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Freedom, Not Reform: On the New CIR-ASAP bill

If anything, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 is lip service at best.
<p>Please don't be fooled. If anything, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 is lip service at best. If you review the bill (the complete bill, not the summary), you will see a glaring lack at anything like a solution to the &quot;crisis&quot; so many speak of. Worse, it maintains that border security (read militarization) is important, includes employment verification, and also leaves out any mention of same-sex couples. It is unlikely to pass as is, or probably not even close, but I am concerned with so many people blindly celebrating this bill.</p>
<p>How about this as a summary for much of CIR-ASAP: review this, analyze that, assess this, study that, examine this, make recommendations, develop and implement a plan. This is the extent to which major questions are addressed: border deaths, costs of border security, human smuggling, Operation Streamline, etc. Certainly this gets nowhere near actually coming up with solutions to, much less acknowledgments regarding the injustices caused by the border and border enforcement. To me, it's nothing but superficial- surprising that they'd be mentioned, but still, just empty words. It doesn't take a genius to know that increased border security means increased deaths. Yet they are developing a study that would include &quot;an analysis of whether physical barriers, technology, and enforcement programs have contributed to the rate of migrant deaths&quot;. And who would end up doing these studies? Is there any hope that they would be done objectively? And what then?</p>
<p>Not surprising at all is the callousness, or neglect of the impact on the indigenous communities and others as a result of continued border security. Let us not confuse a lack of a wall with lack of problems due to border security. The bill states, &quot;Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary shall establish a demonstration program to procure additional unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, poles, sensors, satellites, radar coverage, and other technologies necessary to enhance operational control of the international borders of the United States.&quot; If anything, the bill seems concerned with making border security more efficient, maybe a bit more regulated and supervised.</p>
<p>Border enforcement has divided O'odham folks who live on both sides of and along the border, limiting their ability to participate in traditional ceremonies. Border patrol officers harass indigenous people, check points have been set up on the reservation at which further harassment and abuse occurs on a regular basis. The funnel effect caused by increased security in more urban areas like in El Paso and San Diego, has led to increased deaths on O'odham land (and surrounding border areas), as well as more drug smuggling, which negatively impacts the communities there. These issues have been worse than deprioritized by most people in the immigrants' rights movement. Far too often the colonial nature of the border is not considered, much less the everyday concerns of O'odham like the <a href=" http://oodhamsolidarity.blogspot.com/">Loop 202 freeway</a>.</p>
<p>There are some positive acknowledgments and solution-like proposals for how to handle detention. But it all really boils down to bigger cages, longer chains. No one belongs in a detention facility of any sort just for crossing the border illegally! Of course the government is not going to say such a thing. This is why I expect very little of any reform.</p>
<p>There is a large emphasis on consequences for employers who hire undocumented immigrants, but many of us have known for a long time that these measures have the most impact on migrants- the laws are meant to keep migrants from attaining work. It's funny that within the bill, there is a statement about preempting any state or local jurisdiction from &quot;imposing any sanction&quot; on people based on their immigration status. But isn't going after employers indirectly imposing a sanction on people based on their immigration status? A prime example is that in Arizona, an employer sanctions law was passed in January 2008, but has mostly or only <a href=" link to chaparralrespectsnoborders.blogspot.com impacted workers- not employers</a>. It has, in fact, been the justification for raids by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.</p>
<p>Some good news is that the authors of the bill oppose the Real ID. The bad news is they support electronic employment verification, which has and will continue to have many flaws.</p>
<p>Some are suggesting that this bill might pass with an addition of a guest worker program. I cringe when I think about the possible support for this, despite the implications of such a program. A guest worker program would only benefit businesses, and would not benefit workers, as has been seen in the past with the Bracero program, and existing programs.</p>
<p>In addition, the bill lacks any acknowledgment of the need for addressing same-sex couples' ability to stay together when one is legal and one is not.</p>
