Skip to content

Stop the “Sensenbrenner”-ization of US immigration policy: Unite to oppose Arizona’s SB 1070 and Schumer-Graham Bill

  • by

Contact: Bernadette Ellorin
Chairperson, BAYAN USA

Statement of BAYAN-USA on May Day 2010

The recent passage of reactionary and anti-people legislation in Arizona coupled with the pending Schumer-Graham Immigration Reform Bill in Congress illustrates the US immigration system’s continuing assault on civil liberties, human rights, and drive to undo the hard-won gains of the Civil Rights Movement. Both pieces of legislation breathe new life back to the defeated Sensenbrenner hate bill of 2005, posing a clear threat to both the documented and undocumented alike, and underscoring the need for unity in struggle, especially in lieu of divide-and-conquer tactics being waged by the proponents of SB 1070 and Schumer-Graham.

Arizona’s SB1070 pulls the hood off of the racist core of current immigration reform proposals and parades their hateful tactics out in the open. By criminalizing undocumented immigrants, legalizing racial profiling, and imposing militarist law enforcement, SB 1070 seeks to test out elements of Schumer-Graham and initiate a dangerous pattern of implementing it by way of state-by-state enactment. This devious approach charts a path towards the “Sensenbrenner”-ization of US immigration policy regardless of Congressional will, voter approval, or the people’s widespread demand for legalization.

Both SB 1070 and the Schumer-Graham Bill bank on the falsehood that fundamental problem with today’s immigration system is the presence of illegal immigrants, undesirable beings who not only burden to society, but also threaten national security. By addressing immigration as primarily a security issue and not a socio-economic one, the US government is automatically starts from an incorrect framework. By dichotomizing legal immigrants as good and undocumented immigrants as bad, the US government– by way of its immigration system– whips up hatred, racism, and anti-terrorist hysteria in order to justify passing off criminalization and militarized law enforcement as comprehensive immigration reform.

SB 1070 and Schumer-Graham prove that the current laws, not the presence of illegal immigrants, are the real threat to national security. Schumer-Graham’s so-called “four pillars for immigration reform” are built on a minefield of scapegoating immigrants for society’s ills, exploitation, and exclusion. It pushes a national ID system that blatantly violates basic civil liberties, privacy rights, and constitutional guarantees; the unfair and unjust criminalization of undocumented immigrants; the implementation of a temporary worker program that will embolden illegal recruitment and worker exploitation; and increased border security that will lead to thousands of more innocent deaths of men, women, and children in search of better lives at the extreme cost of US taxpayers.

Such a plan is inherently destined to fail because it does not recognize nor address the real problem– that massive migration to the US is a direct result of deepening global poverty and joblessness caused by neoliberalism. Like many other client-states to neoliberalism, the Philippines hosts a domestic economy starved, denationalized and oriented to rely on the aggressive export of cheap, surplus labor to rich countries like the US to keep afloat.

As the world’s foremost proponent of neoliberalism and since the formal abolition of slavery, the US government has maneuvered foreign labor importation in service of the interest of big business to maximize profitability by building an underclass of cheap, desperate, and willing workers. By sowing fear in immigrant labor with reactionary immigration laws, big business is assured it can continue to drive down wages and forego labor standards when employing immigrant workers. It is a fact that immigrant workers contribute richly to the US economy by providing high quality labor and paying billions in taxes, even though undocumented workers are exploited and get nothing in return.

Moreover, the proponents of Schumer-Graham across the country have waged an offensive against the genuine mass movement for legalization and humane immigration reform by maliciously dividing immigrant rights coalitions across the country in an attempt to co-opt, isolate and mute-out the growing anti-Schumer-Graham Bill movement. But even with the ruling elite’s money in their pockets, these opportunist efforts ring hollow and will fail without the support of the people.The only way to fight divide and conquer is by waging the broadest and firmest unity in struggle.

This International Workers Day and beyond, Filipinos will take to the streets across the country to stand in solidarity will all other immigrants in US in demanding an immediate repeal of SB 1070 and call on state governments to not follow suit with passing similar state legislation. As the second largest Asian immigrant community in the US, numbering up to 4 million, including at least 1 million who are undocumented, Filipinos will surely be targets of hate and abuse if the pillars of Schumer-Graham are implemented. Vigilance against SB 1070 and Schumer-Graham must start with the struggle for unity. In addition, the struggle for full legalization for the over 12 million undocumented immigrants presently in the country and for the swift reunification of families broken by forced migration must also be advanced in contrast to the deceptively-vague rhetoric from the Obama administration for so-called comprehensive immigration reform. As victims of over 100 years of immigration legislation patterned on xenophobia and exclusion, Filipinos call for US humane immigration reform that is just, pro-people, inclusive, and values the contributions of all immigrants.