The “Border Beat” (November 24, 2008)

Guess what?  The “Border Beat” missed you too.  It’s just that we were so busy with work.  Plus, our friend came from out of town for a visit and then we were kind of overcome with all the blog activity of the Obama win.  And we have this scratch in the back of our throat.  Come to think of it, we did write, didn’t you get it?

What’s that?

Damn you!  You’re right.  We promise to be better.

Here’s the latest news and views straight from the heart of Latinolandia. . .

• “Owed Back Pay, Guest Workers Comb the Past” (New York Times)
The struggle for economic justice waged by these men is historic and a long time coming.  For decades, and now for almost 7 years in the courts, these former “guest workers” (read: “colonized labor”) have been fighting for nothing other than their pay.  It seems to have reached a new plateau and, hopefully, an end.

• “Giving up on the American dream” (Denver Post)
The article is an overly balanced (neoliberal) take on the reduction in “illegal immigration.” As far as the “issue” goes, let’s try and remember what this all says (immigration is economic and reciprocal) the next time we have to hear some idiot talk about how “everyone would come live in America if they could.” As for the title, it is as fitting for the article as it is for my attitude after reading the comments from my fellow countrymen and women.

• “FBI finds attacks against Latinos on rise” (Newsday)
See, this is how it works: you take people’s fears and anxieties and help focus them toward an explanatory hate directed at a racial/ethnic minority; and then, they start hurting them. The latest version of this story is called “Lynching Latinos.”

• “GOP must win back Latino vote” (Sacramento Bee)
This opinion piece makes a some sensible and fact-based conclusions about the need for the Republican Party to reach out to Latinos. This guy better watch out–people shoot sensible and fact-based Republicans out here!

• “A new look at Asian immigrants” (Boston Globe)
Hmmmmm. Is there an Asian/Latino bear hug in our sociopolitical future?  Did we just feel it on November 4th?

• “Handling of immigrant children is criticized” (El Paso Times)
I’ll just quote a sentence from the recent report which exposed the abuse of immigrant children at the hands of U.S. immigration officials and bureaucratic procedures: “The U.S. treats undocumented, unaccompanied children with a shocking lack of concern.” This article includes a link to the full report–“A Child Alone and Without Papers”–written by the Center for Public Policy in Austin.

Historic Photo of the Week
Segregation signs were also commonplace in the pre-WWII U.S. Southwest.


Another U.S. citizen deported for looking Mexican

The ICE raids and the legal processes which follow in their wake have been repeatedly criticized for their imperfections.  Raids rely on sometimes dubious tips and on a database of employment information that has been proven to be flawed.  Who is picked up and detained is often determined by who “looks” Latino or who fits the profile of an immigrant.  Then the legal system essentially requires people to prove their citizenship if they claim to have been falsely arrested.

I’m not sure anyone expects a bureaucratic system in the U.S. to work without its glitches, but that is hardly the point.  What our proclaimed system of rights and checks on government incursions on those rights must determine is whether the existence of the imperfections outweigh the injustice of their result.

For example, you may be comfortable with a death penalty which results in the wrongful death of one prisoner, but how about 100?  Where is the line?

The unfolding record of ICE and our immigrant deportation protocol is increasingly crying out for some kind of relief.  There is a human tragedy in people who are wrongfully deported and detained, to be sure.  But the greater tragedy is the slow and eroding protection of rights based almost entirely on race.

This story, from the print and online versions of Hoy, recounts the experiences of Guillermo Olivares Romero.  This U.S. citizen, who has a criminal record for burglary and forgery, was recently released after having spent two weeks in an immigration detention center.  He was released only after ACLU attorneys produced his birth certificate, vaccination and health records, and school records.

Olivares had been refused entry into the U.S. on two previous occasions.  In 2007, he was deported to Mexico after having served his time in state prison.

ICE claims Olivares said he was born in Mexico.  One part of his criminal record also mistakenly lists his birthplace as the same.  But would these bureacratic snafus (accentuated, no doubt, by Olivares’ own lack of skill at navigating the bureaucracy of the criminal justice system) have resulted in deportation if Olivares had looked different?  If his name were John Smith?

