Archive for the ‘Arizona Immigration Law’ Category

Saturday April 23rd 2011 marked the one year anniversary of the passing of SB1070, the racist anti-immigrant law in Arizona. When this law passed it gained national and even international attention, protests sparked up through the USA, artists boycotted the state (the Sound Strike), and even major American cities decided to boycott Arizona (Los Angeles, Oakland, New York, to name a few). Other states have also followed Arizona’s anti-immigration push; Utah have passed a similar bill; Georgia is awaiting their governor’s signature; Alabama has had the legislature pass in both chambers; South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Indiana have had the legislature pass in one chamber; the legislation has been introduced and passing through committees in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Illinois; Kansas has introduced the legislation but there have been some set-backs in committee; Mississippi, California, Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kentucky have introduced legislation but they are not really a threat. This is something that we can not ignore, I remember that a year ago this was all over the news, but as time has gone there have been more “newsworthy” stories that have occurred and SB1070 has lost its importance in the eyes of the media.

In February I read a story about a business group that had started an anti-SB1070 tour, this unfortunately was not based on the basic fact that this is a human rights debate, but the economical backlash that can occur with the passing of such a law. I guess the saying is still true; to hurt them where it hurts the most, and for most people it is their wallets! It is said that in the last year Arizona has lost $410 millions in tourism revenue. They also stated that if 50 000 immigrant families leave the state a billion dollars in revenue goes with them. It is calculated that 100 000 Latinos left Arizona last year, some of them legal and illegal immigrants. In September, Utah’s Lt. Gov. Greg Bell traveled to Arizona on a “fact-finding” trip to gauge the fallout from the state’s illegal immigration crackdown. In Utah, a group of bipartisan lawmakers and business leaders, along with the Mormon church, signed a petition saying they think immigration law should be left to the federal government. The main legislative champion of an Arizona-style crackdown in Utah, GOP state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, has revised his legislation’s original wording after groups estimated it would cost the state more than $5 million to enforce. The new version of his bill, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, will no longer mandate police officers to check the immigration status of suspects; it makes such identification checks optional for Utah cops.

As hundreds of protestors marched in Phoenix on Saturday, some sad and infuriating news came from our friends at the Sound Strike. Los Angeles, one of the cities that have vowed to boycott Arizona based companies (which has cost the state more than $140 million in lost revenue) until this racist law was overturned, has decided to award $106 millions of tax payer money to an Arizona based company, Honeywell International. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Council President Garcetti, and other council members are about to break their promise, and betray their communities in the process. On the website of the Sound Strike you can sign a petition to remind them of a promise they made less than a year ago. This money is for their bid to maintain the LA Waste Water Treatment Plant, the Honeywell division that is bidding for this is based in Arizona, along with its 4 major divisions of this corporation. Honeywell also has a record of broken air-quality and hazardous-waste laws on hundreds of occasions, and has exposed its workers to hazardous waste. With a track record like this, there must be a competent company that is able to do the job which is not based in Arizona.

In the last year, over two dozen immigrant hate bills have passed and unjust deportations are increasing. LA is home to the biggest latino community in the US, it should be a model for the rest of the country on standing up for immigrant rights. When the boycott passed last year, the City councilor was told to draft a ordinance restricting city contracts with Arizona based companies, this was never done. Honeywell is now working this loophole to its advantage, they are hiring lobbyists to help push their agenda on city council members.

What is most dangerous in human right struggles is when people forget, this is what Arizona wants to happen. We must keep speaking up against these hate laws, just because this story is no longer coming into your living room, it is still happening and people are still struggling. Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. This will not change unless we stay united and make sure that we let Arizona know that we have not forgotten and we will keep fighting until this law is overturned! For all the Canadians out there, we are in the midst of a federal election, look into your candidates campaigns and their stance on immigration. This could very easily happen to us if we are not careful and elect a government that believes that all human beings are to be treated with respect and dignity. On May 2nd when you are voting, remember to think of the struggle of the people of Arizona, vote for a pro-immigration party! We are all immigrants (except for native americans of course) and we should never forget that!

