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The Conquest and Theft of América, Pt. 13

ON JULY FIFTEEN OF 2008, Rhode Island Republican Governor Donald L. Carcieri signed an executive “Illegal Immigration Control Order” into law. It begins with some storytelling.
WHEREAS, most Rhode Islanders and most Americans are descendants of immigrants from all regions of the world—

Art by David Siquieros

ON JULY FIFTEEN OF 2008, Rhode Island Republican Governor Donald L. Carcieri signed an executive “Illegal Immigration Control Order” [pdf] into law. It begins with some storytelling.

WHEREAS, most Rhode Islanders and most Americans are descendants of immigrants from all regions of the world 

Stop. Most are, true. And you know who aren’t “descendants of immigrants from all regions of the world”? 

Mexicans, for one. We are not “immigrants” on this land. We are Indians who have been invaded and occupied (just as Iraq has) by Imperialist Euro-forces, and who eventually blended with our greedy, self-justifying, resource-thirsting overlords by means of rape, occupation, an eventual perverse desire to blend and be like the rulers, and in time simply because we’ve all been living on the same land since then.

Not immigrants. Indians. People indigenous to the continent long before map lines were drawn by invading forces.

Farmers. Workers. Campesinos. For the longest time, we (this is how my nanita and abuelo made their living with my father) have been migrating farmers on this land, for thousands of years we have been quien lo trabajo esta tierra. And for all this time, we have been moving about with the seasons and the flow, just like rivers, just like pollen, just like water through the soil.

It was los perfumados with their WHEREAS clauses who blew in here with butchery and deception and greed and now want to tell stories about opportunity and ownership. 

 

So let’s get that clear.
 

WHEREAS, most Rhode Islanders and most Americans are descendants of immigrants from all regions of the world and Rhode Island continues to welcome new immigrants who legally seek the opportunities that the state, its economy, and its resources offer; and 

WHEREAS law is a funny thing. I speak of it often. On one hand, we all refer to LAW as if it is some inviolable and sacred thing, but it’s really not. Sure, at its best it protects all of us equally. In ideal, it should, and many practice it that way. But at worst, it’s a control device for those in power, with money, usually white, and who dream up most of these laws that continue to justify conquest and oppression.
I appreciate how most of the nation is infuriated by Bush’s crimes. And I appreciate that at least someone out there with the experience to say so thinks of George W Bush as a murderer. And I don’t mean in the emotional and moral sense of the word, though these surely apply. But in the legal sense. (Of course this book has been witelisted. And yet, it has become a New York Times bestseller.) But you’ll notice that in the same way Vincent Bugliosi’s book has been whited out of our awareness, so acts the Mainstream Media forces in relation to the crimes that the USA government has undertaken in the last handful of years. Does it surprise you? From invasion to occupation to torture to (the probability of) Pat Tillman’s murder to rapes at Halliburton, to torture and wiretapping and politicization of the US Attorney’s office…it just goes on and on and on like a radio broadcast of sinister plots being played loudly in a stinking, overstuffed and vacant morgue. The very air rots, and it seems nobody with enough power cares to change it. 
So what is “Law”? It is not enough to utter it and make me jump up in obeisance. 
 

WHEREAS, Congress and the President have been unable to resolve the problem of illegal immigration, leaving the states to deal with the consequences of 11 to 20 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States, 

 

It is disgusting to me that this “problem of illegal immigration” sits. Stalled. Unattended. People hurting, families destroyed. They just want to live, to eat, to dream, too. We want them on the other side of the fence, wallowing in poverty, only coming in through the back gate in single file to, as Bush has said, “Do the work nobody wants to do” and then “go home.” 

Go home. 

 

Home. 

Sadly, “home” is now too often detainment centers where human rights abuses and outright cruelty are hidden from our view. And the process that sends them there, so ICE and USGOVT can make cash from their detainment (hello taxpayer!) is hardly just.

