Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Out for a few days

I will be off line for a few days. Check back after July 1.
Duane Campbell

Racism in the desert

Xenophobia in the Desert:
Racist Fever Becomes Law in Arizona

June 7, 2005

Reacting to a barrage of anti-immigrant messaging and
misinformation, Proposition 200 was approved by 56% of
Arizonavoters on November 2, 2004. Prop. 200 forces all
Arizonans to present proof of U.S. citizenship, such as
a birth certificate or passport, to receive basic
publicservices and to register to vote.
Arizona's Attorney General has limited its application
to five public benefits programs, but Prop. 200's most
far-reaching impact has been one of widespread fear
and intimidation. Immigrants are afraid to access even
programs to which they areentitled. The voter-
registration component of Prop. 200 constitutes
a modern-day poll tax that often keeps low-income people
and communities of color from voting.

Since Proposition 200 passed last fall, its backers have
presented an alarming 20 bills targeting immigrants in
the Arizonalegislature, have cheered the vigilante
Minuteman Project on the Arizona-Mexico border, and have
worked to sponsor similar bills in other states. But
there isa growing grassroots mobilization against the
resurgence of racist policies in Arizona, and the
threat of an international and national boycott of the
state looms.

Prop. 200 Passed After a Campaign Rife with
Xenophobia and Half-Truths

In 2004, anti-immigrant groups nationwide with intimate
ties to white national istorganizations focused their
attention on Arizona.Residents there were frustrated
with low-wage jobs, poor healthcare, and funding being
directed away from schools and public benefits
programs. Extremists joined with a handful of fringe
local groups to promote a hateful agenda of blaming
immigrants for the state's woes.

By the time election season rolled around in 2004,
Arizona voters had already been primed foran anti-
immigrant message thanks to a campaign of lies and
race-baiting thatbuilt upon a decade of intense border
militarization. Early polling in August of 2004 showed
high rates of approval for Prop. 200.1 However, local
communityorganizations mobilized against fringe groups
from outside the state, and by mid-October,approval had
dropped from 64% to 42%, and appeared to be falling

Backin the spring of 2004, signature-gathering to place
Prop. 200 on the Novemberballot was waning. A fringe
group calling itself, "Protect Arizona Now," had
initiated the signature-gathering with support from
national anti-immigrant figureheads and organizations.
When Protect Arizona Now'sefforts lagged, the
Washington, DC-based Federation for American
ImmigrationReform (FAIR), an anti-immigrant
organization with white supremacist ties, moved into
Arizonaand began paying signature gatherers, investing
$500,000 to ensure Prop. 200would appear on the
ballot.3 FAIR also wooed voters with a bogus study
allegingthat undocumented immigrants "cost Arizona $1.3
billion per year." Their study, among other
inaccuracies,misleadingly included $810 million per
year worth of state spending on education provided to
children of immigrants who were U.S. citizens.4FAIR
refers to such children as "immigrant stock," language
that offersa glimpse of the white supremacy inherent in
their analysis of immigrants.5

Infact, immigrants, both documented and undocumented,
contribute heavily to Arizona's economy. The Thunderbird
School of International Management and Wells Fargo
Bank, in theirreport Economic Impact of the Mexico-
Arizona Relationship, demonstrated that immigrants make
enormous tax contributions, paying annually $300
million more than they receive in services in Arizona.6
In 2001, Mexican immigrants in Arizona paid $1.5 billion
in mortgages and rent, and Arizona banks and
other financial institutions received $57 million in
transaction costs and fees from remittances sent to
Mexico from the state. In addition, Mexican
immigrant purchasing power in Arizonawas estimated at
$3.9 billion in 2001.7

Further contradicting FAIR's numbers, the New York Times
recently reported that the 8to 10 million undocumented
immigrant workers in the U. S. are now providing the
Social Security system with a subsidy of as much as $7
billion a year. This money willnever be collected by
undocumented immigrants themselves and will help fund
theretirement of U.S.citizens for decades to come.8
Nevertheless, FAIR continues to peddle its
ownstatistics to promote Prop. 200 copycats in other
states, scapegoating immigrants--not the federal
government--for the severe cutbacks in state social and
health services.

