don’t know if folks still check this, but i came across this a while ago and thought i’d share:
don’t know if folks still check this, but i came across this a while ago and thought i’d share:
I wanted to share this photo essay with you. It’s a really nice look at migrants in the US and also their lives in Mexico.
Also, I’ve got some pictures of the wall (for the May Day Rally) I’ll upload later so you can share it with friends and family outside of Vassar.
Margo Cowan and Lupe Castillo forced me to rethink how I think about the border, and it’s been a struggle. I could easily go for weeks at a time without questioning why my political science and economics classes only frame questions in terms of territory and relative power in the global political economy. But for the second half of this semester, I’ve been questioning not my professors as much as myself. How can I reconcile the discourse of borders, treaties, and military power with the discourse of racism, sexism, prejudice–with the fact that racism hurts? As several classmates have brought up, our political actions that have to do with borders also have to do with empathy, with compassion. With feeling another’s pain.
Graduation is looming and I decided I had better have a clue who Leymah Gbowee, our commencement speaker, is, before sitting down in my black gown to hear her speak. I watched the film Pray the Devil Back to Hell (there are several film screenings on campus) about the civil war in Liberia–and its resolution–in which Leymah Gbowee played an important role.
She led a women’s peace movement in Liberia that urged all the factions to lay down their arms, because the women were tired of the constant hunger, fear, mutilation, shootings, rape, recruitment of their young sons and daughters to militias, the constant migration to flee the newest front in the war…
The politics of territory was a game for the male warlords to play: a struggle for power and position. All the parties involved in the peace talks knew that none could win it all. So throughout the process they continued to command their militias to take more territory, because body counts bring bargaining power, as Ms. Gbowee points out in the documentary.
While these men were at a conference center in Ghana, dividing up the territory and future government positions amongst themselves, the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace – led by Leymah Gbowee – blockaded the men inside the building and refused to let them out until they had made a substantial peace agreement. These women made the issue not territory, position, or power, but pain and hurt. They brought suffering and oppression to the forefront of the discourse.
It struck me that the language of human rights is so often based on the positive–all humans have dreams, all humans have hope–but here was an effective case of appealing to all humanity, even humans at war with each other, on the basis of shared hurt and shared pain. If only such a language prevailed when we talk about the “border wars” (to use the National Geographic’s term) at the territorial limits — and, apparently, the limits of compassion — of the U.S.
Arizona’s Illegal Workforce Is Down, So Now What?
NPR. April 22, 2012
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments next week on the most divisive immigration law in recent memory. Arizona’s Legislature passed SB 1070 two years ago, but much of it has been put on hold pending the court’s decision.
Still, supporters say the law has achieved one of its stated goals: Thousands of illegal immigrants have self-deported, leaving the state on their own. The real reason — and consequence — of such a demographic shift may be more complex, however.
Jossie was one of those illegal workers who decided to leave. When police cars drove behind her in traffic, she says, she would start shaking and wouldn’t be able to breathe.
Jossie is still afraid of getting deported, so she asked that her last name be withheld. The summer that SB 1070 became law, she left the Phoenix area with her husband, two children and a cockatoo, Bernie.
The most controversial part of SB 1070 would require police to check the immigration status of those they believe are in the country illegally. A federal judge has blocked that provision, but Jossie was still so nervous driving to work she says she once hyperventilated and lost consciousness on the road.
She moved to New Mexico, where illegal immigrants can get driver’s licenses. Her husband rekindled his catering business, and Jossie is cleaning houses again. She says there’s a “big difference” between Arizona and New Mexico.
“New Mexico [offers] me opportunities. … I am going to do something for New Mexico. I am going to tell my kids to do something good for New Mexico,” she says.
A Population Drop, But No Clear Reason
Recent data from the Department of Homeland Security show Arizona’s illegal immigrant population has fallen by 100,000 since 2009. For statistical reasons, the agency warns against making year-by-year comparisons.
“There are a lot of indications that the unauthorized population in Arizona has dropped,” says Jeffrey Passel, a demographer with the Pew Hispanic Center, a group that tracks the U.S. population of illegal immigrants. “But it’s very difficult to say how much it’s decreased and why it’s dropped.”