<p>The main failure of this reform is that it does nothing to put to question the idea that the border is legitimate in the first place. But why would it? As I've written before in <a href=" link to chaparralrespectsnoborders.blogspot.com, not Reform: If we don&rsquo;t demand it, it can&rsquo;t happen</a>,</p>
<blockquote> Illegal immigration is not wrong. What is wrong is the criminalization of people because of their class and countries of origin, and of the actions they have taken as a result of the decimation of economies and human rights by US business interests. What is wrong is that American businesses in and outside of the US have benefited from the cheap labor of Mexicans in particular, and others as well... Clearly no reform can be acceptable [to us] that the US Government, the perpetrator of violence against the people, will allow.</blockquote>
<p>Again, I say, we need to demand Freedom, not reform, because otherwise it's not possible. Down with the Detention Centers! No More Border Security! No More Border! No More NAFTA! and on and on.</p>
<p>(Thanks to Alex and Kevin for the information about impacts on O'odham.)</p>
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<p><a href=" link to chaparralrespectsnoborders.blogspot.com Assault in Detention Centers and CIR-ASAP</a></p>
<p>As I read through parts of the CIR-ASAP bill, the part on sexual assault in detention seemed to necessitate a bit more attention. This part of the bill actually was taken from H. R. 1215 from earlier this year, or perhaps an even earlier one. Nonetheless, it deserves discussion. I noticed two things: there is no part in the bill that says what happens to the perpetrator if the perpetrator is a guard or officer (likely it is up to each facility to make that call). It also says nothing about a requirement to inform inmates of the laws and of their rights.</p>
<p>It does say, &quot;Detention facilities shall take all necessary measures to prevent sexual abuse of detainees, including sexual assaults, and shall observe the minimum standards under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003&quot;. &quot;On June 23, 2009, the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission (NPREC), which was also created by PREA, released recommended national standards along with a final report documenting the findings from its comprehensive study.&quot; Keep in mind, this was signed in 2003. But get this:</p>
<blockquote> In accordance with PREA, Attorney General Eric Holder has until June 23, 2010, to publish a final rule adopting national standards. At that time, the standards will be immediately binding on all federal detention facilities; state officials will have one year to certify their compliance or they will lose 5% of their federal corrections-related funding.</blockquote>
<p>So we don't even know what this will ultimately look like.</p>
<p>Victoria Law, in <i><a href=" http://resistancebehindbars.org/">Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women</a></i>, wrote about PREA:</p>
<blockquote> The act... called for gathering of national statistics about prison rape; the development of guidelines for states on how to address prisoner rape; the creation of a review panel to hold annual hearings; and the provision of grants to states to combat the problem.</blockquote>
<p>More studies and developments of guidelines- very similar to what the CIR-ASAP bill looks like. Do people actually see it as a victory when the government passes laws that just study atrocities, hoping that something will eventually be done to stop those atrocities?</p>
<p>Law continues:</p>
<blockquote> In the first nationwide study conducted under the PREA, 152 male and female prisoners nationwide were interviewed. However, all of the case scenarios focused solely on prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in male prisons. The ensuing report did not even mention the existence of women in prison, much less sexual abuse by staff in female facilities.</blockquote>
<p>Victoria Law goes on to describe instances where intimate consenting relationships between female prisoners (even just hand-holding) are treated as sexual abuse because of PREA. Although the official guidelines have not adopted and passed down to prisons, prisoners have reported an increase in write-ups for &quot;sexual misconduct&quot;. A woman actually killed herself after her partner claimed she'd been raped to avoid the consequences of their consensual relationship being called sexual abuse. Both women would have been charged with sexual abuse and had a lifetime sexual offender label.</p>
<p>I don't want to sound like a broken record, but these are examples of why we must not expect real change to come through the government. We should be demanding the closure of detention centers (and prisons), not a somewhat nicer image of them.</p>
<p>Nonetheless, whatever can be done, should be done. With the recent decision to privatize AZ prisons, the discovery of <a href=" link to www.thenation.com about a woman who had to give birth shackled to her bed, the urgency is stronger than ever.</p>

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