than the color of someone’s skin to even start guessing at someone’s legal or illegal immigration status. Looking at someone’s shoes is not going to do it, despite what some politicians say (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/22/brian-bilbray-gop-rep-cla_n_547710.html). Maybe not all immigration laws are racist, but Arizona’s is. Even the good ol’ Republican party is trying to distance itself from this law by bypassing Arizona for their 2012 convention and going to Florida. Ultra-rightwing Utah is not likely to follow suit on this law (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700028731/Utahns-will-not-copy-Arizonas-immigration-law.html) and neighbor GOP governor Arnold has made the Arizona law a source for some of his jokes (http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/politics&id=7434751). So long as conservatives stand by what Arizona has done, they are going to marginalize themselves, which is fine by me, but it’s something conservatives might want to at least think about.

  33. elchupacabras says:

    SUNN:

    I wish you would watch this entire video by Noam Chomsky about the causes of immigration and the destruction of civil rights. At the very least, go to about 25:30 in.

    Chomsky is a great thinker, who is 100% right on the money.

    I encourage EVERYONE to watch this clip.

  34. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    Tristan, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” we won’t have to deport people if theyre not here to deport. To the average person, Do the costs of illegal immigration outweigh the benefits? From what i’ve seen they do.

    Tariq, our current system of legal immigration seems pretty fair. Anyways I can only conclude that your reason for wanting rampant unchecked illegal imigration to continue is that you want the non-existence of the United States as a sovereign country. Which I think is stupid.

    Joe, the federal government is the one that has been saying NO to comprehensive immigration reform. Leave it to Arizona to fix it and this is what you get.

    Chupacabras, I watched it until Chomsky said something stupid, which was approximately 1:30

    • tariq says:

      Yeah, Sunn. You’re much more knowledgeable,intelligent, and well-read than Noam Chomsky.

    • Joseph says:

      I have to take back what I said about immigration needing to be addressed federally:

      “But, in reality, meaningful and truly comprehensive immigration reform cannot be enacted unilaterally by Washington any more than it can be by lawmakers in Phoenix. Think about it. By its nature, immigration is an international issue because it involves borders.”
      http://www.alternet.org/immigration/146893/six_myths_about_immigration_that_just_won%27t_die/?page=3

      It actually needs to be addressed internationally. And the local yokels in Arizona who came up with SB1070 are in way over their heads.

      • SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

        youre right Joe, where’s the international outrage that Mexicans are getting a free pass on entry to the United States? Afterall, they make up more than half of immigrants to the United States.

      • Joseph says:

        Ummm…Can’t quite figure out how your reply has much to with the context of what the article I liked to was saying, or even what I was saying (you used the word “international” but that’s about it).

        Are you implying everyone in the world wants to come here SUNN? Cuz that’s just not held up by any facts. Yes, people from poor countries are trying to get to countries where there’s money and potential for better paying jobs. Have you lived in the same place your whole life? Could your moving around possibly have had something to do with work? Hmmm… And yes, pretty much every country that has even moderate properity (which the U.S. is going down the list of rather than up) are having problems with immigration. But no one has come up with a solution that works. Probably because the solution involves getting rid of economic inequality and the governments and systems that create it.

        The point I was trying to make quoting from the article is that the issue is international because of many complex factors (like, why people migrate from one place to another, not just the fact that they do). Your attempt to oversimplify things again pretty much falls in its face in that context.

        Maybe you could try to address the points made in the article I linked to above, or the Chomsky video Elchupacabras linked to rather than just spouting out worn out right-wing anti-immigrant jingoisms?

      • Joseph says:

        *”liked to” was obviously supposed to be “linked to.”

      • SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

        I’m not sure I believe that getting rid of economic inequalities and the governments and systems that create it on an international scale is a more effective, practical or cost efficient method of curtailing illegal immigration from Mexico in the near future than some other options out there.

        I WAS implying that lots of people from poor countries all over the world do want to come to the United States or comparable countries but are separated by geographical features harder to overcome than stepping across an imaginary line in Arizona or Texas.

        Understanding why people (illegally) immigrate to the United States is easy as you answered it above. I think a more important question is:

        Is illegal immigration a good deal for us? I don’t think so. Illegal immigrants use more in services than they pay in taxes not to mention the cost of educating children of illegal immigrants. Also remittances, money sent back to Mexico by Mexicans working in the United States, that’s all money that’s not going back into the economy. Obviously the people who employ illegal immigrants benefit from them being here. The lower class doesn’t. Illegal immigration IS a problem.

        I doubt we’ll get much help from Mexico on this other than neat little pocket sized comic books giving people tips on how to illegally immigrate. The fact that Mexico sucks so bad is a HUGE part of the problem. So if your solution would be to make Mexico suck less, that’s probably something best left to the Mexican people… and while we wait…

        secure our border…

      • Joseph says:

        Well you should be happy SUNN, cuz that’s where huge amounts of money is going (I suspect even more money than it takes to provide immigrants, legal or otherwise, an education and other opportunities). It just isn’t working. So yes, our wonderful government will throw even more money at “securing the border.” And until our house of cards economy does what it should have done a long time ago and collapses, thus diminishing people’s desire to be here, people will find ways to get here no matter how militarized the border is.

      • SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

        Border security isn’t a reactive measure, it’s preventive…or shouldbe… the absence of a huge illegal immigration problem wouldn’t negate the need for border security so that factors in and I don’t think your claim moneywise is accurate. Jesus stuff and racism accusations aside, I haven’t seen any reason why we shouldn’t fix the problem. No amnesty though, might set a bad precedent. Me i’d militarize the border we’ve got more than enough reason to.

      • tristan says:

        Rich,

        I think I have figured out the foundational reason why we disagree on this. In post after post, you talk about how “we” should secure “our” border, about how “we” have plenty of reasons to do so, and whether illegal immigration is a good deal for “us”.

        I am surprised that no one has pointed this out yet, but it is becoming pretty obvious- you have strict boundaries about who is part of your “we” group, and people born outside of US national borders dont count as your neighbors, your family, (in Mormon terms) your brothers and sisters, your friends, your allies, or any part of who you believe yourself to be. That is understandable, and although tragic, pretty common. I think for most of us who don´t believe in militarizing the border, it is because we have a considerably broader definition of who “we” includes. The militarization of the border is certainly not good for MY “us” (the us that includes me, my white Mormon family, my Guatemalan-born Mormon family, my Mexican-born neighbors and friends, and my still-in-Mexico distant cousins.

        The “we” that you are arguing should be getting a “good deal” obviously does not include the Mexican-born ancestors, third cousins, and relatives of your wife´s family, since the militarized border prevents you from meeting each other, spend time together, act as equals, share food and resources, and travel without fear of violence from the state (things that normal, mutually-caring families tend to do). For a lot of us here on this website, that is a definition of “we” that we have long since rejected, and so the victims of immigration law on both sides of the border are just as important to consider in “we” as those native-born US citizens who (financially) benefit from our current laws.

        I guess I am arguing that according to US immigration law my family is illegal. Not just that some of them don´t have papers, but that the idea of kinship itself has been banned by our laws. This is why it is difficult for us to understand what you mean when you talk about “we” and “us” benefitting or hurting from migration in ways that systematically ignore many of the members of “our” community.

        Tristan

  35. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    better looking too.

  36. tariq says:

    And, yet another study showing that higher immigration leads lower crime rates, again showing that these anti-immigration fanatics are more motivated by prejudice and irrational fear than they are by clear thinking. http://www.coloradodaily.com/ci_15083416#axzz0o6ntUlho

  37. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    Tons of info and even congressional inquiries showing that illegal immigration costs more than it benefits and that the poor are particularly affected by it. It’s out there look it up if you want. I’m probably wasting my time on you because obviously youre confused about something here. These immigrants are just coming to the U.S. to be oppressed by evil corporations and capitalist war mongerers right? And you of course wouldn’t want that to happen to them. Youre probably just a little confused.

  38. elchupacabras says:

    SUNN,

    Your statement, “I WAS implying that lots of people from poor countries all over the world do want to come to the United States or comparable countries but are separated by geographical features harder to overcome than stepping across an imaginary line in Arizona or Texas,” ABSOLUTELY FLOORS ME! You obviously have little understanding of immigration. I have NEVER in my life met anyone who wanted to abandon their home land just for the “hell of it.” Please get an education on the push/pull factors involved, and then come back so that we can have an intelligent conversation, not jingoistic talking points re-vomited back from Palin and Beck.

    • SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

      oh quit rolling around on the floor… obviously they want to come here because the conditions in their countries suck really bad and there’s more opportunities here etc etc. I was pointing out that it’s easier for Mexicans to illegally immigrate than people from other countries.

      here’s a few links on the effects of illegal immigration on the wages of the people living at poverty level.

      http://www.nber.org/papers/w12518
      http://old.nationalreview.com/issue/borgas200604250622.asp

      and here’s a congressional budget office report that states that the the tax revenue from illegal immigrants doesn’t offset the cost of services provided

      http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/87xx/doc8711/12-6-Immigration.pdf

      there’s more, cost of educating children of illegal immigrants, uncompensated healthcare especially in hospitals in border areas, 25 percent of the welfare costs in Los Angeles county attributable to illegal immigration but i’m starting to get bored with this because really, why should the overwhelming burden of answering the question “why not?” take precedence over the question “why?” Afterall the United States is a sovereign country and it’s up to us to decide who and how many immigrate here. Mexico is the same. We are two separate countries. Nobody wants a neighbor who uses their electrical outlets, parks junk cars in front of their house and let’s their dog crap on their lawn. (that’s figurative, don’t fall on the floor.)

  39. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    well guess i’m done with you losers. Fuck you.

    • elchupacabras says:

      Wow! I’ll pray for you so that you will have a big change of heart, and stop using such violent, fornicatory terms. Thanks for using such a “Christian” term to address your brethren!

