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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Arizona. SB1070. You. (Plus- Updated Info on the Ruling and Next Steps)

By Marisa Franco

Power blue sky blushes at sunset. A welcome sight after a hard day of heat in Phoenix Arizona. After rush hour dies down, in any given barrio in the valley you can hear the sound of kids playing in the street if you listen hard enough. Somewhere, friends have met for happy hour, football practice is starting, dinner is on the stove. I sit on my momma's porch, give the chicano nod to cars cruising by when I recognize the drivers. Born and bred in this place, I find myself here again, after having been gone for years. And every time I come home, there are some things I recognize, some things I don't. Just like I am still the same, and somehow, now different.

So I have to say, I wasn't surprised when I heard about the passage of SB1070. I wasn't surprised because every time I come home, I hear stories of 'el Arpaio', or I hear about the latest law that got passed banning this or ticketing you for that. I remember how Arizona was the last state to recognize a Dr. Martin Luther King holiday, I remember the countless attempts to undo affirmative action, ban bilingual education, copy laws like Proposition 187 from California.

And who knows..maybe the fact that all this didn't cause a huge uproar before is that we somehow have this way with places, you love what you love and learn to live with what you don't. But, the passage of SB1070 was different. The reaction across the country has largely disgraced the state. But on top of that, many have said, simply put: what the fuck is going on here?

The fact is that in the last 5 years, over 6,000 immigration related bills have been proposed in the State Legislature - that's more than one a day per session. Rather than finding solutions to problems of unemployment, foreclosures, and in the educational system, it seems as though the state capital has become a legislative laboratory to make the lives of migrants miserable. It has become the status quo to blame immigrants for virtually every problem the state faces. In southern Arizona, the Border Patrol's presence has become the norm, as has the death toll of people found in the desert. And then we have Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, building upon his chain gangs and tent cities, parading around the city conducting raids and sweeps. He has already stated, he's willing to build tent cities all the way to the border to make room for migrants. And now, just days before the implemention of SB1070, Judge Susan Bolton deliberates the legality of this law. The Obama Administration, while correct in its suit against the law on the one hand, outsources immigration enforcement to local law enforcment (read Sheriff Joe Arpaio) on the other.

Somehow, this law and what it represents has become a marker for the future of this place. A line has been drawn in the sand. Its for what kind of Arizona this will be now and in the future. And I don't know about you, but I don't think I want to place it all in the hands of a judge. We don't want half injunctions of an immoral law, we need full justice for our community. All these characters have a role in the outcome, but so do you. Where do you stand? It is a question we must all answer. No matter how much we can afford to contribute to the outcome. Just think - What if everyone who opposes this bill took decisive action to oppose and undermine it? What would that look like?

One of the civil and human rights issue of our time has landed on the doorstep of Arizona. It matters here, and it matters in many other places. It will be determined here and in many other places. July 29th is just one day, but it is key in sending a message of what is to come. Is it that the vision of Jan Brewer, Russell Pearce and Joe Arpaio that will prevail? Or is it the other Arizona, the Arizona you and I know that will prevail? Will it be an Arizona that has room for you, your children, your family? The questions will only be answered by our actions.
If you have ideas on this, or want more information on what's happening this week, hit me up. Un abrazo, marisa

UPDATE: Judge Susan Bolton has issued her ruling on SB1070.
What is moving forward:
-- It will be illegal to solicit work on streetcorners (directly impacting day-laborers)
-- It will be illegal to harbor or drive people without documents, making it a state crime and in addition, those person's cars will be confiscated
-- It will be illegal to not enforce immigration law (meaning it bans any type of sanctuary city status)
-- It will be legal to sue state agencies for not enforcing immigration law

What has been TEMPORARILY stopped:
-- Granting police the right to stop question person's status for 'reasonable suspicion' of being undocumented.
-- Requiring people to have their documentation with them at all time.
-- Making it a crime for people without documentation to solicit, apply or perform work (this would've made it a state crime in addition to federal crime)

We are moving forward with mobilizations. We want to convey as much as possible -- that this does not solve the human rights crisis in Arizona. First, this is a temporary stop to the law. Second, several important peices move forward that criminalize our community. Third, ICE Access programs such as 287g and Secure Communities program give local law enforcement license to conduct raids and sweeps.


