(image from Azatlan News)
For those who do not already know, the first ICE raid of the Obama administration took place this past week and there is now some concern that Obama is not planning to address comprehensive immigration reform until late in this term or in a hoped for second term. While the economy remains an important issue that must be tackled, immigration reform that comes from a place of respect for both human and immigrant rights is a necessary part of economic reform. Without, immigrants will continue to be the targets of both hate crimes and abusive policies like those implemented by Sherriff Arpaio in Arizona. Worse, by appointing Janet Napolitano to the head of Homeland Security, the Obama administration has insured that the policy of prison building and ICE raids to fill them will continue. So-called Immigrant Detention Centers redirect the economic labor of the communities in which they are placed; not only do they become the main source of employment for those communities, they also become the main source of income generation for secondary businesses like laundry services, real estate (apartments and houses), coffee shops and restaurants, all of whom provide services to the employees of detention centers and become dependent on their buying power. For many, economic recovery has meant building a prison or a “detention center,” and that in turn, requires not only continued criminalization of certain people but also the expansion of criminalization to an everwidening number of people within any given targeted group. As is always the case, racism may initially motivated discriminatory practices against Latinos but ultimately scoops up poor white people, white women working in the informal economy, etc. so that failing to interrogate and rectify the link between economic recovery and anti-immigration in these communities is not just a moral and discrimination issue but ultimately one that impacts the safety of the entire community.
Several groups are calling to put pressure on Arizona to ensure that the abusive tactics used there, including the shackling of immigrants and parading them through the regular prison population and/or leaving them under tents in the desert under the hot Arizona sun to be processed, do not transfer to other parts of the country because no one spoke up. They are also asking that we continue to put pressure on the Obama administration to make immigrant rights a priority. Protests against Arpiao took place throughout the Southwest yesterday but had no impact on how the Sheriff plans to continue racial profiling and imprisonment of suspected undocumented immigrants.
You can find out more by following the links below:
- National Day Laborer Organizing Network
- Alianza Indi’gena Sin Fronteras
- Derechos Humanos
- Coalition for Human and Immigrants Rights in LA
RISE, which sponsored the fast for immigration reform I told you about last year, is still taking signatures for its petition to the Obama administration. They hope to present the petition to him at the White House in the coming months. If you have not signed it yet, you can do so by clicking here.