What came first: the Racism or the Profit Motive? On Private Prisons’ push for SB1070

The private prisons’ involvement in passing SB1070 illuminates an aspect of the anti-immigrant tendency that complicates things and is often overlooked.  Often the finger is pointed at racism as the cause of atrocities like SB1070, without looking at the bigger picture.  This is not to say that racism plays no part, even as a basis on which the prison industrial complex functions, but the prejudicial views of Russell Pearce or the minutemen for example are not necessarily the main guiding force here.  This is particularly interesting when we consider the potential of white people to reject racism and see it as manufactured rather than intrinsic.

I’m glad that news is being spread of the role of the private prison industry in the passing of SB1070.  A few months back, Governor Brewer’s connections with the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the US were exposed, although of course they denied any underhandedness.  Now more information is coming out about the influence of private prisons in the new Arizona law, as NPR’s new report details.  While I don’t think there should be prisons in the first place, private prisons are particularly alarming in that this is the kind of thing that can happen when someone stands to profit (of course let’s not lose sight of the ways the government profits from repression in different ways).

The private prison industry has profited greatly in the past few years despite the economic downturn.  The Detention Watch Network says that “The U.S. government detained approximately 380,000 people in immigration custody in 2009 in… about 350 facilities at an annual cost of more than $1.7 billion.”  And the racists say that immigrants are a burden on the economy- how about the border enforcement?  Keep in mind here that this discussion is only on the detention centers- not on the border security technology and the wall, and other aspects of security which are all making people lots of money, including companies that have already made a shitload of money off the war.

An article that came out a few months ago (Wall Street and the Criminalization of Immigrants)
discussed the lobbying efforts of CCA and the GEO group and how it paid off through more attacks on immigrants, who now fill the private detention centers. 

The lobbying paid off for both companies, in huge revenue increases from government contracts to incarcerate immigrants. From 2005 through 2009, for every dollar that GEO spent lobbying the government, the company received a $662 return in taxpayer-funded contracts, for a total of $996.7 million. CCA received a $34 return in taxpayer-funded contracts for every dollar spent on lobbying the federal government, for a total of $330.4 million… One problem for major investors seeking huge gains from the for-profit prison business was that revenue rates couldn’t keep rising because federal agencies didn’t have enough personnel to arrest and process more immigrants than the expanded number they were now handling. It became apparent that the only way to significantly raise revenue through increasing the numbers of people picked up, detained and incarcerated was to hire more law enforcement personnel.
The private prison industry now needed a new source of low-cost licensed law enforcement personnel. CCA and GEO then turned to state governments as the focus of business expansion. Both companies stepped up efforts to acquire contracts with state and local governments that were entering into lucrative agreements with the Department of Homeland Security to detain immigrants in state and local detention and correctional facilities.

The result of this shift in business focus is exemplified by CCA’s role in Arizona’s SB 1070 and both CCA’s and GEO’s roles in other legislative efforts aimed at dramatically increased numbers arrests of undocumented immigrants in over 20 states. Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer, who received substantial campaign financing from top CCA executives in Tennessee and employs two former CCA lobbyists Chuck Coughlin and Paul Sensman, as top aides, signed SB 1070 into law on April 23.

On Friday, July 30, 2010 the Republican Governors Association, which so far this year has received over $160,000 in contributions from CCA and GEO, and their respective lobbyists, sent out a nationwide solicitation written by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer requesting contributions to fund an appeal of the partial injunction issued by a judge against SB 1070. (Read on).

The NPR report that just came out explains that CCA (and GEO group) also has some of their people in an organization called American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that Russell Pearce is also part of (described as a conservative, free-market orientated, limited-government group), and that this group developed SB1070 (limited government, my ass).  What is confusing is where Kris Kobach, the lawyer who works for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) comes into it, since he is said elsewhere to have authored the bill, although I know i’m not the only one wondering this.  I imagine FAIR has connections to private prisons, although I am not doubting FAIR’s genuine (not profit-driven) white supremacist views, even if many of their participants and funders are driven by profit and desire for law and order.

Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce says the bill was his idea. He says it’s not about prisons. It’s about what’s best for the country…
But instead of taking his idea to the Arizona statehouse floor, Pearce first took it to a hotel conference room.
It was last December at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. Inside, there was a meeting of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. Insiders call it ALEC…

It goes on,

Thirty of the 36 co-sponsors received donations over the next six months, from prison lobbyists or prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America, Management and Training Corporation and The Geo Group.
By April, the bill was on Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk.