Sincethe approval of Prop. 200 by Arizona
voters, immigrants have come under further attack from
the Arizona legislature. This legislatives ession there
were more than 20 anti-immigrant bills that sought to
expand Prop. 200's application and many of them have
been approved or are still pending.

"The Minutemen vigilantes have diverted the attention of
the public and the mediawhile their counterparts
sporting suits and ties in the State Capitol
promoteracist laws," said Luis Herrera, an organizer
with the St. Peter's Housing Committee in San
Francisco."A war against immigrants and people of color
has been declared in Arizona."

Voting Rights of U.S. CitizensUnder Attack

Prop.200 backers also made unfounded accusations that
undocumented immigrants votedin Arizona. Their true aim
was to suppress voting by people of color. They openly
declared during a televised debate, "Too many Latinos
are voting." The impactof Prop. 200 identification
requirements on voter registration has been staggering--
in Pima County, over a two-week period early this
month, 423 of 712voter registration forms were
rejected, or 59% of new voters. Last year, when 6times
as many people were registering because of the
presidential election, novoter registration forms were

Arizona isalready red-flagged by the U.S. Justice
Department (USDOJ) because of its history of widespread
voter intimidation against people of color.
Consequently,all changes to the state's voting laws
must be approved by the federalgovernment. Despite
Prop. 200's blatant discriminatory intent, in January
2005the USDOJ ruled that forcing people to show proof
of citizenship whenregistering to vote does not deter
people of color from voting.

Arizona is now the first state in the U.S.to require
that anyone registering to vote present a birth
certificate, passport, or tribal identity card. In
Arizona, approximately one-third of the Latino and
African American populations live inpoverty. Citizens
who cannot afford to purchase a birth certificate ($15
in Arizona), or passport($85) will be prohibited from
registering to vote. Civil rights leaders saythis is
eerily reminiscent of racist poll taxes. Prop. 200 also
wipes outclipboard voter registration drives because
making copies of the requireddocuments at a potential
new voter's doorstep is practically impossible. A number
of bills currently before the legislature seek to
further restrict voting rights and are sponsored by the
same anti-immigrant contingent of legislators.

Arizona Becomes the Vanguard State for Anti-Immigrant

Prop.200's legalization of racial profiling has had a
detrimental impact onU.S.-Mexico relations, as well as
earned Arizonaa reputation for intolerance within the
United States. Recent headlines in Arizona's Spanish-
language newspapers included, "Enriesgo imagen de
Arizona [ Arizona'sImage at Risk]," and "Peligroso
racismo en Arizona[Dangerous Racism in Arizona]."Harry
Garewal, the president of Arizona's Hispanic Chamber of
Commerce, warnedthat Arizona is being singled out at a
national level as the most intolerant and racist

InMarch, a 7-member delegation of Mexican senators
visited Arizona to investigate the effects of Prop.200.
The senators, seeking to analyze the law and its
effects on Mexicannationals, had appointments with
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and Phoenix Mayor
Phil Gordon. However, Governor Janet Napolitano, a one-
time opponent of Proposition 200, announced her refusal
to receive the delegation and later Mayor Gordon, also a
one-time opponent of the measure, canceled hismeeting
with the Mexican legislators.11

Followingtheir three-day visit to Arizona,their
official report described a "desolate panorama" of
rising anti-immigrant sentiment. "The anti-Mexican
atmosphere that prevails there, far from diminishing, is
being felt with ever-increasing force,"delegation
member Miguel Sadot Sánchez noted.12

Prop.200-like legislation is actively being promoted by
FAIR and other anti-immigrant organizations around the
country. Emboldened by Prop. 200'spassage in Arizona,
Arkansas,Colorado, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee,Virginia,
and Ohio are all facing similar measures. In Arkansas,
Joe McCutchen recently became the chair of "Protect
Arkansas Now," a group supporting the "Arkansas Taxpayer
and Citizen Protection Act,"closely modeled on
Proposition 200. A recent report by the Southern
Poverty LawCenter notes that Joe McCutchen was a member
of the white supremacist Councilof Conservative
Citizens (CCC) in 2001, according to the CCC's

A Post-Prop. 200 Nightmare

The Arizona legislature is now debating 20 additional
bills that seek to criminalize and further marginalize
immigrant workers and their families.

