Raising (Hell In) Arizona

Mexicans are outraged! Everyone I speak to has some choice words to express their ‘discontent’ with the new law that’s been passed in Arizona, the crux of which means that police officers will be allowed to stop anyone who looks ‘foreign’ and demand identification to prove they are not an illegal immigrant. If they can’t, then off to the slammer they go.

I fully get why the estadounidenses are up in arms. But Mexicans? The situation regarding illegal immigrants in the US is a touchy subject, but at the end of the day it’s not any business of Mexico’s as to what the US chooses to do or not do within its borders, providing the basic human rights of Mexican citizens, legal and illegal, are maintained. By that, I mean that they shouldn’t be abused, beaten, starved or otherwise mistreated.

I don’t even have a problem with the wall they were building along the border. I think it was a silly project, and their immigration policies in general leave much to be desired, but so long as they do it within their own borders, what business is it of mine? Or Mexicans? Or the Mexican government? I can have an opinion, but neither I nor the Mexican government, have much in the way of any right to make demands.

I do, incidentally, have many opinions. On many subjects. And one of them is regards Mexico and immigration, and it involves a huge dose of hypocrisy. Whilst the news of Mexicans running, swimming, climbing and jumping over the border to the north gets lots of media attention around the world, the plight of Central Americans, illegally within Mexico’s borders,  gets largely ignored. Some of the stories are horrific.

They have no rights, are often preyed upon by kidnappers, gangs and narco groups, and if they get caught by the Mexican police, it’s a toss up as to whether they’ll be robbed or worse, or sent straight to a detention centre to await repatriation. Or both. For these people, the new law in Arizona is the very least of their problems. Civil liberties can suddenly seem very unimportant when contrasted with human rights abuses.

There’s a fairly good movie which more than touches upon this subject, called Sin Nombre, which can be found on Pirate Bay. I believe Ch4Cal’s upload is the best choice for English subtitles. There is another reason I’m writing about this story though, besides offering a little personal opinion and a movie suggestion. I found the image below, with a generous Creative Commons license, that I thought looked just great! Imaginative design, although the central feature less so I guess…can an image be considered a breach of Godwin’s Law? The credit for the image goes to  DrCuervo.

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  • [comment deleted]

    I’ve deleted the contents of this comment but left it here to explain why. The comment was simply a copy and paste of a right wing news story, from a site famous for its rather whacky conspiracy theories.

    I can live with comments from both left and right, but copy and paste jobs are going to be deleted. The comment facility on the blog is what the word suggests it is – for comments. When I start a Spam section, I’ll let you know…

    Gary

  • The root of this problem goes down to greed on both sides, A foreign company wants to locate in Mexico, why? because the Mexican Govt. wants to say we created X amount of jobs by letting this company in. They promise them, you don’t have to pay taxes for a certain number of years, we’ll protect you from labor union disputes and…. the daily minimum wage in most parts is… $5 dollars a day.
    I worked at a surgical glove factory in the states but decided to move to Mexico for a variety of reasons. My friends at the factory wrote me… the factory closed and went to Juarez Mexico…WHY?… because its $5 dollars a day wages instead of ten dollars an hour. OK. Thats Capitalism…make a buck… 4 years later my friend who was the manager called me. “I’m out of a job “he says. WHY… they moved the company to South Africa where the daily minimum wage was $4.50 a day. GREED.
    OK… Jose is working at a sweat shop making designer shirts… $5 bucks a day… Theres a Dominos Pizza opened up downtown. Their cheapest Pizza is about $9 dollars. Jose has a wife and 3 kids, pays rent, gas, water, electric.. end of the week, he has 2 dollars left, if he’s lucky and no bad habits. He calls his Aunt..she says oh, Ricardos in New York…he gets 12 dollars an hour. …. THE AMERICAN DREAM…. If you were in the same situation …what would you do???? Workers of the World, UNITE…the only thing you have to lose are your chains. Of course not everybody gets $5 bucks a day wages but its the average.