Here’s the story as it ran in today’s Hoy:

Ciudadano regresa a casa después de ser deportado

Paula Díaz
29 de octubre, 2008

Sentado en la sala de su hogar, Guillermo Olivares Romero respira tranquilo después de los momentos que vivió cuando estuvo detenido por Inmigración a pesar de ser estadounidense.

“No me creyeron. A pesar de que muchas veces les dije que había nacido aquí. Me decían que yo era mexicano porque me parecía a los mexicanos”, dijo Olivares. “Estuve muy estresado. Ahora estoy tranquilo”.

Olivares salió libre el 9 de octubre, dos semanas después de haber sido detenido, cuando la Unión Americana de Libertades Civiles (ACLU) presentó su certificado de nacimiento, las vacunas y los archivos de la escuela.

Olivares señaló que ha sido deportado dos veces y se le ha negado el ingreso al país en varias ocasiones. Su encuentro con las autoridades migratorias inició en el 2000, cuando fue detenido al intentar cruzar la frontera con un primo que llevaba el acta de nacimiento de él, y él llevaba la de uno de sus hermanos.

“Ese día me regresaron a México y mi mamá me llevó el acta de nacimiento. Después pude pasar”, dijo Olivares, cuyo récord penal incluye robo y estafa.

En el 2007 fue deportado a México, luego de pasar un tiempo en prisión y ser transferido a Inmigración. En ese entonces, él le había dicho a las autoridades de que no era mexicano pero ellos aseguraron de que él había firmado un documento diciendo que lo era, según él.

Olivares se fue a vivir con unos familiares a Jalisco. En verano quiso regresar porque su padre estaba enfermo y no le permitieron entrar al país. Debido a la gravedad de su padre, dijo, cruzó ilegalmente y fue detenido y deportado el mismo día que murió su papá. “Mi mamá fue por mí y tratamos de entrar legalmente y ellos no me creyeron que era ciudadano a pesar de tener mi acta de nacimiento y que mi mamá [residente legal] estaba conmigo”, contó.

Virginia Kice, vocera de la Oficina de Control de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE), dijo a HOY que Olivares fue dejado en libertad pero su caso continua en investigación. “Este hombre repetidamente afirmó a los agentes de ICE que el nació en México y firmó papeles indicando que nació en México”, señaló Kice. “Los archivos del Departamento de Corrección de California, porque el tiene récord criminal, reflejan que él es ciudadano mexicano”.

“Su caso está pendiente de una audiencia en una Corte de Inmigración. Obviamente, nosotros continuamos investigando. En la corte se presentará evidencia para determinar si es o no un inmigrante”, agregó Kice.

Jennie Pasquarella, abogada de ACLU que defendió a Olivares, dijo que este caso es un ejemplo de las fallas de Inmigración. “Lo que hicimos fue escribir una carta diciendo que ellos no tenían la autoridad de detenerlo porque él es un ciudadano americano”, explicó Pasquarella. “Entregamos copia de su acta de nacimiento, copia de sus vacunas y archivos de escuela y a las dos horas me llamó un oficial y me dijo que lo dejarían salir”.

Sin embargo, Olivares tendrá que presentarse ante un juez de Inmigración el 6 de enero.

The “Border Beat” (October 13, 2008)

Today is the United States’ official observance of Columbus Day. I encourage you to take pause and think about the millions of lives lost in the brutal processes of global imperialism. These were human lives, human cultures, confronted by a European tradition that saw their culture and religion as better, their racial composition as supreme, and their economic needs as a justification for their abuses. How far we have come!

This week, LatinoLikeMe will be focused on the issue of California’s Proposition 8, the measure seeking to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. In recognition of this, today’s “Border Beat” is featured in abbreviated form.