*HB 2030 expands Prop. 200 to prohibit undocumented
immigrants from attending public universities and
community colleges, as well as Adult Education and
Family Literacy programs. It also blocks access to
utility and child care assistance. It is based on the
false premise that immigrants are a net economic drain
onthe state. HB 2030 passed the Arizona Legislature and
was vetoed by theGovernor.

*HB 2592 bans state funding for day labor centers. It
would prohibit cities and towns from maintaining or
building a day labor center if it is used to "facilitate
the hiring of undocumented workers." Day labor
centers provide safe, organized, and convenient
locations for both workers andemployers. HB 2592 passed
the Arizona Legislature and has already been signedby
Governor Napolitano.

*SB 1306 allows for police and Border Patrol
cooperation. Police would be ableto detain immigrants
for the purpose of calling Border Patrol, creating
further abuse and policing in low-income communities of
color. SB 1306 passed the Arizona Legislature but was
recently vetoed by the governor.

*HB 2709 would build a private prison in Mexicoto jail
undocumented immigrants arrested in Arizona. Private
prisons are already cashingin on immigrant detention
and are notorious for human rights violations. This
bill would require a new treaty between the U.S.and
Mexico.HB 2709 passed the Arizona Legislature and was
vetoed by Governor Napolitano.

*SB 1511 prohibits public entities from accepting the
matrícula consular as aform of identification. The
matrícula consular is an official I.D. card issued by
the Mexican Government through its consular offices. SB
1511 passed the Arizona Legislature and was vetoed by
Governor Napolitano.

National and International Boycott of Arizona Imminent

Prop.200, the rapid advance of its legislative
offspring, and the upsurge of armed paramilitaries on
the border, have prompted communities in Mexico,
Arizona,and across the United Statesto begin organizing
a boycott of Arizona. The boycott will target
Arizona businesses, conventions, and tourism, and will
ask individuals and businesses to shop, travel, and
conduct business elsewhere.

The communities most affected by Prop. 200 and its
offspring bills in the Arizona Legislature wield
considerable economic power. Mexican tourists alone
spend anestimated $1.6 billion in Arizonaevery year,
and Mexican immigrant purchasing power is close to $4
billion.Mexicans who might normally visit Arizonato
shop would be asked not to purchase anything in the
state. In addition, immigrants, Latinos, and their
allies in Arizonahave begun to engage in work
stoppages, and are considering boycotting
specificindustries or companies that support anti-
immigrant legislation.

The boycott will coincide with a petition drive to
repeal Prop. 200. Arizonans helda series of community
meetings in May, 2005, to decide what industries
theboycott will target and to consult the communities
that would be most impacted by such an action.

Inthe early 1990s, Arizonans challenged white
supremacists with a boycott andwon. When a ballot
initiative to recognize the Martin Luther King Jr.
holidayfailed to pass, local and national civil rights
groups initiated a national boycott of Arizona. The year-
long boycott cost Arizona$200 million, its reputation,
and an NFL Superbowl. When given the chance tovote on
the holiday again, Arizona voters approved it.

Arizona currently isat the epicenter of a national and
international struggle to defend the humanrights of
immigrants and U.S. citizens of color. The passage of
Prop. 200 here marked the kick-off of adangerous state-
by-state drive to hide a racist campaign behind a
strategic front of blaming immigrants for economic and
social ills.

Almost completely missing from the heated contest
playing out in Arizonaand nationally is a discussion of
the unjust U.S. trade policies that propel migration.
Immigrants suffer increasing imprisonment and policing
for simply crossing a border. Instead of imposing
harsher restrictions on the First World's exploitation
of Third World peoples, U.S. laws punish the victims of
theglobal economic system even further.

