Welcome! Bienvendios!

Join us as we share our views on immigrant rights and labor issues and dialogue with communities around the country about immigration reform. Please take a few minutes to read our Open Letter on immigration reform, share your thoughts, and learn how you can sign on!

Unete con nosotros mientras compartimos nuestros ideas acerca de los derechos de los inmigrantes y temas laborales y discutimos la reforma migratoria con comunidades en todo el pais. Por favor, toma algunas minutos para leer nuestra Carta Abierta de la reforma migratoria, compartir tus comentarios, y aprender como lo puedes firmar!

lunes, 21 de junio de 2010

Our Response to a Bigoted Law

Interview with Nativo Lopez by Shaun Harkin
Originally published in the Socialist Worker

May 4, 2010

With Arizona's passage of an anti-immigrant law known as SB 1070--which compels police to investigate the immigration status of anyone they "suspect" may be undocumented--Arizona is now being referred to as an "apartheid state."

Nativo López, president of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), who is facing prosecution on trumped-up voting fraud charges, spoke to Shaun Harkin about Arizona's racist law and what's ahead now for the immigrant rights movement.

REPUBLICAN GOV. Jan Brewer's decision to sign SB 1070 into law has spurred huge outrage. Even Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles says the law will lead to Nazi-style repression. What do the think the ramifications of the law will be, and how do you think we should respond?

SB 1070 IS clearly unconstitutional and will certainly be challenged by the myriad of legal organizations that advocate to protect civil and constitutional rights.

Notwithstanding clauses in the law that racial profiling would not be the basis for the main criteria to detain, "reasonable suspicion," customs, practices, prejudices and recent experience with law enforcement--particularly with Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County--indicate that this will be a big problem.

The overreaching hand of government law enforcement will give rise to an emboldened vigilante mindset, and the target will be people of color--not just Mexicans and Latinos.

I am convinced that SB 1070 has more to do with creating a distraction from the deteriorating economic situation--increased home foreclosures, the jobless economic recovery, ballooning budget deficits, layoffs of public employees and cutbacks of services. The migrant and immigrant become the easy patsy and scapegoat in this scenario.

The manipulative hand of big capital is behind this measure. Arizona is a social pilot program for other states and the nation. We know, for example, that there are 11 to 14 other states that may be contemplating similar measures.

The response from our social movements must be immediate and focused, but tempered.
The calls for a national economic boycott of Arizona and everything Arizona are more than appropriate, and the response nationally to the call has been tremendous. There must be consequences for such backward legislative action and other states need to know that they could also be similarly targeted.

A particularly choice target should be the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, due to the role of the franchise owner in bankrolling Republican sponsors of the law.
We are currently preparing a call for a campaign of non-cooperation and participation in Arizona by working people with law enforcement based on the premise that public order can only be maintained and secured through the cooperation of the populace. Such a nonviolent mass campaign of non-cooperation would undermine the authority and legitimacy of the political regime in power, and call into question its ability to govern.

While many groups will call on President Obama to intervene, I don't have confidence on that score. His enforcement-only policies have created the parameters within which SB 1070 surface and thrived.

We need to put the emphasis of resistance on the masses of working immigrants and other workers. This is of both strategic and tactical importance for us. In a perverse way, this crisis is an opportunity to expose the Obama immigration policy and gather political momentum for fair and humane immigration reform.

We must be tempered, however, in not drawing the conclusion that all white Arizonans support this law, and therefore fall into the trap of racial divisions and animosity. This is exactly what capital wants. We need to build bridges, alliances and coalitions with other forces of color, the unions and people of faith.

PRESIDENT OBAMA appeared to speak out against passage of the bill right before it was signed by Brewer. However, instead of reform and legalization, under Obama, there has been increased deportations, use of the faulty E-Verify system to check documentation and continuing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. What explains the gap between Obama's promise to bring fairness to the treatment of the undocumented and the reality of policies that increase repression?

PRESIDENT OBAMA could not have done otherwise than speak out against SB 1070. This was face-saving politics, but his policies and practices are directly responsible for this law.

Certainly this was not his intent, but it is the direct result of the expansion of 287(g) [a program that facilitates collaboration between local law enforcement and ICE], the Secure Communities Program [which targets alleged criminals] and Operation Streamline [which charges everyone caught crossing the border with low-level crimes]. All these are heavy-handed immigration enforcement measures designed to criminalize immigrants.

The removal policy in the first two years under Obama will result in 800,000 deportations, coupled with voluntary returns of 2 million Mexicans to their country of origin.

President Obama has stated in both private and public that he is the number one law enforcement executive of the nation and he intends on fulfilling that role with apt efficiency to apply the rule of law. It's interesting that he applies this to working-class immigrants, but not to the leisure class of finance capital that ruined the economy--so much for the rule of law and the new sheriff in town.

We now have demonstrable evidence that he will be a pliable instrument for finance capital, and that immigrants are an expendable commodity that must be removed during this dire economic period. However, he runs the risk of alienating the Latino electorate in the process, and may pay for his errors in the mid-term elections.

