Monday, February 28, 2011

UnDeveloping Controls: States of Internment and Humanity at the Crossroads

This is the text of a leaflet against proposed anti-immigration legislation in Indiana. The leaflet was found somewhere but it is unclear how it got there or who wrote it.

UnDeveloping Controls: States of Internment and Humanity at the Crossroads

“We want the rule of law restored.” –Indiana Senator Mike Delph, author of anti-immigration Senate Bill 590

There is no homeland or nation at the crossroads, just spaces of flight that intersect. The misery of the modern world finds expression in the ongoing flows of global exodus. A population on-the-run is objectified for segregation. So the rule of law restores itself through an elaboration of lies. Race is an old lie, developed in the earliest days of established authority to divide and enslave. “Illegal alien” is a crude maneuver of the political machinery as it wets its appetite for another racialized scapegoat, to obscure the ineptitude and coercion of a dictatorial market, or to avert a rebellion from developing in its place.

In the halls of the politicians’ assembly, legislative measures are developed to further the management of internal populations, to expel some while caging others. “Reasonable suspicion” is a cloak for racist assumptions in the application of the rule of law. The undocumented immigrant faces a perilous journey to escape war, poverty, misery, and persecution only to find the American Dream gasping in democracy’s concentration camps. Precarity wears the mask of normalcy as it circumscribes individual and social possibility.

The rule of law is an elaboration of lies, giving reason to a system of authority and money that progresses without apparent end. There are no outsiders, just nations and states, lives lived in exile or escape. Democracy promises us an enlightened freedom and delivers us to atomized existences fed from the trough of mass production and consumption. The competition of the market is a starvation internalized, provoking another exodus of the will for human solidarity and mutual sustenance.

The citizen differs from the undocumented immigrant only by the manufacture of division: national identity and identification, the political unity of consensus and conformity. Nation-states are evolved strategies of social control through which hierarchy assumes power over fixed territory. Borders are the spatial demarcations of confinement and expulsion, lies in the sand, future ruins of the current crisis of disempowerment and economized distrust. A world of classes, borders, and armed guards is a humanity interned by state violence and deception.

Solidarity is borderless and holds human division in contempt. We are all strangers in a world of identity checks, private property, and states of internment. The ‘path of least resistance’ conceals the brevity of authority’s ascendancy. From the crossroads of shared experience, humanity learns from false freedom and life-as-repression: liberation is an elaboration of rebellion. Rebellion is liberation from control.

Oppose SB 590 and the state’s rule of laws! Our humanity will not be divided into competition, containment, and the fictions of race. Solidarity to those without papers! Abolish all states and dismantle the borders!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Arizona to countersue feds over immigration issues

Arizona is suing the federal government, claiming the feds have failed to secure the border and protect the state from "an invasion" of illegal immigrants.

Gov. Jan Brewer said the intent of the lawsuit and the state's first priority is to force the federal government to protect Arizonans.

"The first and foremost issue we're facing right now is the security, safety and welfare of our citizens," Brewer said. "The federal government needs to step up and do their job."

The lawsuit was filed Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Phoenix as a countersuit to the lawsuit the U.S. Department of Justice filed against Arizona challenging the constitutionality of its immigration law, Senate Bill 1070.

"Arizona did not want this fight, we did not start this fight," Brewer said. "But now that we are in it, Arizona will not rest until our borders are secure."

The lawsuit alleges that the federal government has failed in five areas:

-To achieve and maintain "operational control" of the border.
-To protect Arizona against "invasion."
-To enforce immigration laws.
-To uphold the 10th Amendment, which states that "powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution ... are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

"What we're seeking is to force the federal government to do its job," Attorney General Tom Horne said, adding that the Obama Administration is "actively" not enforcing immigration law.

Horne said there have been similar cases filed out of other states over the years.

"We hope this one will be successful," he said.

The White House declined to comment and referred calls to the Department of Justice, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who wrote SB 1070, was at Brewer's announcement of the lawsuit, as was Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix.

Sinema called the move a distraction from other issues and a waste of time.

"Gov. Brewer should be focused on solving the problems in our own house," Sinema said. "We need Congress to act. The state of Arizona doesn't have the power to do it."

Sinema, an attorney, said the invasion allegation in particular would likely fail in court.

"While we all agree the immigration crisis is a massive crisis, I don't think it qualifies as an invasion," she said.

Pearce dismissed criticism that the Legislature is focusing on immigration issues instead of jobs or the budget.

"This is about our budget," Pearce said. "This is about the health and safety of the citizens of Arizona."

He said he applauded the governor and attorney general for filing the lawsuit.

"The federal government has been derelict in their responsibilities," he said. "This is way overdue."

Los Angeles gets tough with political protesters

For acts of political protest that his predecessor treated as mere infractions, Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich is seeking jail time.

Hamid Khan, Alma Soto Chloe Osmer and Garrick Ruiz

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich is throwing the book at dozens of people arrested during recent political demonstrations — a major shift in city policy that has him pressing for jail time in types of cases that previous prosecutors had treated as infractions.

Some of the activists arrested, including eight college students and one military veteran who took part in a Westwood rally last year in support of the DREAM Act, face up to one year in county jail.

Trutanich's aggressive stance is the latest episode in the city's decades-long legal struggle over the rights of protesters. The Los Angeles Police Department's treatment of demonstrators at the 2000 Democratic National Convention and at a 2007 May Day rally at MacArthur Park led to lawsuits against the city.