In some ways, personal racism is convenient for exploitation for more profit: scare people into thinking immigrants are a threat (is Lou Dobbs and Fox news paid by CCA?), put them in private prisons, thereby creating profits for the private prison industry.  Yet, this implies that white supremacy existed before profit motives, which isn’t quite accurate.  Although colonialism and accompanying attitudes about non-Europeans existed, these prejudices and such weren’t so hardened along these imaginary race lines (just look at how the Irish were treated before being gradually included as white).  The concept of race was created on top of existing hierarchies, in the interest of maintaining order and capitalism.  Since i’m not feeling very articulate right now, I will leave you with a long quote from a friend’s blog giving more insight into how white supremacy developed (see below).  This was written in response to the National Socialist Movement’s efforts last year to organize here, and incidentally they will be back in a couple weeks to rally.  While I believe there should be visible opposition, I don’t believe that it is any more important to protest the nazis than it is to protest the police, or the prison industrial complex.  Like Peggy wrote, “The NAZIS putting all my people in prison are the ones I want to run out of town.”  I think most people who show up to these protests, at least the anarchists, tend to agree, although in practice it may not appear so.  Groups like Anti-Racist Action (ARA) have been long criticized nationally for focusing on white supremacists while institutional racism is the larger threat.  In fact if you think about it, if everyone is focusing on the 20-30 neo-nazis or the occasional hate crimes happening more and more across the country, we’re not focusing on the state-sanctioned murders that happen everyday (and what if we include the deaths caused by border security as well?) 

In this description of the origins of white supremacy, you can see that the private prison industry is a prime example of the ways that white supremacy benefits capitalism.

The system of white supremacy is a cross-class alliance between rich whites and working class whites, the objective of which is the maintenance of the exploitative system of capitalism. White supremacy, by providing some meaningful, but in the grand scheme of things, petty privileges to whites, seeks to undermine class unity. These privileges are petty not because they aren’t real and sometimes meaningful, but because those that accrue to the white working class are much closer to the ones that non-white people get than they are to the ones that adhere to rich whites. That is, Bill Gates gets to exercise way more benefits of whiteness than the lowliest Nazi scumbag.

In exchange for accepting these privileges, however, whites agree to police the rest of the non-white population. That’s the reason white supremacy was created. Originating as an English imperial ideology for the conquest of Ireland and the rest of what we now call Britain, it moved to North America after the rich English elites had trouble with what we would now call a tri-racial alliance against them. Natives, English indentured servants (most of them transported here for petty crimes against the emerging capitalist system in England) and African slaves had a tendency to realize quite quickly in the so-called “New World” that they had much more in common with each other than with the pale-skinned, blue-blooded ruling class that lorded over them. So, they kept getting together and trying to overthrow those titled bastards. Again and again.

This was naturally a problem for the elite, so a hierarchical racialized system was created to divide this class, and to empower the wealthy. It was encoded in law. Whites were given several important privileges. Firstly, they were entitled to a limit on their servitude, while that of Africans was made permanent. Likewise, whites were given access to cleared Indian lands. The new role for whites demanded they act as police and, in relation to the native population, as soldiers. Therefore, a white man was obligated to serve in slave patrols and had the right to demand papers from any Black person he encountered. Likewise, no Native had any rights a white person was required to respect. Here in Arizona, Mexicans were repeatedly disenfranchised and expropriated of their land by white militias, vigilantes, soldiers and early police formations (Arizona Rangers were notorious). All this was backed up by the rich white elite who wanted to exploit Arizona’s resources. (Source).

See also this older article: How the Jailing of Migrants Drives Prison Profits.

the Desaparecidos of 9/11


A friend passed these lyrics on to me today in remembrance of those most forgotten from the tragedy on 9/11/2001. Grief was spoken in our country in many languages that day – and it was silenced by fear. Still is.

This is for the families of the Desaparecidos everywhere. Liberty weeps for you, too. May you someday safely bring your loved ones into our light.

Peggy Plews
Arizona Prison Watch

————————–


If I Give Your Name

by Emmas Revolution

Mi esposa, my wife, worked on the 80th floor
The company had hired illegals before
She got the job by word of mouth
That’s the way in the north when you’re from the south
They say 3,000 but the counting’s not done
Mi esposa está muerta
Three thousand and one

I have no papers, I have no rights
All my days end in sleepless nights
Missing you, silently
If I give your name
Will they come after me?

Mi hermano, my brother, the elevator man
A doctor in our country but you take what you can
I saw the photos in Union Square
But I could not leave his picture there
They say 3,000 but that’s not true
Mi hermano no volverá
Three thousand and two

Mi hija, my daughter, went in early that day
She had always been that way
Her daughter asks, “Where did she go?”
How to tell her, I don’t know
They say 3,000 but that can’t be
Perdí a mi hija
Three thousand and three

Mi padre, my father, I have no words
I tried to find you when I heard
They gave some ashes to families
But I’ll only have the ones I breathe
They say 3,000 there’s so many more
Desaparecidos
Three thousand and four

Mi esposa, my wife. Will they come after me?
Mi hermano, my brother. Will they come after me?
Mi hija, my daughter. Will they come after me?
Mi padre, my father. If I give your name,
Will they come after me?

the Desaparecidos of 9/11


A friend passed these lyrics on to me today in remembrance of those most forgotten from the tragedy on 9/11/2001. Grief was spoken in our country in many languages that day – and it was silenced by fear. Still is.

