Immigration or a Historical Labor Issue?
By Herman Baca
To this date, it never ceases to amaze me that the biggest problem/issue (the war in Afghanistanand economy) for the great-great-great grandchildren of immigrants who immigrated to the U.S.is…. immigration? This week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s (Nazizona) draconian SB 1070’s main provision, “show me your papers.” The court left standing SB 1070’s most controversial provision requiring Sheriff Joe Apario type, “state and local police to check the immigration status of anyone that they suspect is in the country illegally; if that person was initially detained for other legitimate reasons.”
There can be no mistake that the ruling was aimed solely at persons of Mexican ancestry and their rights, whetherU.S.born, legal or undocumented. The unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court Justices’ (including Sonia Sotomayor) brings the U.S. closer to a police state, legalizes racial profiling, revives the segregationist “Jim Crow” system, and sanctions a South African apartheid state for this nation’s fastest growing (50 million Chicanos/Latinos) population.
The ruling (in my opinion) is still unconstitutional, violates the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and is contradictory. The Justices’ ruled that the, “show me your papers” provision was legal, and then struck down, “the provision that makes it a crime for an immigrant to not carry registration document at all times?” However the court left the question unanswered as to what kind of papers they were making reference to? Also what papers police are required to ask for, and the suspects (brown people) are supposed to produce… birth certificate, baptism, passport, military discharge, social security cards, marriage, divorce etc., or? Another issue left untouched was how police determine the validity of documents, and which ones are acceptable? Case in point; Governor Jan (Bruja) Brewer, and her rightwing Republican racist ilk in Nazizona don’t even believe the President of the U.S. Barack Obama’s birth certificate is legal, or that he was even born in the U.S. “In March Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio, suggested that the birth certificate Mr. Obama has posted online is a forgery.” So what chance does any person of Mexican ancestry have to prove to an untrained or racist Apario type law official that they are in the U.S. legally?
Governor Brewer reported comments that, “There will be no racial discriminations. No one’s civil rights will be abused,” are laughable, and absurd. If Brewer’s policies in fact do not discriminate or racially profile; then…if police stop five Mexicans, then stop 5 whites, 5 Afro-American, 5 Asians, etc., and then witnessed if Brewer’s police state policies are supported? In other words as the great Afro-American leader Malcom X stated, “It will be freedom for everyone, or freedom for no one.”
After the ruling (being a presidential election year) every politician accused the other of playing politics with the immigration issue. Everyone from President Obama, candidate Mitt Romney, the Congress, Democrats and Republicans have now issued calls for, “immigration reform or a comprehensive immigration policy.”
Today the so-called immigration issues remains unresolved, after theU.S.has spent billions of dollars in trying to enforce its failed law enforcement and militarization policies. The only result of those policies has been the massive violations of constitutional and human rights of undocumented Mexican workers by U.S. Border Patrol, ICE, states such as Nazizona, and (ironically) an increase in the number of undocumented Mexican workers.
So why has there been no solution to the so-called immigration issue?
In my opinion, after dealing with the issue for over forty years, the problem continues to exist unresolved because of the following political and economic reasons:
- Definition – the issue being discussed and addressed is not immigration, but a historical labor issue that has existed since the end of the U.S./Mexico War of 1850. One cannot fix a labor issue with immigration solutions, or vice a versa.
- Economically – for the last 160 years, powerfulU.S.economic/political interests from the secondary sector of theU.S.economy… agri-business, hotels, motels, construction, garment industry and live in maids have politically and systemically manipulated their demands (addiction) for cheap labor, under the guise of immigration. The historical demand for free labor (slavery) started when the first black slaves were brought toJamestownin 1619. Since the end of slavery it has continued with demands for cheap labor i.e. Chinese, Filipinos, Irish, Okies and Mexicans (1850), etc. History has shown as witnessed with the Afro-American slave system that an exploitable labor system can only exist if workers have no rights and no protection of the law. These are the real reasons for states approving Nazizona type laws, the militarization and law enforcement policies at the U.S./Mexico border, the nation’s broken immigration system, and racist cities such as Escondido,Californiaattempting to copycat.
- Politically – a more sinister political reason for the Supreme Court ruling, and passage of Nazizona type laws is due to the increasing demographic increase of our people (persons of Mexican/Latino ancestry) in the U.S. The 2010 U.S. Census reported the Chicano/Latino population at 50.5 million, and projected it to reach 132.8 million by 2050! Political vested interests now fear (and will do all in their power) to maintain the existing undocumented worker system, the political franchising of our people and any change to the privileged status quo that they maintain in this country.
To President Obama, the congress and policy makers; the only manner the so-called immigration issue will be resolved is when a Bill of Rights for Undocumented Workers is instituted, i.e. (a) establishing legal residency by demonstrating a status as a wage earner and taxpayer, (b) having all of the constitutional rights guaranteed to all persons in the U.S., (c) the right to be reunited with their family, etc. Until that day the revolving door of immigration will continue to revolve.
To the 50.5 million Chicano/Latinos; to stop Nazizona from enforcing SB 1070’s “show me your papers” provision, we must unite and fight back to defend all of our peoples rights, U.S. born, documented, and undocumented. We must utilize all of our available political and economic POWER, from boycotting Arizona (again) to demanding that all politicians that seek our votes, from Obama, Romney, state and local candidates declare their opposition to Nazizona enforcing the Supreme Court ruling.
In conclusion to our community and people, if other ethnic groups don’t have to, “WE DON’T HAVE TO SHOW NO STINKING PAPERS!”
Herman Baca is President of the Committee on Chicano Rights