- On April 20, Reuters headlined, "Arizona passes
tough illegal immigration law," saying:
- State lawmakers "passed a controversial immigration
bill on Monday (April 19) requiring police in the state (to) determine
if people are in the United States illegally, a measure critics say is
open to racial profiling."
- Called "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood
Act," the Arizona House and Senate passed it, sending it to Governor
Jan Brewer who signed it on April 23 to make it Arizona law.
- The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
(NNIRR) works for "a just immigration and refugee policy in the United
States (for) all immigrants, regardless of immigration status....advocating
for their full labor, environmental, civil and human rights."
- "We are ALL Arizona," it said before the bill
became law. "Stop the Criminalization of Immigrants, End Racial Profiling!
Tell AZ Governor to Veto (this) Anti-Immigrant Bill," saying:
- "The Arizona State Legislature just passed a law
(SB 1070) that legalizes unchecked racial profiling by police of anyone
they 'suspect' is undocumented. It would criminalize all undocumented immigrants
as 'trespassers' and subject them to misdemeanor or, in some cases, felony
charges for a new 'trespass' crime."
- In a letter to Governor Brewer urging her veto, NNIIR
- "If you sign SB 1070 into law, you will make Arizona
a police state unprecedented in modern US history.
- By vetoing SB 1070, you will help to safeguard the health
and safety of immigrants and people of color in the state of Arizona. Your
veto will be a resounding NO to unbridled racial profiling by police of
anyone they 'suspect' (by skin color, spoken language, or other characteristics)
is undocumented. Your veto will say NO to the criminalization of immigrants
and YES to respecting (the) constitutional rights of all persons, regardless
of their immigration status or citizenship.
- Don't take Arizona backwards to a police state where
racial discrimination is legalized. Please stand up for our human and civil
- VETO SB 1070 today."
- Brewer, however, signed it into law giving police authority
to stop anyone for any reason, question their residency legitimacy, and
demand proof of legal entry or citizenship, without which anyone may be
arrested, fined, jailed, and/or deported without cause.
- On April 19 in his article headlined, "Immigration
Bill Reflects a Firebrand's Impact," New York Times writer Randal
C. Archibold said Senator Russell Pearce who wrote the bill once "appeared
in a widely (2007) circulated photograph with a man who was a featured
speaker at a neo-Nazi conference."
- In 2006, he was criticized "for speaking admirably
of a 1950s federal deportation program called Operation Wetback, and for
sending an e-mail message to supporters that included an attachment - inadvertently,
he said - from a white supremacist group."
- SB 1070 requires immigrants to carry authorization papers.
Failing to do so is a crime. Pearce said he's on a mission to rid the state
of undocumented immigrants and discourage others from coming.
- At issue is will other states and Washington enact similar
measures, clear police state constitutional violations if they do. If so,
no one will be safe from illegal searches and seizures - on streets, in
their vehicles, at work, in stores, at school, places of worship, or at
home at any hour, day or night, if authorities demand papers on threat
of arrest, fines, imprisonment, and/or deportation, without habeas or due
- Since 2005, state legislators throughout the country
gave immigration issues increasing attention, enacting 1,305 related laws
in 2008 alone. They affect employment and right to a driver's license.
Others call for punitive measures, ones violating civil liberties.
- Other AZ 1070 provisions include:
- -- "A law enforcement officer, 'without a warrant,'
may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe that the
person has committed any public offense that makes the person removable
from the United States;"
- -- anyone may be confronted to prove "any claim
of residence or domicile" as well as their identity;
- -- "if the person is an alien," they must prove
they're in the country legally;
- -- "trespassers" may be arrested, jailed, fined,
- -- anyone providing "means of transportation, procurement
of transportation or use of property (or knows) the person or persons transported
(aren't documented) citizens, permanent resident aliens or persons otherwise
lawfully in this state (is) in violation of the law;"
- -- "moving, concealing, harboring or shielding of
unlawful aliens" is unlawful; and among other provisions,
- -- "an employer shall not knowingly employ an unauthorized
alien;" doing so is a crime.
- Targeting Immigrants
- In September 2009, NNIRR published a report titled, "Guilty
by Immigration Status" on violations of immigrant family, worker,
and community rights in 2008. Worrisome is that anti-immigrant police state
measures may be used against anyone authorities target. As a result, no
one is safe or legally protected, even law abiding residents and citizens.
- Today, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Immigration
and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division violates the constitutional rights
of targeted persons questioned, detained, jailed, and/or deported, solely
for their suspected immigration status.
- According to an Amnesty International report titled,
"Jailed Without Justice," immigration detentions in the last
decade tripled - from 10,000 to 30,000 daily through 2008. Over 300,000
men, women and children are detained annually, and the numbers are rising.