This is for the families of the Desaparecidos everywhere. Liberty weeps for you, too. May you someday safely bring your loved ones into our light.

Peggy Plews
Arizona Prison Watch

————————–


If I Give Your Name

by Emmas Revolution

Mi esposa, my wife, worked on the 80th floor
The company had hired illegals before
She got the job by word of mouth
That’s the way in the north when you’re from the south
They say 3,000 but the counting’s not done
Mi esposa está muerta
Three thousand and one

I have no papers, I have no rights
All my days end in sleepless nights
Missing you, silently
If I give your name
Will they come after me?

Mi hermano, my brother, the elevator man
A doctor in our country but you take what you can
I saw the photos in Union Square
But I could not leave his picture there
They say 3,000 but that’s not true
Mi hermano no volverá
Three thousand and two

Mi hija, my daughter, went in early that day
She had always been that way
Her daughter asks, “Where did she go?”
How to tell her, I don’t know
They say 3,000 but that can’t be
Perdí a mi hija
Three thousand and three

Mi padre, my father, I have no words
I tried to find you when I heard
They gave some ashes to families
But I’ll only have the ones I breathe
They say 3,000 there’s so many more
Desaparecidos
Three thousand and four

Mi esposa, my wife. Will they come after me?
Mi hermano, my brother. Will they come after me?
Mi hija, my daughter. Will they come after me?
Mi padre, my father. If I give your name,
Will they come after me?

Call for Resistance: Tucson

Subject: FW: Tucson Resist SB 1070! /
Tucson Resiste SB 1070!

Date: Fri, 4 Jun 2010 19:18:16

Please forward on!

STATEMENT ON SB 1070 AND BEYOND

Today we come together in resistance, taking action for the mobilization and safety of our communities. The police are supposed to implement public safety, but instead they are responsible for state violence.

We stand for the empowerment of our communities, and our ability to protect ourselves. We stand against racist legislation, including SB 1070. We condemn the attack on ethnic studies, I.C.E. raids, violence against womyn and queer people, the expansion of the prisons, the border wall, and the militarization of our everyday lives.

Border militarization and the expansion of law enforcement destroy the earth, harm indigenous communities and create a terror campaign against migrants and communities of color in Arizona and beyond. The new legislation is part of a racist campaign that aims to create a terrorized and criminalized class that is more vulnerable to exploitation. Migrants are blamed for crime, unemployment, and the current economic crisis in order to distract the U.S. public from seeing what is really to blame for this crisis: capitalism—the system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.

SB 1070 is a direct attack on our families, friends, neighbors, schools and communities.

SB 1070 is part of a history of colonial occupation. We live in a country founded on slavery, genocide and exploitation. The U.S. took over Native land and, in 1846, waged war against Mexico, established borders and imposed itself over the entire Southwest. SB 1070 comes from this legacy of colonial occupation.

SB 1070 is a symptom of white supremacy. SB 1070 is only the latest attack on people of color that makes Arizona an apartheid police state, where brown-skinned people are politically, legally and economically discriminated against and segregated.

SB 1070 does nothing to address the root causes of migration. U.S. economic policies and wars have displaced and impoverished millions of people all over the world. Money-driven policies, such as NAFTA, create poverty. Not only do they consume and exploit land, water, petroleum, and laborers (i.e., human beings), but they also displace us from our homes, forcing us to migrate in order to survive. If policymakers were serious about stopping “illegal immigration,” they would end capitalist exploitation and stop their military “interventions” abroad.

SB 1070 is the product of a system that oppresses people not only for being undocumented or non-white, but also for being poor, young, womyn, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer.

This is why we affirm our human dignity and promote the well-being of all people living and working in these lands. We stand for community control and autonomy. We assert the rights of migrants and all people everywhere to feel safe and live free of state violence.

In order to STOP SB 1070, we need a new vision for social change. We believe in autonomy—where we are independent and free to make our own decisions as a community. Real change comes from those who struggle for dignity. We must depend on our own strength and power to create the new world we want to see!

Under these circumstances we make the following CALL TO ACTION:

If SB 1070 is enacted on July 29th, we must organize direct actions in our local communities and demand that racial profiling and police state terror end!