"Wesee the effects of these free trade policies every
day in the faces of the workers at our Centers," said
Salvador Reza, director of the Macehualli Work Center in
Phoenix, a day labor center that could soonbe banned
under HB 2592. "Prop. 200 and its henchmen have got to
bestopped, or this place is in for a boycott."

Margot Veranes and Adriana Navarro are members of
Defeat 200 in Tucson, Arizona.For more information on
Prop. 200 and similar bills currently before the
Arizona Legislature, the Boycott of Arizona, and
other ways to support immigrantrights campaigns
in Arizona,please contact Defeat 200 at


Monday, June 13, 2005

Labor and immigrant workers

An important viewpoint.

Labor Needs a Radical Vision
by David Bacon


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Left Victories in Latin America Create New Opportunities for SOA Opponents

Leftist Victories in Latin America Create New Opportunities for SOA Opponents

by Dan Bacher

The increasing number of leftist, populist led governments winning elections in Latin America means a new opportunity for Fr. Roy Bourgeois and other opponents of the School of the Americas (SOA) to close the institution down.

The left is on an unprecedented ascendance in Latin America. After years of suffering under U.S. backed dictatorships, the majority of the people in South America have rejected neo-liberal policies and have voted for left-leaning governments in the most recent elections. SOA Watch, the organization started by Bourgeois, now has the chance to ask the elected leaders of these countries to pull their troops out of training at the school.

The triumph of Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, Lula's Workers Party in Brazil, Nestor Kirchner's populist government in Argentina, socialist President Tabare Vasquez in Uruguay and President Ricardo Lagos in Chile are the result of a popular upsurge by populations sick of corporate globalization and the predations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

"The victory of the socialist doctor, Tabare Vazquez, in February's elections in Uruguay has prompted analysts and left-wing presidents to talk of a 'new South America,'" observed James Painter, BBC Latin American analyst. "They point out that left-leaning leaders run the big three economies of Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, and now predominate in most of the rest of the region. The only exception is President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, who remains adamantly pro- Washington and free market policies."

Both President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva of Brazil did extremely well in recent local elections. Pro-government candidates won in 20 of Venezuela's 22 states, according to Painter. Lula's Workers Party in Brazil won the most number of votes nationwide and doubled the number of local councils it won in 2000 - even though it lost Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre.

In Central America, the left is also on the upsurge. The Sandinista Front (FSLN) won 87 of Nicaragua's 152 mayoral posts in the November 2004 elections. The victories will boost Ortega's chances in 2006 of winning back the presidency he lost in the election of 1990.

Likewise in El Salvador, the leftist FMLN saw an increase in seats in the parliament and municipal government posts in the 2003 elections, though the presidency is still controlled by the right wing. The FMLN won 31 deputy seats against the right wing ARENA Party’s 27 deputies in the parliamentary elections, although ARENA won the presidential election of March 2004 by a margin of 57% to 35% against the FMLN.

The focus of SOA Watch, founded by Father Roy Bourgeois, continues to be the passage of legislation in the U.S. Congress to close down the School of the Americas. However, his efforts to get progressive Latin American governments to pull their troops out of training at the "School of the Assassins" are already beginning to bear fruit, something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. A new front has been opened in the battle to close the SOA.

Bourgeois recently met with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a country that has sent 4,000 troops to the school. Chavez agreed to stop sending troops to the school - a historic moment in the long struggle to shut the institution down.

"We are very hopeful that we will get Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil and other countries to withdraw from participation in the school this year," said Bourgeois at an appearance in Sacramento this spring. "We are very encouraged by Chavez's decision to no longer send troops to the SOA."

"For many years, the eyes of Latin America were focused on Nicaragua," explained Bourgeois. "The Sandinistas did a lot of good things, like redistribute land, conduct a literacy campaign and empower the powerless."

However, the United States' intervention in Nicaragua resulted in many of the revolution's gains being set back after the U.S. battered the population with the brutal Contra War. The result was the loss of the presidency by Daniel Ortega to Violetta Chamorro in 1990.

The political situation now has changed dramatically from those bleak years right after the Sandinistas were defeated. "After years under the IMF and World Bank structural adjustment policies, the people and their governments are realizing these policies are not working and they are moving away from them. The majority of people are poor and struggling for their survival," said Bourgeois.

