Since 9/11, protecting the American imperial “homeland” has become an essential priority for the Bush administration. The creation and cultivation of fear is one of the pillars of empire within the “homeland.” Threats of terrorism and twelve million “illegal” immigrants are being used to maintain the government’s threat of discipline, punishment, and violence here in the US. Under the guise of the war on terror the Bush administration has allowed the Department of Homeland Security to coordinated mass immigrant raids, big brother spy blimps, expanded detention centers, repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act, and suspension of habeas corpus have all been recently implemented and are ready to use against anyone in the US. By depriving people’s liberties, the acts help advance the process of militarization.
Every state uses violence to enforce its rule against its enemies, but we must recognize that a major change has occurred. At the heart of today’s repression has to do with America’s addiction of mass incarceration, especially young African-American men. In today’s age of globalization, the basis for mass out-migration is clear. Since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Mexico and Canada, Mexico has been flooded with cheap subsidized US agricultural products that displaced millions of Mexican farmers. Between 2000 and 2005, Mexico lost 900,000 rural jobs and 700,000 industrial jobs, resulting in serious unemployment throughout the country. Desperate poverty has forced millions of Mexican workers to look for jobs elsewhere in order to feed their families.
The existence of the American Gulag – the mass caging of people of color – took place through a cultivation of fear with the goal of destroying the Constitution through Bush’s bogus War on Terror. If there was ever a clear indication Alberto Gonzales was in it for himself to acquire power and prestige rather than improving the Latino community, it was his first act as Attorney General. Soon after Gonzales’ confirmation by the Senate, his first act as Attorney General was to carry out a massive clandestine dragnet operation with fellow Mexican-American Ben Reyna, former US Marshal Direction. Under the code-name Operation FALCON (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally), Falcon Operation FALCON is a nationwide fugitive apprehension operation involving hundreds of state, federal and local law-enforcement agencies. Between April 2005 and October 2006, Operation Falcon carried out three unprecedented federally coordinated mass arrests. More than 30,000 fugitives, including immigrants, were arrested in the largest dragnets in the nation’s history and, according to US Marshall chief Ben Reyna. That is just the beginning; just recently, Gonzales announced he was going to increase similar type operations at the Washington headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Through the Violent Crime Impact Team, or VCIT, initiative, ATF uses innovative technology, and an integrated federal, state, and local strategy to identify, investigate, arrest and prosecute the most violent criminals in the 25 cities where we have VCIT teams. This program has been tremendously successful, thanks in part to the support of your local law enforcement partners, and your federal partners in the DEA, FBI and the Marshals Service – and we’re going to be expanding it to more cities soon. … They are: Orlando, Florida; Mesa, Arizona; San Bernardino, California; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
And as an important step in making sure that we have the tools needed to get the job done, we are sending to Congress comprehensive crime legislation. … First, it will improve a number of existing criminal laws to close gaps and strengthen the penalties and tools we have already. That means extending the statute of limitations for violent crimes and establishing enhanced penalties for violent crimes committed by illegal aliens.
The groundwork has been laid with newly predictable identified “threats” which are now firmly embedded in the collective unconscious of America. Fear attempts to silence dissenters from speaking out about the truth regarding the subjugation of a power-crazed, dictatorial administration whose control continues to expand exponentially with each passing rumor of imminent peril.
Creating An Immigration Human Zoo
The binding force of society, largely, is a web of symbols that enables individuals to control and make sense out of experience in patterned ways. Here in the US, we are are the pioneers of the public relations industry. The the whole purpose of the PR industry is to aggressively shape a consumer desire and create value in commodities by imbuing them with the power to transform the consumer into a more desirable person. Symbols instill beliefs and shape attitudes that underpin social structures. Today’s menacing symbol that is dominating our newspapers, flood broadcast channels, and fuel political campaigns – the barbarian Brown hordes threatening to crash the gates and destroy the foundations of civilization – are the undocumented immigrants. What hard to escape are concentration camp-like images of “caging” practices: people behind fences, hands clutching wires, guards.
With an ever-increasing racist and repressive system, the restriction of our freedom of movement with detention centers serving as an immigration human zoo. The primary use of these detention centers serves as the symbolic taming of the “ethnic other,” which only reinforces a sense of “Anglo superiority” that is based on a Western binary opposition that considers all non-conforming forces as almost non-existent, and if existent then it is branded as evil and must be destroyed. The history of colonial extermination in the process of territorial and political domination is evidence of this behavior.
One can even make the argument that detention camps can be compared to the relationship between pets and farm animals to humans according to Ghassan Hage in his book White Nation. The only difference between a farm animal and pet is that a farm animal is still too wild to be able to wander freely in the home. Now just substitute “nation” for “home” and “ethnic other” for “animal” it is hard to escape the fact that this is the exact thing that is occurring here in the US. “Guest workers” are considered to be somewhere between a trusted pet and a wild beast who needs to be tamed in order to wander freely. And like the duties and responsibilities of a work horse on a farm, “guest workers” are used as a tool for other peoples advantage, never to roam around free.