They include asylum seekers, torture survivors, victims of human trafficking,
lawful residents, parents of lawful children, and suspected undocumented
- Hundreds of facilities around the country detain them,
pending criminal and/or deportation proceedings. According to James Pendergraph,
former ICE executive director of State and Local Coordination (on August
- "If you don't have enough evidence to charge someone
criminally but you think he's illegal, we (ICE) can make him disappear."
- In her December 16, 2009 Nation magazine article titled,
"America's Secret ICE Castles," Jacqueline Stevens explained
that besides publicly known detention sites:
- "ICE is also confining people in 186 unlisted and
unmarked subfield offices, many in suburban office parks or commercial
spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants - nary a sign,
a marked car or even a US flag" - a blatantly illegal act, given that
persons in them have "disappeared," their constitutional rights
- Facilities have no beds, mattresses, showers, drinking
water, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, mail, legal information,
or the ability to contact an attorney. The Obama administration stonewalls
attempts for information and won't address complaints - policies common
in police states; Obama more ruthless as Bush.
- In its second annual report, NNIRR deals only with immigrants,
based on 141 documented accounts of human rights abuses, including testimonies
of immigrant workers, families, and community members directly affected
- A troubling pattern emerges of systemic abuse, including
due process violations, and no accountability or oversight in immigration
enforcement and services. As a result, draconian forms of "social,
economic and political control (are pervasive) from the womb to the workplace."
- Targeted persons include anyone suspected of being foreign.
The result is clear racial, ethnic and religious profiling and criminalization,
many thousands daily affected. The report "underscores that ICE immigration
raids, (roundups, and) enforcement operations are only the 'tip of the
iceberg' " - a small percent of the overall arrests and detentions,
"representing less than 2% of all persons detained and deported in
- As as result, communities are destabilized. Immigrants
live in fear, never knowing where or when they may be next, in some cases
affecting citizens and permanent residents rounded up in illegal sweeps.
The administration, Congress, states and local authorities are involved.
And states like Arizona went further, literally taking the law into its
own hands in violation of constitutional protections.
- Key Findings
- -- ICE "intimidate(s) and destabilize(s) communities;"
the toll is severe;
- -- lawless workplace abuses and labor violations are
- -- the numbers of suspected immigration violators are
at an all-time high and rising;
- -- arrests, detentions, and "deportations separate
and devastate families, traumatize communities, (and) trample and violate
due process rights;"
- -- inter-agency and local collaboration undermine community
safety and leave anyone vulnerable to abuse; through November 2008, over
840 local, county, and state police officers were trained and certified
under ICE's 287(g) program, authorizing the DHS secretary:
- "to enter into agreements with state and local law
enforcement agencies, permitting designated officers to perform immigration
law enforcement functions, pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA),
provided that the local law enforcement officers receive appropriate training
and function under the supervision of sworn US (ICE) officers."
- -- militarized immigration enforcement violates constitutional
rights and causes deaths; and
- -- federal, state and local xenophobia promotes and condones
extremist laws and hate violence.
- In addition, repressive tactics are increasing at an
alarming rate, including:
- -- federal, state and local authorities targeting non-white
immigrants, permanent residents, and citizens for their color, race, ethnicity,
- -- funding and detention facilities (including secret
ones) for immigrants are expanding rapidly;
- -- "Fugitive Operation" teams seek "criminal
aliens" through Operations "Community Shield" and "Secure
Communities" in greater than ever numbers; the result is growing numbers
of criminal prosecutions;
- -- programs like the "Secure Border Initiative"
patrol borders and other points of entry, operating repressively; "Operation
Streamline" practices "zero tolerance border enforcement,"
including filing criminal charges against suspected immigration violators;
- -- in FY 2008, 6,000 new Border Patrol agents were hired,
doubling their numbers since 2002;
- -- high-profile immigration raids, roundups, detentions,
prosecutions, and/or deportations have exponentially increased the number
of people affected and their families; in 2009, over 400,000 persons were
jailed; from 2005 - 2008, detention space for immigrants increased by 78%;
the Obama administration institutionalized the trend; suspected immigration
violators comprise the fastest growing prison population in the country;
- -- discriminatory immigrant profiling is rampant; ICE
and local authorities are emboldened to crack down hard;
- -- since 2001, immigration laws are used "to detain
persons under the guise of criminal investigation and even for routine
- -- conditions in detention are horrific, and include
physical and sexual assaults and over 104 deaths since 2003, including
persons seeking asylum; and
- -- "Operation Endgame."
- It aims to detain and deport all "removable aliens"
and suspected terrorists by 2012. It criminalizes immigration status, militarizes
border and interior control, and merges immigration services and enforcement
in the interest of "national security." Its four pillars include:
- (1) Criminalizing immigration status, using new forms
of racial, ethnic, and religious profiling. Suspected undocumented immigrants
may be arrested, detained, and/or deported for minor offenses like traffic
and other violations. A nationwide system of public, private, and secret
jails are in place and are being constructed. Anyone looking or sounding
foreign is at risk. Without warrants, those arrested are denied bail and
legal counsel, and face unreasonable searches and seizures. Repressive
and at times deadly force is used, followed by abuse under inhumane detention
- (2) Immigrant and border communities have been militarized.