Here is a short film about the Sound Strike and the artists that have decided to boycott Arizona! Please take the time to check it out and make sure that others take a look… We must continue to pressure until this law is overturned!

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For the next couple of months the world will be focusing on the racist SB 1070 law which is slated to take effect on Thursday July 29th. What most people don’t know is that it will not stop there, HB 2281 an anti-ethnic study will now be the next bill that will come into action, a good old fashion censorship law that will codify the Western “triumph” with an emphasis on Greco-Roman culture in schools in the state of Arizona. This new law would be applied to all schools in the state of Arizona, it will determine what books are acceptable in the state, it is slated to go into effect on January 1st 2011. This Inquisitorial mechanism has already decided that Occupied America by Rodolfo Acuña and Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire are un-American and preach the violent overthrow of the American government. What is developing in Arizona is becoming more and more scary if you ask me, these laws are genocidal! One law attacks the physical presence of red-brown people; while the second attacks their minds and spirits.

What exactly is Ethnic/Raza studies? Common Dreams explains it as:

In general, the philosophical foundation for Raza Studies are several Indigenous concepts, including: In Lak Ech, Panche Be and Hunab Ku. Over the past generation, the first two concepts have become fairly well known in the Mexican/Chicana/Chicano communities of the United States. The third concept, Hunab Ku, is relatively less well known, though it actually forms the foundation for In Lak Ech – ‘Tu eres mi otro yo – You are my other self’ and Panche Be – ‘to seek the root of the truth’ or ‘to find the truth in the roots’. As explained by Maya scholar, Domingo Martínez Paredez, Hunab Ku is the name the Maya gave in their language to the equivalence of the Supreme Being or the Grand Architect of the Universe (Hunab Ku, 1970). Such concept is an understanding of how the universe functions.

These three concepts are rooted in a philosophy based on maiz. Maiz, incidentally, is the only crop in the history of humanity that was created by humans. Also, the Indigenous peoples of this continent are the only peoples in the history of humanity to have created their/our own food – maiz – a food so special that it is what virtually unites not simply this continent, but this era. These three maiz-based concepts, in effect, constitute the essence of who we are or who we can be; human beings connected to each other, to all of life and creation. Part of creation; not outside of it. This is the definition of what it means to be human. While  these concepts are Indigenous to this continent, they also exist generally in all cultures.

Despite the destruction of the many thousands of the ancient books of the Maya (along with those of the Aztecs-Mexica) by Spanish priests during the colonial era, these Maya-Nahua concepts were not destroyed, nor are they consigned to the past. Today, they continue to be preserved and conveyed via ceremony, oral traditions, poetry and song (In Xochitl – In Cuicatl) and danza. And they continue to be developed by life’s experiences.

In Raza Studies, these ideas are designed to reach those that are unfamiliar with these concepts, including and in particular, Mexicans/Chicanos and Central Americans and other peoples from the Americas who live in the United States and who are maiz-based peoples or gente de maiz, albeit, sometimes far-removed from the cornfield or milpa. Despite their disconnection from the fields and despite the disconnection from the planting cycles and accompanying ceremonies – and in many cases the ancestral stories – their/our daily diet consciously and unconsciously keeps us connected to this continent and to the other original peoples and cultures of this continent.

Thus, the effort to understand these concepts is to create a creation/resistance culture, instead of people viewing themselves as foreigners or a minority; it is also to show that de-Indigenized Mexicans/Chicana/Chicano and Central and South American peoples are not trying to learn from a dead culture, elders say that these cultures have not died and it is just that people have been disconnected from them. That is one definition of colonization and/or de-Indigenization. To understand and live by these concepts can be seen as a form of de-colonization, elders throughout the Americas have been reaching out to these communities and telling them to return to their roots. Asserting the right to this knowledge that is Indeginous to this continent is an effort to proclaim the humanity and Indigeneity of peoples that are so often treated as unwelcomed and alien to society, HB 2281 considers this knowledge to be un-American. Knowledge like this could help the red-brown people of Arizona, who are constantly under siege, to bring about peace, justice, and dignity; with the potential to create better human beings out of all of us…