    • I’ll make no secret of it – were I genuinely and desperately economically and socially disadvantaged in my home country, I’d try and make it elsewhere. I think it’s often termed ‘survival’.

      Another aspect of this law is rather more sobering. One of the claims made by the supporters of the Arizona bill, is that they are fed up with all the drugs coming across the border. Imagine if the US as a whole managed to return all the millions of Hispanic illegal immigrants from whence they came. What are they going to do? Where are they going to get work? What skills do they have? Well, they are experienced at crossing the US border and are familiar with the US, possibly speak a little English, probably have US contacts.

      I see a career for that person, but it isn’t going to help Arizona or any other state combat the flow of drugs.

  • There’s an interesting editorial in the New York Time today written by one of the authors of the law. When explained as such, it doesn’t sound all that draconian or in conflict with federal law.

    I personally have a lot of sympathy for Mexican immigrants, illegal or otherwise. And I think anyone determined enough to cross the border illegally, traverse the desert on foot, and then make a life for him/herself in a foreign and often-hostile land has a fair amount of chutzpah, and for that probably deserves to be an American. I’d frankly rather see someone like that here than some slacker who was merely blessed by accident of birth.

    But if you have a law regarding immigration, well then it probably shouldn’t be a total travesty either.

    And if Arizona wants to prosecute and then lock up illegal immigrants, well that’s plain stupid, sort of like shooting yourself in the foot. Just deport the people you catch and be done with it.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where once people griped about Irish immigrants. Now the place is run by their descendants.

    • Couldn’t agree more. I haven’t read the nitty gritty of the bill. I’m sure there’s a way of making it sound nice just as there’s a way of making it seem criminal.

      You know the movie A Day Without Mexicans? It wasn’t based on a true story, but it could have been. A few years ago Malaysia removed almost all the Indonesian illegal immigrants from within its borders. Not such a long time after, Malaysia introduced programs to encourage Indonesians to return. Turns out many of them served a purpose after all.

  • Good use of Godwin’s Law. There is something about the use of excess Ks and SSs that tends to simply stop conversation.

    To the Arizona law: I understand Arizona’s frustration. The Federal Government has simply made a mess of immigration. We libertarians would open the the border to allow the free flow of labor and capital. That would make the Arizona law moot.

  • I could say a lot on this topic, but I don’t think its an issue I can give the world an answer for. I don’t really feel there is a perfect solution or “fix it”. I don’t believe in Amnesty. My father received Amnesty and that is part of what lead to my even existing in this world, since I was conceived upon my mothers arrival to this country (which was facilitated by my father being able to get his papers in order and becoming more confident in our family’s potential in the USA). Even so….I don’t believe in amnesty.

    I Know.

    My place of work is one train stop away from the march that will be taking place here in NY. I know I will encounter many fellow Mexicans/Mexican-Americans and I can completely understand where they are coming from. I have family members who also wish to be legalized and who wouldn’t benefit from the Arizona law. I Get It. Except that life isn’t that black and white. Amnesty can’t be given out every single time. It’s not going to help the country and it doesn’t even change the true root of the problem. Unfortunately, I don’t believe we’re about to fix all the countries in the world over night…or EVER really. It just doesn’t work that way. So what’s my solution for this giant mess? I don’t have one. I’m not really sure what opinion to give in this matter. Both sides make sense in their own way, so what can be said/done? I have no idea.

    As for Mexico and the way it treats migrants entering the country….there are no words for the injustices committed and I certainly do not defend Mexico or claim it to be a perfect country (I wouldn’t be a Brooklyn girl if it were). I do feel its within its right to express a sense of outrage on behalf of its citizens, however it has no real say in what this country decides to do for its…”betterment.”

    I feel I can see this issue through both perspectives…through the eyes of an American citizen…and a young woman of Mexican heritage who wouldn’t be enjoying the opportunities she has today, if it weren’t for illegal immigration.

