The Senate’s Immigration proposal is titled: Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernity Act. While being touted by the “gang of 8” senators and the media as a compromise, it should have been filed simply as a “pathway to apartheid” and also a “pathway toward Indian Removal II.”
It is a border enforcement and national security piece of legislation – which continues to rely heavily on racial profiling – and is anything, but “comprehensive immigration reform.” It will be a slow process and in regards to legalization, nothing will commence prior to a five-year project of building more walls and fences and a certification that the border is secure.
In the barrio I grew up in Los Angeles, we have an expression in Spanish for such things as this proposed legislation: PPP
Rough translation: Pure BS.
Under the guise of reform and legalization, the final bill will codify the creation of a permanent, stateless class of peoples, without full human rights (including being ineligible for Obamacare) and without citizenship: the classic definition of dehumanization, this while continuing the further militarization of the border. At best, those who do not get incarcerated or deported will receive the status of “registered provisional immigrant.“ After ten years of that status, they become eligible for the status of “Lawful Permanent Resident.” In total, these applicants would have to wait at least 13 years to become eligible for a “pathway to citizenship” (just in time for the 2028 elections!).
The only relatively humane portion of the legislation is the one that permits Dream students to become eligible (after many penalties and financial hurdles) for citizenship after 5 years. Not unexpectedly, the new bracero program – tailored for the corporate sector, would also kick in sooner.
What the president will eventually sign into law – after hearings and amendments and after conferencing between Senate and House versions – will codify an immigration policy that enforces not simply a border, but a nationwide hunter battalion mentality through its enforcement apparatuses. It will include systematic searches (E-Verify) and a national ID system whose objective will be mass deportations and for-profit mass incarceration schemes. The proposal contains $5.5 billion more for the militarization of the border – which includes increasing reliance on drone technology and the use of the National Guard, with a goal of 100% surveillance – and of course, more agents. Its emphasis will continue to be exclusion of as many migrants (already here) as possible, relying on bureaucratic technicalities and exorbitant fines for such exclusions.
The codification of a new Indian Removal policy simply means that red-brown Indigenous peoples will continue to be the primary targets of the migra. These are the same peoples that have been displaced, often violently, by U.S. policies throughout the Americas. And this targeting is not by default. It is the result of extreme racial animus that can be read on a daily basis, anywhere in the country, any time the topic of immigration is raised.
The proposal amounts to false advertising and is based on a false premise. As Tucson’s Derechos Humanos human rights organization notes, it should be called the: walls, drones, surveillance, national ID, criminalization, mass firing, mass deportation… and the new bracero program act.
At best, the immigration proposal amounts to an enhanced draconian-based regime (a police state) with the attempt at criminalizing, incarcerating and deporting as many millions of red-brown peoples as possible… which is President Obama’s olive branch to right wing conservatives. While he has deported more people than any president before him – destroying untold families in the process – that is supposed to give him street cred with extreme conservatives, who would deport him too if they could.
This proposal also seeks to needlessly incarcerate tens of thousands – in a for-profit scheme called operation streamline that would have been the envy of apartheid South Africa. Operation Streamline – which benefits the Correctional Corporation of America (and other for-profit companies) is a nationwide criminalization scheme for the “crime” of “illegal entry.” In Tucson, it is a series of daily one-hour “show trials” for 60-70 people, virtually all of them, Indigenous peoples. The Gang of 8 proposal greatly expands this kangaroo court.
This proposal is anything but humane.
The whole environment surrounding the immigration “debate” is reminiscent of a twilight zone episode: “To Serve Man.” It is about aliens coming to earth, promising the earthlings peace and prosperity and the end of poverty and starvation. Once peace is achieved, earthlings (fattened up) are promised free vacations to the land of the aliens. Everyone swallows the good news and the promises, except one skeptic who is hard at work translating a book the aliens have left behind.
At the end, she cracks the code and shouts to her colleague, who is boarding the alien ship: “It’s a Cookbook!!!”
That’s precisely what we have today and many of us seem complicit in the writing of this immigration cookbook, prodding and cajoling politicians to make the legislation better, yet in reality, have been reduced to begging for a palatable bill.
Apparently, not everyone has seen that episode.
The irony of the immigration proposal is that it appears to be driven by those who lost the 2012 election; conservatives many of them with racial animus, bent not on lifting 11 million people out of a state of dehumanization, but instead, punishing them. In fact, they seek to codify their exploitation, dehumanization and ostracization, as though they were lepers, i.e., “untouchables.”
It is very similar to the gun “debate:” the majority of the people want something done, but the NRA and the weapons industry wins every time. Same with the “debate” over torture, drone warfare and criminal war; the world condemns, but our war machine and its apologists win every time.
So why should we expect anything different from the so-called immigration debate?
If different sectors feel comfortable being part of this legislative process, so be it. But another legitimate response is to completely reject these sleight-of-hand efforts – which is beginning to take place.
Unless the final immigration bill is a human rights document, unless it adheres to all international human rights treaties and conventions – which it will never be – why would anyone want to be complicit in remanding undocumented migrants to the menu and altar of the extremist and supremacist right wing?