Movement says ‘no’ to SB 1070 & Washington’s ‘Secure Communities’
Published Jul 28, 2010 2:28 PM
Despite a continuous onslaught of attacks against immigrant workers, resistance
and opposition continue to grow in the U.S. — not only against
Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, but also against the entire campaign to
criminalize and drive workers born outside this country underground.
In the month of July alone, there were not one but many national actions in
Washington, D.C. Organized by different sectors of the movement, they included
Arizona but focused on other immigration issues as well. These actions included
militant civil disobedience by undocumented students in support of the DREAM
Act, who, risking deportation, boldly carried out actions directly at the
center of power in this country.
Union Square, New York, May 1.
WW photo: G. Dunkel
National days of actions, in solidarity with the people of Arizona and against
SB 1070, are taking place in cities across the country on July 29 and 30.
The danger exists, however, of all attention being turned on SB 1070 while
ignoring other just as dangerous — if not more ominous — measures,
such as President Barack Obama’s “Secure Communities.” And SB
1070 must not sideline condemnation of Senator Charles Schumer’s plan on
Washington has clearly lacked the political will to meet the demands of the
movement for immigrant rights. Instead of granting well-deserved legalization
and pro-worker, comprehensive immigration legislation, the White House and
Congress deliberately handed over immigration policy to the states. Piecemeal
congressional immigration policy paved the way for Arizona’s SB 1070.
Boston, July 10.
WW photo: Steve Kirschbaum
SB 1070 takes place in the wake of the “funnel effect,” where the
militarization of the 2,000-mile southern U.S. border by President Bill Clinton
and his successors forced migrants to cross through not only one of the hottest
areas of the Southwest, but also one of the most conservative. U.S. policies
dared migrants to cross into hated racist and neo-fascist “Sheriff Joe
Nonetheless, as attacks continue in Arizona and around the country, the
movement strongly demonstrates the adage “repression breeds
resistance.” This righteous mood of indignation and level of organizing
could bode well for May Day 2011.
Boston, July 10.
WW photo: Steve Kirschbaum
Not only in Arizona
After 2006 — and the massive immigrant rights demonstrations that took
place across the country — both the Bush and Obama administrations
imposed policies on immigration that went against the movement’s
Immigration policy was outsourced to state and local law enforcement agencies
through a federal program called 287(g). This program deputized local
authorities as federal immigration agents, giving them carte blanche to go
after immigrants and workers of color.
A New York Times editorial notes that “a new report by the inspector
general ... paints a portrait of 287(g) agencies as a motley posse of deputies
who don’t know Spanish, who don’t know or care about the dangers of
racial profiling and who operate well beyond the control of the federal agency
that they are supposed to be working for.” The report warned that 287(g)
laid the basis for civil right violations. (April 8)
Another, even more ominous policy is quietly being applied in cities across the
In April and July, CounterPunch published two informative articles: “Why
Obama’s ‘Secure Communities’ Program May Be More Dangerous
Than Arizona” by Stewart J. Lawrence and “It’s Not Just
Arizona” by Bill Quigley.
The articles correctly describe the creeping danger of what Lawrence described
as “one of the Obama administration’s most important and secretive
immigration enforcement programs.”
Lawrence writes, “Known euphemistically as ‘Secure
Communities,’ the program looks and sounds innocuous, and even
beneficial.” But it is far from that.
He documents how the program has targeted “low-level misdemeanor
offenders, including people who may be guilty of little more than running a
stop sign or driving with a broken taillight.” Many of these people are
innocent. “But,” writes Lawrence, “they are getting rounded
up and processed for deportation just the same.”
The program began in North Carolina and Texas in October 2008. Now, more than
450 jurisdictions, in at least 24 states, are working with the Department of
Homeland Security to implement the program. Lawrence notes that is more than
six times the number of jurisdictions working under 287(g).
Lawrence warns that President Obama is moving to fast-track the Secure
Communities program. “By 2013, under the Obama plan, all 3,100 of the
nation’s jails in all 50 states are slated to have the Secure Communities
database in place.”