* NY RTTC-9:30: Middagh Street and Cadman Plaza.
* LA-10AM: La Brea and Wilshire.
* Oakland-12pm: Federal Building / 3pm Fruitvale BART Plaza
* Phoenix-9am: Sheriff Arpaio’sOffice. 1st ave & Washington. 4:00pm County Jail. 5th ave & Madison.
*Text30644, with message of 'Arizona' for updates.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities Statement on SB1070

As Arizona’s racist immigration law, SB 1070, goes into effect today, we are more committed than ever to fighting racism in all its forms. We understand fully that SB 1070 – which allows police officers to detain anyone whom they “suspect” is undocumented, which allows for jailing any documented person who is merely in the same car or location as an undocumented person—did not become law in a vacuum. In fact, the conditions for this so-called ‘immigration reform’ have been building for decades.

For Asians, like all other immigrant groups, the question of immigration reform is another moment in the long and tortured fight for equality and justice in the U.S. Alongside the myth of great opportunity, advancement, and freedom, the reality of economic exploitation and exclusion resulting from our nation’s discriminatory immigration and civil rights policies have equally defined the experience of Asians in the U.S.

Although Asians have been in the U.S. in large numbers since the mid-1800s, we could not become citizens until 1943. Beginning in 1882, in response to growing racism and xenophobia, immigration from China was halted and in 1924, these exclusionary laws were made applicable to immigrants from throughout Asia. It was not only through laws that we were excluded and barred from entering – in 1904, the first border patrol was created in order to detain and deport Chinese immigrants who were crossing the border with Mexico into the U.S. It was only in 1965, during the height of the civil rights movement, that these restrictions to immigration were repealed.

Today, our communities continue to face barriers to immigration, with hundreds of thousands of us waiting to join our families here in the U.S. Once here, millions of us work long hours for below the minimum wage as a result of oppressive labor policies such as employer sanctions, which result in unfair wages for all low-wage workers, not just immigrants. Asians have also faced the harsh impact of the post-1996 immigration reforms, which have led to the detention and deportation of hundreds of thousands of our community members.

In the wake of the current economic crisis, the immigration debate has been re-framed into a debate about how immigrants are criminals. The use of the term ‘illegal immigrants’ is rife with images of yellow and brown people stealing land and jobs from ‘real Americans.’

This criminalization is not new – communities of color have been criminalized for centuries, and pushed to the margins of our society. From the time of slavery to today, with the huge growth in the prison population, examples abound that make clear how this idea that people of color are criminals is a way to prevent us from attaining full citizenship (even if we have our papers).

But the real criminals are not immigrants, or black men, or queer youth – the true criminals in our country have destroyed our economy, yet still collect multi-million dollar compensation packages. The real criminals shoot people of color and are not held accountable. The real criminals have polluted our water, air, and our land. The real criminals fight tooth and nail against laws that would protect the civil rights of LGBTQ communities. The real criminals started two wars that have devastated millions of lives and cost us trillions of dollars.
As Asians, we have experienced how the promise of the American Dream has benefited some and marginalized most. We know first-hand that even with money and citizenship status, we will be regarded as immigrants – and thus as less than fully human – because of our skin color. And we know in a country that likes to define race in terms of Black and White, most people would like it if we just remained quiet and invisible.

We stand together as Asians from diverse backgrounds in our demand for fair and just immigration reform. U.S. immigration policies should reflect this country's highest values: that all people should be treated equally with respect for their basic human rights, including the ability to work with dignity and at a fair wage. We must cease to view immigrants solely as cheap labor and recognize that migration is driven by global economic and political conditions, often caused by the U.S.'s own unfair economic practices at home and abroad.”

CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities is a member organization of the Right to the City Alliance CAAAV works to build grassroots community power across diverse poor and working class Asian immigrant and refugee communities in New York City.  Through an organizing model constituted by five core elements- zing basebuilding, leadership development, campaigns, alliances, and organizational development- CAAAV organizes communities to fight for institutional change and participates in a broader movement towards racial, gender, and economic justice. Learn more at