Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Angela Davis on Immigration

Click here for an interview transcript, with an audo link, to an intervirew with professor and social justice activist Angela Davis. Davis has this to say about immigration:

Q: Under the Bush administration, the US approach to immigration reform is focused on enforcement. And, somewhat related to that we've seen, especially here in the South, an increase in privately owned and operated immigration detention facilities. Do you see this as one of the major human rights issues in the South and in the prison abolition movement?

Angela Davis: Oh, absolutely. The rise of detention centers. The use of existing state and federal facilities--sometimes municipal jails--to detain immigrants, helps to drive the prison-industrial complex. And I think that whoever is involved in the campaign around prison issues has to recognize the extent to which structural racism has been promoted by the assault on immigrant rights. Structural racism in the form of the creation of these institutions of detention, but also in the way that immigrants are linked to the figure of the terrorist, because of the way in which that whole discourse of "immigrants" draws from and feeds on the racisms of the past, the racisms that have affected people of African descent, of Native American people. So, it seems to me that the struggle for immigrant rights is the key struggle of our times. And it is a struggle for civil rights. It is a struggle for human rights.

Q: The focus on this conference has been Black-Brown unity. Do you think it is a good idea to focus on building bridges across racial boundaries, or are there more pressing and important issues?

Davis:  It's always a good thing to build bridges across racial boundaries. It's always been a good thing. You know, one of the points that I often make in relation to my personal history, is that very likely the outcome of my trial would have been very different had not Black-Brown unity been created and strengthened. In San Jose, California, which is the city where I was tried, there were very few Black people at the time. So the major activist support for me in that community came from Chicano communities. And so I can personally say that if people had not had the foresight to build Black-Brown unity at that time, I might not be sitting here today. But there are so many examples of the ways in which people of African descent and Latino people have come together historically. Yeah, I think about Betita Martinez, Elizabeth Martinez, who was one of the leaders of the leaders, founders of the Chicano movement of the 60's and 70's. She became involved in social movement work initially supporting Robert Williams, and initially being involved in SNCC. So, it seems to me that we often assume that this is something new? But it isn't. And whenever we've been successful there has been this unity across racial boundaries--this multi-racial approach to social justice.


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"Angela Davis: Oh, absolutely. The rise of detention centers. The use of existing state and federal facilities--sometimes municipal jails--to detain immigrants, helps to drive the prison-industrial complex."
Just as no one has listened to the KKK for years, no one has listened to Angela Davis for years, surely not the main stream America who you will need to convince to change our immigration policies. As far as using existing detention facilities for illegal aliens is concerned, it wouldn't be necessary if we could be certain that a deportee would acknowledge our right to remove him from the population and show up for his immigration hearing. Are we to expect the citizen to foot the bill for special housing for these people? I think you'll have a hard time convincing them.

The nexus between illegal immigration and civil rights is a red herring, a cynical attempt to bring citizen minorities into the streets on what is purely a sovereignty and economic issue. It's not working, because main stream minority citizens do not see the illegal alien crisis as their fight, and rightly so.

Posted by: George | Dec 20, 2006 9:11:30 AM

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