[News] What Immigrants Must Learn from the Black Civil Rights Movement
News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 18 19:50:52 EDT 2006
April 18 , 2006
Un Pueblo Unido
What Immigrants Must Learn from the Black Civil Rights Movement ... and Soon
By JUAN SANTOS
"I'm not an American. I'm one of the twenty-two
million Black people who are the victims of
Americanism. One of the 22 million Black people
who are the victims of democracy--nothing but
disguised hypocrisy. So I'm not standing here
speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or
a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver--no, not I. I'm
speaking as a victim of this American system. And
I see America through the eyes of the victim. I
don't see any American dream; I see an American nightmare." -- MALCOLM X
They're lying to us.
They want us to keep playing their way.
To keep waving American flags.
To keep trusting them to do the right thing.
We dare not.
Millions of people's lives are at stake.
Racist lawmakers on the Republican ultra-Right
now assure us - after they were deeply stung by
the protests of millions, and after we won the
hearts of 62% of the US population - that they
want to drop the provisions in new immigration
laws that would make migrants felons.
Some three to six million people would still be arrested and deported.
The Republicans and Democrats alike have decided
the arrests would be for misdemeanors - not felonies.
That's so they don't clog their courts, a point
that was made with crystalline clarity on the
House floor when HR4437 first passed in December.
It has nothing to do with "compassion" or
authentic "inclusion." They want us to imagine
that not being labeled "felons" will make us safe.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Here's why.
Every immigration proposal still on the table
authorizes local police to enforce federal
immigration law, just like agents of La Migra,
the Border Patrol. The National Immigration Law Center makes it plain:
"State and local police with no immigration law
training could claim new authority as enforcers
of criminal law to decide when someone who 'looks
foreign' or 'sounds foreign' has violated federal criminal immigration law."
Everyone with brown skin would become a
stigmatized "suspect." The only difference is we
would be suspects in a misdemeanor - not a felony.
But the penalty for the "crime" would remain the
same - for those without papers it means
deportation. FOX News tells us that under the
Hagel - Martinez "Compromise" that was backed by
the Democrats and by organizations like the National Council of La Raza:
"Illegals (sic) in the United States less than
two years would be required to leave immediately.
If caught once, they would be subject to a
misdemeanor, and if caught twice they would be
charged with a felony. About 2 million to 3
million people fall into this category."
Under such "compromises" millions of migrants
will be deported, their families split apart and
uprooted. The "compromise" approach endangers not
only migrants, but all Brown people. It will open
the door to a new ethnic cleansing, one
surpassing the ethnic cleansings of Mexicans the
US government carried out during the Great
Depression, when 350,000 Mexicans and Chicanos
were deported, and during Operation Wetback, when
1,300,000 of us were deported in the mid-1950s.
Imagine - at a minimum - that everyone who's
marched for migrants rights in recent weeks were
deported. That will give you a picture of the
magnitude of pain and chaos the rulers want to inflict.
Not that life post-"compromise" would necessarily
give the impression that mass roundups were
underway. More likely, it would all happen
quietly, millions arrested, one by one: out of
sight. Call it a slow death, the kind suffered
today by impoverished African Americans in the
wake of the first Civil Rights Movement. It is
imperative that our new movement not suffer the same fate.
This is how it worked then, and what they're aiming for now.
When outrages like open Jim Crow segregation
could no longer be counted on to keep African
Americans "in their place" in the context of the
world-wide anti-colonial rebellions of the 50s
and 60s, the powers that be tried to buy off a
sector of Black people in the US by giving them
new opportunities; a substantial Black middle class arose almost overnight.
This is the equivalent of the "carrot" of
"legalization" and "citizenship" in our context today.
For the rest of the Black nation, stranded in the
ghettos, Jim Crow was followed by an even harsher
master - mass incarceration. One by one young
African Americans have vanished, locked into
prison, until the ones added up to millions, each
rendered silent - until the silence of the terror
and rage in the ghettos of America has grown so
loud it has turned the nation deaf.
A similar fate would await the millions, who,
under a "compromise," would face nothing less
than mass deportation, mass, legal persecution.
Same trick: different decade.
A sister disappears; a father, a mother ...
Here's the rough numbers.
