Bias in Arizona’s Reaction to Immigrants

In Arizona, a federal judge ruled that racial animus drove a shutdown of a Mexican-American ethnic studies program, as President Trump pardoned ex-Sheriff Arpaio over his harsh treatment of immigrants, reports Dennis J Bernstein.

By Dennis J Bernstein

President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joseph Arpaio over a contempt-of-court conviction when he refused to comply with an order to end racial-profiling in detaining suspected undocumented immigrants again shows Trump’s readiness to flout the law in protection of friends while his administration declared that even Hurricane Harvey wouldn’t stop the immigration crackdown.

“The Border Patrol is a law enforcement agency and we will not abandon our law enforcement duties,” said a statement from the Rio Grande Valley Sector office last Thursday, vowing to “remain vigilant against any effort by criminals to exploit disruptions caused by the storm.”

Though overshadowed by the Arpaio pardon and the storm, Arizona students and their parents won a victory in Federal Court in Arizona with the restoration of a popular Mexican-American ethnic studies program. On Friday, I spoke with Cesar Cruz, an author and educator who was in Tucson to witness the court case.

Donald Trump speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. August 31, 2016. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

Dennis Bernstein: I know that many of you are monitoring the hurricane off the coast of Texas. But keep in mind that there are people there who are worried about whether they should face the storm or seek shelter and take the risk of being deported.

Welcome, Dr. Cesar Cruz. I saw a news conference about the hurricane. People are already clearing the shoreline and moving inland. But in the middle of the news conference the question was asked whether undocumented individuals might be thinking twice before coming to one of these shelters, where they could end up being arrested and deported to an eternity of hell.

Cesar Cruz: My mother was deported on three different occasions. We grew up undocumented in this country. In situations like this, we didn’t know who to turn to because the people running the shelters might very easily turn us over to immigration. And things are especially difficult in Texas for our undocumented brothers and sisters.

A map of Arizona. (Image from nasa.gov)

DB: Dr. Cruz, you were just in Arizona witnessing this trial concerning the right to have ethnic studies in Tucson schools. Why did you want to be there, and why did you decide to bring your kids along with you?

CC: Despite the Brown vs. Board of Education decision back in 1954, the Tucson community in 1998 had to sue the state to finally desegregate their schools and have Mexican-American studies included in the curriculum. I took my children to the trial because it is so important for a tree to know its roots, to know where it comes from. We wanted to come in solidarity to say that Mexican-American studies matter, just as every people’s history matters.

DB: Why do you think these people were resisting this incredibly successful program that has made a lot of students out of non-students?

CC: We just scored a major national victory with the judge in this case ruling that racial animus was at the core of this opposition to ethnic studies programs. What we are witnessing is the fear of a brown nation. It is what happens when a community is empowered and knows its rights. There is such a backlash against this and against the idea that the people are going to take back the land that was taken from them. They either want to incarcerate us, deport us, or miseducate us. All we are asking is what everyone deserves: an equal education and to know our rights.

DB: What exactly was Donald Trump doing in Phoenix on that same day? He announced that he would essentially pardon Sheriff Arpaio.

CC: The mainstream news covered Trump’s speech but not the court decision. It was a clear appeal to his base, which is quickly shrinking. He was saying to white supremacy, they are not going to convict one of ours. Think about it, we have come to the point where we are convicting sheriffs! These are empowering times. You have to remember, this is the state that refused to honor Dr. Martin Luther King with a national holiday. When Tucson is able to successfully fight for its rights, that gives me a tremendous amount of hope. If Tucson can do it, we can do it across the country.

DB: Actually, we just now got the news that Arpaio was pardoned. Again, what is the message here?

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona speaking at the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit in Phoenix, Arizona, Feb. 25, 2011. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

CC: This is someone who demonized the Latino community and was finally found guilty of misusing his office to terrorize them. What does it say when the president of the United States can so easily overturn such an important and hard-won legal victory? We have to take a stand and say that no one is above the law.