“Civil Rights Group Stays Puerto Rican at Heart, but Now Has a Broader Reach” (New York Times)
“In N.C., Pro-Immigration Hispanics Face Threats” (NPR)
“McCain, Obama seek to avoid fray on immigration” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Enforcement Policy For Illegal Immigration Raises Ethics Questions” (Washington Post)
“Experts compare current immigration situation to deportation of Mexicans in 1930s” (Dallas Morning News)
“It’s time for Latinos to reach their voting potential” (La Prensa-San Diego)
“Growing Latino Population Redefines Small Town” (NPR)

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.


Historical Photograph of the Week

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

The Criminalization of Immigrants is the Context of Abuse

The vast majority of the ubiquitous anti-immigrant culture stems from a historic and systemic association with people of color (and immigrants in particular) with criminality. This is as “American as apple pie,” a tradition labeling non-whites as threats and–far more significantly–using this as a rationale for regulating their bodies in terms of movements and rights.

If you don’t believe this, I suggest you read a bit on racial oppression in this nation in the last 80 years. In time, the pattern will emerge.

For some of the ways this currently manifests itself, this recent New York Times article does the job.

Immigrant, Pregnant, Is Jailed Under Pact

By Julia Preston
New York Times

It started when Juana Villegas, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who was nine months pregnant, was pulled over by a police officer in a Nashville suburb for a routine traffic violation.

By the time Mrs. Villegas was released from the county jail six days later, she had gone through labor with a sheriff’s officer standing guard in her hospital room, where one of her feet was cuffed to the bed most of the time. County officers barred her from seeing or speaking with her husband.

After she was discharged from the hospital, Mrs. Villegas was separated from her nursing infant for two days and barred from taking a breast pump into the jail, her lawyer and a doctor familiar with the case said. Her breasts became infected, and the newborn boy developed jaundice, they said.

Mrs. Villegas’s arrest has focused new attention on a cooperation agreement signed in April 2007 between federal immigration authorities and Davidson County, which shares a consolidated government with Nashville, that gave immigration enforcement powers to county officers. It is one of 57 agreements, known formally as 287G, that the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has signed in the last two years with county and local police departments across the country under a rapidly expanding program.

Nashville officials have praised the agreement as a successful partnership between local and federal government.

“We are able to identify and report individuals who are here illegally and have been charged with a criminal offense, while at the same time remaining a friendly and open city to our new legal residents,” Karl Dean, the mayor of Nashville, said in a statement on Friday.

Lawyers and immigrant advocates say Mrs. Villegas’s case shows how local police can exceed their authority when they seek to act on immigration laws they are not fully trained to enforce.

“Had it not been for the 287G program, she would not have been taken down to jail,” said A. Gregory Ramos, a lawyer who is a former president of the Nashville Bar Association. “It was sold as something to make the community safer by taking dangerous criminals off the streets. But it has been operated so broadly that we are getting pregnant women arrested for simple driving offenses, and we’re not getting rid of the robbers and gang members.”

Mrs. Villegas, who is 33, has lived in the United States since 1996, and has three other children besides the newborn who are American citizens because they were born here.

She was stopped on July 3 in her husband’s pickup truck by a police officer from Berry Hill, a Nashville suburb, initially for “careless driving.” After Mrs. Villegas told the officer she did not have a license, he did not issue a ticket but arrested her instead. Elliott Ozment, Mrs. Villegas’s lawyer, said driving without a license is a misdemeanor in Tennessee that police officers generally handle with a citation, not an arrest.

After Mrs. Villegas was taken to the Davidson County jail, a federal immigration agent working there as part of the cooperation agreement conducted a background check. It showed that Mrs. Villegas was an illegal immigrant who had been deported once from the United States in March 1996, Karla Weikal, a spokeswoman for the county sheriff, said. She had no other criminal record.

As a result, immigration agents issued an order to take charge of Mrs. Villegas once she was released by the local authorities. Based on that order, county officers designated her a medium-security inmate in the jail, Ms. Weikal said.

