Tag Archives: Immigration rights

“Is this what democracy looks like?” God help us!

Me at Cuellar:Cronyn meeting

The Democratic & Republican politicians co-sponsoring a new bill in Congress to speed up the deportation of children held a press conference today in my town hall. The Democrat has been claiming children are enticed to come here by drug cartels. Driven by vengeance, I decided to attend to roast his ass & rally with other immigration rights activists.

They stopped me at the entrance & queried if I was from media. Never offer a con artist an alibi. I’d never have thought of that myself. Of course, I answered & I flashed my note pad to prove it. It helped that I have gray hair & could be mistaken for a Republcian.

Inside we got speeches in favor of the malignant legislation from a number of local mayors–one more boring & long-winded than the next. Reportedly, they don’t have heating systems in city hall because it’s just not necessary due to hot air. Those who brag we have a model democracy have never attended such an affair, unless by model they mean a living hell.

The official bipartisan line delivered is that these thousands of small children & teenagers flooding the border from Central America are associated with prostitution & drug cartels & they had a local sheriff vouch for this idiocy. When I arrived my blood was on simmer; after an hour of this tripe it was someplace over the boiling point.

Under my disguise as Republican reporter, I shot my hand in the air when the press conference convened; I wasn’t going anywhere with all that pent-up outrage. My question was simple: how does the deportation of thousands of little kids accord with international human rights law, with child welfare legislation & provisions in international law, & laws governing the human right to refuge & asylum? (Between you & me, I know those laws are only paper but I really know how to work ’em if I have to.) I also added it was unseemly & outrageous to make associations between small children, prostitution, & drugs as a justification for deporting them. I was interrupted once & asked if I was in the media; I answered “yes.” Well doesn’t www.maryscullyreports.com qualify me as media? Or do I have to talk stupid like Richard Engel covering Gaza for NBC?

There’s no need to report their non-answer since they’re both dopes & were probably stunned that one of the only white faces in the room who they relied on for xenophobia was in fact not a Republican but a radical troll.

I tolerated as much as my stomach could bear & then backed out of the room but not before stopping at the sheriff to tell him he shamed the human race. Then I went & joined the immigration rights picket outside. It was a better class of people.

Later, on the basis of my question, a local talk show host came over & corraled me for an interview which turned out to be a grilling by a libertarian. Nothing I love more than giving my opinion & he gave my blog several plugs. I got to defend immigrant rights, skewer the legislation, & announce my candidacy for Texas governor to 100,000 listeners. Not a bad take.

(Photo of me on the left listening to the two politicians blubber their way through an answer, by Ronnie Garza)

Central American immigrants endangered in Mexico

One of the most significant developments in immigration rights in several countries is that immigrants themselves are fed up to their eyeballs with racist injustice & have begun to fight on their own behalf. They are among the toughest people on the planet, given what they have to go through–& their entry into political action is one of the most promising things to come down the pike in a long time.

This 46-year-old Honduran man named Norman Saul Varela is here holding his prosthetic leg. He lost his own limb in 2005 while riding the train called “La bestia de muerta” (“the train of death) through Mexico north toward the US border. Hundreds of Central American immigrants lose limbs, are injured, murdered, assaulted, kidnapped, disappeared, raped, & robbed riding those trains. Many end up in mass graves.

If you want to know why 50,000 Mexican soldiers deployed in the militarization of the country can’t put a stop to this violence, the answer is they are likely involved through paramilitary squads serving as the southern flank of US immigration policy. They’ve certainly proven no use in stopping drug trafficking, which has increased substantially since the massive military deployments.

Senor Varela is in Mexico City to ask the Mexican Senate to stop government persecution of Central Americans & protect them from “criminal gangs”. The Senate legislated a few years ago that it is legal for Central American immigrants to transit Mexico. The problem is they haven’t made it safe. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that people forced to hop on & off moving trains & ride on top of moving trains are in grave danger. And it doesn’t take a genius or big bucks to provide safe transit–like passenger trains. But the Senate has to call off the military, reign in the paramilitary squads, & stop federal cops from searching buses & trucks traveling north for immigrants. And it has to expel all US military, civilian, & covert operatives from Mexico because the violence against immigrants has the distinct whiff of “la migra” (US border patrol) written all over it.

Our fullest solidarity with Senor Varela & his fellow immigrants. Immigration is a human right! Open the borders!