Sheriff Arpaio must do his time. If Donald Trump is going to come to Arizona and say that he wants to unite the country, he has to live up to that. He knows very well that it is divisive to pardon someone like Sheriff Arpaio.

DB: I think the most amazing thing about the struggle for ethnic studies is how successful the program has been by all measures. That has been behind the drive to shut it down.

CC: Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the godfather of African-American history, said that the worst sort of lynching you can have in this country is to not teach a young person his or her history, to teach them that their condition is hopeless.

What they are afraid of in Arizona is a young generation of critical thinkers. Teachers in Arizona have been working in a climate of hate and yet they created something beautiful and profound. It is now our duty to set up ethnic studies programs all over the country. It is happening in Chicago, in Los Angeles, in San Francisco.

In Chicago, they now have ethnic studies and Latino studies from kindergarten up. In Seattle and Boston ethnic studies have just been approved. And it was this small program in Tucson that put ethnic studies on the map.

DB: Give us a brief history on how Mexican Americans actually played a key role in the initial desegregation of US schools?

CC: In the 1930’s, during the Great Depression, when our people were being deported, it was the Mexican Americans who fought to desegregate schools in San Diego. In the 1940’s, Orange County Raza fought to desegregate schools. We are standing on the shoulders of those ancestors.

In one of the most racist states in America, we took on one of the most racist school superintendents and we won! Why are we not celebrating nationally? This is a great victorious day but the mainstream news is not covering it.

Because our history has not even been on the bus, let alone on the back of the bus. Generations of people have fought for this day, like Sal Castro, like the movements of the 1950’s and 1960’s, like Rudi Acuña, and so many others.

DB: In Tucson, it wasn’t just about blocking ethnic studies, these authorities believed they had the right to ban books to prevent young people from learning about history. This was an anti-intellectual attempt to stymie and undermine an entire people.

CC: We have seen this before. In the 1950’s we had the Red Scare and Operation Wetback. There were certain films you couldn’t see, like Salt of the Earth. Now they are banning Pedagogy of the Oppressed by the great Paulo Freire, which talks about creating consciousness. The only reason to ban that book is because you don’t want to promote critical thinking.

DB: Back to shelter from the storm: The community in Texas is taking actions as we speak to offer shelter to those who may be afraid to go to government shelters for fear of being deported. Is that right?

CC: In the same way that Tony Diaz began Libros Trafficante, an underground book trafficking movement to break the ethnic studies ban, we are asking members of our community in Tejas to open up their homes to the undocumented during this hurricane, because many of our people don’t want to risk coming to shelters where they might be picked up by immigration.

A popular immigrants’ rights slogan, “Respect my existence or expect resistance”. Artwork by Victoria Garcia.

DB: Nobody is talking about this: What happens when you are undocumented and the storm is coming? Do you head for shelter or do you run into the storm? You just may have a better chance of surviving the storm than you do ICE. Trump’s key policy has always been his anti-immigrant attack. There is great suffering going on, and when this kind of national emergency comes up, we can see how dangerous it has become to be undocumented in Trump’s America.

CC: Let’s remember, though, that the waves of hate and xenophobia have been around a long time. My mother was deported on three different occasions. When I would ask her how she was able to make it past that twenty-foot-high border, she would tell me that she had an invisible 21-foot ladder. As we topple walls, we are building the ladders to help our people.

There will be other hurricanes and other hostile presidencies. We will overcome these obstacles but we must stay organized and committed and see the long view of history. We have to think seven generations ahead and seven generations before.

Other empires have fallen and this one is coming down. If we are scoring victories in Arizona, of all places, what more proof do we need that the people are winning?

Dennis J Bernstein is a host of “Flashpoints” on the Pacifica radio network and the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom. You can access the audio archives at www.flashpoints.net.

