Mitt and Money
The Triumph of Angels
Reforming the UN
Brian J. Trautman
Edge of the Abyss
Obama Discovers Inequality
Nicolas J.S. Davies
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Nativism is Big Business
Immigration is a contentious issue, but its controversy has been exacerbated by those who stand to profit tremendously from nativist scare tactics. For everyone from politicians to private prison corporations, nativism is big business.
During periods of economic recession, such as we find ourselves in today, media and politicians benefit from the scapegoating of easy and vulnerable targets. The recent recession has brought an amplification in anti-immigrant and nativist rhetoric, although such rhetoric is as old as the United States. Despite the fact that we pride ourselves on being a nation of immigrants, we have a profound mistrust and apprehension for the constantly changing face of American immigration. Benjamin Franklin was intensely suspicious of German immigrants (a menace to “purely white people”) whom he claimed would threaten our language, our government, and the very foundations of our society. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, recommended “build[ing] a wall of brass around the country” to protect our nation from Catholic immigrants. Like the Scotch-Irish in the 18th century, Chinese in the 19th century, and Italians at the turn of the century, each successive group of immigrants to the United States has been reviled as un-American, uncivilized, and undeserving. While the rhetoric of immigration has not changed, what has changed is who we vilify. Today, the immigrants we most despise, calculated in terms of the rising number of documented hate crimes committed against them, are Latinos and Muslims.
Despite the fact that about 75 percent of immigrants in the United States are here legally and that unauthorized immigrants make up less than 4 percent of the total population, the media make it seem as though we are being invaded by a horde of illegals intent on “importing deadly diseases, rampant crime, and international terrorism,” who “live off welfare and destroy public schools.” These last comments are quoted directly from Lou Dobbs, but the rhetoric is not his alone. Michael Savage, another talk show personality whose rhetoric on immigration is particularly vile, says that unauthorized immigrants are “killing our police for sport, raping, murdering like a scythe across America.” Bill O’Reilly insists that “the influx of immigrants will change…the whole complexion of the country.” Notice, in particular, that his comment does not center on unauthorized immigrants, but immigrants of all statuses who are people of color.
In fact, white nativism is a booming business in the United States today. Neo-Nazis and racist skinheads, who have long demonized people of color of all nationalities, have championed immigration restrictionism as a core value. In Dalton, Georgia, a Klan representative famously stated, “I have a dream that one day we will take our county back from 60,000 illegals.” Across the country, Klan and Klan-like groups are rallying in opposition to immigrants of color. Unsurprisingly, then, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has documented a recent and rapid increase in the number of hate groups—specifically white supremacist, anti-immigrant and nativist. In 2010, the SPLC counted a total of 1,002 active hate groups across the nation, a rise of 52 percent since 2000.
One particular subset of hate groups has flourished in the current political environment. The number of nativist extremist groups, which actively target individual immigrants and their families, has nearly doubled since 2008, reaching a total of 319 known groups in 2010. The most widespread of these are the Federal Immigration Reform & Enforcement (FIRE) Coalition, the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, and the Minuteman Project. The growth of such nativist extremist groups seems to have slowed considerably since the passage of Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation; nonetheless, the membership base continues to rise.
Politicians also parrot the rhetoric of harm. In our national and state legislatures, as well as in stump speeches given across the country, unauthorized immigrants are blamed for overwhelming deficits, rising welfare rolls, rampant crime rates, even desert wildfires. In 2010, Tennessee representative Curry Todd equated immigrant women to rats who will “multiply” uncontrollably to the detriment of our nation. In 2011, Kansas representative Virgil Peck compared immigrants to another species of animal: “If shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem.”
The truth is that our politicians and media have sold us a story about immigrants and immigration that many Americans have swallowed whole, seemingly without any desire to search out evidence for these claims. In fact, all evidence indicates that immigrants commit far fewer crimes than do native-born Americans and that immigrants pay more into the U.S. economy than they take.
In 2010, immigration laws were enacted in all but four states. Among the most controversial was Arizona’s SB 1070, signed into law in April 2010. Although an injunction was issued against many of its components shortly thereafter, several states have initiated their own versions of the bill. During the 2011 legislative session, Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama—all new destinations for Latino immigrants—passed copycat legislation. Immigrant advocates have stated that Alabama’s omnibus legislation—which was quietly ushered through the state legislature while most Alabamans were still recovering from the impact of the devastating tornados—makes Arizona’s SB-1070 look soft on immigration. Alabama representative Micky Hammon, one of the bill’s sponsors, summed up the law: “This is an Arizona bill with an Alabama twist” (no pun intended, I’m sure). Under the Alabama law, unauthorized immigrants are prohibited from entering into state contracts, landlords cannot rent without proof of citizenship, children must provide citizenship documentation upon enrolling in K-12 schools, and individuals who knowingly transport unauthorized immigrants can be charged with a criminal offense.
Many of these policies were considered in states across the nation, but they met with much less success. However, similar bills will be introduced or re-introduced in state assemblies throughout the country during the 2012 legislative session.
