Constant Deportations Lead to Days of Rage

The U.S. Supreme Court And President Obama leave the undocumented and their allies no choice but to escalate civil disobedience

All this makes it obvious that increased civil disobedience is necessary to get the point across to the Obama administration.

"There needs to be a show of force," Soto says. "Meaning we're not going to let [the government] operate the way [it] wants to operate. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like."

Isabel Garcia of the Tucson human rights organization Coalición de Derechos Humanos agrees that Latinos and their supporters must ramp up public protests.

Justin Renteria
April 2012 anti-SB1070 protests in the streets of Phoenix
William Westfall
April 2012 anti-SB1070 protests in the streets of Phoenix

Details

More from Crossing the Line: A Village Voice Media Special Report
Bordering on Revolution
Welcome Back, Jim Crow
Love the Beans, Hate the Beaner

"At some point . . . there will have to be a call for mass disobedience," she notes.

Garcia fears that what she calls the "Tucson model" will become standard throughout the country.

Tucson is 60 miles north of the border, within the Border Patrol's constitution-free zone of operations. When Tucson cops run across someone they believe is undocumented, they call the Border Patrol, and the suspected illegal immigrant is carted away in a truck that looks like a dog kennel.

"Here [in Tucson], you can be back across that border in an hour, and your family doesn't know anything," Garcia says. "It's really brutal."

If the Supreme Court rules as predicted, Arizona law enforcement will have an "absolute license" to practice racial profiling, she adds.

Pablo Alvarado, director of the Los Angeles–based National Day Laborer Organizing Network, says his immigrant-rights coalition will "push back, hard" if the Supreme Court upholds the "papers, please" portion of 1070.

That push back will take many forms: legally (Alvarado's group already is a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits against 1070); by supporting anti-1070 legislation, such as California's proposed TRUST Act; through political pressure to create new "sanctuary cities"; and by taking it to the streets.

"We will create a [moral] dilemma for everyone, friends or foes," Alvarado promises of the coming wave of protest.

His organization plans a Freedom Ride–style bus tour through states with 1070-like laws. In the bus will be scores of undocumented families who will present themselves to local and federal authorities in different cities and dare law enforcement to arrest them.

Alvarado said the idea was inspired by students agitating for the DREAM Act nationwide. In Alabama, D.C., Florida, and Arizona, these activists, brought to this country when they were children, have declared themselves "undocumented and unafraid," while participating in acts of civil disobedience.

One of the more daring examples of DREAM Act civil disobedience occurred in March, when 150 student protesters blocked a street in west Phoenix. Six undocumented students chose not to move from the center of the street and were arrested, thus risking deportation.

In a YouTube clip released to coincide with her arrest with the others, Daniela Cruz explained how she and fellow DREAMers were fed up with living in a limbo where they cannot legally work or go to college at an in-state tuition rate. America is the only home they've ever known, and they demonstrated that they are through being victims.

"I'm willing to risk everything I have," Cruz told her audience. "I'm willing to risk being deported, because I'm done seeing people be scared."

To the surprise of both her and her jailers, ICE holds on Cruz and her cohorts were mysteriously lifted during their 28-hour stay in Joe Arpaio's Fourth Avenue Jail. They were released on misdemeanor charges.

Cruz and her pals quickly became heroes in the Latino community.

"One day, we'll be reading about them in history books!" declares Arizona state senator Steve Gallardo, who is pushing for repeal of 1070.

Gallardo predicts increased public protests in the wake of the expected Supreme Court ruling. "I'll be right there with them," he says.

A demonstration by the Phoenix human rights group Puente scheduled for June 23 will target Arpaio's infamous Tent City. Hundreds of Unitarian Universalists who will convene in Phoenix during that weekend for a national conference will participate in the protest.

The Unitarians and Puente teamed up in 2010 for a show of anti-1070 civil disobedience that rocked Phoenix.

Puente's Carlos Garcia cites the example set by the DREAM Act kids as one to emulate.

"When undocumented people confront the system, it crumbles," he says. "And it becomes clear that they are more afraid of us than we are of them."

Given the status quo—a deadlocked Congress, an indifferent Supreme Court, and a president who's playing politics at the expense of his Latino constituency—what's needed this election year is the type of unrest this country hasn't seen since the 1970s, something on par with the 2011 student protests in Chile, where thousands took over Santiago to protest the education system.

A refrain from the Shining Soul song "Papers" sums up the situation Latinos find themselves in—once again.

"Click-clack/Where your papers at?/We under attack/Fight back/It's war."

Stephen Lemons is a staff writer and columnist for Phoenix New Times.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
All
 
 
Loading...