Arizona has opened the way for Gestapo tactics to enforce immigration laws. As of Friday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed the toughest law against undocumented workers or "illegal immigration" in this country. The law once it takes affect would make it a crime to be in the state illegally and requires police to check suspects for immigration paperwork. The law will clean up everything law enforcement has not been able to do in the past few years obligating officers to determine immigration status often through racial profiling or if they have "reasonable suspicion" that someone is an "illegal immigrant". A person could be subject to an immigration check without breaking any laws and charged with state trespassing. Arizona has become the leader of anti-immigration legislation and a laboratory for anti-immigration measures that sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country.
As of April 15th after this law was passed by the state legislator more than 800 federal, state and local agents raided Arizona communities-Nogales, Rio Rico, Tucson, and Phoenix in one of the largest dragnet immigration operations conducted by the Obama administration. According to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the purpose was to target human smugglers. This raid sent has further devastated and instilled fear in the immigrant community.
Arizona has become the main transit point along the 2000 mile border for migrants. The state has an estimated 460,000 undocumented workers. Beginning in 1994 when the free trade agreement NAFTA was signed, immigrant deterrence and military tactics began under Operation Safeguard. This is has resulted in the deaths of thousands of immigrants along the border and has made smuggling quite profitable when it was hardly needed prior to 1994. Massive raids have actually escalated under Obama. Under Democrats enforcement and detentions of immigrants continues to build under this administration. Root causes need to be addressed such as what NAFTA and free trade done to agriculture in Mexico, displacing millions of workers, who than flooded the United States.
There is lot of political opporutunism in the cracking down on immigrants. Governor Brewer is looking to curry favor with state Republican rep to be re-elected. Maricopa or Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio's deputies have already enforced federal immigration laws as a model for how the rest of Arizona police should operate and is already often accused of racially profiling Latinos and has been subject to a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. He has profited from a book and intends to run for governor.
Janet Napolitano, the head of Homeland Security and the former governor of Arizona got her position under President Obama precisely because of her war on immigrants. She signed the toughest employer sanction laws that now have been copied by Mississippi and other states. She also signed a bill that can convict a person aggravated identity theft if they use a fictitious Social Security number and called the National Guard to the borders.
We are seeing a downward dive in our economy and immigrants get the blame for the economic woes in this country despite the fact that the undocumented labor force represents almost a billion dollars in terms of net gain. In the last few years Arizona has endured huge cuts in social services and education and is now at the bottom of the list for education funding.
In May Day 2006, several hundred thousand immigrants marched in cities around the country. This was the largest May Day turnout ever in Portland. Unfortunately the momentum of that march has been squandered by misleaders who promote legislative campaigns instead of movement building. The legislative reforms that are promoted include guest workers bills that would trap immigrants into indentured servitude. Under these programs immigrants have no right to unionize or fight for better working conditions due to the threat of deportation.
Immigrants have traditionally been among the toughest fighters against poverty and injustice out of necessity. The union movement has actually seen growth in the last years because of immigrants organizing, especially women. The Portland Hilton Hotel was organized by UNITE HERE particularly because of the strong campaign that immigrant women were a large part of organizing.
• Legalize the 12 million undocumented immigrants that are already here.
• Stop the suffering, environmental degradation, and devastation caused by the Border Patrol, ICE, and other agencies.
• Open the borders!
Come out for the May Day march and rally to fight for immigrant and all workers rights on Saturday May 1st, 12 pm at SW Park and Salmon.
Portland Radical Women