So when Mrs. Villegas went into labor on the night of July 5, she was handcuffed and accompanied by a deputy as she was taken by ambulance to Nashville General Hospital at Meharry. Cuffs chaining her foot to the hospital bed were opened when she reached the final stages of labor, Mrs. Villegas said.

“I felt like they were treating me like a criminal person,” Mrs. Villegas said, speaking in Spanish in a telephone interview. The phone in her room was turned off, and she was not permitted to speak with her husband when he came to retrieve their newborn son from the hospital on July 7 as she returned to jail, she said.

As Mrs. Villegas left the hospital, a nurse offered her a breast pump but a sheriff’s deputy said she could not take it into the jail, Mrs. Villegas said.

Mr. Ozment, the lawyer, said Mrs. Villegas would never have been detained without the 287G cooperation agreement.

“Whether this lady was documented or undocumented should not affect how she was treated in her late pregnant condition and as she was going through labor and bonding with her new baby,” Mr. Ozment said.

On July 8, Mrs. Villegas was taken to court, where she pleaded guilty to driving without a license and was sentenced to time served. Immigration agents immediately released her while a deportation case proceeds, following a policy adopted last year by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to avoid separating babies from nursing mothers.

Ms. Weikal said Mrs. Villegas’s jail stay was prolonged by the Independence Day holiday weekend, when the courts were closed.

“There is a perception that she was treated different from other inmates, and it just is not true,” Ms. Weikal said. “Unfortunately the business of corrections is that families are separated. It’s not pretty, it’s not understandable to a lot of people.”

She said that it was standard procedure to bar medical equipment like a breast pump from the jail.

More than 60,000 illegal immigrants have been identified for deportation since 2006 through 287G cooperation programs, said Richard Rocha, a spokesman for the federal immigration agency. Most of the agreements are aimed at increasing the screening of immigrant convicts serving sentences in local jails, in order to speed their deportation. Some, like Nashville’s, provide for immigration screening right after any foreign-born person is arrested.

Arrests of immigrants have increased rapidly in Tennessee since early 2006, when the state stopped allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, after five years when they had been able to drive legally.

This is why the U.S. doesn’t “just deport them all”

Today’s L.A. Times offers us a glimpse into the bureaucratic nightmare of rising deportations and searches for illegal immigrants. And this is for what, less than one half of one percent of all the possible number of cases if the federal government tried to deport every undocumented person?

This reality is not just a function of government-created bureaucracy. Those systems are there for a reason. They stand as a safeguard of a person’s rights. To dismantle them is to dismantle what most of us supposedly stand for.

[Actually, the vast majority of court cases that come before the federal court system have to do with some for of lubrication for the so-called “market economy.” So much for a naturally-operating economic system, huh?]

The inability of this nation to effectively deport the millions of immigrants it deems as “illegal” is less tied to its bureaucratic systems and far more tied to the myriad ways it sought and brought them here in the first place.

L.A. Immigration Court caseload soars

And wait times are growing because the number of judges has not kept pace.

By Anna Gorman
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

July 21, 2008

The number of foreigners landing in Los Angeles Immigration Court has surged in recent years, while the number of judges has remained about the same, causing crushing caseloads and lengthy delays.

Expanded immigration enforcement, including the ongoing search for illegal immigrants in county jails, is causing much of the rise, according to judges, attorneys and experts.

“I don’t think it’s possible for a court to implode from weight, but we may see,” said former L.A. Immigration Judge Gilbert T. Gembacz, who retired last month after more than a decade on the bench.

Los Angeles immigration judges heard 27,200 cases last fiscal year, up from about 17,800 in 2000. In the last fiscal year alone, the number of immigration cases rose nearly 40%.

Today, 23 judges are assigned to Immigration Court, just two more than in 2000.

Immigration courts nationwide mirror the trend. Last fiscal year, judges heard 334,600 cases, up from 254,500 in 2000. During the same period, the number of judges increased to 220 from 207.