Demands:

STOP APARTHEID LEGISLATION IN ARIZONA
STOP RACIAL PROFILING AND POLICE STATE TERROR
STOP THE MILITARIZATION OF THE BORDER AND OUR COMMUNITIES
STOP THE RAIDS AND DEPORTATIONS
WE WANT COMMUNITY SAFETY!
WE WANT HEALTHY FAMILIES!
WE WANT TO LIVE IN PEACE!
WE WANT AUTONOMY!

O’odham Solidarity Across Borders: Resisting militarization

Activists Lockdown & Occupy US Border Patrol Headquarters Demanding End to Border Militarization, Protesters Cited and Released

Saturday, May 22, 2010 

High resolution pictures and B-roll available at: www.oodhamsolidarity.blogspot.com
 Tucson, AZ – At approximately 1:00PM Friday, May 21, 2010 more than a dozen people occupied the Tucson Headquarters of the US Border Patrol to draw attention to impacts of border militarization in Indigenous Communities. Six people, including Alex Soto a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation and a volunteer with the group O’odham Solidarity Across Borders, locked themselves together for up to 3 and 1/2 hours. “Indigenous voices have been ignored. In our action today we say NO MORE!” Said Soto.

Banners were hung, including one placed over the reception window that read, “Stop Militarization of Indigenous Lands Now”, traditional songs were sung and the group chanted, “Border militarization destroys Indigenous communities!” and “No raids, no deportations! No SB1070, no racist laws!” Approximately 30 Border Patrol agents flooded the lobby of the headquarters and scrambled to react. Roads to the headquarters and adjacent air force base were shut down. Tucson City Police were eventually called and began preparing an extraction of the peaceful resisters.

A diverse crowd of up to 70 people quickly gathered outside the Border Patrol headquarters to support those locked down inside. Ofelia Rivas of O’odham Voices Against The Wall, an elder in support of the action stated, “It was a historical and powerful moment for people of all color to unite with O’odham to stand in solidarity for human rights and to see the next generation take a stand”.

At approximately 4 o’clock the peaceful resisters negotiated the conditions of their release on their terms. Their requests to consult with Tohono O’odham elders to negotiate terms of release were denied by Tucson Police. The protesters decided to unlock and were cited for two misdemeanors each of trespassing and disorderly conduct. The resisters were released just outside the premises to join supporters where they gathered in traditional prayer and rallied against border militarization for another hour. Community members including members of the Pasqual Yaqui, Tohono O’odham, and Dine’ Nations reacted emotionally when two Wackenhut Corp. buses left the Border Patrol compound filled with undocumented people. The detainees responded with returning the symbol of resistance – a raised fist.

“This is just one action of many that makes visible the invisible crimes against humanity that occur every day on the colonial border,” stated one of the peaceful resisters. “We commit to honoring the prayers and call for support of the people most impacted by border militarization, the Indigenous Peoples who’s lands we are on and migrants who seek a better life for their families. We cannot not allow government agencies, border patrol, ICE or reformist agendas to further their suffering. We will continue our actions of peaceful resistance for human dignity and respect for all peoples.”

The action also denounced SB1070 and HB2281 as racist laws that are a part of an ongoing system of genocidal policies against Indigenous Peoples and migrant communities.

For previous Press Statement, please see attachment.

Note to editors, high resolution photos attached; Photo credits: O’odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective

Media Contacts:
Alex Soto (602) 881-6027
Leilani Clark (520) 982-5687

ARIZONA: Boycott this Brutal, Murderous State.

After hearing a brief report about this reported undocumented migrant’s murder on KJZZ, the local NPR station around 5:00 or 6:00 this AM, and finding the article I originally posted below about it (along with a separate one which identified the suspects as citizens, but didn’t identify the victim as an undocumented or illegal immigrant), I headed downtown to the Phoenix Police Department to find out the full story. 

They referred me to their public records office on the other side of town. 

They in turn, sent me to Maricopa County’s Superior Court complex where the suspects were to be arraigned, but since I didn’t have their names with me and “this happens all the time”, no one there could direct me to the right court room. Besides, someone said, they were probably being arraigned in the jailhouse courtroom, not there.

So, since I was in the same building as the HQ for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office, I stopped in and asked them for help, certain that they would have the suspects names and maybe even a press release by then, since they apparently handled the arrests – nothing was forthcoming from the information desk, however, except the phone number of their press office (not even a name). 

Now, I checked the MCSO website before leaving home on this excursion. Since the “crime of the week” featured there this AM was not the murder of immigrants, but rather, sex offenses (featuring a complete cast of suspects of color in their mugshot line up) – and there was absolutely nothing on the site about the murder – I didn’t bother calling the MCSO press officer to try to get more information.

Instead, I actually paid for an Arizona Republic, sure that there would be at least a blurb in there, giving me the names I’d read earlier on the KPHO website, so I could get to the arraignment and find out first hand what was going on. Not a word. 