Quigley illustrates the heartbreaking and insidious application of Secure
Communities with the case of Florinda Lorenzo-Desimilian.
He writes, “Lorenzo-Desimilian, a 26-year-old married mother of three ...
was arrested in her home [in Maryland] by local police on a misdemeanor charge
of selling $2 phone cards out of her apartment window without a license.
“Local police sent her prints to the FBI who in turn notified [U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement] that she had overstayed her work visa.
Even though her three children are U.S. citizens, ICE kept her in jail for two
days and is now trying to deport her.”
Secure Communities, he writes, is “really operating a dragnet scooping up
and deporting tens of thousands of immigrants, like Ms. Lorenzo-Desimilian, who
are no security risk to anyone.”
Quigley adds, “ICE says this program ‘supports public safety by
strengthening efforts to identify and remove the most dangerous criminal aliens
from the United States.’ However, ICE is not actually targeting convicted
criminal aliens, dangerous aliens, or even violent aliens. They are targeting
For more information on Secure Communities visit www.uncoverthetruth.org.
Other examples of the wrenching devastation of immigrant’s lives are laws
such as that in Fremont, Neb. Amidst billboard campaigns that read “Stop
the invasion,” the City Council passed legislation prohibiting the rental
of homes to people without documents.
The week of July 12 a Utah state government worker released a list of about
1,500 immigrants’ names, along with their immigration status, address and
date of birth to the media! Some of the names included women who had just given
birth or were pregnant. This amounts to a Nazi-like reign of terror.
War on immigrants is war on workers
The state-applied immigration policies, the right-wing rhetoric and hysteria,
coupled with the policies of the Obama administration, amount to a war on
The Washington Post reported on July 26 that a record number of undocumented
workers have been or will be deported. It wrote that the Obama administration
expects to deport about 400,000 workers this fiscal year — “nearly
10 percent above the Bush administration’s 2008 total and 25 percent more
than were deported in 2007”!
One of the principal ways these deportations have occurred merits a full
campaign by every single union in this country.
The Post writes: “The Obama administration has been moving away from
using work-site raids to target employers. Just 765 undocumented workers have
been arrested at their jobs this fiscal year, compared with 5,100 in 2008,
according to Department of Homeland Security figures.
“Instead, officers have increased employer audits, studying the employee
documentation of 2,875 companies suspected of hiring illegal workers and
assessing $6.4 million in fines.”
This policy, called “velvet deportations” by some and “silent
raids” by others, is in response to the economic crisis that is sweeping
the world. If labor does not respond to these deportations, 287(g) and Secure
Communities not only will devastate immigrant communities, but will continue to
undermine union drives and campaigns to raise wages. Furthermore, it will
exacerbate tensions and racism, instead of fostering solidarity and unity
— the main tools for winning workers’ demands.
Stopping 287(g) and Secure Communities should be one of the main demands of the
Oct. 2 March on Washington for jobs that is being organized by sectors of the
labor movement and the Black community. The immigrant rights movement should
mobilize for this demonstration.
Linking to anti-war movement
An important anti-war conference took place in Albany July 23-25. The
immigration struggle had a significant role there. This alliance-building is
key to building the anti-war movement as well as advancing the immigrant rights
Immigration policy is clearly an anti-war issue, as Predator B drones —
the same ones used by the CIA in the Middle East — are now patrolling the
U.S./Mexican border. The militarization of the border is an act of war, not
only on the people south of the border, but on all decent-minded people.
The Albany conference voted to hold spring anti-war actions on April 9 instead
of later in April, because it would have presented a problem if they took place
closer to May Day. This solidarity and coordination by various sectors of the
movement is a tremendous example of the kind of unity that is urgently needed
in the face of all the assaults against the workers and oppressed of the
As fall and spring actions fill the calendar, perhaps a crescendo of movement
will culminate on May Day 2011, where all sectors — not just the
immigrant movement, but labor, anti-war and others — will march together
in a splendid show of class unity.
In New York, the rallying cry will be “May Day where? Union
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