The new Arizona immigration bill SB1070, signed into law in April by Governor Jan Brewer, is the latest and most overt action in the ongoing battle against oppressed nations within U.$. borders. This law, which will take effect by August, assigns state police to question anyone they believe is in the United $tates illegally, and requires everyone to carry papers proving their legal status. It is even a crime to be caught without this proof.
As Arizona is a state bordering Mexico, it has a large migrant population, disproportionately from Mexico. In 2006, so-called "Hispanics" accounted for 29% of Arizona's population — most of them are Mexican. This is double the percentage of Latinos living in the United $tates in 2006. More than half of the Arizona residents in the "Hispanic" category were foreign born. While there is a concentration of Mexicans in Arizona, the portion of the population that is foreign born (14%) is not much more than the typical percentage of foreign born residents in the rest of the U.$. which was 12.5% in 2006.(1) But in Arizona it is skewed towards Mexicans (and migrants born in other Latin American countries) while other areas of the U.$. have larger concentrations of Asians, europeans, Africans and people born in other parts of the world. In the U.$. in general, 45% of the foreign born population is from Latin America, which means they make up less than half of the 12.5% of foreign-born migrants living in the U.$.(2) According to the U.$. census these numbers had not changed much by 2008 (the latest statistics available) in terms of the proportion of Mexicans and foreign-born residents in Arizona and the rest of the country.
This law is a logical step forward, or backward for the oppressed, in the Amerikan spiral down the anti-immigration toilet. Those who act like this law is un-Amerikan are missing a fundamental fact of Amerikan imperialism: it is founded on national oppression. The Arizona law is most definitely Amerikan, and for this reason we must oppose not only this law, but all so-called immigration reform. Immigration is a false issue of Amerikan imperialism which requires militarized borders to protect the wealth that it stole from the land and labor of people in other countries.
Rather than get caught up in talking about which people should be allowed the privilege of coming to the United $tates (generally people from other imperialist countries, or those who have done Amerika political favors like the Cubans who oppose Castro), we need to be fighting to open the borders. Recent migrants in the United $tates should be treated no different from those who came here over the past 500 years — we are all living on land stolen from the indigenous peoples. In contrast, the Mexican people migrating north have a legitimate claim to the land now comprising the southwest of the United $tates.
Between 1846 and 1848 the United $tates fought one of its earlier wars of external aggression, against Mexico, ending in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This treaty established U.$. control of what is now the southwest of this country, but ironically guaranteed Mexican residents in that territory the right to retain their land and enjoy the rights of U.$. citizens. This portion of the treaty was promptly ignored by Amerikkkans and land owned by Mexicans was illegally annexed after the end of the war in acts of both private and government sponsored national oppression.
Labor aristocracy benefits from closed borders and illegal workers
It should be no surprise that a recent poll by NBC and the Wall Street Journal found 46% of Amerikans strongly supporting the Arizona bill, while only 24% were strongly opposed. In fact, 24% might seem high to those of us who understand that the labor aristocracy has a strong interest in protecting the wealth of Amerikan imperialism and their role in benefiting from the exploitation of the world's people. This interest leads the labor aristocracy to support imperialist wars of aggression and reactionary anti-immigrant policies. However, this law in particular is one that will be opposed by a lot of Latinos, even if they may support wars of imperialist aggression. Because this law takes such a broad sweeping attack it is hard to get behind if you might look like you could be in the country illegally (read: are not white). So that 24% strongly opposing SB1070 includes people who are otherwise strong supporters of Amerikan imperialism. This is an example of why there are more allies to anti-imperialism in the Brown and Black labor aristocracy, even if they are not consistent.
Citizens of the United $tates are profiting just by being citizens, enjoying artificially high standards of living propped up by imperialist profits brought home and distributed in the form of high salaries with benefits, as well as services. As the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) explained in MIM Theory 1 and 10, the wealth in Amerika is not created in Amerika; Amerikan citizens are parasites. And to maintain this parasitism the country must keep the borders closed. Open borders would lead to a deluge of people migrating into the U.$. looking for an opportunity to partake in the wealth stolen from their countries.
Rather than share the wealth in the United $tates, borders are militarized and "illegal" workers are allowed in only when there is a need for truly cheap labor, because Amerikan citizens are not going to provide that labor. So Amerikan citizens benefit again from closed borders, in the form of workers to pick their crops, and do the jobs that no citizen wants, for cheap enough to keep the price of food, restaurant service, and house cleaning down.
Trust the prison industry?
One ironic element of Arizona SB1070 is the provision that they trust the police to pick out who might be suspected as an illegal immigrant without engaging in racial profiling. The reality of the criminal injustice system is blatant racial profiling as just one aspect of national oppression. The injustice system overtly targets oppressed nations within U.$. borders, from the police on the streets profiling or just setting people up, to the laws and courts which are skewed against oppressed nations, convicting disproportionate numbers of Blacks and Latinos and giving them longer sentences for the same convictions, to the prisons themselves which target oppressed nations to deny parole and lock in control units.
Everyone knows the police already engage in racial profiling, so why would they stop just when enforcing this law that is, in itself, requiring racial profiling. No one is going to stop a white person and say "Hey, I think you are here illegally from France, can I see some proof of your immigration status?"
Further fueling the prison industry, SB1070 gives the Arizona criminal injustice system an easy way to lock up more migrants, a growing trend in Amerikan prisons. As we reported in the Under Lock and Key #11 article National Oppression as Migrant Detention: "As of July 2009, there are 31,000 non-citizens imprisoned at the federal level on any given day in the u.$. This number is up from about 20,000 in 2006 and 6,259 in 1992. There are more than 320,000 migrants detained each year by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and as many as a quarter of them are juveniles. These numbers include only those imprisoned under federal custody, although they may be located all around the country and in state prisons and local jails." We went on to point out that locking up more migrants helps fill empty prison beds, something that private prisons in particular are lobbying for.
Fight national oppression with unity
A dozen Black and Brown hip hop artists from Arizona came together to do an eight minute remake of Public Enemy's song By the Time I Get to Arizona called Back to Arizona to oppose SB1070 with a similar militant message. The original song documented the struggle to get racist Arizona to reinstate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday two decades ago. That history drove home the connection between struggles of all oppressed nations, which is a repeated theme throughout the video.
Among activists opposed to the new Arizona law, the slogan 'Do I look illegal?' has been gaining popularity. This question calls out the clearly racist intent behind the law which will require cops to pick out people who don't look like good white Amerikkkan citizens. As revolutionaries we call on all oppressed nations to join the fight against this latest legalization of national oppression. As anti-imperialists we must stand against all limits on migration. The two articles [ 1, 2 ] on this page written by comrades behind bars demonstrate, this unity and correct understanding of history.
1. Pew Research Center Publication "Arizona's Population Growth Parallels America's", January 24, 2008.
2. Statistical Portrait of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States, 2006, Pew Hispanic Center.