Trutanich said in an interview that recent demonstrations, conducted without permits, had cost the city thousands of dollars for police response and disrupted traffic. Organizers of illegal protests should face consequences, he said.

"My whole deal is predictability," he said. "In order for us to have a civilized society, there has to be a predictable result when you break the law. I want to make sure that they don't do it again."

The new policy, he added, was designed with an eye on what he called "professional" protesters who demonstrate repeatedly — sometimes for pay, he said — and never seem to be punished for their illegal activities.

"There's a right way and a wrong way" to protest, Trutanich said. "When you break the law, it's a not a mainstream 1st Amendment activity. You have the right to protest; you don't have the right to break the law."

Critics, including civil liberties advocates and at least one City Council member, accuse him of overkill and say his policies could imperil legitimate free speech.

"We should be incarcerating those who are truly public threats as opposed to students who are raising their voices out of passion for a cause," said City Councilman Ed Reyes, who has met with Trutanich on behalf of the DREAM Act supporters.

Reyes said the city should give people arrested in certain forms of protest a chance to work out deals with prosecutors to avoid jail time and criminal records.

Until recently, that was city policy — first-time offenders arrested in protests were typically granted what is known as a city attorney hearing, an informal alternative to a court date where defendants could negotiate deals.

In 2009, under Trutanich's predecessor, Rocky Delgadillo, all but one of 12 students arrested at a protest over fee hikes at UCLA were offered plea deals that reduced their charges to an infraction with a $100 fine.

"Our policy was that this is an exercise of 1st Amendment rights, and if this was your first time, you would get a hearing," said Delgadillo, who said his policy was based on the belief that a protester demonstrating for a political cause is different from a typical criminal.

John Raphling, an attorney who is representing a protester charged with three misdemeanors after a May 21 demonstration at City Hall over rent hikes, said Trutanich's approach is aimed at quashing dissent. "It's saying, 'You better not step out of line, you better not speak out,'" he said. "Why is he taking an approach that's a hundred times more harsh than anyone before?"

Others accuse Trutanich of acting from political motives, noting that he has flirted with a run for L.A. County district attorney — a motivation Trutanich denies.

The effect of his new approach can be seen in the prosecutions of those who took part in at least four demonstrations last year — including 10 people arrested at an August rally for laid-off janitors in Century City and 24 arrested at three protests against Arizona's controversial immigration bill, as well as the DREAM Act supporters.

At the May 20 rally for the passage of the DREAM Act, a bill that would have granted amnesty to illegal immigrants enrolled in college or serving in the military, nine people walked into the street in front of the Federal Building in Westwood, locked their hands together and sat down. They included recent graduates and current college students, one an honors student in her last year at UCLA, and a Navy veteran, Jonathan Bribiesca Ramirez.

The protest snarled rush-hour traffic on Wilshire Boulevard for hours. When police ordered the protesters to disperse, they refused. They were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and blocking the sidewalk or street — misdemeanors that carry a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail.

As he has in the other protest cases, Trutanich has denied city attorney hearings to the DREAM Act protesters. Their trials are set to begin in March.

In at least one other case, however, the city attorney's office has offered to dismiss charges against some members of a group of protesters, according to their attorney, Cynthia Anderson-Barker. That case involved five students at Cal State Northridge who marched against budget cuts as part of an apparently spontaneous protest. The university's provost, Harold Hellenbrand, wrote a letter to Trutanich asking that the charges be dismissed.

Felipe Plascencia, who along with several other attorneys from the Mexican American Bar Assn. is representing the students in the DREAM Act demonstration for free, said he was shocked to learn that Trutanich was pressing ahead with those cases, as well as Trutanich's suggestion that the protesters were "professionals."

"I have not seen any evidence of that whatsoever," Plascencia said. "These were college students trying to prove a point. It's an injustice for [the city attorney's office] to have dragged on for this long."

Protest, he said, is an American value and has long played a prominent role in L.A. city affairs. In 2006, some 500,000 people marched downtown to protest a proposed federal crackdown on illegal immigration. "The whole foundation of this country was rebelling against an unjust system," he said.

Plascencia also heads the Mexican American Bar Assn. PAC, which supported Trutanich with endorsements and fundraising in his campaign for office. He has lobbied Trutanich to reduce or drop the charges against the DREAM Act protesters and says he hopes they will eventually be dismissed.

For now, however, the various protesters facing charges say their lives have been on hold. Garrick Ruiz, 34, is one of them. In May, he and 13 others locked their hands together outside the Metropolitan Detention Center in protest of Arizona's SB 1070, a measure that requires police to investigate the immigration status of anyone they stop and subsequently suspect may be in the country illegally.

"We knew we were doing something against the law and that we would have to go through the court system," Ruiz said. "That (Trutanich) has taken this path and sought this level of prosecution has been a shock."

This is not the first time Ruiz has been arrested for protesting. He was jailed for demonstrating at the Democratic National Convention in 2000 — and later saw his charges reduced to an infraction.

Last month, Ruiz and the group that staged the Arizona-law protest held a noisy demonstration outside Trutanich's City Hall office. They said his efforts will not deter them.

"If he thinks this is going to stop protest, then he doesn't understand why we did what we did," Ruiz said. "I had to do something, regardless of the personal cost.",0,6707905,full.story