Harsh "prevention through deterrence" is practiced.
- (3) Immigration services and enforcement is part of
"securitizing" the homeland.
- (4) Neoliberal trade and other policies are the root
cause of international migration, creating a migrant worker population
being exploited as cheap labor or persecuted for their status.
- Other Study Findings
- -- ICE enforcement intimidates and destabilizes communities
and harms local economies; agents conduct raids clad in black clothes,
wearing bulletproof vests and ski masks, and carrying high-powered rifles
and side arms;
- -- high-profile workplace raids are used to instill fear;
- -- ICE enforcement is extremely costly; for example,
the May 12, 2008 Postville, Iowa raid jailing of 389 workers (using 800
agents) at the AgriProcessors plant cost $5.2 million or an average of
$13,368 per worker;
- -- Warrantless ICE raids arrest permanent residents and
citizens along with undocumented immigrants, calling them "collateral"
arrests, and use excessive force doing it, including illegal entry into
- -- quotas, or enforcement by the numbers, is policy to
ensure greater congressional funding;
- -- unaccompanied children, as young as 12 or younger,
are deported on their own;
- -- unscrupulous employers take advantage, subjecting
vulnerable immigrants to harassment, sub-standard wages (at times withheld),
unpaid overtime, no benefits, uncertain employment, and unsafe working
- -- immigrants believe government is the enemy to be feared
and avoided; and
- -- hate violence against immigrants has increased, including
- Crisis at the Border
- "US immigration and border control is causing a
humanitarian crisis in migrant deaths and rights violations (by) funneling
migrants through the most isolated desert and mountain regions of the US-Mexico
- As a result, thousands have perished, disappeared or
suffered irreparable damage to their health and well-being. Those reaching
America face "a gauntlet of social, economic and political exclusion,
criminalization," and jail if caught.
- Border wall, virtual fencing, and other impediments make
entry hard, and affect the civil liberties of US citizens along border
areas, including landowners forced to give up property for planned construction
- at a cost of up to $8 billion when completed.
- For example, in November 2007, DHS notified the South
Texas Lipan Apache community and others that their lands would be confiscated
despite broad opposition by environmentalists.
- Even the US-Canadian border is affected in states like
New York, Michigan, Washington and others with Arab, Muslim, and South
Asian communities. Discriminatory racial, ethnic and religious profiling
intensified. Roving and fixed checkpoints interdict passenger and commercial
vehicles for identity checks and physical inspections. Immigrant populations
are targeted, arrests and deportations then made.
- The Asian Law Caucus, Muslim Advocates and similar organizations
have documented a systematic pattern of abuse, including intrusive questioning
and detentions on grounds of religious affiliation and inquiries made about
foreign travel. Over 20,000 Border Patrol agents perpetuate these practices
on northern and southern borders.
- Final Thoughts
- America's homeland is repressively militarized and unsafe.
Habeas rights, judicial fairness and other constitutional protections are
ignored. Lawlessness prevails. Everyone is vulnerable. Freedom is at risk.
Police state repression is deepening. Knowing the dangers is a wake-up
call for action. Latino immigrants, people of color, Muslims, and anyone
called a threat to national security are most vulnerable.
- Ahead, expect stepped up militarized harshness, extinguished
civil and human rights, and intensified crackdowns. Streets will be patrolled.
Privilege will be protected from beneficial social change, the kind fast
disappearing in a nation disengaged from its soul, always one more in
name than fact, now a memory. As a result, complacency and indifference
no longer are options. Activism is the antidote for change.
- In Washington on March 21, 2010, over 200,000 people
rallied for immigration rights. At issue was legalization, not planned
bogus reform, for people who say they earned it. Attendees were largely
Latinos, African Americans, Koreans, Filipinos, Muslim immigrants, and
- In New York on May 1 (May Day), another rally is planned
for immigrant rights, jobs, high quality public education, and against
war and repression. The May Day 2010 Unity Coalition urges a "powerful
and massive united fight-back" for immigrant rights and against war
and economic injustice. It asks working communities to take a:
- "courageous stand against the massive layoffs, loss
of homes, health insurance, and the deepening erosion of our rights to
organize and bargain collectively for livable wages and just work conditions.
This May Day must once again demand legalization for all workers and declare
that we will not allow our origin of birth to divide us from another."
- Nor can we tolerate imperial wars, banker bailouts, or
lost jobs, freedoms, and personal well-being. But wishing won't make it
so. Realizing equity and justice takes commitment. The alternative is too
grim to imagine.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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