By then I was pretty steamed, so I called the Republic, and spoke to J.J. Hensley. He was aware of the body found in the fire last Wednesday, but not the story that unfolded Sunday as I relayed it to him – the MCSO was keeping that pretty hush hush. He was sure interested, though, and Googled the same info I found as we spoke, promising a follow-up from their paper.

So, what follows is the result of the AZ Republic’s “investigation”, published a few hours after that conversation – which conveniently leaves a few blanks to fill in after making sure we all know that the still-anonymous victim brought this on himself by having sex with the poor murderer’s mother. 

No one seems to know or care whether or not this man was so casually murdered and set ablaze because he was undocumented. Or, maybe the Republic is just exercising responsible journalistic restraint, not wanting to make a bad situation here worse by reporting that undocumented migrants aren’t all criminal aliens and murderous drug dealers – many are in fact victims of crime at the hands of citizens who count on no one caring what they do to them.


I don’t think it’s journalistic ethics that dictated the lines – and the blanks between them – in the story below, though. I think the Republic is in bed with the power elite here who just don’t want more bad publicity; the “truth” be damned. This state has no journalistic integrity – save for a few good folks at the Phoenix New Times. 

For perspective: flash back a week or so ago to that deputy who was shot by “suspected illegal immigrants” who were “believed to be smuggling bales of marijuana” (on foot through the desert, of course, pursued by this lone deputy) at the time he was fired on with AK-47’s. Or the rancher a few months ago who law enforcement “suspected” was murdered by illegal immigrants involved in drug trafficking. 

Where was the journalistic restraint seeking all the facts before reporting speculation then? And what about the MCSO’s fiery press releases about how they’re protecting us by rounding up undocumented brown-skinned drivers, and all of Russ Pearce’s histrionics about how many citizens are being murdered and raped by illegal immigrants? 

So, read this story now having put things into context. Doesn’t it seem like something’s missing here? Like maybe some sense that the life that was lost was sacred, valued, innocent, even worth being elevated to nobility for having been so brutally victimized? Maybe even a candlelight vigil to remember him and all the other migrants whose lives have been so brutally taken by good Arizonans?

Here’s the problem, I think: In the Arizona storyline, the victim is supposed to be a US citizen; the perpetrators are supposed to be criminal aliens (from Mexico, of course), and the murder is supposed to justify SB 1070 and shame those calling for a boycott into silence. What’s the truth that should be reported here? That we have so devalued the lives of non-citizens that their murders (which “happen all the time here”, as I was told in Superior Court earlier) aren’t news – only their crimes are. The Republic doesn’t even say what the victim’s or suspects citizenship status are – and we all know that those details these days matter a great deal. And even KJZZ hasn’t mentioned the story again since before the morning rush hour commenced.


BOYCOTT this ugly place, America. Bring all these bastards to their knees. Don’t worry about the poor they say you’re going to hurt by doing so; they sure don’t care about us – we’re already screwed by them anyway. Don’t give this state another dime until they account for all their crimes and make restitution to their victims’ families. 

That means repealing a whole lot more than just SB 1070. Otherwise, this kind of thing will never end.

—————————————

Slain Phoenix man reportedly slept with suspect’s mom

by Jessica Testa – May. 10, 2010 01:12 PM
The Arizona Republic

Three men were arrested Sunday in connection with death of a man who was beaten and had his throat slit in Phoenix, apparently because he slept with another man’s mother.

Adan Gonzalez, 20, Matthew Moreno, 19, and Booz Moreno, 23, are suspected of attacking a man who they thought was having an affair with Gonzalez’s mother, according to court documents released Monday.

Last Wednesday, the trio apparently went to the man’s house near 35th Avenue and Baseline Road, forcing their way in armed with a shotgun. They are suspected of beating the man who lived there.

The trio was accused of using a shotgun and a steel pipe to beat the man, eventually slitting the man’s throat with a knife and setting fire to the house after stealing several items.

Witnesses reported seeing the men approaching the house, entering and then leaving a short time later as the house went up in flames, the court documents said.

The witnesses provided police with descriptions of three men and their vehicle’s license-plate numbers. Police used the information to track down the three men.

The men were arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, arson, kidnapping and burglary.

The documents noted that Matthew Moreno and Gonzalez initially said they were not connected to the case, but eventually said they beat and killed the man.

Booz Moreno was found to be friends with the homeowner’s son, according to the documents. He has been charged with extreme DUI and is being held without bail. Matthew Moreno is being held on $1 million bond.

AZ Sheriff: SB 1070 Hurts Police, Communities.

———————-from the Wall Street Journal—————

Arizona’s Immigration Mistake – Those who look suspiciously like illegal immigrants will find their liberty in severe jeopardy.