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28 comments for “Bias in Arizona’s Reaction to Immigrants

  1. Joseph
    August 29, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    We don’t get a new dispensation on the rule of law simply because there’s a national emergency. The whole idea that “being opposed to illegal immigration is somehow by definition racist” is wrong and many people are rather tired of it. Lastly, there’s been a lot of fake and sensationalized news about immigration and the hurricane, which has been greatly exaggerated. See this article:

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/08/28/fake-news-border-patrol-checkpoints-hurricane-harvey-americans-hate-media/

  2. mike k
    August 29, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Trump learned a lot from reading the Hitler book he kept by his bedside, didn’t he? Like how to use racial hatred to gain political support. The Nazis in America sure expressed their appreciation for his support. They worship him now almost as much as Hitler.

    • exiled off mainstreet
      August 29, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      It was Hitler’s regime which used the phony patina of ‘legality’ to cover its own crimes. Though Trump is often a buffoon, comparisons of him to Hitler are absurd and part of the armour of the real fascists in the US, the deep state elements.

      • mike k
        August 30, 2017 at 2:07 pm

        We can learn a lot by remembering Hitler, and applying what we learned about his use of racism to understand the slide into open fascism that is happening in America today. Being in denial about that just sets us up to be blindsided – again.

        • backwardsevolution
          August 30, 2017 at 7:02 pm

          mike k – how about we just skip ahead and start remembering Netanyahu and apply what we learned about his use of racism to understand the slide into open fascism…? Why Hitler? Why not George Bush, Bill Clinton, Obama? Why not Netanyahu?

    • Evangelista
      August 29, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      You are slandering Hitler, mike k.

      Hitler was a good deal more intelligent to begin with than Donald Trump, and he had a much more sophisticated perception of life and society, and a much better grasp of social, political and general world affairs.

      Hitler was a product of his times, and the events that shaped the Germany that provided his background. Trump is more of a Hollywood phenomenon, more celluloid than real, or more like a Miss Universe model, maybe, with presentation talents along with the celluloid image…

      • mike k
        August 30, 2017 at 2:17 pm

        Trump also is a product of his times, of a US ripe for fascism. Why is it that people cannot see this until it is already too late? Of course Trump is not an exact replica of Hitler – no mustache. Fascism today will not be a carbon copy of what it was in Germany, or Italy, or Spain. We will have a much more sophisticated fascism, like what Sheldon Wolin calls inverted fascism. More difficult to discern, and hence more dangerous and hard to combat.

        • Evangelista
          August 31, 2017 at 8:25 pm

          mike k,

          Hitler was not a fascist. Hitler was a Socialist. Socialism is a paternalistic system, rule by an over-class of authorities who perceive themselves, or are designated to be, guardians and guides for the people, who their policies and actions are supposed to help, providing employment, economic stability, social stability, social benefits, security, including policing to prevent disruptions, anti-social behavior and abusings and advantage-taking, The intention is to obtain a comfortable society under the benign guidance of responsible government authoriities. The difficulties arise from the authorities being authorities, with no mechanisms, or inadequate ones, to check abusings of their powers (getting to a higher authority is the only way, which, when abuses multiply, becomes more and more difficult).

          Fascism is basic authoritarianism, with leadership having all authority, with responsibility to itself, and its state, whose smooth operation depends on smooth relations between authority and people, which, in fascism is maintained by authoritarian means (the fasces are instruments of punishment, so their message is ‘if you get out of line you will be punished’, instead of Socialism’s ‘your obligation to your fellows and society is to maintain your place and fit in’.

          Mussolini was a fascist; Franco was fascist. Hitler was not a director or dictator, he was a ‘fuhrer’, a ‘leader’, leading by demonstrating.

          Republican government differs from both (where it exists) for the people, the public, being their own leaders, having each his and her own individual obligation to demonstrate leadership to all others, who are doing the same, while the governing are not authorities, but servants, whose governing obligation is to coordinate to provide smooth interaction among all the individuals. Having no authorities, for being servants. republican government employees are only facilitators, who, for example, when a problem arises, must take it to the people, or ‘juries’ of them, to obtain decisions what the community wants to do in each case.

