Anti-immigrant terror unleashed in Arizona
Published Apr 21, 2010 3:52 PM
In the early morning hours of April 15, agents from Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, the FBI and other Homeland Security agencies launched a military
operation against Tucson’s mostly Latino/a and Indigenous south side
The operation included military helicopters and agents in black ski masks
carrying assault rifles and high-powered pistols. Simultaneous raids took place
in parts of Phoenix and Nogales, Ariz., but the main focus of the
800-plus-agents operation was Tucson.
The invasion and occupation of the community terrified residents. Lynda Cruz, a
Tucson activist, was notified by south side residents of the raids and
immediately went to see what was going on. “We got calls saying there
were raids here, raids there. I have never seen anything like this before. Men
with AK-47s and black masks covering them. I was threatened by an ICE agent
that said I would be arrested if I interfered in any way,” said
Kat Rodriguez, another activist, said: “What we have experienced for the
last six hours is the terrorization of our community. People are afraid to
leave their home, afraid to go shopping, afraid to go to the hospital, afraid
to go anywhere.”
There were reports of ICE agents targeting children on their way to school.
“One family called,” said Cruz, “and told us that their two
sons, two young Latino boys, were taking a Suntran bus to school and were taken
off the bus by ICE agents. Classmates had to call the parents to tell them ICE
had taken their children.”
The stated purpose of the raid, dubbed “Operation in Plain Sight”
by ICE, was to target “human smuggling operations” in southern
Arizona. ICE targeted four small shuttle companies that provide transportation
between Tucson and the border town of Nogales. It seized 40 vehicles and other
assets of the companies and arrested 51 employees.
There were additional arrests of 17 undocumented persons the agents came across
during this operation. (Arizona Daily Star, April 16) In Arizona, if you do not
have documents and you pay someone to assist you across the border, you are
considered guilty of human smuggling. Essentially, the law says that you have
smuggled yourself; that by paying someone else you are a co-conspirator in a
human smuggling operation.
This military operation occurred just days after the Arizona legislature passed
a racist anti-immigrant bill that requires all police to demand proof of
citizenship in any situation that presents a “suspicion of unlawful
presence in the United States.” If you cannot produce a document to prove
your legal status, you are automatically arrested. This bill also makes it
illegal to stop traffic in order to enter a vehicle for the purpose of seeking
work, a direct attack on day laborers.
On the heels of this law is a bill outlawing ethnic studies programs and
another bill requiring schools to report the legal residency status of all K-12
students. It is expected that Gov. Jan Brewer will sign these bills when they
arrive on her desk.
A few hours after the raids, more than 100 people rallied at the federal
building in downtown Tucson demanding that the Obama administration and
Homeland Security Director (and former Arizona governor) Janet Napolitano stop
all raids and deportations and keep the military out of our communities. A
youth group has formed to discuss strategies for combating this racist state
terror. Other Tucson activists have called for planning sessions to develop a
response for future ICE invasions.
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