(Photo by Marco Ugarte/AP)

African immigrants in Germany under siege

The remarkable 1974 German film titled, “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul,” by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
is about a young Moroccan immigrant who meets a dowdy middle-aged cleaning woman when he is taunted into asking her to dance in a bar where she has sought refuge from rain. The signature moment in the film is when his ridicule melts into nothingness as she asks him about himself & the humanity of both merges. The rest of the film is taken up with the ferocious discrimination they faced as a couple–not primarily due to their age difference but to his nationality.

It was evident from that film that racism against immigrants was rampant in Germany even before immigration became a central issue in US politics. There certainly is no glory in outpacing the US on that question but a considerable amount of shame. There are now an estimated one million African immigrants in Germany, distinguished as either North African or Sub-Saharan, which is code describing either Arabic or Black ethnicity. Some immigration agencies estimate there are now between 7 & 8 million undocumented African immigrants living throughout the European Union (EU) countries–at least two-thirds of them from North Africa since EU immigration policy toward Black Africans is so violent, attempting to keep them isolated in squalid refugee camps on Mediterranean islands or massively deport them.

European regimes are torn on the issue of immigration in the same way as the US regime. On the one hand, these countries rely on the cheap, exploitable labor of foreign workers for any number of jobs–& “illegal” status makes them super-exploitable. But on the other hand, whipping up anti-immigrant fervor among working people is a marvelously effective weapon for divide & conquer.

This young immigrant is being dragged away from a confrontation where riot cops in Berlin surrounded & tried to dismantle a makeshift refugee camp. The report says “violence broke out” between refugees who had accepted a deal by the city to leave the camp & move to a renovated hostel & refugees who insisted on staying. The confrontation was likely less between skepticism & credulity about authorities & their promises than it was another instance of ‘violence breaking out’ when riot cops attack protestors.

Immigration is a human right!

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders!

This photo is of two African immigrants who on March 18th made it past the 20-foot chain-link fence between Morocco & Melilla, an outpost of Spain on the coast of northern Africa. Because the detention center already has triple its capacity of immigrants, the Spanish Red Cross set up additional tents (seen in the background).

The photo is posted not to evoke pity–a patronizing emotion–because immigrants are among the toughest, most determined people on the planet. It is posted because the faces of these young men express the fear, trauma, & ordeal of undocumented immigrants routed by neoliberal barbarisms, forced to leave their families & countries, travel thousands of often treacherous miles, risk their lives & limbs simply to find work.

Our fullest solidarity with them. Immigration is a human right!

(Photographer not identified; photo from CNN)

The unspeakable barbarisms of European Union immigration policies

Melilla is a Spanish territory on the Mediterranean coast of Africa surrounded by Morocco. It has long been disputed territory between Spain & Morocco, along with the enclave of Ceuta & several nearby Mediterranean islands. Spain has claimed it since the 15th century & it remains a vestige of European colonialism. Ironic that, since now it serves Spain as a military outpost against African immigrants fleeing the ravages of neoliberal plunder in their own countries.

Reportedly, the Spanish government estimates there are 40,000 African immigrants in Morocco trying to get into Melilla or the enclave of Ceuta which is closer to the Strait of Gibraltar. They estimate another 40,000 moving from Mauritania to Morocco to make entry into Spain & the rest of Europe to find work.

The border between Morocco & Melilla is secured by a six-meter (nearly 20 feet) high chain-link fence with detection wires, tear gas dispensers, radar, day/night vision cameras, & lots of armed border patrol agents. That hasn’t deterred immigrants from repeatedly attempting to cross into the enclave where there is an overcrowded migrant center.

The barbarisms Spain uses to thwart immigrants have created a furor, especially since last February when fifteen immigrants drowned trying to swim from Morocco past a retaining wall into Ceuta. Spanish police fired rubber bullets at them although they claim they were not directly aimed at the immigrants. You don’t find a more paltry defense of barbarism than that. Who were they shooting at then? Fish?

In late March, under early morning cover of dense fog, about 800 young men reportedly mostly from Mali & Cameroon, rushed a weak section of the chain-link fence at Melilla; 500 made it in. It was the single largest crossing since October 2005 when 350 successfully crossed. The young immigrants ran toward the holding center shouting “bosa, bosa” (“victory, victory”) & we join that rally cry with them. Spanish officials claim most were turned back by phalanxes of border patrol from both Morocco & Spain.

European Union immigration policy is barbaric & racist & must be opposed. Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders!

