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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Learning the Suburbs

AR-102-0122Silver Springs An interesting byproduct of providing some support on capacity building to organizations in the DC/Baltimore areas has involved my being sent to re-education camp to learn more about the vast, sprawling suburbs that dominate this area of the country.  For the life of me I have to learn how to distinguish one row of apartments, townhouses, and cul-de-sacs from another.  Within a couple of blocks I will somehow drift between Montgomery and Prince Georges counties it seems like a half-dozen times without knowing when I left or certainly where I might be.

These are not the narrow, crooked name changing city streets I have learned in a hundred cities, but long six-lane avenues as large as interstates without the high speed limits.  Driving by an area in Silver Springs there was a small park on the left as we motored by and in the early morning one could see Latino soccer players changing shoes at their trunks before going to work.

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