"The populist victories in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Uruguay are all about bringing poor people into the circle and addressing the issues of poverty and health care," he added. "This will cause a conflict with the people in Washington, but these countries have the right to self-determination. Our country has been on the wrong side, on the side of the small elite and the corporations, rather being on the side of the people."

The growing groundswell against U.S. military and economic domination makes this year a key time to pressure the U.S. to shut down the SOA. "We must close down the SOA because it provides the muscle for U.S. foreign policy and protects the economic interests of the corporate giants," said Bourgeois.

In March, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) reintroduced legislation in the 109th Congress to suspend operations of the School of the Americas (now renamed -- WHINSEC -- the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).

HR 1217, "The Latin America Military Training Review Act of 2005," had 78 bi-partisan introductory co- sponsors -- thanks to intense lobbying efforts by activists during the February Lobby Day and National Call-in Day by SOA Watch. The bill currently has 105 bi-partisan co-sponsors; Representative Doris Matsui became the 105th after a delegation by local SOA Watch activists Leisa Faulkner Barnes and Janice Freeman, supported by Lorraine Krofchok of Grandmothers For Peace, in May.

The School of the Americas has trained a majority of the dictators and military officers responsible for the killing, massacre and torture of hundreds of thousands of people in Latin America. Many of the soldiers and officers responsible for the Guatemalan Genocide of the 1980's, where over 200,000 people were killed and 637 Mayan villages were wiped off the face of the map, were SOA graduates.

Of the 28 soldiers involved in the slaughter of the 9 Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter at the Central American University in November 1989, 19 were SOA graduates.

Since SOA Watch has been demonstrating at Fort Benning, 200 courageous activists have been jailed, spending a total of 85 years in federal prison. Sacramento's Leisa Faulkner Barnes last year completed a three-month sentence in the women's federal prison in Dublin for participation in the protest at the SOA in November 2003.

"We will keep coming back to Fort Benning until we shut the SOA down," said Bourgeois. "We will again demonstrate at the school on November 19 to 20 this year."

Please take the time to call your Congress Member by DC office by calling the Capitol Hill Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask them to support Rep. Jim McGovern's HR 1217. For more information, contact SOA Watch at: www.soaw.org. For more information about the Sacramento SOA Watch, call Janice Freeman, 916-812-7680, or Leisa Faulkner Barnes, 916-801-4184

Here is a suggested message for you to convey: "I am calling Congressman/woman ________ to remind him/her that Rep. Jim McGovern has introduced HR 1217, The Latin America Military Training Review Act of 2005, which would suspend and investigate the School of the Americas, which now uses the acronym WHINSEC. I urge the Congressman/woman to contact Rep. McGovern's office to become a cosponsor of this bipartisan bill. This would be one very concrete step to support human rights and promote peace and justice for the people of Latin America."

Friday, June 03, 2005

Taking Back America ( or at least the U.S.A.)

Villaraigosa Wins Over Crowds in Nation's Capital

By Patrick McGreevy
Times Staff Writer

June 2, 2005

WASHINGTON — Los Angeles' new political celebrity, Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa, took his victory tour to the nation's capital Wednesday, receiving rave reviews for appearances that included a national conference of Democratic activists and a lunch with some of the nation's most influential Latinos.

The city councilman does not take office as mayor until July 1, which limited the substantive opportunities in his daylong swing but not the reaction he earned. Everywhere he went, supporters fawned, many of them asking him to autograph their copies of this week's Newsweek magazine, which bears his smiling face on the cover.

"He represents the future of progressive politics in America," said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, as he introduced Villaraigosa to an audience of more than 1,000 activists who gave him three standing ovations.

Villaraigosa won over the crowd at the group's Take Back America conference, even as he complained that it was not diverse enough, and that the Democratic Party had not done enough to strike a chord with ordinary Americans. He said neither main political party has made urban issues, including poverty and homelessness, enough of a priority .