That first interview, though, took three hours. The client, a Guatemalan peasant afraid for his family, spent most of that time weeping at our table, in a corner of the crowded jailhouse visiting room. How did he come here from Guatemala? “I walked.” What? “I walked for a month and ten days until I crossed the river.” We understood immediately how desperate his family’s situation was. He crossed alone, met other immigrants, and hitched a truck ride to Dallas, then Postville, where he heard there was sure work. He slept in an apartment hallway with other immigrants until employed. He had scarcely been working a couple of months when he was arrested. Maybe he was lucky: another man who began that Monday had only been working for 20 minutes.

“I just wanted to work a year or two, save, and then go back to my family, but it was not to be.” His case and that of a million others could simply be solved by a temporary work permit as part of our much overdue immigration reform. “The Good Lord knows I was just working and not doing anyone any harm.” This man, like many others, was in fact not guilty. “Knowingly” and “intent” are necessary elements of the charges, but most of the clients we interviewed did not 

even know what a Social Security number was or what purpose it served. This worker simply had the papers filled out for him at the plant, since he could not read or write Spanish, let alone English. But the lawyer still had to advise him that pleading guilty was in his best interest. He was unable to make a decision.

Art by David Siquieros“You all do and undo,” he said. “So you can do whatever you want with me.” To him we were part of the system keeping him from being deported back to his country, where his children, wife, mother, and sister depended on him. He was their sole support and did not know how they were going to make it with him in jail for 5 months. None of the “options” really mattered to him. Caught between despair and hopelessness, he just wept. He had failed his family, and was devastated. I went for some napkins, but he refused them. I offered him a cup of soda, which he superstitiously declined, saying it could be “poisoned.” His Native American spirit was broken and he could no longer think. He stared for a while at the signature page pretending to read it, although I knew he was actually praying for guidance and protection. Before he signed with a scribble, he said: “God knows you are just doing your job to support your families, and that job is to keep me from supporting mine.”

There was my conflict of interest, well put by a weeping, illiterate man.

THE TRUE STORY OF POSTVILLE

Barack Obama and John McCain pretend that cozying up to the very-safe NCLR (who flirts regularly with the idea of discarding the “Raza” part of their name so as to bow to Lou Dobbs and other ignorant, failing, flaking freaks and turn their back on tradition and la gente) is enough to win the Latino Vote. 

Do not think, candidates, that we will forget the questionnaire you are trying to ignore. Do not think even the MSM is not in touch with us, they are. They will follow up and so will we. 

WHEREAS, the presence of significant numbers of people illegally residing in the State of Rhode Island creates a burden on the resources of state and local human services, law enforcement agencies, educational institutions and other governmental institutions

 

And you want to take that burden away by insuring they are rounded up and whisked away to a hole somewhere behind a fence, where taxpayers are charged for their imprisonment.

Let me cut to the chase.

 

WHEREAS, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) added Section 287(g), performance of immigration officer functions by state officers and employees, to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and authorizes the Executive Order 08-01 March 27, 2008 Page 2 

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security 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 received appropriate training and function under the supervision of sworn U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers; and 

WHEREAS, law enforcement can more effectively combat criminal activity related to illegal immigration if federal, state and local authorities work on a cooperative basis. 

 

Right, so Carcieri has now authorized the State Police to work hand-in-hand with ICE and DHS.

So the very next day, a panel met to discuss all the consequences of this new executive order.

PROVIDENCE — A 27-member governor’s advisory panel charged with monitoring “unintended consequences” of Governor Carcieri’s executive order on illegal immigration met for the first time yesterday. Carcieri appointed the committee after his March order sparked protests by community leaders, advocacy groups, and some of the state’s top clerical leaders

Immigration panel weighs outcomes of Carcieri’s order

And what went down at that moment?

As the panel convened, immigration agents arrested 31 people — all believed to be maintenance workers — at six state courthouses, according to demonstrators who gathered outside the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Providence. The Rev. Jose Roberts, of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Central Falls, said an ICE agent at the office confirmed the number. Many of those arrested are employed by contractors hired by the state to clean the courthouses.

Immigration panel weighs outcomes of Carcieri’s order

 

The community is not happy. (Though it seems many commenters on that post are. Go get ’em!)

It’s an interesting pattern. Anytime anyone even appears to speak out against ICE/DHS/USGOV on migrant issues, they are locked up if undocumented, slammed publicly if they have a big enough bullhorn, or workers are rounded up en masse. The GOVT is fighting hard for its little prison-for-profit routine!