SOME 200,000 marched on Washington on March 21 to demand immigration reform and an end to criminalization of the undocumented. The mobilization effort was led by the Reform Immigration for America (RIFA) coalition. Some viewed the mobilization effort as a cynical attempt to keep the immigrant rights movement on board for the November 2010 midterm elections. However, the mobilization also came about as a result of pressure from immigrants and their supporters for pro-immigrant legislation to be passed now. How should we look at this?

RIFA IS clearly an appendage of the Democratic Party and is funded by private foundations close to this party. Its strategy is to control the national immigrants' rights movement, control the message and impose its view of immigration reform on the immigrants.

Some months prior to the march on Washington, RIFA and America's Voice were warning against mass marches. The demands from below forced their hand, especially in light of the merciless enforcement policies by Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. They could not contain the anger and the demands on the White House, so they decided to co-opt and channel it into a march that gave the appearance of advocacy and a rift with the administration.

THE MARCH in Washington appeared to promote "bipartisan" legislation introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), yet most activists think its provisions are unacceptable. Many are more sympathetic to Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) ASAP introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), but worry that what they support in the legislation will be negotiated away. How should we view the present legislation being discussed, and what should we be fighting for?

THE MESSAGE from the president and Schumer was still enforcement-oriented. It was still the message that the people must accept repression and persecution in exchange for some form of torturous legalization program. The people are not accepting this line, and as things continue to develop, the shallowness and treacherous role of RIFA and America's Voice will be revealed to the masses of immigrants.

There is no "bipartisan" legislation. It is the Obama-Schumer immigration plan. Schumer has confided that his outline design was prepared with the active participation of the White House. It is a crime and revenue bill, not immigration reform. It is SB 1070 on a federal level. It is the rebirth of the Sensenbrenner Bill, only authored by a supposed liberal Democrat under the auspices of a center-right president. We must expose it for what it really is.

The Democratic Party leadership will do with immigration reform what it did with welfare reform, health care reform and, very soon, financial reform. These are all measures to safeguard the prerogatives and privileges of capital to the detriment of labor and the poor.

The immigrant rights movement should not focus its efforts solely on legislative reform, but should instead work to organize immigrants in the use of commercial law, common-law remedies, and self-organization and group actions of defense, correlative with legislative and policy initiatives.

In other words, there exist legal mechanisms to protect the physical and legal integrity of individuals in the U.S. independent of their immigration status, and we need to learn these and teach these, and organize under a different model.

The other approach--putting all of our eggs in the legislative fight--is premised on the false notion that the Democratic Party is a friend of the immigrant, and only through that route can we expect any modicum of justice.

Life has disproved this. The most recent declarations of Sens. Schumer, Harry Reid and Robert Menendez demonstrate that this party is hell-bent on forcing us to accept the idea that harsh enforcement first is the road to immigration reform. The immigrant community will reject this, and the party will pay a heavy, but well-deserved, price at the polls.

RECENTLY, SENS. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) addressed a letter to Janet Napolitano asking the Homeland Security to halt the deportations of immigrant youth eligible for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act--proposed legislation that would allow the undocumented children of immigrants who are in school or the military to attain legal status. Activists in Chicago are including, along with the DREAM Act the demand for a moratorium on E-Verify, raids and deportations in an executive order signed by President Obama. Can we win a halt to deportations, raids and E-Verify?

SEN. DURBIN'S and Lugar's letter to Napolitano is an indication of growing support for a partial solution to the dilemma faced by so many regarding their immigration status.

Should we be advocating for "comprehensive immigration reform" or for partial reform, which addresses the needs of a particular sector--in this case, those of youth and students? Agribusiness and farmworker organizations, for example, are advocating for AgJobs, a particular piece of legislation that addresses the needs of undocumented farmworkers.

This is a peculiar challenge that arises from a somber observation about the failing prospects for a comprehensive package.

Many coalitions, with the exception of RIFA and America's Voice, have been calling on Obama to take executive action since the first months of his administration to stem the enforcement-only measures, with no apparent success. He has had a deaf ear to these initiatives.

Whether we can win over Obama to take such action and generally stop the repression and persecution depends entirely on the ability of the real immigrant rights movement to expand its reach, strengthen its organization at the local level and unify its independent forces into a coordinating center in contradistinction to the Democratic Party-controlled and -funded fabrications.

I have every confidence of turning the corner on this question. There is hope where there is struggle. I absolutely oppose the thesis that any legislation is better than nothing--or another version of that: nothing is worst (peor es nada).

A movement never surrenders some of its rights for the prospect of gaining some other rights. That just doesn't happen. Every adversity is an opportunity to build organization, forge leadership, strengthen our core values, and learn how to fight, learn about ourselves and our adversaries.

ARE THERE any lessons from the passage of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) signed into law by Republican President Ronald Reagan?

WE ARE facing entirely different times from when the 1986 legislation was signed into law. They are too numerous to enumerate for this article. It was a different Congress, a different Republican Party, even a different Democratic Party.

