The “Border Beat” (October 6, 2008)

The combination of the upcoming presidential election and the catastrophe that is the U.S. global economy are but two of the sets of forces shaping the world Latinos live in.  To our shared human detriment, thousands of lives are being tragically and inhumanely affected in government round-ups, deportations, and imprisonments, not to mention layoffs.

The lessons of this week are a testament to power, of the powerful to maintain their status at the expense and excuse of those with little.

• “Statewide immigration raids result in 1,157 arrests” (Los Angeles Times)
This is a powerful demonstration of the ways this society “criminalizes” immigrants as media blindly help the government manufacture the context for its own actions.  In a widely publicized effort involving “fugitive operations teams,” ICE and local law enforcement dedicated themselves to hunting down over a thousand human beings recently.  They made special efforts to advertise how these efforts targeted criminals like child abusers and drug dealers.  In truth, well over half committed no other crime than struggling for survival in this country.  For a treat, watch the accompanying video.

• “Phoenix sheriff adored, reviled on immigration” (San Francisco Chronicle)
Joe Arpaio has become a national (and to some extent international) celebrity for his radical stances on immigration and his wholesale persecution of Latinos in Maricopa Country, Arizona.  To paraphrase Marlon Brando, Arpaio is a pimp.  What is really important here are the sectors of this society who elevate him to the status he enjoys, who glorify it, and who will continue to support it.

• “Mexican children struggle when they return home” (Houston Chronicle)
In the 1930s, when local law enforcement throughout the Southwest conspired with regional corproate interests to deport well over a million Mexicans from the U.S., one of the greatest casualities were the children who “returned” to a nation they never knew.  This very human story found its most tragic embodiment in the literaly hundreds of thousands who were legal U.S. citizens.  Now, resultant to both increased governemnt deportations and a faltering economy, history is repeating itself.  While many or even most of these children may be “illegal,” they have no less of a claim to being “American” than did their forebearers.

• “Fewer People Entering U.S. Illegally, Report Says” (New York Times)
Here is the paper of record covering the story which ran in nearly every paper this week.  The Pew HIspanic Center released a report analyzing current immigration trends.  Among them, “illegal” immigrants are entering the country at a rate lower than “legal.”

• “Over 1,300 gang members arrested in past 4 months” (Yahoo/AP)
In what is becoming an annual effort to target (mostly) Latino gangs, the government is advertising their successes this year.  Undoubtedly, the vast majority of those arrested here are–by any definition–criminals.  The human tragedy is no less present, however.  More importantly, is the ease with which the “criminal” Latino male can find the attention of the power that be, and as compared to the “lawful.”  [See previous post on this story.]  You may also be interested to learn of the growth and spread of organized Latino crime.

• “ICE arrests 78 illegals in week-long Pa./Del. sweep” (Sussex Countian)
It isn’t just California and the West.  Immigrants–Latinos and others–are being rounded-up accross the country.

• “New citizenship exam brings new questions and new fears” (Los Angeles Times)
There’s a new test for proving you’re “American.”  I suspect the majority of so-called “Americans” would flunk.  And then what would that make you?

• “Drawing Parallels Between Immigrant Experiences” (New American Media/Pacific Citizen)
Let’s end on a happy note.  For all the myopic, fearful folk in this nation there are also empathic humanists.  Members of the Sonoma County (CA) Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), a group with strong roots in the Japanese community stretching back to the era of internment, have spoken up and out in support of sanctuary and immigrants’ rights.  There is hope and, in this case, in comes in the memory of the past.

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Historical Photograph of the Week

Mexicans being deported from Los Angeles, circa 1931.  [Source]

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