The following speech was delivered in Aurora, Colorado by RAIM member, Antonio, on December 12th, 2010 at a rally and protest in support of imprisoned and deported migrants at the Geo Detention Center. The rally marked the anniversary of raids at the Swift plant in Greeley:
“In the current noise about immigration, the word criminal is thrown around. In the heated rhetoric it helps to step back and analyze the words being used. For right now, immigration violations are not criminal law, but civil law. Something akin to receiving parking tickets. We are right when we say we are not criminals, even under their own law. But that is just the thing. All these processes, most evident this year in Arizona, is about further criminalizing migrants. If you are labeled a criminal you are easier to deport.
“With what has recently happened in Arizona, it is helpful to look at the recent history of the increasing criminalization of immigrants. We have been dealing with this since 1848, even since 1492, with several struggles between then and now. Right now we will examine recent events.
“After the 1986 law that gave amnesty and citizenship to some of our people, a wave of attacks came in the 90‘s. There was Proposition 187 in California, others in other states. Chicanos, Mexicanos and allies resisted, and it was overturned. But federal action made up for what was tried on the state level. The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) did two things. It expanded the number of deportable crimes; and made noncitizens who were subject to removal to be detained without being able to post bond. This was followed by Operation Gatekeeper, which militarized the border crossings, and changed those crossings to more dangerous areas, like the Arizona deserts.
“Then came 9/11 and the so-called, ‘War on Terrorism.’ Nineteen Arab hijackers conducting a military strike inside the U.S. , which helped fuel fear of brown immigrants. New laws were passed. The Border Security Act. The USA PATRIOT Act, a lot of which deals with immigration. And most important, a new government department was set up, Department of Homeland Security. Now whose homeland are they securing? Their own settler empire, and now that the roosting chickens from their two centuries of empire came here to roost, they were a lot more insecure. The government was restructured and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) became a new agency in 2003, just as the Iraq War was starting: the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, under the auspices of Homeland Security. The strategic objective of the Department of Homeland Security is preventing terrorism, and the immigration enforcement part of that department ensures that terrorism and immigration were linked, and that immigration enforcement would become more militarized.
“This was proven in the first strategic plan of ICE, entitled Endgame, issued that same year in 2003.
“Endgame states the strategic purpose- “removal of all removable aliens.” (said many times throughout this plan.)
“Endgame lays out the strategy to remove all removable aliens. The Detention and Removal Office “will increase its overall number of removals annually in order to thwart and deter continued growth in the illegal alien population,” and move toward “100 percent removal” by 2012.
“To increase the speed and processing of removing migrants, Endcame called for the following measures:
Build partnerships with critical stakeholders and cooperate with local law enforcement in information sharing and “enforcement actions.” This is Secure Communities, 287g, Arpaio’s deputies, of which 160 are in the program.
” ‘Develop the workforce and infrastructure to achieve goals. ‘ More ICE agents. More detention facilities. ‘Short-term focus until capacity is built will be on the identification, location, apprehension, processing, and removal of the criminal element of the illegal alien population.”
“Employ Information systems and technology. ‘Smart borders.’ Computer databases to better track ‘aliens,’ including of DNA, retina, fingerprints. ‘Control of persons released in community during immigration proceedings or while awaiting removal.’ Track migrants who are in the system but not in custody. The bottom line is, even if you’re not in one of these facilities ICE is working to track you.
“The 2007 raids were based on the strategy of Endgame. Now on the 2012 deadline, many sources say they are not using that date as a goal anymore for 100 percent removal, because they cant. Because they do need migrant labor for this capitalist imperialist system, they’re even talking about guest worker programs. But they are going to increase removals as much as they can. Deportations have increased every year since, and they are scheduled to increase more. Once migrants are made criminals it is easier to deport them.
“In one part of Arizona’s SB1070, funding was increased for the ‘Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission Fund.’ This agency was in existence before the law was passed. Like they conflated terrorism and immigration, here they conflate gangs and immigration. Arizona is the worst in crackerdom. There are thousands of laws passed or waiting to be passed, not only allowing local police to enforce ‘immigration law,’ but to obstruct immigrants’ ability to obtain jobs, use necessary medical services, send children to public schools, find housing, get driver’s licenses and receive many other government services.
“This detention center here is a private company. the GEO Group, contracted by ICE. NPR reported recently on Arizona’s SB1070 in Arizona and on how that law was passed. In the past years, Geo Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, along with state senator Russell Pierce, worked with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right wing pro-corporate policy group, and drafted what would become SB1070. With the increase in detentions and removals these companies are getting profits as the detentions of migrants increase. These companies hired lobbyists to sway support as their allies submitted these bills. GEO Group CEO Wayne Calabrese said that more migrants crossing the border and getting caught ‘are going to have to be detained and that for me, at least I think, there’s going to be enhanced opportunities for what we do.’
‘This is typical. Prisons in Amerika hold black and brown people, a continual warehouse of oppressed nations. Now they are jailing more people who have no papers. Migrants come here because of imperialist exploitation by the United Snakes. As long as the U.S. has military bases in over 80 different countries, and they disrespect other nations borders through military intervention, strangling their economies, and supporting corrupt and servile governments, then any people of the world have a right to come here.
“This systemic repression will go on, whether any ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ gets passed or not. They are organizing for our repression. We need to organize in turn for our resistance, and we can’t rely on their passing laws to protect us, we need to protect ourselves. Organize self-defense measures in our communities. We need to be conscious of our goal of national liberation. It may take years, decades, generations, many struggles, many attacks, but through those struggles we learn, we build, we adapt, and we become changed in ourselves to determine our destiny.