“Because of the high volume of the immigration docket, there is a great concern that respondents appearing before us do not believe they are given adequate opportunity to present their cases,” said San Francisco Immigration Judge Dana Leigh Marks, head of the National Assn. of Immigration Judges, the judges’ union.

Cases are also becoming more difficult as laws change and new regulations are written, making it harder for judges to complete cases quickly.

“You are asking us to do death penalty cases in a traffic court setting with traffic court resources,” Marks said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said the courts are critical to the government’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

“We can go out there and make arrests,” she said, “but the efficiency of the legal process is going to have a tremendous impact on the outcome.”

44 cases, 1 judge

On a recent day in Los Angeles Immigration Court, one judge had 44 cases on the docket. Every seat was filled, and a crowd waited in the hall. The judge heard the cases quickly, getting updates, asking questions and setting new court dates — sometimes six months in the future.

A few floors down, immigration attorney P. Joseph Sandoval said he arrived 15 minutes early for his appearance, but the court was already packed and seven other attorneys had checked in before him.

“It’s frustrating for both the clients as well as the attorneys, because the number of cases keeps increasing but the number of judges doesn’t,” he said.

As a result, Sandoval said, cases can drag on for years. He cited a Russian client who first appeared in Los Angeles Immigration Court in 2002 and whose case still has not been resolved. Now, he said, a recent appellate court decision may derail her chances of becoming a legal resident.

Beverly Hills attorney Ed Pilot said he has a Nigerian asylum case that has been going on since 1999. The case was about to finish in early 2007 when the assigned judge retired. Pilot said his client has not had a hearing since and is not scheduled to appear in court until December.

“It’s sort of like an athlete who has put on his game face and is in game mode, all for naught,” he said.

When another judge, Gembacz, retired, he was handling a workload of more than 1,600 active cases. Despite time pressures, Gembacz said, he let people tell their stories — even if it took longer than necessary.

“They have waited two, three, four years,” he said. “It’s only fair to give them the time.”

But some judges are unable to spend that much time on individual cases, leading appellate courts to send them back for more thorough review.

“There are no doubt many conscientious, dedicated and thorough immigration courts across the country,” one federal appellate judge wrote in a 2006 asylum case. “Unfortunately, their hard work is overshadowed by the significantly increasing rate at which adjudication lacking in reason, logic and effort from other immigration courts is reaching the federal circuits.”

To manage the growing caseload, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees immigration courts nationwide, uses videoconferencing, sets timelines for judges to complete cases and tries to hire judges where needed. The budget for the agency has increased from $147 million in 2000 to $227 million last year, but more is always needed, said spokeswoman Susan Eastwood.

“We are a federal agency, and Congress controls our money,” she said. “We ask for money, but we don’t always get what we want.”

Nevertheless, Eastwood said she was confident that the judges would be able to handle any further increased caseload.

Immigration courts need to be properly funded because people have a right to their day in court in a timely manner, said Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank. In addition, she said, “Having them function effectively is important . . . to get the return on the enforcement dollar.”

Too few attorneys too

In Los Angeles, about 45 government attorneys rotate through Immigration Court, depending on other enforcement needs, said Kevin Riley, deputy chief counsel of the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. Riley said the attorneys also have to deal with the challenges of heavy and complex caseloads.

To ease the numbers, the federal government processes some cases without going to court. For example, if someone has previously been ordered deported and then returns to the United States, agents simply reinstate the order and deport the illegal immigrant again.

In other areas, government attorneys are trying a pilot program to keep a sole government attorney on a case from start to finish.

Vera Weisz, a Los Angeles immigration lawyer, said there are “huge inefficiencies” in the system but acknowledged that court delays are not always a bad thing.

“It works to some people’s benefit, because we are trying to keep them here as long as possible,” she said.

For example, time has helped Mexican immigrant Tomas Garcia’s case. Since he has been fighting in court to stay in the U.S., his wife has become a U.S. citizen and filed a petition for his green card. The petition was approved, and his next court date is in January, but Weisz said it would probably be a year before a judge approves the green card.