That’s because earlier in this immigration debate, the state’s economy was in a tailspin. Jobs vaporized in Arizona’s massive construction industry where immigrants tend to work, so it’s hard to know exactly what factors prompted illegal workers to leave the state.
Regardless, Arizona will need a new labor force pretty soon. The research firm IHS Global Insight predicts Arizona will need 41,000 new construction workers by 2015 to keep up with projected demand.
“We’re going to have to reward people that engage in hard labor,” says Dennis Hoffman, an economist at Arizona State University. “If we do that with a domestic labor force, it’s going to cost more.”
‘Just One Battle’
Thinning the state’s illegal workforce is part of the point, according to the legislation’s supporters.
“It’s not a finite victory. It is just one battle. It’s just one phase of it,” says Rey Torres, head of the Arizona Latino Republican Association.
He says the bigger prize would be a federal immigration policy that secures Arizona’s border and improves the flow of commerce between the two countries. He’s open to immigrant workers coming back, as long as someone keeps track of who they are.
“There is nothing in Arizona that tells me we are against immigration,” he says. “We just happen to be against illegal immigration, and we strive to make that distinction.”
Deciding To Stay
Of course, not everyone working illegally in Arizona has left. Ricardo, a 20-year-old college student, is still here. He says he knows countless people who’ve left for other states and a few who went to Mexico or Canada.
“If I leave, I leave everything that I believe in as a person and everything I’ve been working for the past two years,” he says.
Ricardo, who also asked that his last name be withheld, stayed to concentrate on a different kind of work. He helps a group that rallies against laws like SB 1070, making phone calls to recruit and organize supporters.
“I’m tired of running, and I don’t think we’re going to run anymore,” he says.
On Wednesday, Ricardo will follow the arguments in Washington, D.C. He says if the Supreme Court upholds SB 1070, a lot more people will leave Arizona.
Immigration Remains A Dicey Issue For Romney, GOP
NPR. April 23, 2012
At a Republican candidates’ forum in Wisconsin before the state’s primary earlier this month, a speaker who wasn’t on the ballot had strong words for the GOP regarding its low standing among Hispanic voters.
“The way the party … talks about immigration is going to impact the future course of this party and the future course of this nation,” said former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the first Hispanic to hold the nation’s highest law enforcement post.
Gonzales didn’t mention any candidate by name, but during the Republican primaries, none staked out a tougher position on immigration than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“Of course we build a fence, and of course we do not give in-state tuition credits to people who come here illegally,” Romney said at a debate in Tampa last year. “That only attracts people to come here and take advantage of America’s great beneficence.”
In another debate, Romney touted his 2006 agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to allow Massachusetts State Police troopers to enforce immigration laws to, as he put it, “make sure those people who we arrest are put in jail, to find out they’re here illegally, we’re going to get them out of here.”
It might be a position designed to win votes in Republican primaries, but it hurts the party in the long run, Gonzales said in an interview with NPR.
“Anything you say, any campaign position you take, there are going to be consequences,” he said. “I think given the current trajectory, if there’s not a change in course, the consequences are not going to be good ones for a Romney presidency, at least with respect to Hispanic votes.”
The GOP Message
In recent days, there have been hints of a change of course. The Republican National Committee announced an expanded outreach program targeting Hispanic voters in states with large Hispanic populations, like New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina.
The RNC posted an online announcement about the effort, and prominent Hispanic Republicans in Congress, like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, are speaking out.
“I am concerned, because there is this growing demographic in America who I think — at a minimum — we should be competitive in and we’re not,” Rubio said at a forum in Washington sponsored by the National Journal magazine. Rubio, a Cuban-American, is widely viewed as a potential running mate for Romney.
“I think what needs to happen is a permanent commitment that we are going to take the time and energy in the long term to make this argument about why limited government and free enterprise is the right answer to their desires [and] their aspirations,” he said.
Rubio is also trying, however, to soften his party’s image on the issue of immigration by proposing an alternative to the White House-backed Dream Act.
‘Stay The Course’
But some of Romney’s backers are urging him not to soften his stand on immigration. Kris Kobach, the secretary of state in Kansas and an aggressive proponent of strong immigration laws with strict enforcement, says Romney should “stay the course” on his immigration position.
