Bordering on Revolution: America's War on Mexicans Has Gone Too Far

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wasn't merely skeptical; he appeared contemptuous of the Justice Department's argument trying to stop Arizona's cops from deporting undocumented Mexicans.

"But if, in fact, somebody who does not belong in this country is in Arizona, Arizona has no power?" asked the incredulous Scalia. "...Are you objecting to harassing the — the people who have no business being here? Surely you're not concerned about harassing them?"

God forbid.

Nor did Scalia suffer cara de culo alone.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts concluded an observation by noting, "It seems to me that the federal government just doesn't want to know who's here illegally or not."

With these comments the United States Supreme Court signaled that its expected ruling this month will, in significant part, validate Arizona's Senate Bill 1070.

If that happens, being brown will permit cops across America to ask: Which brown are you?


A journalist I work with, Monica Alonzo, grew up on the hardscrabble west side of Phoenix, Ariz., with brown skin.

Although she was an American, something as simple as stopping to fill her gas tank could prompt a cruel refrain: "Go back to Mexico."

She remembers the white school board members who voted themselves out of paying taxes to support the mostly Latino school in the town of El Mirage. Her cousin was routinely pulled over if he ventured into a neighboring white community.

But these are memories, not complaints. This treatment did not stop Alonzo. She made herself into an award-winning investigative reporter.

Today, she buys gas where she chooses.

She put the petty meanness behind her and made something of herself.

But S.B. 1070 changed everything.

In Arizona, brown people, citizen and immigrant, must now prove their papers are in order. We sic badges and dogs on people of color. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's men wear ski masks and arm themselves with automatic weapons to stop Mexicans with cracked windshields. Families are separated, with parents deported and children left to fend for themselves. Those who remain are terrorized.

After one Arpaio sweep through the town of Guadalupe, children were too frightened to attend their Catholic confirmation, lest relatives be arrested.

Like the pre-Civil War era of free and slave states, America is about to divide along color lines.

Six states already have a version of Arizona's bill and are awaiting the ruling for implementation. In all, 16 states filed amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to support S.B. 1070.

Where once we depended upon the federal government to protect minorities from firehoses and segregated schoolhouses named Booker T. Washington or George Washington Carver, this month the Supreme Court is poised to tell us how far local cops can go to detain brown people.

As if the federal government hadn't gone far enough.

In fact, President Obama has deported 1.5 million Latinos, more than any president. Such a massive displacement of humanity does not come without brutality.

In the first six months of 2011, 46,000 mothers and fathers were shipped back to Mexico and left their children in America. And more than 20,000 other parents were ordered out but have yet to depart. Roughly 22 percent of all deportees were forced to abandon children — children who are American citizens.

What S.B. 1070 does is criminalize the undocumented. The law forces all police officers to ascertain immigration status whenever a cop interacts with a brown person. Lights on a license plate too dim? A call about domestic violence? If an officer harbors any suspicion, he or she must ask for proof of citizenship. And if a cop doesn't do that, any citizen can sue the cop for not taking deportation seriously. To protect against lawsuits, the cautious cop must question all Latinos.

The stated purpose of S.B. 1070 is "attrition through enforcement," a chillingly efficient phrase.

How does the cop on the beat tell a Mexican from a Mexican-American?

And so, the 74 percent of all Latinos in America who are U.S. citizens must be harassed about their origins. Unlike everyone else, they must carry papers.

Why?

Obama sells the roundup of brown people through a program called Secure Communities. The alternative is clear enough.

Have we forgotten that the Irish, Italians, Jews, and Cubans generated almost as many mug shots as American dreams?

Polls show that S.B. 1070 and similar laws in other states are supported by voters at rates between 60 to 70 percent nationally.

In states that have passed laws allowing local law enforcement to hunt the undocumented, the financial impact has been devastating.

Last August, Alonzo examined labor shortages in the farm economy, where an estimated 80 percent of the workforce is undocumented.

She learned that efforts to recruit Americans to pick crops have failed abysmally.

In the late 1990s, Alonzo reported, "California launched a 'welfare to farmwork' program in the Central Valley at a time when regional unemployment was as high as 20 percent.... A massive campaign addressed training, transportation, and other obstacles to getting workers in the fields. Though there were more than 100,000 potential workers, only three jobs were filled."

Things weren't any easier in Washington. There, "a labor shortage for the 2006 cherry harvest prompted an advertising blitz to recruit about 1,700 needed workers, particularly for the much larger apple harvest that was just around the corner. Only 40 people took jobs."

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9 comments
Mamerer
Mamerer

Hold employers accountable for proper identification, because they are the only ones benefiting from this situation. No punishment for those without proper ID, just no jobs. The same way it is for my son who wants to live and work in France, he put his name on a list and now he waits, like everyone else.

TXinSF
TXinSF

Why not go after the employers, especially since the majority of "Mexicans" in America are American citizens? If the loss of employment for American citizens is the most important issue, then any rational policy dealing with illegal immigration must start with employers who provide the illegal employment, and thus, the very basis for remaining here illegally. Persecuting the easily persecuted is the hallmark of authoritarianism and sadism, and in the case of these laws targeting people of color, naturally follows from racism.

Dferr
Dferr

Right, so who criminalized the Europeans? Native Americans live in the American CONTINENT. There is a difference of culture where one believes in no man having ownership over the land, while the other believes stealing and claiming land from others is a valid excuse to displace "the visitor". The extent to which North American Europeans have rationalized their ownership in America is a dishonest load of BS.

David Macias
David Macias

"President Obama has deported 1.5 million Latinos, more than any president. Such a massive displacement of humanity does not come without brutality."

"Arf!" Lemming
"Arf!" Lemming

"Then where will they go for a better life?" It won't be Canada , that's for certain... Stephen Harper's government has seen what's happening to USA and the border agents are turning away Americans from a week or 2 visit , 'if' they appear to have too much luggage , etc... This (Mexican invasion) is purely an American phenomenon...

Essem
Essem

What a moronic reply. Are you capable of any kind of logic at all? Real simple. If I enter your house without your permission and hide out in your basement, I am uninvited, undocumented and illegal. If you enter someone else's country without permission, you are there ILLEGALLY.

Essem
Essem

"What S.B. 1070 does is criminalize the undocumented." Yeah, and if someone is in my house without my permission, calling 911 criminalizes the "visitor"... What a dishonest load of BS.

 
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