MAY 5, 2010

By CLARENCE W. DUPNIK

I have spent over 50 years in the law-enforcement profession in the Tucson community, the past 30 of which I have served as sheriff. I have seen relations between our community and law enforcement personnel shift with the times: sometimes challenged when the actions of a few police officers cross the line, and often improving when there is a sense of partnership. But in the past few weeks Arizona became a model for the rest of the country of what not to do.

The immigration reform law that was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on April 23 effectively requires that immigrants be able to prove their legal presence in the state of Arizona. I have argued from the moment that this bill was signed that it is unnecessary, that it is a travesty, and most significantly, that it is unconstitutional.

Pima County, where I am sheriff, shares 123 miles of border with Mexico. Patrolling this area for illegal immigrants is like trying to keep water from passing through a sieve.

I have always believed that the federal government, charged with the task of regulating immigration into the United States, bears the responsibility for this task. However, it has also never been the policy of my department to ignore the existence of those that are in this country illegally. That’s why my deputies are instructed that if they come in contact with an illegal immigrant they should detain him, contact Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and turn him over to federal authorities.

My deputies have referred more illegal immigrants to Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement than any other state or local law enforcement agency in Arizona. But this new law will pass the burden of immigration enforcement to my county department. This is a responsibility I do not have the resources to implement.

The more fundamental problem with the law is its vague language. It requires law enforcement officials to demand papers from an individual when they have a “reasonable suspicion” that he is an illegal immigrant. The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal” and that “they are endowed . . . with certain inalienable rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Those who look “suspiciously” like illegal immigrants will find their liberty in severe jeopardy and their pursuit of happiness disrupted—even if they are citizens or have lived, worked, paid taxes, and maybe even have served in our Armed Forces for decades.

When used in a law-enforcement context, “reasonable suspicion” is always understood to be subjective, but it must be capable of being articulated. In the case of identifying illegal immigrants, the ambiguity of what this “crime” looks like risks including an individual’s appearance, which would seem to violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Such ambiguity is especially dangerous when prescribed to an issue as fraught with emotion as that of illegal immigration.

I have an enormous amount of respect for the men and women of my department—the deputy sheriffs who respond to calls for assistance throughout Pima County every day of the week. I have no doubt that they make intelligent, compassionate and reasonable decisions countless times throughout their shifts. But no one can tell them what an illegal immigrant looks like and when it is ok to begin questioning a person along those lines. This law puts them in a no-win situation: They will be forced to offend and anger someone who is perhaps a citizen or here legally when they ask to see his papers—or be accused of nonfeasance because they do not.

There is a horrible problem with illegal immigration in this country, and it affects the citizens of Pima County every single day. Because of our proximity to the border, our county population demographic is heavily Hispanic (both legal and illegal). That means we must interact with witnesses and victims of crime in their times of need, regardless of their immigration status. Though this legislation states that inquiry into a person’s immigration status is not required if it will hinder an investigation, that’s not enough to quell the very real fears of the immigrant community.

Law enforcement did not ask for and does not need this new tool. What we do need is assistance from the federal government in the form of effective strategies to secure the border. Additionally, the federal government must take up this issue in the form of comprehensive immigration reform policy. If any good is to come from this firestorm, it is that our legislators will finally recognize that a problem exists and that they are the only ones with the authority to address it.

Mr. Dupnik is the Sheriff of Pima County Tucson, Ariz.

Arizona Leading Backwards.

——————From the New Yorker, April 24, 2010.—————-

Arizona Leads the Way Backward on Immigration

The long-deferred, urgent matter of immigration reform got a big kick in the pants yesterday. Arizona enacted a law that today’s Times calls “the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations.” Among other things, the law requires local police to demand papers from anyone officers have any reason to doubt is a citizen—anyone, in other words, who looks Mexican. If you’re brown-skinned, and don’t have your wallet, you’re going to jail. Failure to carry immigration documents is now a crime in Arizona.

The mayor of Phoenix, Phil Gordon, called the law “unconstitutional on its face.” In a Washington Post Op-Ed today, Gordon blames local politicians who are “bitter, small-minded and full of hate,” and he names names: state senator Russell Pearce, the sponsor of the bill, and Maricopa County  Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom I profiled last summer.

President Obama’s response to the news was well-aimed. While criticizing the Arizona law as “misguided,” he blamed its passage on “our failure to act responsibly at the federal level.” This came at a naturalization ceremony being held in the Rose Garden for twenty-four American soldiers born in China, Mexico, Ethiopia, and elsewhere.

The symbolism of the scene was strong, but the failure fingered by Obama is real. Border security and immigration control are federal responsibilities. Southern land-border states like Arizona suffer first and worst when those systems break down. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, is now talking about bringing major immigration-reform legislation to the floor after Memorial Day. The political momentum to pass such legislation, after the health-care reform success, may finally be at hand.