If every one of the 650,000 cops in the US were
authorized to arrest only one migrant once every
3 months, within two years 3 million of the
migrants left without papers would be gone. In
four years half the migrant population of the US
would be gone. No mass roundups, no mobilization
of the SS or the National Guard. Just quietly,
one by one, until the ones add up to millions,
and until the millions add up to silence.
And in that silence, the terror and rage that has
engulfed the ghetto would engulf the barrio as
well. Then, in a replay of the African American
experience following the Civil Rights Movement,
our middle class "leaders" will wonder aloud
where the "victory" went, never admitting that
their "compromise" was not our victory, but our
defeat. Never admitting they had helped to seal
the fate of millions, and helped advance the
surge toward a fascist state in the US.
Don't imagine that the powers that be don't
understand what they are doing. Even the
Minutemen understand it, as evidenced from this
all-in-caps-communication from one of their number·
TAKE AWAY WHAT THE ENEMY HAS IT'S (SIC) EYES
ON...AND MAKE HIM CHOOSE FROM THE ALTENATIVES
(SIC) WE DECIDE TO OFFER...CONTROL THE OPTIONS
2.) USE THE RULE OF LAW TO "FEIGN RETREAT"...IN
OTHER WORDS...PRETEND TO SACRIFICE THE FELONY
ISSUE, BUT STILL MAKE IT SO! WHAT DO I MEAN?
THE BOTTOM LINE IS: WE WANT THESE PEOPLE....WHO
ARE STOPPED BY POLICE TO BE DEPORTED RIGHT?
WELL....THE RULE LAW (SIC), RIGHT NOW, IS THIS:
ANY ILLEGALS CAUGHT ON THE BORDER IS (SIC)....DETAINED AND DEPORTED!
WHY SHOULD IT BE ANY DIFFERENT?
MAKING A FELONY (SIC) REQUIRES TOO MUCH
"COURT TIME" WITH LAWYERS INVOLVED...RED TAPE...
DON'T YOU SEE? IT IS A TRAP THAT THE ENEMY HAS GRABBED!
KEEPING IT A CIVIL OFFENSE, MISDERMEANOR
(SIC)...AND SIMPLY APPLYING THE RULE OF LAW AT
THE BORDER TO REFLECT INTERIOR ENFORCEMENT WITH
LOCAL POLICE IS MUCH MORE WHAT WE WANT!
ALL WE NEED TO DO, AS I HAVE SAYING (SIC) IS...REFORM ENFORCEMENT!
TIGHTENING THE NOOSE, SCORCHING THE EARTH...WILL
FORCE THE ENEMY TO LEAVE, VOLUNTARILY!
15 MILLION ILLEGALS, DEPORTED COMES OUT TO BE
LIKE 8 THOUSAND ILLEGALS EVERY DAY NONSTOP FOR 5 YEARS!
THE NAZIS, WHO DID NOT NEED DUE PROCESS...TOOK
ALMOST 10 YEARS TO ROUND UP LESS THAN THAT...PRIOR TO THE FINAL SOLUTION...
However poorly articulated, this Minuteman
understands the situation clearly. The powers
that be are parading an illusion of "due process"
before us, and trying to appear as something less
than punitive, while they set the stage for a
radical ethnic cleansing, American style.
To achieve this, they are using the time tested
method of divide and conquer, the same tricks
they used to derail the first civil rights
movement, and to destroy the lives of millions of
African Americans, while keeping their system
safe from any rebellion from below by
establishing a Black buffer caste who, they
hoped, would come to have an investment in being
real "Americans." That's the same bait they hope
today's movement will take. But we must
understand that what's gotten us this far is our
will to resist. It is our will to resist that
spoke most plainly to our would-be persecutors,
not flags, not even our dreams. The government
that trained and financed the death squads of
Guatemala, El Salvador, and, yes, Mexico, cares nothing for our dreams.
We must stand united - un pueblo unido - holding
close the bravery and audacity that has caused
our movement to sweep the nation and the world into wakefulness.
The answer to this dilemma - to the trap they
have laid for us - is clear and simple.
No trading the life of one for the life of another.
And as of May 1st, the day of the general strike·
No more American flags.
Juan Santos is editor of Mexica Tlahtolli, a
Chicana/o - Native American newspaper in Los
Angeles. He can be reached at
<mailto:JuanSantos at Mexica.com>JuanSantos at Mexica.com
The Freedom Archives
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San Francisco, CA 94110
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