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Immigration is still a subject that is making news in the US, last month there was the death of Sergio Adrian Hernandez and the week ahead is a week of resistance entitled “We will not comply” that will be happening throughout Arizona and the US. SB1070 has still not been overturned, people are now asking the Obama administration to intervene to make sure that communities will not be terrorized by this bill. Seeing as how the administration is not doing anything to help this cause, the people are taking action in making their voices heard and making sure that everyone knows that they will not comply with this racist law.

On June 7th Sergio Adrian Hernandez, a 14-year-old boy, was shot dead by a border patrol officer on an international bridge near downtown El Paso Texas. Sergio was unarmed, but the officer claims that he used deadly force in self-defence. Witnesses claim that Sergio was running from the officer when a lethal bullet hit his head. The FBI in El Paso is currently investigating  the incident, but many groups are calling for the White House to conduct an independent investigation of the killing. This is to make sure that the issue of immigration is not equated with border violence and drug trafficking. This is also to help the Obama administration see that there is a human rights crisis at the border and that the majority of immigrants crossing the border into the US are victims, not perpetrators, of this crisis. Groups are also asking Obama to stop appeasing far right groups with enforcement first immigration policies. (He recently promised 1 200 National Guard troops and $500 million for border enforcement)

July 29th is a significant date, this is the date that SB1070 is suppose to be implemented. Actions will be planned for the week leading up to this implementation, laws that do not serve humanity must be disobeyed. Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, has continued to defend this law, she ignores the seperation of families and has even publicly stated that most immigrants in Arizona are « drug mules ». Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has already stated that regardless of the legal challenges ( a civil rights group and the United States Justice Department have asked that the law be temporarily stopped) will be conducting aggressive sweeps across the city after midnight on the 29th of July. Senator Russell Pearce, the author of SB 1070, is planning a national event to strategize how to spread 1070 to other states across the country.

Tonight the Sound Strike (Rage Against the Machine, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band) are performing a concert at the Hollywood Palladium to help kick off the week of action for human rights that will be happening in Arizona. This is a week of resistance against all racist policies that criminalize migrant people and separate their families. They are asking Obama to not comply with Arizona’s SB1070, as it only terrorizes their communities if the federal government cooperates with it. They are demanding that Arizona institutions such as cities, towns, police jurisdictions, school districts and businesses to publicly state that they will not comply and cooperate with SB 1070. All people are invited to go to Phoenix to stand in solidarity with the communities of Arizona to stop the implementation of SB 1070. If you are not able to make it to Arizona, you are encouraged to organize actions in your communities to show solidarity! On July 29th, resist and join in solidarity with Arizona; do not carry ids, do not go to work, and do not buy anything. The people united will never be defeated! Ya Basta!

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Just when I thought that it could not get worse in Arizona I was sad to see in the news that the government will now target the children of migrants, anchor babies as they are so affectionately called. Public opinion has buoyed the Republicans that they are on the right track with immigration, they will pass a law this fall that would deny birth certificates to those born from illegal immigrants. The SB1070 require that of-age migrants have the proper citizenship papers, but this “anchor babies” bill would block the next generation of ever being able to obtain it. The idea is that citizenship would be so difficult that migrants would “pull up the anchor and leave”.

The big question that comes from this new bill is if it would violate the 14th amendment of the American Constitution:

All persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.