What is Anglo superiority? According to Samuel Huntington, author of Clash of Civilizations and The Hispanic Challenge, in his latest article, Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite he writes:
America’s Anglo-Protestant culture has combined political and social institutions and practices inherited from England, including most notably the English language, together with the concepts and values of dissenting Protestantism, which faded in England but which the settlers brought with them and which took on new life on the new continent.
For Huntington, America is thus the battleground for the heart and soul of Western civilization. Anyone who wants to become successful and wealthy in America must conform to Anglo-American cultural values and take English as their language. To which Huntington, Latinos pose as a threat to liberal democracy. In other words, Latinos are not willing to be tamed and should be locked up.
The current detention population is in response to a backlash against undocumented immigration that actually began in the mid-1990s and that is now out of control since 9/11. According to Detention Watch Network, a D.C.-based advocacy group, in 1994, the number of detained immigrants by the federal government on any given day was 7,444. Currently, the government is able detain 22,000 immigrants on any given day. This year, President Bush intends to provide new funding for another 6,700 beds, which would make the gain since 1994 virtually fourfold. The number of removals every year from the U.S. – whether formal or “voluntary” – is even greater. In 2004, they totaled 1,238,319, according to the Office of Immigration Statistics.
Rising inequality can result in an increase in racial bias for scapegoating or advancing xenophobic and nationalistic tendencies. By this fall, the ICE will already have already spent an estimated $1 billion per year to detain over 27,500 immigrants in eight ICE operated Service Processing Centers (SPCs) and seven contract detention facilities. In addition to those facilities, detainees are also being held in local jails and privately run prisons across the US. According to ICE, the average time a detainee spends in one of America’s concentration camp is approximately one month, although some detainees have reported that have been held for several years.
As the “New World Order” marches on, one’s outlook in life will continue to look not so bright and cheerful as most people would have planned, or hoped, it to be. What is not often told in the corporate media are the American families who are broken up because of our ineffective system. As US lawmakers grapple with a long awaited immigration bill, families are being separated by the many mistakes in the exceedingly complicated process to obtain visas and permanent residency which leads to life-changing consequences for foreign spouses of American citizens and their family members. The number of people barred from the United States under this draconian policy is increasing. Since 2000, 21,500 have been prevented from returning for a decade. In 2006, the annual tally nearly doubled over the year before to 13,209. Many American nuclear families are shattered because families are forced to make one of the hardest decisions of their lives – remain estranged from their spouses and minor children or leave the US and become an American exile.
The brutal immigration human zoos throughout this country US – the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, TX, the Willacy County Detention Center in Raymondville and the numerous deportation prisons – represents nothing more than reminder of the empty promises of liberty, justice and democracy made by the neo-colonial power structure that brought them here. In truth, their abused and hollow meanings behind their supposed help and goodwill continue to be unmasked and being replaced by terror, hunger and injustice! No matter how much they seek to live a modest life, fend for their families, enjoy a decent education or even struggle for the right to live, they are demonized, imprisoned and sent to their deaths through hunger and repression brought on by the very same societies that benefit from their devastation and misery. It is the bureaucratic machine of oppression that works tirelessly to strip them of their human rights and to keep them faceless so they can simply remain as objects to be stared at and talked about – just as it was envisioned by P.T. Barnum with his own personal human zoo.
To reflect on these realities could help us to better understand the tragedy. We have a crisis that is threatening our existence. Nevertheless, that does not mean that we have to accept this inept government, which allows this to happen. We can do something about it instead of being forced to decide to either leave this country or accept the authoritarianism that has developed. A true democracy should not consist only of secret police and domestic espionage operations and generals and admirals with their approach to justice – meaning, they will let you know what justice is. When it come to the issue of humanity as opposed to power – I have chosen humanity. A free society owes it existence to the tenets of freedom. People of color have never had a breath of freedom in this suffocating society.
Today, in America, too much emphasis is given to secrecy and not enough emphasis is given to the question of justice and to the question of humanity. These dignified deceptions will not suffice. We have had enough of power without truth. I intend to fight for the truth. I suggest that not only is this not un-American, but it is the most American thing we can do – because if the truth does not endure, then our country will not endure.
With the 2008 election approaching fast, the fact is, if we do not wake up quick, we can hope for little substantive change in the next administration if we don’t pressure any of the current Democratic Party candidates for justice. The current “GOP Lite” formula that the Democratic Party is adhering to is a bankrupt centrist ideology with no principles, and which inspires far too few to go out and vote the decadent neocon murderers out of office.
In our country the worst of all crimes occurs when the government murders truth. If it can murder truth, it can murder freedom. Once this occurs, they can do away with anybody if they should dare to fight for freedom.
I call on every refugees, migrant and anti-racist progressive-minded people to come together in order to demonstrate that another world is possible and that solidarity, justice, brother- sisterhood and liberty are more than empty words. Now is the time not to back down. We are fighting for our lives!