SB 1070: Jim Crow in Arizona

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Last Friday, Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed into law the Jim Crow styled anti-immigration legislation known as SB 1070.

In the weeks after state lawmakers passed the bill, organizers called for protests and acts of civil disobedience, and demanded that Gov Brewer veto the bill.

KPHO on the student walkouts in response to Gov Brewer’s decision to sign the bill:
1,000 Students Walk Out in Immigration Protest

Here’s an overview of the bill from Socialist Worker:

Arizona bill is the real crime
by Norma Villegas

LEGISLATION IN Arizona that could become law by this weekend would make it a crime to lack proper immigration paperwork and would require police, if they suspect someone is in the country without documentation, to determine that person’s immigration status.

The misnamed “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” is being described as the harshest anti-immigrant measure in the country. Introduced by state Sen. Russell Pearce, it passed both houses of the Arizona legislature. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer has until Saturday to veto the bill, known as SB 1070–if she signs it or does nothing, it will become law.

The legislation would forbid authorities from releasing anyone found guilty until the full sentence is served. Courts are required to force those found guilty to pay court costs and an additional fine of at least $500 for the first offense, and double that for a second or subsequent conviction. Plus, any second violation of the law, no matter how minor, would be reclassified as a felony.

In a cruel twist, the fines imposed on those found guilty would be funneled into a special account established for the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM), a multi-agency task force created by the legislature earlier this year with $10 million in funding.

SB 1070 also specifically targets day laborers. The bill would make it a class 1 misdemeanor for anyone to “pick up passengers for work” if the vehicle blocks traffic–and also anyone being picked up in order to work. These restrictions are clearly tailored to penalize anyone seeing work at a day labor site or through an independent contractor, even if out of public view.

Isabel Garcia, co-chair of the Comisión de Derechos Humanos (Human Rights Commission) in Tucson, characterized SB 1070 as a blatant attempt to target Latino workers. As Garcia said in an interview on Democracy Now!:

[I]n New York City, you wave a cab, and when they pull over, of course, it blocks traffic for a few seconds. That’s exactly what would be criminalized in all of the state of Arizona–guaranteeing, of course, that day laborers could not be out looking for work. We’ve criminalized work in the state of Arizona.

This bill resurrects at the state level aspects of the infamous HR 4437, proposed by Rep. James Sensenbrenner five years ago–the anti-immigrant legislation that spurred the massive pro-immigrant right demonstrations in 2006. It also expands on the racist practices of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who boasts of being the most hard-line anti-immigrant law enforcement official in t country.

Under Arpaio, immigrant communities have been terrorized by local law enforcement officials deputized to enforce immigration law as part of the federal government 287(g) program. The result has essentially been the legal use of racial profiling–singling out people who are “suspected” of being undocumented immigrants.

As Alessandra Soler Meetze, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said of SB 1070, “A lot of U.S. citizens are going to be swept up in the application of this law for something as simple as having an accent and leaving their wallet at home.” And if that’s not enough, the bill gives anyone the power to sue a city, town or county if they believe a law enforcement agency is failing to enforce this law.

The effects of this tide of anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona has already been severe, and will only become more so. “People yesterday were scrambling–didn’t send people to school, didn’t go to work,” Garcia said.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

IF THERE was any doubt whether the Obama administration would be on board with the measure, it should be gone now. No sooner had SB 1070 passed the legislature than federal immigration agents raided Arizona shuttle companies that advertise transportation between cities in Northern Mexico, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, with indictments against more than twelve shuttle companies.

Eight hundred Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, together with U.S. marshals and local police officers, apprehended more than 40 people in what the New York Times called the largest immigrant smuggling case in U.S. history. The indictment alleges that the shuttle companies “participated in a conspiracy to transport illegal aliens from Phoenix to other states,” according to the Arizona Republic.

As Garcia told Democracy Now!:

[I]t’s really an absurd justification, when we know that it’s an all-out assault on the public and the community, right on the heels of this legislation passing…They have convicted hundreds and hundreds of people who simply crossed and admitted that they were going to pay a smuggler. They’re the ones who are being prosecuted as being smugglers–as co-conspirators to their own smuggling.”

Who needs the Minutemen vigilantes when there are militarized federal and state government forces carrying out a head-on assault on a population with no rights to speak of, but who have families to care for? Who needs Bush and the Republicans to attack immigrants when the Democrats are doing the job?

for that matter? Record levels of immigrant-related legislation were adopted nationwide in 48 states from January to December of last year–353 to be exact. The lack of federal legalization reform has spearheaded a war against immigrants over the years with orders from the top, no less.

Under the Obama administration, according to government data, deportations of undocumented immigrants in the 2009 fiscal year rose to 387,790, up from 291,060 in 2007 under Bush.

The failure of President Obama and the Democrats’ to pass much needed immigration reform–proposals from Sens. Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham, and from Rep. Luis Gutierrez are filled with concessions, and they are far from passing Congress, even in their current form–should show pro-immigrant forces that we cannot place our trust in politicians to move forward legalization and full rights.

SB 1070 comes on the heels of the recent revival of the immigrant rights movement with the 200,000-strong demonstration in Washington D.C., on March 21. As the annual May Day protests approach, supporters of immigrant rights have to make their voices heard and their demands clear: full citizenship rights to all who seek them, without conditions.

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8 thoughts on “SB 1070: Jim Crow in Arizona”

  1. Just wow. Shit is too much. No great analysis to add but I think it is worth observing this law was written by FAIR (Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform). The same thinly disguised white supremacist, old school racist group that has been working to stop mainly Central and South American immigration since the 1970’s.