This was written in 1868 however, Russell Pearce, says that this amendment has been “hijacked” by illegal immigrants, they use it as a wedge by arriving here having children and then taking advantage of the great welfare state that they have created. Pearce is aware of the constitution and how it could be seen as illegal to introduce such a bill, he reassures his supporters that it will be written well so it does not impeach on the amendment. This bill would then guarantee that any child that is born in the US whose parents are not American citizens would be denied a birth certificate. 58% of Americans polled by Rasmussen think that children born from illegal immigrants should not receive citizenship.
People who oppose the bill say that it will lead to more discrimination and divide the community, Susan Vie ( who moved to the US 30 years ago from Argentina, became a naturalized citizen and now works as a client-relations representative for a vaccine company), says:
I see a lot of hate and racism behind it, consequently, I believe it will create — and it’s creating it now — a separation in our society. When people look at me, they will think, ‘Is she legal or illegal?’ I can already feel it right now.

This is why she is trying to create a citizen group that is behind an opposition ballot initiative. This initiative would prohibit SB1070 from taking effect and place a 3 year moratorium on all related laws, including this anchor baby bill, and then buy more time for federal immigration reform. It is believed, by both sides, that the bill will pass in front of the Supreme Court before it is enacted, it is believed that it would be struck down as unconstitutional. It is had to believe that a federal judge would let this pass. It is also believed that the original anti-immigrant bill, SB1070, will pas in federal court along with this new anchor baby bill. SB 1070 is set to take effect on July 29th, but it is said that there are 5 courtroom challenges that have been filed against it. Pearce guarantees that he will win them all.

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There is still a lot of attention being put on Arizona’s racist anti-immigration law, but what can we do if we are not in Arizona or even the USA? A lot of people have decided to boycott the state, and there is mounting pressure for others to follow suit. Boycotting Arizona will definitely have an impact on their tourism, which is a big source of revenue for the state, and also bring attention to the issue and keep the debate going. There are pretty divided opinions on this law, which may be surprising to some, but immigration has always been a very touchy subject in the public sphere. I have always found this to be very peculiar seeing as how we are all immigrants on this continent (minus the native americans of course), and that we do not encourage people to take the steps to improve their lives is beyond me. Especially with the issue of the Mexican/American border, should we not want to help and welcome people who are trying to escape poverty, corrupt governments, and even the atrocities that are being done to Guatemalans, and in other southern regions of Mexico. The debate however continues, many of us ask ourselves “What can I do to help raise awareness and show my dissent against this law?” There are many ways of course (starting a blog, creating community groups to raise awareness in your community, and of course boycotting Arizona), the boycott of Arizona is picking up some steam with a new collective of artists that are speaking out!

The Sound Strike is a collective of many diverse artists that are boycotting Arizona and asking people to follow suit, the site is maintained by Zach de la Rocha (of Rage Against the Machine fame). On their site you are able to sign a petition to repeal SB 1070, it also has a very up to date news feed to help people stay informed on actions that are being done, and also encourages people to join in actions against people who are spreading hate in the media (for example O’Reilly and his immigrant crime slurs). This movement is crucial seeing as this is one of the most important struggles for human rights of our generation, hopefully this will also help put pressure on the Obama administration to use its executive branch authority to prevent the implementation of this unjust law. Will this boycott yield results? It has at least sparked a heated debate in the public sphere which is necessary!

Please go sign the petition to repeal SB 1070 and invite all like-minded people to do the same, we have to stop this now! As a Canadian I must say that this scares me because first it is Arizona, but who will be aimed next? Once racial profiling is accepted on a political level, masked as an economic and immigration issue, what’s next? This debate has definitely shown the deep-rooted racism that is still present in society, unfortunately people do not remember that we are all immigrants (guilty of the genocide of the native American population). Also what is important to remember is that Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, California were all Mexico until it was taken by force during the American “Expansion”. I encourage you to tell others to boycott, for example, there is a campaign to pressure the Vans Warped Tour from passing through Arizona this summer. I am sure that most of the bands on the bill would agree with this and help send a message to the government of Arizona that we do not agree with what is happening and it must change! “It has to start sometime, it has to start somewhere, what better place than here, what better time than now” – Zach de la Rocha

Tell the Warped Tour to say no to Arizona:


15700 Shoemaker Avenue
Santa Fe Springs, California 90670

Telephone: (562) 565-8267
Fax: (562) 565-8406

The site to encourage Vans to boycott Arizona also has a complete list of all the corporate sponsors involved in the tour, let put some pressure on them to also ask Kevin Lyman to say no to Arizona until there is real change. There is also a great list of non-Arizona vacation spots that you can choose as your destination this summer!

