Monday, January 21, 2008

Candles in the darkness

Via my friend Nez, we learn that Mount Rainier, a small city in Maryland, is potentially the next community to become a sanctuary city.
The tiny city of Mount Rainier is considering whether to declare itself a sanctuary for illegal immigrants, entering a regional and national debate over enforcement of immigration law.

If the City Council approves the proposal, the eclectic city of 9,000 in Prince George's County will join nearby Takoma Park in prohibiting police officers and city workers from checking the immigration status of residents or reporting those who lack legal residency documents to federal immigration authorities. Takoma Park has been a "sanctuary" city since 1985.

Mount Rainier City Council member Pedro Briones, who proposed the measure, said his intent is not to protect criminals but to allow all immigrants access to community services "so long as they are contributing residents of Mount Rainier and follow our city rules and regulations."

Brenda Norrell has this to say about solidarity in the face of the threatened DHS land seizure in order to build its Apartheid Wall:
As the Rio Grande winds around, creating the natural border between Texas and Mexico, Homeland Security attempts to seize with power this land to build a wall. This is a region where cross-border friendship has become a binational honor. After spending two weeks riding the rails and buses through South Texas, and along its border, I came away with the understanding that South Texas is a state all its own. While the people fight in unison the land seizures by Homeland Security, a new nation of solidarity emerges.
There's plenty of darkness, though, as Norrell reminds us:
GREEN VALLEY, Arizona – A panel of US/Mexico border speakers said that the North American Free Trade Agreement has benefited the United States, while forcing people in Mexico off their lands. The result has been a wave of displaced people crossing the US/Mexico border, with racist rhetoric and migrant deaths increasing in the United States.

“We have created a community of slaves,” said Delle McCormick, executive director of BorderLinks. McCormick pointed out that many Americans want migrants to come to the US, but for the wrong reason.

McCormick said many Americans want “slaves,” and do not want creative, intelligent, thinking people from Mexico to relocate here. Once here, they want migrants to be “invisible.”

McCormick joined a panel of speakers at the Santa Cruz Valley Border Issues Fair on Saturday, Jan. 19. More than 400 residents from Green Valley and Tucson, primarily retirees and winter visitors, attended and praised the humanitarian efforts underway to save lives at the border and battle with education the growing migrant xenophobia in the United States.

McCormick pointed out that NAFTA was launched on January 1, 1994, with the promise of bringing Mexico into the modern world. But while the people of Mexico waited for their lives to resemble those on “I Love Lucy,” their worlds began to crumble.

While the United States talked about “equalized trade,” out of one side of its mouth, out of the other side, the US was calling for the closure of its borders.

The US sent big business to seize the lands of the poor in Mexico. Further, the big box stores like Wal-Mart were soon putting smaller, locally-owned stores out of business. At the sacred places, Indigenous Peoples were pushed away and vendors began selling “Made in China,” trinkets, slowing the demand for handcrafts.

McCormick said while Mexico cut funding for social services, it increased funding for trade-based corporations.

Meanwhile, in Chiapas, dams were built to provide electricity for the US corporations, pushing Mayans off their lands. Like never before, this began the exodus of Indigenous corn farmers, now displaced and bound on foot for the US, desperate to survive. Today, a higher percentage of people walking across the US/Mexico border come from Chiapas, since NAFTA has wielded its damage, she said.

McCormick pointed out that the people of Mexico, including the Zapatistas, have creative ways of emerging and developing a new economy.

What the United States needs to do, she said, is “Get out of their way.”
And of course there is always plenty of nativist hatred, even far away from the US/Mexico border, not to mention the ever present racism practiced by the DHS itself or the continued expansion of the system of gulags used to imprison those unfortunate enough to be ICEed.

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