Because in case you haven’t been following links or putting it together (and I’ve yet to draw it out clearly, I think), it’s pure and simple. It’s a cruel and every effective business model.

The USGOVT, propped up as it is by corporate interests and big biz, solicits workers for its cheap labor needs. It never mattered what this did to México, what it meant to anything but the bottom line for business and government. Just as clearly, Bill Clinton still doesn’t really care too much what NAFTA is doing to México. (If I’m wrong, show me proof.)

And this slow crushing oppression and exploitation of this continent’s indigenous has been going on a long, long time. And this exploitation of México for the benefit of foreign interests has been going on since Porfirio Díaz oversaw the flooding of Mexico with foreign interests and railroads were built that connected major Mexican cities/towns with points up north, but not with each other (laterally). 

Every priest and pharoah worth her/his temple knows that a pyramid (be it a stone or economic one) does not arise without a crew of slaves (the Egyptians also were given pay/food for work, but it was negligible and sometimes rotten and sometimes withheld, and their living quarters spare and poor and crammed, as well.) Even on a smaller scale, Mitt Romney wants a clean lawn and trim bushes. But he ain’t gonna be the one to do it! He’ll hire the cheapest he can, and they will hire the cheapest they can. Little deal going on…I’ll look the other way, give you less pay. Just don’t make ME dirty my well-manicured nails. The Bush family wants tomatos and grapes upon which to decorate all their abfab picnics, but their family won’t pick it. That was my family, mis antepasados, and much raza today. Just as the Chinese and the Haitians and the Africans and the Cubans have as well, we have slaved for the pharaohs.

While the pharaohs spit upon those who make their lifestyle possible.

And they will still make it possible, because now instead of being shipped back to Mexico and other parts south of the “border,” they are being charged criminally even when it is not reality (as the above linked story about Postville makes clear in horrific and detailed narrative) with no understanding of their plea (what part of due process don’t you understand?) or the consequences of it, or that they will soon be in a lonely jail where too many liberals and PROGRESSIVES® don’t give a shit about them.

(One day those on the “progressive” side of things who think they can pick and choose their little causes and relegate the rest to Pet Issue Land will be stricken with a very real sense of urgency when they realize that you can’t save the tenth floor lounge without saving the lobby and service entrance, too. And that the penthouses will fall the furthest before the fire’s done.)

Being charged for Social Security theft and en masse creates a lovely little vortex from which they may never escape and WHEREAS even the laws in place afford them a fairer and faster process, this little sick gambit steps over that.

And those of us who are sensible and whose bones don’t rattle with the ghost of pat buchanan’s fear know that it’s not like these people care about the damn Census. They don’t care about Xicano blogotov throwers. They don’t want to “take over” your damn corrupt land.

They just. Want. To. Eat. And. Live. Just to be able to move about, working hard for pay. They love their country and very often come here because it is the USGOV’s business and practice to squeeze every bit of profit we can and centralize it here. They don’t want to be here very often. But we shut down the open flow. USGOV is starving. USGOV is broke. USGOV is shaking in its boots and is seeing its racist xenophobic self-interest bloom like a turdblossom on George W Bush’s Oval Office Sunbeam Rug. USGOV wants to keep its teams of detainers and raiders in practice at all times. And they need cash to do it, and they need a project to do so, and they need to keep feeding the Halliburton beast. And so they choose a class of people that most US citizens can easily rationalize an adequate amount of disinterest for.

Perfect victims. Hard working, don’t get the language or the law, and unchampioned by most. Given lip service by  Presidential Candidates, used as target practice by Right Wing radio hosts and Murkans on the “border,” and used for profit once incarcerated.

This must stop.
  

 

Also covering the RI raids:

• VivirLatino
• Citizen Orange
• The Sanctuary

 



    15 Comments

    1. janna says:

      This makes me sick, because it’s so true. Everything I’ve seen happen to the migrants I know backs this up, they are the perfect victims, and anyone who would counter that with “but they’re here ILLEGALLY!” can kiss my ass and go walk a day in a migrant’s shoes.
      You’ve brilliantly presented the horrible truth once again. Thank you doesn’t seem like the right thing to say, really, so I’ll just say I’m glad you wrote it, and wish you didn’t have to.
      The new site is gorgeous.