    Sigh.

    • I don’t think an amnesty is being called for that loudly at the moment, but I get what you mean. There is, in my opinion, no short term answer to the immigration issue. The long term answer is for the Mexican government to produce a country that is economically sound with increased security and safety and sufficient opportunities and rewards to remove the incentive for those who currently make the trip north.

  • I also think comparisons to Nazi Germany are silly. But Godwin’s Law is not commonly known in Mexico. I dislike the law, but as an economist (well… an Economics major) I think it is shortsighted and unfeasible because it will hurt business (especially small ones) badly. Many Mexicans go to Arizona to do their shopping, and they contribute nearly 3 billion dollars every year -Tucson is a huge shopping town for Sonorenses for example.

    Hopefully, the law (or reaction to it) will prompt the US government to work on a migratory reform. But as you say Gary, Mexico is hypocritical when it criticizes the way America deals with illegal aliens from Mexico but not the way Mexico deals with Central American migrants… Amnesty International has frightening figures on the number of CA migrants who are kidnapped, raped, mugged, extortioned, etc. by Mexican policemen and criminals.

    And we should not forget that the reason why a third of Mexicans want to move to the US is because Mexico, through its institutions, has done a terrible job at promoting economic growth and creating prosperity for the last three decades. Had Mexico grown since 1980 at the rate it grew from 1940-1980, today we’d be as rich as Canada… So we can’t forget why Mexicans are fleeing the country (oh, and the violence of course).

    • The law will, ultimately, from all I have read, be Arizona’s loss at the end of the day. This is what happens when people who tune into Fox News for their information about the world are elected to power…

      And yes, there is hypocrisy on part of the Mexican government. Not that two wrongs make a right, I should add.

    • Actually, its a lot of large businesses in Arizona that will suffer. Arizona is a major exporter of fruit and cotton — depending on migrant labor — as well as depending on the manufacture of computer parts, aircraft and firearms. A drop in the latter would be tremendously helpful, but none of the Arizona products (except maybe aircraft parts) cannot be purchased elsewhere. And Arizona’s economy receives about 8 Billion US a year from Mexico, with Mexico receiving about 5 billion from Arizona. It’s gonna hurt them more than it hurts us.

      I have read the law, and know how to read law. The phrase used to justify detention “reasonable suspicion” is something that would have to be decided by a jury in each and every instance. While there are some standards of “reasonable suspicion” in automotive stops, the way the law is written — which included “lawful contact” (meaning anything from asking a policeman for directions, to questioning a witness to an auto accident, to responding to a barking dog complaint) — does not make “reasonable suspicion” at all reasonable.

      Secondly, the law allows people to sue the officer or the police department for NOT following up on their “reasonable suspicions.” In other words, if your neighbor thinks you talk funny, they can go to the police, and the officer MUST respond, if he or she doesn’t want to be dragged into court by some crank. And, alas, Arizona if famous for cranks.

      And… just to put the icing on the cake. Much as “Godwin’s Law” does tend to kill rational discourse, the drafters of this piece of legislation did have, and still do have, documented ties to white supremacist and fascist organizations.

      • I’m pretty familiar with law myself, and the term ‘reasonable suspicion’ is a vague piece of terminology that effectively gives the police a free hand to make decisions as they see fit. Vague terminology can’t always be helped. There are too many potential situations to be able to legislate for them all. Vague terminology can also be dangerous of course. There have been plenty of efforts of define the term, but at the end of the day the situation remains.

  • First, like Great Britain, the United States and every other country, one expects nations to protect their citizens abroad… whatever their immigration status in another country (which is irrelevant to the nation protecting its citizens). Secondly, a lot of people in the northwest (Sinaloa, Sononra, Chihuahua, Durango) go to Arizona regularly for business or other reasons.

    That Central Americans are abused in Mexico is legal and the existence of such abuses is a matter of misplaced priorities by law enforcment personnel (as today’s Amnesty International report says); well… duh… the police and prosecutors are busy with drug exporters. Hollywood films are probably not a good news source.

    Building the Great Wall was of course, U.S. business, except it affected access to the Rio Bravo del Norte and Colorado Rivers, both subject to international treaty, and affected businesses negatively on both sides of the border (and, having lived on the U.S. side of the borderlands, was a potential environmental and economic disaster for those of us living there — a goodly percentage of our local businesses depending on Mexican customers) not to mention the lives of those with family on both sides, or whose farms and other properties were taken by the government to build the fence.

    Mexican objections, besides the human rights concerns that have been part of Mexican foreign policy since the League of Nations days, centered on the water rights, and the concerns of citizens that regularly travel across the border, as well as the 1948 United Nations Charter of Human Rights, which specifies that one has the right to migrate from one’s country.

    • If you’re a British citizen, don’t get your hopes raised to high regards any forthcoming protection from your government. There’s a reason many kidnappers of a political persuasion don’t bother with Brits, unless it’s just the video beheading scare factor they are after. You might get a prison visit, and if there are grounds to believe that the citizen is not being treated in accordance with international human rights treaties, a complaint might be lodged. And (usually futile) appeals against death sentences are routinely made. Unless your name is Saddam.

      And that’s about it. And that’s about what it should be.

      Walls are never conducive to economies or businesses. Except for the walls constructors.

  • 100 % pure truth Mr Gary.

    I don’t have a reason or a need to go to Arizona or to U.S. in general and I don’t wanna go neither . The gringos can make his country in the IVth Reicht if they want, after all it is his country and they are free to do whathever they want in.

    I feel sad for my countrymen who go there but if they want to do in the illegal way they must assume the consequences. After all USA is not our country. The Mexican government complains because he knows that he needs to allow to go to several countrymen to liberate a little the social pressure that is exercised from below. If the Mexican government was not doing it it would be forced to work and we know this would be an abomination.

  • For starters, it’s not the US doing it, it is Arizona, and it is probably unconstitutional in that only the Federal Government can enact immigration law. Given that legal Mexican citizens, and those who have dual nationality will also be affected, and their remittances provide a good deal of money to Mexico…Mexico does have a right to complain. It’s Mexico’s citizens who will be harrassed, and whose civil rights will be abused.

    This does not diminish what happens to Central Americans illegally in Mexico…a whole other topic…but just because that’s worse, doesn’t make Arizona’s actions, or Mexico’s response immaterial or frivolous.

    This is reminiscent of the 80’s when Californians were voting for prop 187, another anti-immigrant law found to be unconstitutional. We passed out a lot of No on 187 buttons as souvenirs in Mexico then…everybody wanted them. Mexico and US border states have a long history, much of it not favorable to Mexico. It was the US that stole those border states after all, and has historically refused to follow aspects of the Treaty of Guadalupe.

    As to the wall…it is silly, but more than that as well. It seriously interferes with Native Americans who have villages on both sides of the border, and destroys traditional wildlife migration routes , including those of threatened and endangered species such as the borderland jaguars.

    • I understand that legal Mexicans are also affected, as well as ‘Mexican looking’ people, but my point is this…those Mexicans there legally have a choice. They can stay in the US and abide by its laws, no matter how unfair. Or they can leave. But so long as no one is mistreated, it is up to the US (whether federally or at state level) to implement laws as they see fit. Immigrants are guests with permission, not citizens with rights, so to speak*. The remittances aren’t really a related issue, in my opinion.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m not writing in support of this stoopid law. I’m just suggesting that foreign nations do not have any great right to make demands regards the internal policy making of other nations. Sure they can voice an opinion, but not much more. Again, in my opinion.

      Good point on the wildlife aspect of the wall – I hadn’t given any consideration to that.

      *I’m pretty used to this concept, having come from the UK, where we are subjects with permission, not citizens with rights! 🙂

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