"I think we need to look long and hard within our movement," Villaraigosa told the largely white group. "You look at this room today, and you don't see the kind of diversity we need to build a strong movement in America. We are not reaching out enough."

A politician who won by reaching out to conservative San Fernando Valley voters as well as Westside liberals, Villaraigosa told the group he is "an unabashed progressive but I'm not a knee-jerk."

Activists, some of whom were not familiar with Villaraigosa, said they found his speech powerful and refreshing.

"I'm a big fan," said Tony Simone of New York City, who had Villaraigosa sign his copy of Newsweek. "I completely agree with what he says."

Villaraigosa had planned to make the trip even before he won the runoff election against Mayor James K. Hahn two weeks ago, and the event was one of five public appearances and private meetings for him. The whirlwind visit started when he arrived by red-eye flight Wednesday morning. He was scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles on Wednesday night to meet today with the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Villaraigosa also received an enthusiastic reception at a Latino Leadership lunch attended by 200 influential Latinos, including U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral, deputy assistant to the president Ruben Barrales, ambassadors, city council members, corporate executives and labor leaders, including Linda Chavez Thompson, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO. Many stood in line to tell him how much his victory meant to them.

Jesse Rios, a labor leader from Chicago, said Villaraigosa's victory would open the door for others.

"I'm so proud of him. It's a tremendous victory for Latinos throughout the country," said Rios, who is executive director of the Labor Council for Latino American Advancement.

Villaraigosa's lunch appearance drew a surprise visit from Washington Mayor Anthony Williams, a former Los Angeles resident who had counseled Villaraigosa after his loss to Hahn in the 2001 mayor's race.

"He's going to do an incredible job," Williams told reporters as he and Villaraigosa clasped each other on the shoulders.

Barrales, a Californian who is White House director of governmental affairs, told Villaraigosa the Bush administration would work closely with him.

"The White House is open to you," he said. "We are there to work with you on issues important to Los Angeles and the United States of America."

Villaraigosa, who was accompanied by City Council President Alex Padilla, said he owed his election to support from voters across Los Angeles. But he acknowledged its importance for the Latino community.

"This wasn't about me. This was about a great country we live in," he said. "This is about a community that has struggled and contributed to the incredible prosperity that is America. This is about a community that wanted to participate."

The mayor-elect attended the grand opening ceremony for a new headquarters building for the National Council of La Raza, where the group's president, Janet Murguria, said Villaraigosa's victory had reverberated across the country.

"It's historic, it's a landmark; we're very proud of him," she said.

"But more than that, we are excited about the potential for others building similar multicultural coalitions in the future."

Beyond speeches and interviews, Villaraigosa also used the Washington trip to meet with the city's lobbyists to hear about funding and legislative proposals affecting Los Angeles.

In his campaign, the councilman made several promises that probably would require Washington's help, including expanding the police force by 1,000 officers and extending the city's subway system.

Los Angeles has not always fared well in seeking its share of federal assistance. The Rose Institute of State and Local Government issued a report in 2001 that found that Los Angeles ranked eighth out of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County in receiving federal funds.

In response, Hahn hired the Washington lobbying firm Patton Boggs, which has been paid $900,000 in the last few years to supplement the work of the city's lobbyists in Washington.

Villaraigosa emerged from a meeting with the lobbyists saying he would aggressively pursue the city's agenda in Washington. He said he planned to meet with key congressional committee heads soon and would institute a "Los Angeles Day," when the city's leaders would descend on the nation's capital to press their case.

"Obviously, we are going to continue to make funding for homeland security a priority, addressing issues related to the port as well," Villaraigosa told reporters. He said many appropriations for this year have been set, but that he was looking at next year.

Villaraigosa's visit occurred while Congress was in recess, so the mayor-elect was not able to meet with any of Los Angeles' 14 representatives. But those interviewed by The Times as they headed back to their districts predicted that Villaraigosa would have more success than Hahn in getting Los Angeles attention from the federal government.

"We all liked him; most of us endorsed him. And we all want him to succeed," said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks). "He has a certain infectious charisma, which has helped him with everything he has tried to accomplish. He should be able to present our case well."

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives.

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