    2. symsess says:

      Yes,

      This is another amazing post amongst many. As sad as it is – it is the truth.

    3. Miranda says:

      This makes my heart ache. Throw me some hope here. I think all of mine is riding on the results of the sanctuary’s questionnaire, which can’t be all that great of a thing to cling to – what happens when Obama’s centrist politics write answers that mean much less than we need them to?
      I don’t want to feel better without a reason, but I do want to think that we can do something more than know that we’re on the same side of the fight.

      What are you going to do? (not a rhetorical question)

    4. nezua says:

      no…i wouldn’t place all your hope there. i mean, we feel much as you do. well, i can’t speak for every person, but they would surprise us greatly if they gave us more than slip slidin semantics. but they deserve the chance to be exceptional or typical. and we have to try wherever we can, you know?

      remember, there are times when candidates can be forced to stake out positions. this is one of those times. and then, it is in the People’s hands how much they push at those candidates to make them honor their promises.

      and there are always many ways to enjoin la lucha, all around us. we just have to keep our hearts and eyes open.

      stay strong, miranda! we got your back. and we are going to do many things. this is only one.

    5. Diane G says:

      Man, this is a fantastic essay.

      I am definitely going to blog roll this site and link this article.

      In fact, I would be honored if you cross-posted this to my small blog (The Wild Wild Left) just for the sake that it should be read and cross-posted EVERYWHERE.

      Everything about the US’s immigration policy is so utterly wrong, my head explodes.

      You rock.

      Diane G

    6. Diane G says:

      Oh, and if you choose to Nezua, and perchance I am offline, one of my other admin’s will Front Page it immediately. Be sure to advertise your blog with a link in the header. Cross-hits up google ratings and get more eyes on you, my friend. 🙂

    7. nezua says:

      Dianne, I appreciate this very much and I will do my best to crosspost it or have my administrative asst. cross post it for me if I can’t make the time myself. Thank you very much for the offer and the words. 🙂

    8. Diane G says:

      The honor will be all mine. I’ll wait to see if you can before doing so, so that I can make you a guest blogger.. (meaning anytime you cross it automatically goes to the Front Page)

      If you can’t, I will, although I fear I will lose some of the graphics in the process 🙁

    9. nezua says:

      diane, you should have received my email by now if the addy you used here is a good one. if not, let me know and i’ll resend or send to a different one.

      thanks.

    10. Diane G says:

      Got it & done 🙂

      http://thewildwildleft.soapblox.net/showDiary.do?diaryId=503#3677

      Sheer laziness has me crossing my response there as well:

      ***********

      I have benn bashing heads with people on Immigration for so very long now.

      It was hard enough trying to convince other white people, even when they refuse to see the obvious: We are the alien presence here.

      It was harder yet to convince black people I knew, for they were not immigrants by choice, and their history of oppression here makes them cling strongly to any perceived competition for jobs.

      It is nearly impossible to convince some of my Ojibwa and Lakota friends, for what little pride their genocide has left them with makes them jealously disparage their relatives south of this imagined border. (To which I have answered to one, “You’re part English, they’re part Spanish… explain the difference to me again. I’m part Polish, explain it slowwwwwly!” which got me point across and an elbow in the ribs.)

      White privilege has too long blinded those who have been here generationally, yet those of us with recently immigrated parents (my father from Poland, my Irish mother from Canada, 3 generations removed from Ireland) may see it more clearly from the abuses they took.

      I believe this issue, the trumped-up danger (eyeroll) of immigration is meant purely to distract us from the Conquest of the World by the Permanent Oppressors of the Wealthy Class: The Elites.

      But as always, when they seek to divide us, the bloodshed and horrors are real.

      I wonder also, had the Norte’ Americanos absorbed some of the Native Cultures we had when we invaded here, rather than obliterate them, if we were more one People, would our Policies still reflect the Manifest Destiny of the First Invaders yet today?

      I digress.

