[News] What Immigrants Must Learn from the Black Civil Rights Movement

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 18 19:50:52 EDT 2006


http://www.counterpunch.org/santos04182006.html

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.

?Y que?

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 compromise.

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


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