Immigration is All Politics: Arpaio Whitewash, DREAM Deferred

Dream Act RallySeoul No way! Reading the papers from Seoul (props to ROK as the most internet connected country in the world with free hookups at the airport!), I’m reading that Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa got good and passing grades from the federal Marshall’s audit of his jails in September 2009 and recently.   How can you get good grades with inmates living in tents in 120 degree weather and wearing pink pantsuits?  Something is wrong here!   Sheriff Joe of course threw the DOJ division back at the DOJ and its lawsuit on discrimination.

He says it’s “all politics.”  He’s right.  Why aren’t we doing better then?  Why are we not punishing politicians where there are immigrant voting blocks in the districts?

The ease with which the DREAM amendment suddenly materialized with Senator Reid in deep trouble for his reelection in Nevada would seem to be proof positive that when the case is clear, action can happen.  Why didn’t this happen earlier?  Of course the confusion in strategy between a half-loaf, the whole loaf, and not a single slice pretty much doomed us.  Two votes blocking debate from Arkansas from Lincoln and Pryor make no sense when the demand for increase immigration has been on the front pages for years from Tyson, Wal-Mart, and the tomato industry in the southern part of the state.  We have to be ready or not, and in this case it seems “not” was the answer.   Worth noting again as I have before that the courage of the DREAM marchers and others that have stood up in the face of certain deportation in the future fuels this fire.  We need the same courage on other issues.

Time to start playing hardball for immigration reform and admitting that without a better grassroots political strategy, nothing is going to happen good anytime in the future on this issue.

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Indicting Sheriff Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio and prisonersShreveport Meeting Friday night with immigration reform organizers after their long day of meetings in New Orleans on the 2nd day of the “Turning the Tide” conference it was clear that spirits were good among the organizers, despite the fact that prospects for comprehensive reform seem to have sunk to new lows.  These were hard cases.  No one believed that the Democrats would keep control of Congress.  Loss of the House of Representatives was seen as a foregone conclusion.  Increasingly the gallows humor of immigration was going to become:  “if it weren’t for bad changes, we won’t see any changes at all!”

There is a clearly a strategic split among the reformers that has existed in a dialectic for some time, but is increasingly sharpening in more stark relief between organizers who believe that the chance has to come from local projects and grassroots organizing and resistance versus the policy-lobbyist wonks with the greater resources still spinning the stories of a immaculate change conception with the Beltway.  This division is spoken of in quiet tones behind the scenes but is constantly part of the debate.  With more than 150 organizers in New Orleans the absence of some of the folks from the national campaign “table” was shocking to me, even if there presence had been no more than solidarity.

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