Thursday, August 7, 2008

Immigration Man

Guarding the border since the Revolution

On August 6th, an article was published by Michelle Roberts of the Associated Press pointing out that the area south of San Diego has four times the number of Border Guards working for ICE, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch of Homeland Security, than in West Texas and three times more than Arizona, which has the highest level of cross-border migrant worker traffic.

Taking his cue from Michelle Roberts, Republican Senator John Cornyn, who has only recently begun to take up the banner of protest on behalf of border guards incarcerated for unnecessary and unchecked violence against Mexican nationals, added to this implied lament a pocket full of statistics, provided of course by Roberts herself or someone else, and issued his own statement, which in any event was met with only shrugs of indifference.

This uncharacteristic activism, given Cornyn's notorious incuriosity about anything not issued to him for distribution by the President's own handlers, amounts to a disingenuous attempt at campaign season pandering in league with the controlled mainstream press. It seems important to Texas Republicans to say something about Law & Order every time they feel the need to stir up their sleeping base. It's like calling the hogs from the back door of the trailer when it's suppertime in the South. Law and order is their bread and butter issue. Besides, it's what Reagan would do to foment and exploit the endemic fear of minorities in the South and Southwest.

Making political hay of a handful of statistics that he could exploit among the groups of white conservative Texans, those who are deemed vulnerable to the Republican Party's Southern Strategy in redux now aimed at Latinos in the Southwest, Senator Cornyn complained that while the number of officers has increased significantly since 2004 across the 2000 mile southwestern border region -- in response to voter demands -- most of the increase in manpower went to California.

Adding irony on top of irony and not realizing he had "dissed" his own governor, Republican Purdy Hair Perry, Cornyn went on to imply that California's Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger was taking a more activist role in the immigration issue and was applying an apparently higher level of influence in Washington.

What Cornyn's script writers have him doing is pretty tricky.
In an arch-conservative state with a high population of Latino voters keeping a skeptical eye on the issue of "Immigration Reform," Cornyn not only has to appeal to his sub-human base of racists bubbas -- that 20% of Bush supporters who still think the President is preparing the world for the Second Coming -- but also, he has to recapture those formerly loyal white working class voters with at least a grade school education who finally "figured it out" and are now suffering from Bush Fatigue.

Enter the Southern Strategy in redux. Cornyn is using the tried and true subtle appeal of Southern racism by calling it "Law & Order" then blaming the highest rate of chemical dependency in the first world on Mexican drug cartels, alleging that the cartels are now allied with terrorists trained in Iran, are sending their own assassins to Iran for training and are now helping "al Qaeda" terrorists cross the unfenced borders disguised as "Illegal Aliens." You can't make this stuff up, folks.

It's all sort of circular, this argument. On top of that, it all depends on the Neocon myth that we are in an extended "War on Terrorism" -- in addition to the extant "War on Drugs" -- and therefore in need of more troops [read: "more votes"] to guard our national borders in accordance with our hitherto unseen efforts to "Secure the Homeland."

The argument is also ironic as well as duplicitous. More than anyone else, the vice president under Reagan, Republican George H. W. Bush, former head of CIA, is responsible for the explosion in the "drug bid'ness" vis-a-vis the Iran-Contra Affair by first diverting a portion of the illegal sale of arms to Iran to the Nicaraguan Contras and then by looking the other way while the Contras tapped into the sale and trafficking of cocaine through the Colombian Medellin Cartel in order to raise even more money for their own arms and military supplies needed to depose the democratically elected government of Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega.

It has been alleged and documented that during the 80s, once the Nicaraguan Contras had arranged the market connections in Los Angeles and Miami through Nicaraguan expatriates, the network of U.S. intelligence operatives and officials worked to reinforce the connections among state and local law enforcement officials. At the time, particularly with reference to black communities in L. A., a "blame the victim" rationale was applied. Indeed, the "blame the victim" argument integrated easily into the Southern Strategy being utilized by the Reagan Republican establishment at the time.

That brings us back to California, wherein Cornyn complained, ICE maintains a ratio of 32 officers per mile, while the area south of Tucson, Arizona, just mentioned as having the highest rate of migrant traffic, has eleven (11) officers per mile. The Texas Rio Grand River Valley has the lowest ratio of officers per mile at eight (8).

Cornyn also pointed out that Juarez, across the border from El Paso, is currently experiencing extreme violence with great loss of life. The violence is the result of betrayals at the highest levels within the Federation Drug Cartel that precipitated an internal struggle for control of the border region around El Paso. When the Mexican national government ordered troops to the region, the violence only spread.

Cornyn has made this internecine cartel violence the basis for his contention that the border region of Texas needs emergency reinforcement on the American side -- without even once making reference to the ongoing sexual violence against women in Juarez taking its toll in the hundreds -- lest the drug war violence spreads into Texas as it did last month in Phoenix where a United States citizen, a used car salesman, was assassinated by Zeta paramilitaries working for the Sinaloa Cartel.

The Zetas moved westward into the Federation's (Sinaloa) territory, looking to contract their services to the competition after the Gulf Cartel, with whom the Zeta paramilitaries had been associated for nearly a decade, suffered it's own leadership crisis when it's leader was arrested by the Mexican government and extradited to the United States.

While it is certainly true that there is much violence in the major cities in Northern Mexico, Cornyn's critics have accused him of exploiting the situation for political purposes, even renewing calls for the border fence that United States citizens in the region do not want. Of course, his appeals for increased security "for the homeland" are directed to lower and undereducated middle class members of the dominant culture who populate the major urban regions further north and to the east and who form the populist conservative base of the Republican Party.

By Michelle Roberts, Associated Press Writer

Aug 6, 6:36 PM ET

SAN ANTONIO - Despite efforts to add Border Patrol agents to areas where immigrant traffic is high and drug violence is flaring, officers assigned to the 2,000-mile boundary with Mexico are bunched up near the California coast. And some critics see politics at play.

An Associated Press analysis of Border Patrol staffing shows that the San Diego sector, with the shortest section of border and fences covering half the boundary, has four times the number of agents per mile that West Texas does and three times as many as most of Arizona.

That is the case even though the Tucson sector in Arizona has been the busiest spot for illegal crossings for years and El Paso sits next to a Mexican city that has seen a surge in drug-cartel violence so severe that Mexicans are pleading for asylum in the U.S.

"I think it makes us less safe," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said of the way agents are posted along the border.

More Progressive journalists who have been monitoring the elections, have expressed concern that apparatchiks of the Republican Party would soon begin to ratchet up the undercurrents of fear and racism that form the basis of their notoriously successful Southern Strategy. This season, it is expected to present itself through calls for immigration reform and Homeland Security while stirring up negative stereotypes used to discriminate against Latinos and migrant workers. In fact, the whole concern for "Law & Order" is grounded in the fear of minorities and immigrant populations, despite that Mexican migrant workers in the United States have been documented as having the lowest crime rates in all categories -- even lower than the the dominant population.

American history suffers no lack of precedence for migrating workers and the suffering they endured. One of the most memorable of these periods of extended hardship was the during the Great American Dust Bowl and the concurrent Great Depression, during which thousands of America families moved westward, destitute and homeless. Have we already forgotten?


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