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U.S. It was only in 1965, during the height of the civil rights movement, that these restrictions to immigration were repealed.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 www.caaav.org.
Posted by Right To The City at 6:06 PM