The way the Romney campaign has described Kobach — who helped write the controversial Arizona law, SB 1070, that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court this week — gives some clues as to how it is wrestling with immigration. Early on, Kobach was an “adviser”; more recently, he was just a “supporter,” according to the campaign, and now he’s called an “informal adviser.”
Citing a recent survey from Quinnipiac, Kobach says that among independent voters, 48 percent favor Romney’s position on immigration versus 33 percent who favor President Obama’s position on immigration.
“Clearly he’s winning with Independent voters by taking a law enforcement-oriented approach, and independent voters will decide who becomes president in the fall,” Kobach says.
Whether Romney keeps his previous hard line on immigration now that his nomination seems assured remains to be seen. On Monday, he campaigns with Rubio in Pennsylvania, but on Friday he did more listening than talking when he met with Hispanic business owners in Arizona.
One thing does seem clear: Both he and the Republican Party want to shift the focus away from immigration, hoping to win votes with the argument that Obama’s handling of the economy has been bad for the country and for Hispanics.
Well, I came back here, finally, to edit a post I had already put up– to write a little something about my place in all of this oppression and all of these horrible realities. But then I started reading and, here at my little library table, started crying. It made me want to share some things that I had written in my journal. All of you are such outrageously generous and utterly brilliant people, and I am so grateful to have met you, struggled with you, and learned from you. There are questions that were brought up by you all, by the professors, by the speakers, and by the previously created frameworks in my mind that I think about every day, especially as every day takes me closer to the moment when I will jump from this place into many many new and unknown ones. I am thinking about what Stephanie wrote about– empathy, and what it means, and how it can be taught or communicated. I have also been thinking about something Grace said in our last class : that the trip “complicated a lot of things about the world while stripping bare a lot about life.” That has really moved me. Anyway, I could really ramble forever about these huge questions, but here is some bits from my journal that I wanted to share.
This was written, in part, after we saw the wall for the first time:
I am trying to come to terms with a strong, depressing notion that this “war” at the “border” is completely made up. It’s a distraction from the horrifying reality that we don’t know how make meaningful lives anymore. In a society that cheers on jobs at desks, in cubicles, holiday shopping, meat means dinner, Pier 1 imports, how can we possibly self-actualize? Our minds are clouded, constantly saturated with meaningless shit. And meanwhile, while we eat consume eat use waste sleep, our economy is going down the drain and people are murdering one another and men are hitting women and women are throwing up everything. Our sacred institution needs to distract us and what better way then to use the tried and true tropes of history—we loved being cowboys frontiersmen let’s do it again. Let’s make up threats and scare people into purpose.
And this was written after our first meeting back:
It’s Thursday and we’re back and I am totally flipped out . We got back and I felt weird—out of sorts, overwhelmed about how to talk about what we saw and experienced and learned, etc—but only for a day. Because Sunday, I had to try to jump back in. Read for my seminar, be present with my friends. In my head, I focused only on how much fun I had—because I did have a lot of fun—and less how crushingly helpless I felt, how reflective I was, how heartbreaking and soul-motivating the people we met and stories we heard were. I’m alarmed and sort of saddened by how easily I could practically pragmatically coldly put this all on a shelf to be thought about and dealt with AFTER GRADUATION. What a hypocrite, huh? And yet, as Stephanie said in reflection today, Vassar is not a place that lets you feel and take time to think about one thing for an entire day. To be here is to be busy solitary working laughing moving stimulated. My energy completely shifted when I got on campus without me even realizing it. And it is hard to tell my friends about this and to be totally and completely true to my moral convictions because we have two months left and it’s hard to imagine changing shifting breaking balances and comfort when I just as much as they want to bask in the ease of our historical and fun and lovely friendships. And how do I take time now to process and be slow when I have my THESIS to do now now now now now and it feels so fucking irrelevant. And I just want to leave and be done and be on to something fresh and productive.
Today when we sat in the circle outside no one was saying anything or taking charge so I forcefully said “OK Liz, what’s the point of this meeting? Are we here to talk about on campus activism?” I sat there in the circle, the only one that had put my backpack and cell phone in front of me, in the circle. I am so disgusted by that.
