Tucson, Ariz. — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer issued Executive Order 2012-06 on Aug. 15, denying all state and local public benefits to undocumented youth who apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process announced by the Obama administration in June. Brewer’s order was issued on the same day that DACA eligibility began. This racist, anti-immigrant order is the latest outrage from Brewer, who signed SB1070 into law and outlawed the teaching of Mexican American Studies in Arizona.
The DACA process is a concession wrung out of the Obama administration by the struggle of fearless, undocumented youth demanding the passage of the DREAM [Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors] Act, a proposed law that would grant legalization to children who came to the U.S. before they were 16 years old.
Under the slogan, “Undocumented and Unafraid,” these youth have become known as DREAMers. They have risked deportation, held sit-ins at congressional offices and even infiltrated the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers to expose the brutality and humiliation to which immigrants are subjected.
Under DACA, an applicant would be allowed to remain in the U.S. and could be eligible for a work permit. Brewer’s order would deny an Arizona driver’s license or any form of state-issued ID to DREAMers. Even with a work permit and a job, these youth would still be ineligible for state unemployment compensation.
AZ wealth: Product of immigrant labor
Arizona has seen a tremendous growth in population over the last 50 years. In 1960, the state’s population was 1.3 million people, but it now exceeds 6.3 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This influx provided immense profits for banks and land speculators, who financed the building and home construction needed during this period.
The actual task of building the homes was not carried out by bankers, of course, but was accomplished by workers: brick masons, carpenters, roofers, flooring-installers and the like. A report issued by the University of Arizona in 2008 estimates that immigrants comprised between 27 percent and 41 percent of these low-wage construction occupations. (udallcenter.arizona.edu)
The same report reveals that immigrant workers comprised 59 percent of all agricultural workers in Arizona. Anyone familiar with the history of the United Farm Workers union is well aware of the terrible conditions to which farm workers in Arizona were subjected. Immigrant workers were also a significant percentage of Arizona’s textile manufacturing industry and its service industries, such as janitorial services, building and grounds maintenance, and fast food service.
The immense profits made from this exploitation of immigrant labor reside in the hands of the capitalists and predatory banks. Immigrant workers face the racism fueled by these exploiters, their media and their political servants like Brewer.
Immigrant rights leader talks to WW
Isabel Garcia, a Tucson lawyer, immigrant rights activist, and co-chair of the community organization, Coalición de Derechos Humanos, told Workers World, “Communities across Arizona and the nation are outraged at the callous, ignorant and irresponsible decision by Gov. Jan Brewer to issue an executive order punishing our youth and future leaders on a day that should have been celebrated by all.”
Garcia praised the DREAMers: “Being led to believe that the DREAM Act would be approved for over a decade, after 2006, the undocumented youth decided to take charge of their own political voice and showed their organizational abilities, bravely demonstrating their integrity, intelligence, maturity and commitment to a full human rights agenda for all.
“Now, receiving a small concession to their just demands, the young people in Arizona must continue to contend with a governor that is bent on furthering her political career by demonizing and attacking the most promising generation in recent history. Not since the Civil Rights/Vietnam era has a young generation sparked the excitement for a social justice movement, acting as precursors to the Occupy [Wall Street] movement across the country.”