Garcia said he understood that his is one of thousands of cases, but he wished he didn’t have to live in limbo for so long.

“If I got it at the first court appearance,” he said, “it would have been better because there wouldn’t have been worry or stress.”


The “Border Beat” (June 13, 2008)

It’s Friday the 13th, and you want to know what scares me? Ignorance. The simple condition of not knowing or understanding scares me. Well, maybe that’s not it. It’s that condition placed in our particular context that I find scary. You see, not knowing is part of the human condition. We are learning animals, born not knowing or understanding but with the capacity to alter that status.

Here, in the context of the United States, we are a little too defensive about our human condition. From my perspective, we try to hide it more than we try to confront it and embrace the possibilities if has for us. We try to think we know all there is to know and, worse, that we know more than others. We also approach the process of learning not as we should–empathically and critically.

This condition is a prominent theme in my thinking lately, especially after spending the last day and a half reading blogs and news about Obama, race, immigration and deportation, and the emerging war against Chicano Studies that is taking place in Arizona. What we don’t understand is each other. We lack any true and useful shared language to have a meaningful dialogue on race in the U.S. We do not know how to think outside of ourselves or, perhaps even more usefully, how to engage ourselves in analyses of self-criticism. We have no humility of thought.

Here’s the “Border Beat” for the end of the week with some examples:

  • DC area Latinos hold a meeting to begin the process of teaching their local police departments what they don’t know–namely, Latinos and their negative experiences with the law (Washington Post);
  • Ruben Navarrette Jr. tells us about the “benefit of not being Mexican” (San Diego Union-Tribune);
  • PBS’s NewsHour reports on Arizona’s various and recent anti-immigration efforts in this audio file (NewsHour);
  • Controversy erupts when a community suggests naming a street after Cesar Chavez (CBS affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth);
  • Ted Rall analyzes how Obama is a “token” as he congratulates Democrats for not being racists (Yahoo News); and
  • Too many people with too much power to gain platforms to speak are, quite simply and horrifically, afraid of Chicano Studies (Arizona Republic).

The “Border Beat” (June 6, 2008)

Today’s “Border Beat” brings you a set of articles all related to Latinos and labor and the racial ideologies that bring those two together.

  • A fascinating look into how Operation Streamline has made a Texas-based meatpacking company turn to Burmese refugee workers (Wall Street Journal)
  • CDC report reveals how Latinos (and Latino immigrants, in particular) occupy some of the deadliest jobs (U.S. News & World Report)
  • The feds claim victory for the drop in “illegal immigration” by arguing its the ICE raids behind it; but it looks like the way Bush messed up the national economy is really the hero (Time)
  • A more systematic investigation of the recently-reported (and afore-referenced) unemployment figures for “Hispanics” is a reminder that the poor always suffer the most in an economic de-, I mean recession (Los Angeles Times)
  • A Federal Judge does what every reader of this blog knew he would regarding facets of an Oklahoma “anti-illegal immigrant” law, and Oklahomans speak out (it’s the “Featured Comments” below the story reported by the Tulsa Fox affiliate you will want to read)

Make no mistake about it, the modern economy (a.k.a. “capitalism”) is predicated on the abuse of humans. I don’t say this to be dramatic–although I know a lot of you can’t read those words and not have a knee-jerk response to dismiss everything else I say because you know think I am a communist–but I do say this to make three points:

1) when you see some of the ways the economic system preys on “weaker” peoples and can’t operate unless it finds those people (whether we are talking about people with less political rights, less economic rights, lower expectations, a diminished ability to acculturate into a larger society) you can begin to understand the ways seemingly rational political stances (“undocumented workers shouldn’t have a political voice because they are not here legally”) work to nurture a complex and inhumane economic system;

2) a clear solution to many problems would be the institutional recognition of people’s economic rights as human rights, that is, rights which are not bestowed by government fiat but as ours by birth; and

3) be thankful for what you do not struggle for, as thankful you should be that another person’s struggle and oppression helped bring you that salad, or chicken sandwich, or…you get the picture.