The Economics Of Immigration
In the national discussion on immigration, what is often overlooked is the fact that politicians and media personalities benefit from the scapegoating of immigrants, as poll numbers and viewership rates supposedly reflect what people want to hear. However, the complex web of intersections between the politics and economics of immigration are often less immediately obvious. For example, most Americans do not realize that the Arizona law and its copycat versions were written by lobbyists for a private prison industry, which stands to make millions—if not billions—when these laws go into effect. Housing undocumented immigrants in prison is a billion dollar industry for the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). The more restrictive laws we have on the books, the more money CCA stands to make.
Of course, CCA’s business model is profitable only if there is a guaranteed and steady supply of unauthorized immigrants who are apprehended on a daily basis.
Enter local law enforcement, which has been empowered recently with the authority to question and detain individuals over their immigration status. While we wring our hands over copycat legislation at the state level, even more insidious policies are quietly and non-democratically being enacted at the local level throughout the United States, in spite of opposition from counties, communities, residents, and even police chiefs, sheriffs, and police officers. These policies include Secure Communities, 287(g), and other ICE ACCESS agreements, which promote collaboration between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by increasing information sharing between the two groups or by deputizing police officers to serve as agents of immigration enforcement. What does such collaboration look like, and why is it problematic?
In the summer of 2011, I traveled to Atlanta with a group of Tennesseans to march and rally with thousands of people from across the nation in opposition to Georgia’s recently-passed copycat legislation. While there I met two young Latino men whose car had been broken into and $500 in cash was stolen. They asked me: “What should we do? Should we report this to the police?” I responded, “I don’t know. It’s risky.” We consulted first with a community organizer and then with a lawyer, both of whom were on sight to help with the rally. The general consensus was: “You could report this to the police, but chances are that the officer would detain you and report you to ICE.” You see, the two men were unauthorized immigrants and Atlanta is one of an ever-increasing number of localities with cooperation agreements between local law enforcement and ICE. When police collaborate with immigration agents, the people who ultimately benefit are those who are intent on exploiting unauthorized immigrants.
“Why did these men have $500 cash in their car? Weren’t they asking to be robbed?” Since the passage of the PATRIOT Act, it has become difficult for people without a valid Social Security number to open a bank account. So, unauthorized immigrants don’t open bank accounts and they end up carrying significant amounts of cash on their person or in their homes. Other people know this. During the 2005 “Night of Blood” in Georgia, three U.S.-born citizens seeking easy money targeted immigrant farm- workers in a string of brutal attacks that resulted in the deaths of six immigrants, many more immigrants injured, and one immigrant sexually assaulted. Across the nation, we have seen an escalation in home invasions and assaults on Latinos. Today, any Latino who is assumed to be unauthorized is a target for assault and robbery.
The deep mistrust that many immigrants have of local law enforcement is not paranoia, rather, it is based in everyday experiences. Police-ICE collaboration (PoliMigra as it has been labeled by immigrant rights organizations) encourages retaliatory law enforcement practices against unauthorized immigrants. A recent example of such retaliation occurred in Shelbyville, Tennessee, where the group Latinos Unidos de Shelbyville (LUS) has methodically recorded civil rights violations committed against unauthorized immigrants and those suspected of being unauthorized immigrants. Among other abuses, LUS has documented the regular use of racial profiling by Shelbyville police who have systematically pulled over Latinos for no documented reason other than that they look “foreign.” In September 2011, LUS released a report identifying these abuses and hosted a community forum to raise awareness of police violations. The forum was attended by the Tennessee Human Rights Coalition, the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Civil Rights, as well as local clergy and more than 100 community members. A week later, in the early morning hours, ICE officials broke down the doors of the houses of some of the leaders of this group. Some of those individuals have since been deported.
Secure Communities, and our other policies that promote collaboration between local police and ICE, do anything but secure our communities. The Secure Communities policy means that domestic violence shelters in New York have started telling their unauthorized immigrant clients not to go to the police, except in the direst of emergencies. Victims of domestic violence who report their abuse have themselves ended up in removal proceedings.
This is systemic. Despite the fact that ICE has stated, repeatedly, that they will target primarily dangerous criminals and threats to national security, their own data show that the majority of those entered into removal proceedings through programs like Secure Communities are people who have committed only misdemeanors or no criminal acts at all. In fact, a distressing number are actually victims of a crime. Collaboration between local police and immigration authorities produces an impossible dilemma for unauthorized immigrants of whether they should trust local police and report their victimization, thereby risking detention and deportation, or endure their victimization in silence.
These local and national immigration policies have created a group of people who are incredibly vulnerable and people know they are vulnerable. Employers exploit them, exposing them to harmful work conditions, paying them less than minimum wage or simply not paying them at all. People assault unauthorized immigrants, sexually assault them, and traffic them as commodities. We have created a class of people whose purpose is to be victimized.
This is a broken system that doesn’t benefit the community as a whole. It certainly doesn’t benefit most immigrants, authorized or unauthorized. But it does benefit:
- White supremacist organizations and nativist extremist groups
Unscrupulous employers who threaten to call ICE when an unauthorized
worker demands fair pay or safe working conditions
Executives and shareholders of the Corrections Corporation of America
make money from imprisoning immigrants
Media personalities and politicians who build their careers on fear mongering
It also benefits citizens of the United States, all of us, individually. Not only do we benefit from the cheap commodities and services extracted from exploited labor, we are further privileged in that we, as citizens, do not have to learn or acknowledge the real consequences of nativism.
Meghan Conley is a doctoral candidate in Sociology/Political Economy at the University of Tennessee.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.