    • Joseph says:

      SUNN,

      Right back at ya! (I’m a little less charitable than Elchupacabras, though I’m working on it) I really couldn’t figure out what you were trying to accomplish anyway.

      And while there are heavy metal bands I’ll listen to, I’ve never understood the appeal of the B.C. Rich guitars, American made or otherwise. Maybe their sound is good, but they look pretty damn ugly to me.

  40. Tater says:

    The “No One is Illegal” ticket is highly naive, and middle class in my view. There are some genuinely good reasons not to have completely free movement around the planet. For one, it is bad for its resources, if the US opened its borders (I am NOT American by the way), then its population would probably rise to a billion or more, which it wouldn’t be capable of sustaining, and the economy and infrastructure would collapse. Not to mention the environment probably. Secondly, if someone is a mass murderer, or guilty of genocide or worse, should they be allowed to move around the world freely to dodge punishment? Sorry, no, I don’t think so. So “No ONe is Illegal” is basically a nice woolly, middle class liberal idea, which doesn’t actually look at the consequences to the working class. It would be better to campaign against unequal international development than pursue this warm fuzzy idea.

    • elchupacabras says:

      Bad for resources and sustainability? Wait a minute! Then why the hell did the Conquistadores pull so much out of Latin America, and why does the U.S. exploit their resources through NAFTA. Immigration is only a response to the lack of sustainability created by the imperialist oligarchs.

      Crime and immigration are two separate issues that should not be meshed.

      And yes, “illegal” is offense to me too! I am an immigrant, and let me tell you that the only “ill eagle” is a bird with stomach problems.

      • elchupacabras says:

        My apologies. I should proof my responses first. The last line should have read, “And yes, “illegal” is offensive to me too!”

      • Tater says:

        “Bad for resources and sustainability? Wait a minute! Then why the hell did the Conquistadores pull so much out of Latin America, and why does the U.S. exploit their resources through NAFTA. Immigration is only a response to the lack of sustainability created by the imperialist oligarchs. ”

        Unfortunately, you’ve proved my point for me. The Conquistadors were immigrants. Sorry. That’s exactly what they were. It proves exactly why we should have say in who does and doesn’t go into a country. The Conquistadors didn’t come to the Americas because they loved the people or the land, they were greedy, and wanted to take over the place. But they were also immigrants.

        Now, I’m not American, and don’t live in the USA, so have no axe to grind, but it’s obvious that half of the planet wants to live in the USA, and most of the remaining half wants to live in other parts of the western world. So, if the borders were opened, how do you propose building all the houses, doing all the plumbing, generating the electricity, supplying all the food and jobs etc for all of them?

        Sorry, it sounds nice, but it’s not going to happen. I estimate at least a billion people want to live in the USA. There’s no way it can sustain that number of people, at least not at a decent standard of living, and without considerable environmental damage (on top of what’s already happened)

        “Crime and immigration are two separate issues that should not be meshed.”

        Sorry, no they’re not. Most immigrants are not a problem in crime terms, but there are other issues connected with secretive immigration. The people in question can’t open bank accounts, so may have to result to “alternative” means of making money (crime, sweatshops, work without pensions/benefits etc)

        That and the fact that throughout history, criminal gangs have frequently been started by groups who have entered en masse to flee prosecution in their own countries. Do you propose having free entry for people who run Mafia, Triads etc, just because of some belief we have to have freedom of movement around the world? If you want that, they’ll also get “freedom of punishment” (i.e. they can do what they want and run off somewhere else and do the same)

        I don’t see why people who committed genocide in Rwanda/Bosnia/Sudan or wherever should be let into the USA without proper background checks. I also don’t think that organised criminal gangs should be allowed in and out of countries with impunity.

        “And yes, “illegal” is offense to me too!”

        If you entered secretively, then you broke a law. That’s called illegal. Chances are that in some cases, people might not just be breaking one law. Some people enter illegally, not because they’re avoiding persecution, but because they have something to hide.

        Of course there are some capitalists who want lots of illegal immigrants. After all, if an “illegal” dies at work, you don’t have to have an inquest. You don’t have to give such a worker severance pay, pensions etc. It benefits some people. They also use them as virtual slave labour. And who suffers because of it? The working class of whatever colour which is already living in the USA. Sorry, that’s why I find the “No one is illegal” slogan to be middle class adolescent idealism.

  41. elchupacabras says:

    Tater,

    Your comment “The Conquistadors were immigrants. Sorry. That’s exactly what they were.” Give me a break. They had little intention of living in the Americas. They’re only intent was exploiting the natives for resources and riches, and shipping them back to Spain. I suggest you read Galeano’s “Open Veins of America,” and then I’d be happy to discuss the matter further.

    I’ve never said there should not be some type of background check on immigrants who enter a nation. At the same time, we should not uphold subjective quotas on certain nations, based upon institutional racist ideals. We should make it so hard to immigrant, so as to promote circumventing the system altogether.

    We must also be compassionate, loving and forgiving of those who are undocumented. That’s only Christian, and the only RIGHT thing to do.

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