          The United States today is fascist for the people, socialist for the government and a welfare state for the oligarchs, who are (you might have noticed) parasites, who live on the people, taking in services and taxes and holding all gain, releasing down for more gain (as in paday-lending, where the money not paid to the poor, or paid in taxes to provide for the poor, are ‘loaned’ to the poor, to generate more profit and more obligation-enslavement).

    • mike k
      August 30, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      The deep state actors like Trump’s fascism, but he doesn’t like to take orders from them, so they have had to discipline him and threaten him with removal. He is learning to be a good boy now…..

      • backwardsevolution
        August 30, 2017 at 7:04 pm

        mike k – you’ve got it backwards. Trump is revealing the fascism we’ve been living under. It’s all being exposed. That’s why they don’t like him.

  3. exiled off mainstreet
    August 29, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Though I don’t much like Arpaio, the machinations of the legal system and the judge in “getting him” in a non-jury contempt proceeding rendered Trump’s actions reasonable. Considering the threadbare nature of the whole “Russiagate” crap, I think Trump would be justified in pardoning anybody even mentioned in regards to the Mueller probe, and, frankly, I think he needs to sack him and the justice department needs to go after the harpy, Comey, and all of the other corrupt swine who have fed at the trough in recent years.

    • mike k
      August 30, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      Being a fan of Trump sure takes some convoluted thinking.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 30, 2017 at 7:05 pm

        mike k – the lies about Trump are being slowly revealed.

    • mike k
      August 30, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      You still believe in swamp cleaning Trump? He’s dead now.

    • usetheguillotine
      August 31, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Yes, Arpaio wanted a jury of his white peers from Fountain Hills AZ. What a shame the judge saw a problem with this.
      And while we are at it, anyone investigated by Mueller should be pardoned as well. Clearly, being investigated by Mueller (or even mentioned by Mueller) is grounds for pardon for any crimes. Let’s sack everyone that even questioned any of the Trump family and associates.

  4. Zachary Smith
    August 29, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joseph Arpaio over a contempt-of-court conviction when he refused to comply with an order to end racial-profiling in detaining suspected undocumented immigrants again shows Trump’s readiness to flout the law in protection of friends while his administration declared that even Hurricane Harvey wouldn’t stop the immigration crackdown.

    I do wish Mr. Bernstein would have clarified what law Trump ‘flouted’.

    He was saying to white supremacy, they are not going to convict one of ours.

    Cesar Cruz was confused; he ought to have said ‘not going to punish one of ours” because Arpaio had already been convicted.

    What does it say when the president of the United States can so easily overturn such an important and hard-won legal victory? We have to take a stand and say that no one is above the law.

    Does Mr. Cesar Cruz plan to start a campaign to remove the power of Presidential Pardon from the Constitution?

    DB: In Tucson, it wasn’t just about blocking ethnic studies, these authorities believed they had the right to ban books to prevent young people from learning about history.

    Does Mr. Bernstein suppose Arizona is in some way unique? Here in Mississippi North (aka Indiana) the little bald headed weasel who is now Purdue’s President attempted to ban Howard Zinn.

    Shortly after Zinn died in 2010, Daniels e-mailed various education officials about Zinn, the AP said. His e-mail said: “This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away. The obits and commentaries mentioned his book A People’s History of the United States is the ‘textbook of choice in high schools and colleges around the country.’ It is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page. Can someone assure me that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?”

    I’m going to agree that during a disaster like Hurricane Harvey the Immigration guys ought to be put to work with other agencies to help rescue people or haul around supplies rather than pursuing their normal work.

    But to both Dennis J. Bernstein and Dr. Cesar Cruz I’m going to ask my standard question – Do you want to open US borders to any and all who show up there?

    • mike k
      August 30, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      Why would I want brown people to come into my gated white enclave? Build my walls higher, so they can surpass even the very high walls my mentors in Israel have erected against their racial inferiors!

  5. John
    August 29, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Are the immigrants *legal* or *illegal*……How do they enter your country ? Someone else from the outside seeks control of the USA….Who ?

