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—
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.
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, 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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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
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.
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: