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Immigration Fri Jul 30 2010

SB 1070 at Work in Chicago: Stirrings of Renewed Activism

Yesterday, the half-million undocumented immigrants of Illinois had a big day.

Aldermen and activists held a morning press conference revealing the details of a new City Council resolution, and in the evening several hundred demonstrators gathered peacefully outside Cook County Jail. Both events focused on immigration reform, a defiant gesture in the face of Arizona's controversial new law that took effect yesterday. Those who don't already know about the SB 1070 debate will likely want to read up, as the Supreme Court is expected to take sides soon.

Protesters gathered around 4pm yesterday on the grassy lawn that divides California Boulevard from the stoic gray buildings housing the Cook County Criminal Courts, the Correction Department and jail just beyond. The crowd was a colorful mix of liberal focus groups, from a rainbow-clad LGBTQ coalition called Join the Impact and local antiwar contingents to the International Socialist Organization (ISO), which was selling merchandise from a fold-up table.

Many others were drawn from the surrounding Pilsen neighborhood and other Hispanic-majority communities, chanting in Spanish and wearing t-shirts that read "Undocumented and Unafraid."

The event was not without a sense of theater; organizers strung a long "border" of ribbons around the crowd with individual names penned on each, and attached one poster to a gang of helium balloons which floated until it landed gently in front of the courthouse. One organizer even strummed traditional folk tunes on his banjo.

Leading the demonstration was a newly formed group named the Moratorium on Deportations Campaign (MDC), a joint project between the student-led Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL) and local activists based mostly in Pilsen. Organizers and their supporters made three demands: an executive order from President Obama to place a moratorium on all U.S. deportations, an end to the collaboration between local police and federal immigration agents, and a firm community stand against SB 1070.

Much of the rhetoric targeted Chicago police for reporting Hispanics arrested for traffic and misdemeanor offenses to local agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The federal agency can then check their legal status and deport any undocumented persons in police custody. Though banned by city and county laws, this local-federal partnership has been in practice for some time at facilities such as Cook County Jail. Activists often refer to these collaborative efforts and their enforcers as the "polimigra."

Speechmakers also focused on the implications of SB 1070, one day after a federal judge stripped down the provisions of Arizona's controversial new immigration law. On Wednesday, Judge Susan Bolton of the Federal District Court issued an injunction that blocked key components the law, a ruling which sided with the Obama administration in asserting federal authority over individual state power to construct immigration policy.

The preliminary injunction blocks Arizona's police officers from holding any arrested person in custody until their legal status is determined, stops a provision requiring immigrants to carry papers at all times, allows illegal immigrants to search for employment in public spaces, and strikes down the notorious requirement that local police officers check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.

Activists considered the injunction a small victory within the larger battle, acknowledging the fight was not over.

"We don't want the [Arizona] law to be cut in half, one third, or even one-fourth. We want it gone," said one MDC organizer.

Chicago organizers have wanted to address SB 1070 in part to show their solidarity and in part to ward off any legislative spillover in Illinois. Mostly though, local activists are using SB 1070 as a slingshot to propel their communities to renewed action. The Arizona law comes into play just as other pieces of immigration reform hit state and federal dockets, and activists want to halt the constant political reshuffle that tends to leave the immigration question unanswered. Festering issues such as the proposed DREAM Act, the "polimigra" and their detention holds have long angered Pilsen's activists. Arizona's new law is sparking a new round of dialogue and fresh determination on the immigration front.

The Moratorium on Deportations Campaign is a strong sign that a new movement for immigration reform may be stirring in Chicago. Organizers want to create grassroots momentum, but face the challenge of mobilizing a largely undocumented constituency whose local existence is by definition jeopardized whenever they confront law enforcement officials. At an MDC meeting in the yard of Pilsen's Casa Aztlán, where bright graffiti walls surrounded a circle of about 15 activists from around the city, organizers debated whether to prepare the protesters for an arrest action.

In the end, it was decided that families would risk too much in confronting police. Many members expressed anger with the police for acting brutally toward protesters in the past.

A member of the CTA Transit Union reflected, "They are doing what they should be doing because they're not our cops."

Seeking to boost their numbers and build alliances, MDC sought speakers from a variety of left-wing groups, even bagging a speaking spot for Rich Whitney, the Green Party's gubernatorial candidate. But the hodgepodge of speakers brought its own problems, as the points of MDC's campaign became muddled and confused with a host of other agendas such as accountability for Wall Street and American pullout from the Middle East. At times, the protest resembled the outlandish and offensive tactics of Tea Party gatherings, as one sign depicted swastikas with the scrawled message, "Ace the way you disemploy has a racist smell..." Other signs posed pictures of Arizona's Gov. Jan Brewer beside the question, "Jan Brewer: Witch or Bitch?"

To a large degree, both liberal indignation and SB 1070 have been inspired by the Obama administration's failure to tackle illegal immigration reform. Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that deportations under Obama have increased by 10 percent since the Bush administration, and auditing of businesses for illegal hiring has roughly quadrupled. ICE expects to deport around 400,000 people this year, the vast majority of whom are non-criminal. The harsh moves may be intended to draw Republican support for comprehensive immigration reform, but they are also angering the Hispanic population around America and here in Chicago, where local activists have gone to extreme lengths in protest.

On May 18th, Rev. Martín Santellano from Glenwood's Hope Apostolic Ministry began a hunger strike demanding Obama issue and executive order to halt the deportations. After 32 days, Father Jose Landaverde of Our Lady of Guadalupe took over Santellano's strike, calling for a moratorium on all deportations.

And last Tuesday, a handful of undocumented student activists from Chicago were arrested in a senate office building in Washington, D.C. They were demonstrating for passage of the DREAM Act, a bill that would grant legal status to undocumented students who have resided in the U.S. since childhood. Student activists have been a key force in the new pushes for local immigration reform.

At the protest, one IYJL activist named Tania stressed that SB 1070 was only a symptom, the latest in a series of anti-immigration laws affecting Hispanics in Arizona.

"We have a familiar feeling here in Chicago when they are arrested," she said.

At City Hall yesterday, Aldermen Edward M. Burke (14th), Roberto Maldonado (26th) and Daniel Solis (25th.) expanded upon their newly introduced resolution, a measure which would cut contracts with four Arizona-based companies until SB 1070 is repealed. The boycott would also extend to discretionary travel and sports training -- after the press conference, more than 100 community leaders marched to Cubs owner Tom Ricketts' office and delivered thousands of letters demanding that the team's spring training be moved out of Arizona.

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is calling the new resolution, "The strongest City Council resolution ever introduced in the state of Illinois." Undocumented residents of Illinois might be comforted. For the dismantling communities of Arizona, its already too late.

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Debbie / July 30, 2010 1:03 PM

The Mexicans are dreaming if they think hunger strikes, protesting, having pandering butt-kissing politicians or "demands" to end status checks or deportations will have any effect. They are so outnumbered by LEGAL Americans who are fed up with these arrogant criminal illegals who thinks the US owes them something. We are sick of their big mouth whining that they should not be held accountable for their many crimes. Yes, illegal immigrant anger is on the rise and will only get worse the more these idiots make a stink about it. They would be better off helping illegals make a plan to self-deport before all states follow the AZ law. Plain and simples, Americans don't want millions of criminals here who refuse to obey our laws, mooch benefits and "demand" rights of which they are not entitled to. There will be NO CIR, DREAM Act or another amnesty. Especially when the Dems will be pummeled in the November elections. Politicians who support the criminal illegals will soon be out of a job !

SPO101 / July 30, 2010 3:55 PM

I want AZ Governor Jan Brewer to show papers to prove she’s a human being. I think it was FOX that did a show on extraterrestrials that live among us, and Governor Brewer does resemble some alien from a B Movie, “Invasion of the Brain Snatchers”, right? I’ve have my suspicions about people like Jan Brewer, Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove because of their lack of human qualities.

As far as the immigration issue goes… Republicans never made a big deal about immigration enforcement during Bush/Cheney but NOW all conservative hell is breaking loose… even though the Obama Administration is deporting MORE illegal’s than Bush ever did. Maybe we should adopt Ronald Wilson Reagan’s immigration policy (look it up morons)

And funny how I didn’t hear NOT ONE WORD on the Cable News about AZ Gov. Jan Brewer’s connection with the Corrections Corp of America. Not to mention I could stop this immigration problem with one thing… ARREST ALL THOSE conservative business people WHO ARE HIRING THE ILLEGAL WORKERS! Republican Party = Hypocrisy

On 7-28-10 I was watching Republicans on Morning Joe (MSNBC) preach about being ADULTS when it comes to our economic meltdown. I say BS! The real ADULTS are trying to demand accountability from those who got us in this financial mess. Republicans want to shift the burden of responsibility on Teachers unions and others in the American working class.

I wonder if the spoiled Silver Spoons on Morning Joe knew how much they hurt Democrats, Progressives, Liberals when they didn’t challenge NJ Gov. Christie. NOW all over the internet the Conservative wacko groupies are swooning all over Christie like he was a rock star. Of course, because of these Republican low grade thought processes, the right wing monkeys now consider teachers, poor people and immigrants the biggest threat to our economy.

What kind of Americans are stupid enough to believe decent wages/working conditions, regulation, Wall St. reform and making the rich pay their fair share are BAD THINGS! Republicans will take tax dollars away from grade schools to give BP tax breaks/subsidies. DON’T BELIEVE ME, you rightwing numbskulls, CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELVES!

Dennis Fritz / July 30, 2010 7:44 PM

Debbie, your ignorance is just appalling.

First of all, Illegal aliens are not criminals. Illegal border crossing is a civil offense, not a criminal one. You should know the difference.

Second of all, the idea that people here illegally have no right is a myth. ALL persons on US soil have certain rights, regardles of their immigration status. You should know this, too.

You super-patriots kill me. You wrap yourselves in the flag, call yourselves "real Americans," yet you're totally clueless about the laws that govern this country. At least bother to educate yourself before running your mouth! Christ, I wish we could deport people like you. Having to share this country with a bunch of brain-dead, tea-partying, knuckle-dragging morons is seriously undermining my quality of life.

Montana / August 2, 2010 10:34 AM

“House Bill 2013” and “SB1070”

0 = Arizona
2 = USA/ Our Constitution/ We the People of the United States

We are a country that is ruled by the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, not by the majority of the day. When you do not know the principles in these documents, therein lays the problem in losing when you are challenged in court.

This month of July 2010, our U.S. Federal courts have found the so called State of Arizona hate filled legislation namely “House Bill 2013” and “SB1070” Un-constitution (So much for the intellect of Jan Brewer, “Did you read the bills you signed?”). But we all know that they will go crying to the Supreme Court of the United States, please, please, please go. We will fight you in Arizona, any other state, and yes in Washington DC. We will not tire, we will not be silent and we will persevere, I promise you.

In my opinion the Republican Party has been taken over the most extreme of clans; the Baggers, Birthers and Blowhards (people who love to push their beliefs and hate on others while trying to take away the rights of those they just hate) and that’s who they need to extract from their party if they real want to win in November. Good Luck, because as they said in WACO, “We Ain’t Coming Out”.

It’s all about politics: Jan Brewer you were never elected to be Governor, but you have no problem trying to get elected on the back of undocumented workers, you loser (sure you may win but the long-term effects to your so called State is just beginning). Here is a partial list of your hate filled legislation;

1. S.B. 1070,
2. House Bill 2013
3. No permit conceal weapons law,
4. The famous Birthers law,
5. Banning Ethnic studies law,
6. Banning human-animal hybrid (aren’t most GOPers crossed with the Reptilian race?)
or are they just giving Laurence Gonzales, some great promotion material for his new book “Lucy”.

7. Could she be behind the Mural in Prescott, Arizona, ordered to be whiten,
8. On deck to pass, no citizenship to babies born to undocumented workers,

9. If she can read she should look up Arizona’s House Bill 2779 from two years ago (which was un-constitution and failed when legally challenged),
10. The boycotted Martin Luther King Day, what idiots don’t want another holiday? Yes, you guessed it Arizona.

Well Arizona, you can keep boycotting new holidays, passing hate filled legislation and the rest of our country will continue to challenge you in court of law and Boycott your so-called state.

Lets face it, no one can real believe anything that comes out of Brewer’s mouth, in an interview, this year, in an attempt to gain sympathy, she first said her father had died in Germany fighting the Nazi in World War II (which ended 1945) but of course we find out the truth that father was never in Germany and died in California in 1955. But we are suppose to believe everything else she says, right!

As they say in the World Cup: Gooooooooal!

Linda / August 3, 2010 8:05 PM

True, gotta admire Palin for saying whatever comes into her mind.

However, she is now part left-right paradigm of the “establishment”, when she endorsed the two “elites”, John McAmnesty and Rick Perry, (who only postures on illegals, while supporting their in-state tuition and anti- HB1070, not to mention his huge efforts using eminent domain for the NAU Superhighway), she lost all respect, in my book.

She’s just another political hack, trying to get her “side” fired up…. she dumped her principles when she endorsed the two RINO’s and showed herself to be just another party hack.

Also, she just up and quit the job she was elected to do. That tells me enough about her. I actually think she is unstable.

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