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Here is the video for Back to Arizona by a collective of rappers to denounce the racist Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona. People have to keep speaking out against this, the corrections are still not good enough, this is a racist bill aimed directly at visible minorities. Lets remember how hard it was for this state to recognize Martin Luther King day as a holiday, Public Enemy had a song in 1991 and now in 2010 musicians are still speaking out against racist government policies and opinions. Spread the video around, the more people see this the better!

I will be posting an update on the resistance to bill 1070 tomorrow, and here is the Public Enemy video When I Get Back to Arizona to watch while you wait! Chuck D has always been an inspiration to me, a great role model no matter your background. He always gave us lyrics that were honest and true, never about bling and making sure that he got all his “bitches”, speaking from the heart and realizing that the only thing that we can change is ourselves, and it is by everyone changing one at a time that real social change will occur.

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Migrant workers are all over the world, it is estimated that there are 185 million migrant workers spread around the world. The ones that get the most attention are in California, this is a controversial issue in this state, and every day they are denied more and more their basic human rights. In USA alone there are 10.8 million illegal migrant workers, that is 5.4 percent of the American workforce of 148 million. Out of these workers, 78 percent are Hispanic, most come from Mexico to work labour jobs (1 out of 5 work in construction, and 24 percent of the farming force is made of illegal migrants). If we consider these large numbers, migrant workers are a force in american economics, in 2004 there was a major government crackdown on illegal workers, 1 billion dollars were lost on neglected crops due to this fact. We must ask ourselves, what rights do these people have? Bills such as the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act are in place for protection, but without unions or strict oversight, their rights are often undermined. What often baffles me is that the majority of the farming industry uses illegal workers to tend to their crops, for example, 90 percent of the 950 apple growers in Michigan use illegal labour. Adam Ramirez, a retired mushroom worker, put it best:

“The farm worker is the most mistreated of all, yet it is the farm worker who feeds the world. No one else wants to do this work. Everyone needs us–the entire world needs farm workers.”

This is issue is even more relevant and important since the passing of the Arizona law against immigrants, this controversial law is meant to pass in either July or August, but people have not been quiet and have been protesting to demonstrate their opposition. This law would make it a crime under state law to be in the US illegally, it directs its law enforcement to question anyone about their immigration status is they may look like they would be illegal. There have been protests everyday since the passing of this controversial and blatantly racist bill, protesters used refried beans to smear swastikas on the state capitol. The protests are getting more and more heated everyday (unfortunately one protest did turn violent, some neo-nazi idiots showed up to protest illegal immigrants) and getting more attention from people around the country. President Obama is considering the legality of this new bill and its methods of racial profiling. He stated that he might have to intervene legally to overturn it, this is all depending on what will be concluded after they study the law.

I find it funny, the government wants to cut spending, but it is going to cost a lot of money to deport all illegal workers and to maintain the border to make sure that no one jumps the fence, so why not give them all amnesty and then at least they will pay taxes? I guess logic is not always the governments strong suit. Make sure to keep an eye on this issue, lets make sure that migrants have basic human rights at the very least. Stay informed and make sure to let everyone you know about this, knowledge is power and the more we now, the more we can make sure that every human being is treated as a human being. If you feel passionate about this you can also take action!

Take part : http://www.takepart.com/issues/migrant-workers-rights/33243

Fair Food Across Borders : http://fairfoodacrossborders.org/

Lets not forget that we showed up on boats about 400 years ago illegally, so who are we to judge and deny opportunity to other people? Like Propagandhi say “And we thought that Nation States were a bad idea?” and of course…. Fuck the Border!

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