(Photo of immigrants trying to get into Melilla by Jose Colon/AFP)

Immigration rights protests target Obama for not delivering on campaign promises

This immigration rights protest outside the White House doesn’t look like the most spirited protest but it’s colder than hell in Washington, DC & the immigration rights movement is one the most active social movements in a quite somnolent period in US politics.

After raking in the Latino vote by promising immigration reform, Obama remained true to form for the Democratic Party & continued militarizing the US-Mexican border; accelerated the massive deportation of undocumented workers (including separating children from their parents & dumping thousands of kids in the barbaric foster care system); & refusing to give amnesty to immigrants who had come here as children with & without their parents. He pulled a fast one on the latter, offering them a deferment after he got their names & addresses so immigration authorities know where to pick them up when the deferment ends.

Ever the bullshit artist & annoyed that immigration rights activists would embarrass him by demanding he deliver on his campaign promises, Obama tried to dump the blame on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which now governs immigration. Actually the DHS was appointed by Bush when that bozo was president & is a cabinet position so it’s likely the president continues to call the shots on DHS & immigration policy. Obama also tried to blame the Republicans which is a part of the two-party shell game as old as the republic itself. Boy it’s tiresome!

Immigration is a human right. Our hats off to these activists standing in the freezing cold last Wednesday to demand their human & democratic rights & for showing the rest of US working people what it takes to win justice.

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghan president Karzai refuses to buckle to US Pentagon

Media & diplomats are calling Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to maintain US military occupation in Afghanistan “The last stand of Hamid Karzai;” they liken it to a poker game, deplore he is “thumbing his nose” at the US & demonizing US troops & diplomats, accuse Karzai of mental health problems & ask if he is off his meds–all because he demands a minimal semblance of Afghan sovereignty, including accountability in Afghan courts for US soldiers who commit crimes & cessation of barbaric attacks on civilians.

Karzai is no prize package politically; he is a long-time collaborator with the US-NATO occupation & came to prominence only as a result of his corruption & collusion with the US. He will be leaving office after the April elections so his new independence may reflect some opposition within the Afghan elite to continued US occupation. It takes a certain amount of courage for Karzai to defy the US because if they thought they could get away with it the Pentagon would not hesitate to take him out.

By far, the most pernicious attacks on Karzai came from the Washington Post under the headline ”Karzai suspects US is behind insurgent-style attacks.” Citing unidentified officials in the Karzai regime & describing them as “palace officials,” the Post claims Karzai suspects many “shadowy insurgent-style attacks” in Afghanistan involved operatives of the US government. On hearing the claims, US officials swooned like actors in a Victorian melodrama; according to the Post, they “reacted with incredulity & anger to the idea that they are trying to debilitate Afghanistan’s government, which they have supported with hundreds of billions of dollars.”

The appropriately named US ambassador Cunningham (since he is both sneaky & a ham actor) said “It flies in the face of logic & morality to think that we would aid the enemy we’re trying to defeat,” & he accused Karzai of “deeply conspiratorial” thinking. Not really ambassador CunningHam. Karzai doesn’t have to go all libertarian; he only has to look at Iraq & Pakistan to see the future of Afghanistan.

As for those “hundreds of billions of dollars,” they were either bucks for bribery or for war & not reconstruction. There are some new showpiece high-rises in Kabul but the rest of the country is a shambles from bombing raids & house demolitions. Several agencies of the UN have issued reports on poverty, homelessness, & the increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The UN reports blame it all on the corrupt Karzai regime, on the Taliban, on bad karma & not the US-NATO war because they support the war. One UN official in Afghanistan told reporters, “Poverty actually kills more Afghans than those who die as a direct result of the armed conflict.”

Poverty statistics in Afghanistan are quite staggering: according to one of the endless UN reports, nine million Afghans or 36% of the population live in “absolute poverty” while another 37% live barely above the poverty line. The streets are lined with homeless widows & their children begging. The poverty line established as $1.25 a day by the World Bank wouldn’t feed a mouse, let alone a child, so the distinction between absolute poverty & those barely above the poverty line is only one a sociopathic bureaucrat would make. But most importantly, can the UN tell us how those women were made widows & their children homeless? Has the bubonic plague hit Afghanistan & carted off all the men? Or might the US-NATO war be implicated in the massive poverty?

All out for the spring protests demanding “US out of Afghanistan!” “US out of Iraq!”

{Photo of Afghanistan from Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)}