Meanwhile, Arizona will become an American-style police state. Racial profiling will be the law. Whites will be all right, just as they were in the Jim Crow South. God help everyone else. The nativist right seems to be calling the tune in Arizona politics today. Senator John McCain, facing a primary challenge from an anti-immigrant talk-radio host, abandoned long-held moderate positions on immigration policy and supported the new law. The governor, Jan Brewer, also being challenged from the right this year, did the same thing and signed the bill.

The Arizona state legislature has tried to lead the nation backwards on racial issues before. In the nineteen-eighties, Arizona refused to recognize the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as an official holiday.

This week the legislature’s lower chamber passed a bill that will require President Obama to produce his birth certificate if he wants to be on the ballot in Arizona in 2012. According to the Associated Press, “Supporters say the bill would help settle a controversy over whether Obama was born in the United States.”

"I’m Mexican, Pull Me Over."

This is where you need to get the news on Phoenix from…

Hey – check out the car!

——————from The Feathered Bastard——————

Linda Ronstadt Returns, Joe Arpaio Hunts Hispanics, and ACLU Announces Plans to Sue Over SB 1070

Categories: Feathered Bastard

mexicanpull.jpg
EarlyOnsetofNight
One way of combating Sheriff Joe’s anti-brown sweeps, and SB1070 to boot

Tomorrow will be a big day in Sand Land, with Latina pop icon Shakira meeting with Mayor Phil Gordon over their opposition to Arizona’s new racial profiling law. Normally, that alone would make for a huge news day here in Cactus Country, but both the ACLU and Sheriff Joe plan to kick it up a notch.

Arpaio’s just announced that his 15th anti-immigrant dragnet will start tomorrow, with a press conference scheduled for 4 p.m. This is the press advisory sent out by Arpaio’s flak:

“As previously promised, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio will kick off his15th crime suppression/illegal immigration enforcement operation which will utilize nearly 150 deputies and posse volunteers. The area targeted for this suppression operation, Arpaio says, was chosen weeks ago because of its high concentration of drop houses and human smuggling transportation routes as well as overall crime statistics and will be announced on Thursday by Sheriff Arpaio at his 4PM press briefing. That briefing will be held in front of the Sheriff’s Training Academy at 2627 South 35th Avenue in Phoenix.”

BTW, I spotted an apparent mistake in this advisory. It should state,

“The area targeted for this suppression operation…was chosen weeks ago because of its high concentration of Hispanics.”

In this regard, catch a clue from the above photo from the blog Early Onset of Night. Maybe those activists who will be monitoring (read, “dogging”) MCSO vehicles during tomorrow’s sweep of brown people should do something similar to their cars.
In sympathy, I plan to spray-paint myself a nice, dark tan, blast La Campesina from my car stereo, hang a Shakira air freshener from my rearview window, and tell the deputy dawgs that pull me over that I’m actually Horatio Sanz.
Hey, there’s more than one way to skin a story.
Also on the front burner for tomorrow is a press conference being given on the steps of Governor Jan Bewer’s office by the ACLU of Arizona, MALDEF and other groups announcing their intent to sue the state over the recently signed SB1070.
Grammy-winner Linda Ronstadt will be coming up from her home in Tucson to be present for the presser tomorrow. You’ll recall that Ronstadt was in Phoenix for a massive march to Joe’s jails back in January. She’ll be joined by representatives of the various organizations involved, as well as by Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America.
I’ll attend the Ronstadt event and follow-up afterward. Regarding the Arpaio presser, “America’s Toughest Sheriff” is too much of a pantywaist to allow me into his press conferences.
He must be afraid that I’ll ask him a tough question, like,
“When you’re indicted by the feds, do you want to be arrested with a pair of your own pink handcuffs?”
Or…
“As a prospective resident of a federal prison facility, do you prefer being on the bottom or the top — um — bunk?”

SB 1070: Still A Bad Law.

Patchwork changes to immigration law came in waning hours of session

By Evan Wyloge – evan.wyloge@azcapitoltimes.com

Published: April 27, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Arizona Capitol Times

One week after Gov. Jan Brewer gave Arizona the toughest immigration law in the U.S., state lawmakers added changes that would limit the scope of the law and protect local governments from lawsuits.

The changes were sought by lawmakers who voted for Arizona’s new immigration law after striking a deal with immigration hawk Sen. Russell Pearce.

Rep. Russ Jones, who was one of three Republican lawmakers to vote against a similar bill in 2009, said he agreed to vote for S1070 this year in exchange for Pearce’s promise to make changes to it in follow-up legislation.

The resulting bill, H2162, was approved on April 29, just hours before the end of the session.