Where am I right now? Betwixt and between. I am here in Poughkeepsie, NY a New York girl senior at Vassar College and people are dying in the desert. We’re killing people and I’m stressed about writing a paper. I don’t know how to reconcile my life and realities with those two weeks in Arizona. And I don’t know how to justify settling into a, as Tyrone called it, DisneyWorld that I’m in so many ways OVER, done with. The challenge of letting this experience stay present in my mind as uncompromisingly as I can manage (meaning I’ll be angry, sad, withdrawn…) is one that is reflective of a life struggle for me:
Injustice oppression far away [physically or socially] that I need to feel and work against and work to understand
I miss being silent.
I miss being silent with a group, when I know everyone is thinking about and grappling with an experience we share.
Everyone in this class is so unbelievably generous that it makes my heart hurt. Generous with their doubts, insights, vulnerabilities, profundities, talents, weaknesses. It’s remarkable. And it makes me cry.
I miss being slow and steady and feeling trust and feeling trusted and knowing I will eat good food with wonderful people and feeling out of control in the most communal way. We were unsteady together and now I am unsteady alone in my room at 1 am with half my thesis looming above me. I am so fucking tired. I want to go away. I want to live in a house with other struggling people and have a garden and do work that fulfills me and helps the world in some pure way. I want to hike and cook and get to know people. I really don’t want to be here anymore and it scares me. I love Vassar and part of my identity is loving Vassar but I’ve taken all that I can from it for now, perhaps.
Hey sorry for the swear words!
Here is one of my favorite songs:
and the lyrics:
A million tents and trailers
Will cover the open desert
Your kids will learn again
How to build a fire
Where to look
For water and the families are bound together now
By the fall of all the great cities
Finally to sing out their
Stories and the histories of hunger and a victory
Back into the old gypsy
Circles where the swaying girls
Will play out the old rituals
The boys will be delirious
But desperate and serious
The chasing will be furious
The drums and the rain
Will come together
Out and the
Cities are all lost but the circle is found
That’ll tie us together
My kind of town
Who were you before the fall
I was a singer, saw the future
Laid out in dominoes
Now I hunt the buffalos
And my darling
Who were you
Behind the counter with the day memorized
And those cold vacant eyes
Well you swore you were free
You swore you could see him coming
It was old angel midnight
He’s staring you down
He’s stealing the water right
Out of the ground
And the news is all true
But the views are unsound
And the market is dead and the phonelines are down
But it ties us together
My kind of town
I saw this headline on Democracy Now! this morning:
In Arizona, two people trying to cross into the United States from Mexico have been killed in an apparent attack by an armed militia. According to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, the victims were killed when a pickup truck carrying up to 30 undocumented immigrants near the Arizona town of Eloy was ambushed by “subjects in camouflage clothing armed with rifles.” The attack comes as Arizona lawmakers are considering a measure that would create a state-backed armed militia to work with Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border to capture undocumented immigrants.
DN makes it sound like this was an AZ civilian group, but AZ press (and ICE, of course) are saying that it was a group involved in drug trafficking:
What’s most scary is the last sentence in the Democracy Now! headline, that the legislature is actually debating whether or not to create a militia to “assist” the Border Patrol (which sounds to me like a way to have plausible deniability when people get killed and the BP/state politicians don’t want people to really think they have blood on their hands).
Anyways, it’s horrifying and, if it goes anywhere, it will be interesting to see what happens.
Nogales is shaved clean
like a military man.
The arid zone is vacated, sanitized
and totally controlled
America the beautiful,
discipline her virtue
She can hear her neighbor’s cries
through the cracks in the wall
The rocky rolling hills in twin cities
stretch their arms toward each other:
They were meant to be together.
Through the cracks in the poor construction
if you stick your head over and look,
you can see
Sprawl, buildup, a city dense and packed,
alive facing the dead zone across the way,
its northern neighbor’s policing eyes
Is the fence a dam?
Everything moves from south to north
the wind even blows that way, but the state has made it true for people
the debris builds up up up can’t get through
and water, too
To flood Nogales, Sonora.
—At the border wall in Nogales
9 March 2012
Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.