In reality, there were fewer organizations and coalitions; deep rifts with labor, which was a staunch advocate for employer sanctions; much sympathy with the churches; and obviously much smaller mass actions. But the economy was still in structural transition--no NAFTA--and Mexico still had a certain nationalistic current that resisted U.S. impositions.

The current movement has created its own experiences, new formations, many local and regional coalitions, new relationships with labor (although labor continues to support the new form of employer sanctions--E-verify--but uses coded language to pretend otherwise), and new church advocacy from Christian evangelical communities, not just the predominance of the Catholic Church and the mainline Protestant denominations.

The version of immigration reform that we advocate for will be harder to come by this time. The Democrats will seek to force us to accept many poison pills to finally get to a just legalization. Unity is of fundamental importance, but we need to know what we want, and have the fortitude to fight for it and persevere against the attacks not mainly from the right (those are a given), but from phony liberalism.

ACTIVISTS ARE calling for civil disobedience to escalate the struggle. Youth activists in Chicago have organized "coming out undocumented" actions. Many are looking at how the African American struggle for civil rights developed through the 1960s. What political questions and tactics should we address to strengthen the struggle now?

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE has always been a component of the immigrants' rights movement, but not on the scale experienced previously in the civil rights and labor movements.
There is no doubt that younger people who have grown up in the U.S.--now in their 20s, for example--and have become acculturated to the "American way," but are shut out from participating fully in civil society, will be increasingly open to experimenting with new forms of struggle.

It will be the U.S.'s experience of what occurred with the immigrant youth in France recently. Hermandad Mexicana Latinoameriana and the Mexican American Political Association will propose a series of mass campaigns of non-cooperation and non-participation with the current political regime in the very near future. This is now on the struggle agenda for Arizona, and we are talking with numerous organizations from that state about this.

This goes along the lines of what we are conducting relative to the U.S. census count. We are asking people to refuse to participate in the count; demonstrate their lack of confidence in the government; and make a conscious choice of resistance to the imposition of the federal government. Ironically, we have encountered more resistance to this tactic from left and agency organizations and leaders than from the workers themselves.

I have increasingly studied commercial law and common-law private remedies as avenues of redress that do not require the use of attorneys, but truly empower the individual with knowledge and the ability to defend oneself from the intrusive encroachments from those who govern and their enforcement agencies.

However difficult the task may seem, it is extremely important to emphasize training with immigrant workers--those who are involved actively in production--and encourage them towards self-organization. As simplistic as this may seem, these are the folks who are most frequently in touch with the movement of goods and services, who are the greatest victims of Obama's policies, and who have in their hands the solution to the immigration challenges of the day.

2 comentarios:

  1. The Tea Bag Party are just “haters not debaters” or as others have dubbed them “screamers not dreamers”, with their failed attempts at stopping Healthcare reform, they say they respect the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence but they do not mind passing laws, through weak Governors (no one voted for this crazy) who only cares about getting elected Governor, on the backs of undocumented workers, that will not pass Constitution muster.

    Brewer signed into law;

    1. S.B. 1070,
    2. No permit conceal weapons law,
    3. The famous Birthers law,
    4. Banning Ethnic studies law,

    5. Could she be behind the Mural in Prescott, Arizona, ordered to be whiten,
    6. On deck to pass, no citizenship to babies born to undocumented workers,

    7. If she can read she should look up Arizona’s House Bill 2779 from two years ago (which was un-constitution and failed when legally challenged),
    8. The boycotted Martin Luther King Day, what idiots don’t want another holiday? Yes, you guessed it Arizona.

    Well Arizona, you can boycott new holidays and keep passing crazy laws and the rest of us will continue to challenged them in a court of law and continue to add cities to our Boycott of your state.

    I real cannot believe anything that comes out of Brewer’s mouth, in an interview she first said her father had died in Germany fighting the Nazi in World War II (war ended 1945) but of course we find out the truth that father was never in Germany and died in California in 1955. But we are suppose to believe everything else she says, right! No one voted for you for Governor, yet you keep listening to the tiny brains of the crazies and signing into law everything that comes into their feeble minds, it only make you look dumb, stupid or racist, or maybe all three.

    As for the Tea Bag Party, their phony patriotism is sickening; they are just racists going by another name. We all know you are just itching to put a sheet on their head? Let’s face it the Republicans had eight years to deal with health care, immigration, energy (remember Cheney’s secret meetings with oil companies where loosening regulation and oversight were sealed), climate change and financial oversight and governance and they failed. It appears that the Republican Party is only good at starting wars (two in eight years, with fat contracts to friends of Cheney/Bush) but not at winning wars as seen by the continuing line of body bags that keep coming home. The Republicans party will continue turned inward to their old fashion obstructionist party (and their Confederacy appreciation roots) because they continue to allow a small portions (but very loud portion) of their party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” to rule their party. I will admit that this fringe is very good at playing “Follow the Leader” by listening to their dullard leaders, Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush, Savage, Sarah Bailin, Orly Taitz, Victoria Jackson, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the Blowhards and acting as ill programmed robots (they have already acted against doctors that perform abortions).

  2. Nativo voz eres quien negocio con los liberales mientras los del barrio hacian demandas revolucionarias! Vendepatria!