H2162 prescribes a few key changes to the new immigration law, clarifying both the definition of lawful contact and guidelines for municipalities, as well as lowering the minimum — not the maximum — fine that can be assessed to cities that have so-called “sanctuary city” policies. It also restructured some of the punitive actions that a court would apply to those charged under the new law.

Representatives of the law enforcement community say the changes significantly alter the way police would have to enforce the law and the way they would be accountable for doing so.

Lyle Mann, who runs the day-to-day operations of the Arizona Peace Officers Safety and Training Board (AZPOST), said the fine points of the trailer bill are vital to the street-level execution of the new law. His group, incidentally, has been tasked by the governor with turning the provisions of the new law into a specific and manageable training rubric for police agencies across the state.

One of the changes to S1070 removes the word “solely” from the description of the new law’s lawful contact, when it comes to race. So, now race, color or ethnicity simply cannot be used as part of reasonable suspicion.

Mann said this is a huge simplification for his organization’s task, and should settle at least some of the fear over racial profiling. Now, his organization will simply be able to tell police agencies to have their officers understand that race is not a reason to initiate contact.

“It should quell the fears that a lot of people have vocalized,” Mann said. “This will make the training and policymaking much clearer and simpler.”

H2162 also narrows what is banned at the county, city and municipality level, changing it from a “policy or practice” to just a “policy” preventing police officers from using the new immigration law to its fullest extent.

With the independence that police officers rely on, Mann said, management of their activities is nearly impossible. So their “practices” are made at the officers’ discretion. The officers are trained, though, to rely on the “policies” their agency set.

“A ‘policy’ is the written instruction that tells officers how a task is to get done. ‘Practice’ is the actual activity carried out in support of that policy,” Mann said. “So the city of Phoenix might have 3,000 officers on the street. It’s much more difficult to control how those officers carry out their practices.”

Removing the words “or practices” from the new law goes a long way in protecting police agencies from lawsuits and fines, Mann said, because AZPOST will give guidelines, cities will turn those guidelines into “policy,” and the cities then would not be at the mercy of litigation coming from any resident who feels like the police agency isn’t enforcing the law to the fullest extent.

In addition, Jones said Pearce agreed to lower the fines assessed to local governments that violate the law. In S1070, a local government or agency initially could have been fined between $1,000 and $5,000 per day if an Arizona resident filed suit against them in Superior Court.

Jones wanted the fines cut in half, because he thought those numbers were arbitrary. Pearce only met him part of the way.

Instead of lowering both the maximum and minimum per-day fines, Pearce kept the $5,000 maximum and changed language in H2162 that would lower the minimum fines to $500 per day from $1,000 per day.

“Pearce says he thinks it’s important to have a sanction,” Mann said. “So you have to say, ‘OK, what’s a reasonable sanction? Do you get a better outcome with a bigger sanction?’ And you have to remember, if the city of Phoenix gets fined $1 million, they can’t open parks, they can’t operate their libraries, they take that money from schools. (Jones) is saying you can get the same compliance with half those numbers.”

Nancy Jo Merritt, who has 32 years of experience as an immigration attorney, said she understands why Jones and the law enforcement agencies would be so concerned over these small changes.

“This law is going to be so hard to comply with, so why make the punishments so harsh?” she said. “It’s like the assumption is the only way to get cities to follow this law is by threatening them with the death sentence.”

The last change outlined in H2162 concerned a phrase that said lawful contact can include an officer’s use of the new immigration law “in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state.”

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Phoenix, harped on this new phrase, saying it will mean that law officers will be able and compelled to check the status of a person, even if the police officer were responding to some sort of civil town ordinance, like an overgrown lawn, a fence in disrepair or a barking dog.

Sinema said police officers could previously only use the new immigration law when they encountered someone during the enforcement of a criminal or civil traffic violation, and that this will expand the way police officers could contact, then detain people while checking their federal immigration status.

Pearce denied that this change means much, and said police would already have been able to use the new law when making contact with a person for such civil ordinances. He said this new language was only added to further clarify the way police are authorized to use the new immigration law.

Mann of AZPOST agreed with Pearce, saying police officers would have the ability to use the new immigration law during any type of contact with any person, regardless of this new language.

“Police officers do this every day. It’s called a ‘Terry Stop,’ after the Terry v. Ohio case,” Mann said. “Let’s say there are some guys playing basketball in a park. The officer walks up and says, ‘Hey guys. How’s it going?’ That’s lawful contact. It’s a standard voluntary stop.”

Pearce said the changes in H2162 were something he agreed to, in order to get the votes he needed, and that he thinks he lived up to his bargain.

“I wasn’t excited about it, but we did it,” Pearce said. “(Jones) ought to be happy with the changes, I kept my word.”