  6. backwardsevolution
    August 30, 2017 at 2:07 am

    “Other empires have fallen and this one is coming down. If we are scoring victories in Arizona, of all places, what more proof do we need that the people are winning?”

    Almost like he can’t wait until the empire has fallen. And what people are winning? Are American citizens winning, or do they even matter?

    “Trump’s key policy has always been his anti-immigrant attack.”

    Nope. Trump is against illegal immigrants, not legal ones.

    “As we topple walls, we are building the ladders to help our people.”

    Interesting term: “our people”. Separate and apart. Does he want to assimilate and be part of a melting pot, or does he want a distinct culture? Do you remain patriotic to your home country while you benefit from your host country?

    This is the question that is going to have to be answered in the not too distant future. Because the way it is going now, the illegals and newly-arrived are being taught not to assimilate, to maintain their cultures. They are being taught that:

    Patriotism is racism. They are being told, “It is racist to ask you to be patriotic to this country.” Then why did they come?

    Assimilation is cultural genocide. They are being told, “You do not have to assimilate. You can carry on just as you did in your home country.” Then why did they come?

    As Zachary Smith asks above: Do you want to open US borders to any and all who show up there?

    Talk about suicide.

    • mike k
      August 30, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      Having borders does not require one to be racist and xenophobic. Trump is both. He based his election campaign on that. Trump is like a lot of white oligarchs – they want their America to be like a gated community for themselves. Trump touched a hidden nerve in white America – the fear of a brown , black, and yellow takeover by breeding and immigration of these “others.” We really like our white privileges undiluted. Why is Trump so obsessed with the wall and undoing everything and anything that Obama did? Make America great again is about putting white people in charge of America again – like when we first came over here from Europe, and began exterminating the non-white residents of this continent.

      • mike k
        August 30, 2017 at 2:42 pm

        I get tired of people saying Trump is not a racist, and not a fascist. I go by what he says, and what he does. He walks like a duck, he quacks like a duck………draw your own conclusions.

      • backwardsevolution
        August 30, 2017 at 7:14 pm

        mike k – “Trump is like a lot of white oligarchs – they want their America to be like a gated community for themselves.”

        Kind of like the yellow people (your word) in China, Japan and the rest of Asia who limit who comes into their country so as to preserve their culture? Kind of like that?

        “Why is Trump so obsessed with the wall and undoing everything and anything that Obama did?”

        Clinton started the wall, Bush continued it, and then Obama continued it some more. There’s almost 600 miles of wall already built. Obama deported more illegals than any other President. But when Trump wants to do it he’s suddenly a Nazi?

        I think you’re a troll with an agenda. Spiritual enlightenment? I don’t think you’ve got a clue. I see the hate pouring out of you every time I read one of your posts. You’re a fraud.

    • mike k
      August 30, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      You think the American Empire is collapsing from a lack of enforcing racial purity? I would blame other causes entirely.

  7. mike k
    August 30, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I am only now realizing who Trump was inspired by to build his wall. It wasn’t the Chinese. It was Israel!

    • mike k
      August 30, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Israel – the great fascists, who of course are not fascists. It’s just that the Arabs are such sub-human dangerous terrorists…………..

      • mike k
        August 30, 2017 at 3:04 pm

        And the Mexicans? Trump tells me they are worse than the Arabs!

  8. backwardsevolution
    August 30, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    mike k – wow, one-line posts everywhere. Do you get paid by the post?

  9. September 6, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Anti-traditional bias is inherent in the refusal to consider the rational motivations in the opposition to the Deep State Mockingbird State Media attack on all national cultures.

    How many are too many? Nobody answers. Suddenly your Leftist Political Fashion leaders are crying over the profits of businesses that lost their H2B workers and had to hire Americans for higher pay.

    So much for “jobs Americans won’t do”. Who bought off the Unions?? Oh yeah, union bosses never cared for their workers anyway. More $dues is what. NEARLY union boss Shankar had an honest moment when he said he didn’t care about the students, just the teachers.

Comments are closed.