      Until we realize the simplicity of man: Mitakye Oyasin, We are all Related, humanity is a failed experiment.

      I bleed for every thirsty long walker trying to feed his or her family. I feel for everyone who is shamed for using their native tongue, belittled for thinking in their own language and having to translate to the IMPOSED language of this Country… only to be ridiculed for how “stupid” they are for their poor English, as my grandparents were.

      Yes, we need to all be able to communicate; but it should be with compassion and love, not derision and hate.

      Most of all, we Human Beings need to stop letting all the resources be in the hands of the few while our brothers and sisters go hungry.

      Every oppression that happens on this Earth happens not only TO YOU, my friends, happens in your name until you speak against it, stop it.

    11. nezua says:

      beautifully put diane. thank you.

    12. Mekishikojinsama says:

      Great Blog and intensely thought provoking. Cooked this up in response.

      My girlfriend and I were having a conversation last night about the Rhode Island immigration fiasco and its bigoted policies being the newest obsession for the state’s policy makers. Her being a Latina Puerto Rican she asked me if I would be as observant of immigration policies if I weren’t a Chicano. After I answered, she benignly stated that Mexican immigration is not a real issue in terms of Puerto Ricans and therefore couldn’t empathize. I then thought to myself for the first time, that in reality, and this is just a deduction and I commit myself to any correction, it is probably in the best interest of most Puerto Ricans to try to implement stricter immigration policies towards Mexicano migrant workers. They are already able to enjoy the fruits of American citizenship and able to benefit from the additional spending, in one way or another, that stricter immigration policies, they believe, may perpetuate.

      This is not to say that it didn’t concern her on a moral level though, and I am writing as objectively as possible. She just wasn’t able to relate to it the way that that I could. I myself am not a product of illegal immigration nor does the issue have much to do with me or my family. Even though, my grandfather was a migrant worker, except that in his time there were no “illegal” migrant workers. I am sure that this has a bearing on my ideas even though, it seems, that I am not wholly aware of its implications. Yet, in spite of this, I still find myself being inherently interested with the welfare of migrant workers. Why? Because I am a Chicano, and therefore “By default am concerned with eradicating the defamed image the U.S. has conjured up for Mexicanos and Chicanos and aim to demonstrate their many strengths that fortify our country’s foundations.”

      It struck me as interesting that other Latinos do not look upon the immigration dilemma in the same context as Mexicanos and Chicanos. My inconsistent ignorance of the idea of the “Latino” being anything but a monolithic culture seemed to get the best of me, again. I digress.

      I engaged in our conversation after watching the “Great Debaters” wherein the movie stresses racial equality not being solely a legal responsibility but an unstated universalist moral one piggybacking on basic human rights.

      This idea conflated with my Borricua girlfriend’s attitude towards Mexicano immigration made me contemplate. How is it that morality stops at the FRIGGING BORDER in this country!!?

      Then I got to thinking about the idea of human trafficking in Asia, then about genocide and famine in Darfur, then to the oppressed Kurds in Turkey and Iraq. The list went on. I pondered why I seemed so concerned with the well being of Mexican migrant workers rather than those whose lives are being threatened by the mere idea of their existence? I am not comparing problems nor am I saying that one is worse than the other I was just trying to empathize with my significant other.

      The end result of this attempt is the realization that one must choose their battles. By this I mean that it is my unwillingness to accept that the current state of affairs with the world’s so-called superpower, the country I call my home. In terms of the horrible legislation passed in Rhode Island; it is an underlying sick feeling in my belly, a tear in my eye and thought in my head saying “God damnit I know as the world’s superpower, as the world’s example of democracy, we can do better than this, exponentially!” This is my battle and this is where I choose to fight it.

      And after, I will move on to help other oppressed peoples. Yet for now I choose to eat on my plate the already hefty amount of problems that I have close to home. I am the one helping to expose it and I am the one that keeps if from sinking into obscurity

      Mekishikojinsama (The Honorable Mexican in Japanese)

    13. nezua says:

      I really appreciate this thoughtful comment. I am going to come back to it because I, too, had similiar questions for myself, and I want to address yours and mine and whatever else weaves in and I think I’ll do that in a post. Really great, thanks again.

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