July 27, 2012
Fighting Bob Radio: borders
By David Giffey
Two guests on Fighting Bob Radio yesterday provided informed perspectives on human rights losses and the mounting militarization, since 9/11, of the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in the U.S.
“These are definitely challenging times,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera (VDLF), Milwaukee, told Ed Garvey, fightingbob.com founder and editor, on the weekly online radio show hosted by Eric Schubring of WOJB-FM radio, Hayward. “The need to organize, the need to build alliances [on behalf of immigrant workers] is crucial,” she said. A leading immigrant rights’ advocate and activist, Neumann-Ortiz described paradoxes in Wisconsin that place immigrant workers under scrutiny and subject them to harassment and deportation even as they are valued residents and workers.
“Particularly cruel,” Neumann-Ortiz said, was Wisconsin’s new voter ID requirement, which had the potential to deny as many as 300,000 people in the state of voting rights. Implementation of the law was blocked recently after being challenged by VDLF and other groups.
Pointing to the importance of immigrant workers, Neumann-Ortiz said many have been here for years, contributed to the tax base, and are integral to the economy. “Conservatively, 40 percent of the dairy industry here in Wisconsin is immigrant labor,” she added, quoting a dairy farmer as saying: “If we get rid of immigrants, we’ll be importing milk.”
“I feel in some ways the tide is turning on the issue of immigration with the recent decision by the Obama administration to provide at least a temporary legalization process for immigrant students who came here at a young age who want to pursue higher education,” said Neumann-Ortiz.
Greg Boos, immigration attorney and founder of Cascadia Cross-Border Law, joined the radio conversation to describe the border patrol and its widening and unclearly defined police authority to question people – in many cases Latinos – who may be stopped as far as 100 miles from the Canadian border or any U.S. boundary. Inland stops by the border patrol, once primarily confined to the border with Mexico, “have begun up north,” said Boos.
Neumann-Ortiz said VDLF is part of a coalition of organizations working to halt harassment of workers by border patrol agents. “There’s been an incredible level of racial profiling,” she said, in some cases as parents were taking children to school or attending church.
Failing to recognize immigrant workers as full members of society will, among other things, continue to undermine wages and working conditions for people who have legal status, Neumann-Ortiz said. “Workers never move forward by taking away rights from each other,” she concluded.
Boos warned that there is a strategy in certain elements of the U.S. “to equate immigration with terrorism, which has led to the militarization of the United States’ borders and the expansion of what is being conceived of as being a border.” Even though there is little evidence of border patrol success in catching terrorists, Congress continues to provide increased funding for the border patrol.
You can hear this hour-long discussion as well as previous progressive political talk shows online at blogtalkradio.com/fightingbobradio.
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There are also those insisting that English be declared our official language. Dig deep enough into the core groups and you can find fundamentalist rightwingers working hard to control who comes into our country with emphasis on Hispanics, Asians and any other non-white groups they don't like.
-Pietr Haikuu | Hurley, Wis | July 27, 2012
So-called law enforcement agencies are out of control in this country. It is horrifying that the border control can unilatreally declare a 'constitution free zone' and none of our 'leaders' question this. It is equally horrifying that police departments across the country routinely assault civil liberties and 'constitutional rights' and continue to go unchallenged. Americans are freely pissing away their freedom under the terror regime of the national security state and no one seems to be capable of saying 'no'. What is it going to take to wake up the herd before it is too late?
-Ron | SoCal | July 29, 2012