    They are working on passing similar laws in at least 11 diferent states. And if that doesn’t work similar groups try to propose ordinances and laws on a local level…

    What do people feel are effective ways to respond to these laws while being more than just reactive? The cavemen and cavewomen on the right have been on the offensive on this issue for at least the past 30 years

  2. Comrades,

    Days after this went to press, I did discover, like David, that FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, was the entity that drafted this bill. Michael Hethmon, the lead attorney, brought up the fact that representatives from four states back then had contacted him about getting a similar legislation passed in their states. Reportedly the number of interested states has increased, and other types of racist legislation has been introduced in Arizona, such as the firing of teachers in public schools for having a “strong accent”. As we have seen class anger erupt in the last few weeks over this racist bill, including an increase in protests and numbers in the streets this past May Day, we have also seen the results of our collective struggle. Here in San Diego, like in many cities across the country, the City Council just passed passed a resolution today, Monday, calling on Arizona to repeal its new statewide anti-immigration law. And just in the past week, 19 conventions have been canceled in Arizona. We need to continue the grassroots fight and get involved in organizing mass caravans to Arizona and/or protest the Arizona Diamondbacks’ games and let legislators know that we won’t stand for this type of round-em-up racial profiling.

  3. hey Norma V.,

    i’ve been having similar conversations here in Austin about possible next steps for the movement.

    on the question of boycott, i’ve been wondering if there is a possibility to wage divestment campaigns instead; similar to those campaigns against apartheid South Africa and apartheid Israel.

    the general problems with boycotts are that it only encourages passive participation, and it is not necessarily organized around class tensions.

    people are encouraged simply NOT to buy something, as opposed to building organizations and movements of working class power that demand control over – in this case – the investments of public resources.

    the latter poses the class tension between professional rulers of official society who normally make these decisions, and the rest of us. people must organize against local institutions of ruling class power to accomplish this.

    we could push for divestment from Arizona state bonds, or possibly the companies that arm and supply local and state law enforcement agencies in Arizona.

    the possibility of freedom rides or mass caravans in my head depends on similar questions. do the freedom riders simply show up to protest, or does their presence contribute to building concrete organizations and institutions.

    during the Civil Rights movement, some organizers went into the south to build organizations of Southern communities that aimed to either break down Jim Crow or obtain voting rights. SNCC is one example of this.

    what would freedom riders to Arizona do once they got their? how could they contribute to building community defense organizations to resist raids by ICE and other police organizations? how could they contribute to building workplace organizations for undocumented workers.

    these are, of course, long term projects that require more than a weekend.

    something else to take into consideration is the fact that before SNCC sent organizers into the South during the 60s there was a wave of protests and sit-ins that galvanized and provided experience to a layer of organizers who would be capable of this.

    the general attitude since 2006 has been malaise and disappointment. the question that keeps being asked is, “where did everybody go?”

    i’ve heard similar responses to SB 1070: sadness. the numbers at May Day definitely indicate a spike in consciousness, but we didn’t see the numbers of the 2006.

    i’m just wondering if those advanced layers of organizers are out there right now to warrant a freedom summer project in Arizona, or do we need to keep building sustained and concrete local campaigns.

    my thoughts, anyways.

  4. Hi jubayr,

    Well, as I’m reading more about the nationwide rise of class anger over this bill and getting involved here locally, I have learned that there have been many more incidents of boycotts and protests. We need to do both, get to AZ and keep fighting locally. We shouldn’t be afraid to challenge proposed repressive reforms (Schumer-Graham bill) that will benefit some at the expense of others. Here’s an excerpt of a recent editorial in the Socialist Worker, which draws from lessons of civil rights struggles past, about what we should be doing on the ground:

    “On campuses and in communities, activists can get started building boycott committees that bring together people who want to take a stand. Speakouts on college and high school campuses can spread the word about the struggle and reach out to people who want to get involved. Unions and community organization should pass resolutions supporting the boycott and the struggle against the racial profiling law.”

    http://socialistworker.org/2010/05/05/resisting-arizona-apartheid

    There is talk of a mass caravan mobilizing for the National Day of Action in Phoenix May 29th, which I’m just learning more from Facebook:

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1049131144&v=wall&story_fbid=104797339564327#!/event.php?eid=116243225075305&ref=mf

    This event could turn into more direct action with people throwing ideas at their respective meetings such as camping out in front of the Capitol Building. How plausible is it? It depends on how well we organize on the ground to keep the pressure on the corporate-controlled powers that be.

  5. i was thinking in terms of strategy.

    put simply: are boycotts, resolutions and camp-outs going to end SB 1070 by themselves?

    i’m not opposed to them in principle, but it’s going to take real confrontations with the rulers to both repeal this bill and win democratic rights for all undocumented peoples.

    the latter is important because some are pointing to either the Democrats, Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano’s challenge, or local city government boycotts of AZ as methods to defeat SB 1070, but the problem is most of these support a different type of enforcement & criminalization, and/or a guest-worker/bracero/slave labor program.

    the protest in AZ on May 29th might be a serious step forward for the movement, but not if people show, scream their heads off and then go home.

    i’m talking about building organizations and working class strength, not just expressing working class anger.

    you said, “It depends on how well we organize on the ground to keep the pressure on the corporate-controlled powers that be.”

    i’m trying to get to the knitty-gritty of that on the ground organizing.

  6. Does anyone know where I can find the actual Bill for 2192- making it illegal for undocumented immigrates to use the public bathrooms? I just find it appalling and very racist. If you were in another country , illegally you still need to use the bathroom..and with all the illegal working, and driving whats to say they will listen to this and the other laws that are being made this year.

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