Border Militarization Amendment Prevails with Majority Democratic Vote
No Faustian Bargain for Us
We are living in unprecedented times. Today is another day of infamy in the annals of attempted immigration reform in these United States of America. The U.S. Senate approved an amendment to S.744, the heralded bi-partisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation supported by President Obama, to double the number of border patrol agents from the current 21,000 to 40,000 along the U.S.-Mexico border. Other elements of the amendment proposed by Republican Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, include 700 additional miles of border wall, more drones, towers, cameras, and sensors to the tune of a $30 billion price-tag. The vote was 67-27. The majority of the aye votes were cast by Democratic Senators.
Senator Charles Schumer from New York, Democratic Party senate leader, and considered the architect of the “gang of eight” bi-partisan CIR initiative, cut the deal with his Republican colleagues who rightly recognized that their amendment was over the top on the enforcement side. New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez also voted for the border surge amendment. The Democrats explained their action as the compromise price to pay for getting the 70 vote margin desired to report the bill out of the Senate.
When all the other punitive measures embedded in S.744 are taken into consideration we literally have a bill of unprecedented measures. The border amendment is the final proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The legislation is anything but fair and humane to immigrant families and foretells an immigration point system inclined towards addressing fictional labor demands in detriment to family reunification, the permanent criminalization of immigrant workers, and the militarization of the southern border – without exaggeration. Other actions include:
The unprecedented police build-up in the work-place via the mandatory use of E-verify nationally with all employers. This is the greatest intervention of the federal government into the private world of work.
The unprecedented creation of a biometric ID for immigrant workers that could easily be expanded to obligate all American citizens to possess.
The unprecedented enhanced collaboration between local and state police agencies with the Department of Homeland Security for database sharing, detention, and transfer of detainees.
The unprecedented punitive requirements that condition the provisional status offered under the legislation to the undocumented contrast greatly with how European immigrants were treated in earlier eras. It’s hard to qualify the status as anything but indentured servitude under the sophism of “earned legalization.” The decade length of provisional status is conditioned by paying all back taxes, paying hefty fees and fines, passing a criminal background check, no lapses of employment greater than 60 days during 10 years, annual earnings of 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline ($28,812 for a family of four, for example), and learn English and American civics and history (heretofore a requirement for U.S. citizenship).
It’s apparent that the legislators are demanding a quality of resident superior in character and worthiness than the citizens who populate the nation. Numerous research institutions have verified that the majority of the undocumented have been in the country in excess of five years. More than half have resided here for at least ten. When the decade-plus provisional period is tacked on most applicants will have completed between 15 to 20 years of “earning their permanent status” just short of the citizenship opportunity.
Two additional immigration enforcement bills have already surfaced in the House side of Congress, in the House Judiciary Committee, which portends worst things to come. One, the unprecedented change from civil offense to criminal offense for unauthorized entry to the U.S., and two, a bill that would disqualify any youth affiliated or identified with a gang for any form of legalization.
Over the past 30 years local police agencies have received inordinate Justice Department funding to create “gang” databases in their respective communities. Latino and black youth have been the natural targets of the racial profiling that resulted from such programs. Once in the database youth pay hell to get off it.
House Speaker John Boehner recently declared that he has every intention of applying the Hastert Rule of not moving any immigration legislation that is not supported by a majority of Republican House members. However, since the Senate moved so harshly to the right with the Corker-Hoeven amendment such a majority threshold may not be far-fetched. For example, even conservative Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has now expressed favor for S.744.
On the other hand, private conversations with various members of Congress admit that a majority of the 11 million undocumented will not qualify to legalize their status and will naturally be the new deportees. The clauses of the legislation tell the story themselves. Is this the kind of America that we want for ourselves and our posterity? Many of the Washington, D.C.-funded immigrant advocacy agencies and coalitions, and their affiliates nationally, have accepted the Faustian bargain presented to them by Obama and the Democratic Party leadership. The “advocates” have offered their souls in exchange for the ostensible diabolical favors. Some have even deluded themselves into believing that any form of legal status obtained, however tenuous and painful, can be the basis for continued organizing for improvements in any bill signed into law. This is false on its face, and actually quite dangerous.
Hermandad Mexicana is the oldest immigrant membership organization of the Mexican and Latino communities in the U.S., founded in 1951, and has experienced many cycles of legislation advocacy, repression, mass deportations, bracero programs – 1942-1964 (Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson), the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 (Truman), Operation Wetback of 1952-54 (Eisenhower), the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (Johnson), IRCA of 1986 (Reagan), the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Clinton), and the mega-marches of 2006 forward.
We stand on the shoulders of our founders and leaders and their many experiences and lessons on organizing under the most trying of circumstances. We are not funded by the government, corporations, private foundations or their political parties, and therefore, not beholden to them. No president or CEO can tell us to “shut the fuck up” and not tinker with the proposed legislation by amendments as did Obama to his selected “Latino leaders” at the White House in May 2013. Our members are flesh and blood, not virtual, and we meet and consult with thousands of them regularly, and solely to them are we beholden. There is no Faustian bargain for us. S.744 smells rotten to the core and the most recent border militarization amendment and the corollary House Judiciary Committee bills moved us to publicly oppose this legislation.
We admonish those “advocates” and union leaders who do not recognize the national security character of the proposed legislation and related amendments under the guise of “comprehensive immigration reform” that moves the country closer to a police state with all the insidious totalitarian trappings. We are living in perilous times. We have a responsibility to be truthful and more insightful and not allow ourselves to be used for partisan interests foreign to those of our families. The political parties and their politicians need us more than we need them. Our strength devolves from our faith and ability to organize ourselves and to persevere. Put your trust and faith in the people, not in the politicians and the parties and corporations that they serve.
June 24, 2013 – Team Hermandad
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