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What Immigrants Must Learn from the Black Civil Rights Movement ... and Soon

by Juan Santos, Mexica Tlahtolli, Wednesday, Apr. 19, 2006 at 10:48 PM

Un Pueblo Unido

"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 JuanSantos@Mexica.com

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STRIKE WAVE shelearnalot Thursday, Apr. 20, 2006 at 11:50 AM
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