The red hot topic of immigration reform is usually seen as a southern border issue with reactionaries like Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona and Alabama’s infamous HB 56. Among other things, the bill forces school staff to determine if the kids they are supposed to be teaching are documented and forces police to demand proof of citizenship from people they “suspect” of being in the US without documentation. But racial and religious profiling and harassment by federal authorities is not restricted to the southern border as demonstrated all too well with Border Patrol stalking folks on public transportation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) surrounding a school in Detroit.
So the folks at the Alliance for Immigrant Rights put out the call for those fighting for justice and against harassment with the Northern Borders Conference last Thursday and Friday, the first of its kind nationally. Nearly 100 activists from as far away as New Mexico made their way to the Motor City to share resources and experiences. While there were certainly enough stories of incredible rights violations to share, the focus was on how to preserve dignity and humanity for everyone.
There were also great discussions on how have the Department of Homeland Security should stop data mining expeditions so they can better focus on providing protection. Even some activists were surprised to learn how the CIA, that’s supposed to be guarding against foreign threats, is helping the NYPD spy on innocent, law abiding US citizens; violating the spirit if not the letter of federal laws against the government spying on its own citizens. The religious profiling of Muslims by the NYPD has been blatant and absurd. The CIA supported New York City Police in making a list of literally every single mosque and business in NY owned by someone who happened to be Muslim, ignoring the very obvious fact that few have greater interests in a safe and prosperous US than small business owners.
If all of this makes you want to mobilize, you’re not alone. Connecting the dots with past civil rights struggles, civil rights, labor and immigrants’ rights groups have joined forces for a bus ride to Alabama to protest that state’s draconian anti-foreigner law. The protest takes place March 7 – 10, the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic march on Selma to fight for voting rights. This will be a great chance to make history and continue the fight for human dignity.