Tuesday, June 29, 2004


I flew to Chicago to see my pal Justin. Here he is with his wife Gemma and thier adorable son Oscar. Justin and Gemma were married on the 26th of June, 2004. They just left for rural Japan where Justin begins teaching English.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Border Action Network

Border Action Network sent a delegation of immigrants to Senator McCain's office to deliver 3,300 postcards from Southern Arizona residents calling for broad-based legalization in immigration reform. This is a photo from the following press conference in which undocumented migrants spoke about thier experiences in the workplace and in thier communities.

Tuscon Dispatch

This was the trailer that carried our belongings while we hwalked the migrant trail. We used items that we found along the trail, left by migrants, to make a display to put along the Border Patrol sign at the Tucson Sector HQ.

Here is the display.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Evidence of Paradox

Recently in the Arizona News it was found out that Border Patrol uniforms are are made in Mexico. Does this come as a surprise to anyone? Is this not the perfect representation of the critical connections between politicians, bureaucrat's, and their business. Here's the basic scenario: our government (who contracts out to a foreign producer) to make cheaper uniforms as a cost-cutting measure (a strategy derived from an economic system that produces disenfranchised migrant workers) for an agency (that has received the greatest increase in funding than any other U.S. agency) assigned the enforcement of the immigration policies that the government has mandated. Does the right-hand know what the left is doing? More importantly, does this contradiction matter to them? Paradox has come to define many of the explanations that social scientists come up with to explain our world. Is it possible to have a hegemonic power that is not contradictory? Is paradox not integral to the practice of hegemony? What does it mean, to say that Border Patrol uniforms are made in Mexico? Could it mean that it means nothing and that hegemony is complete and that disparities in the distribution of power are the only way to maintain the status quo? Or does it mean that the underbelly of hegemony is being exposed? When Gramsci talks about hegemony, he is also quick to point out that hegemony is never complete and that hegemony must always be adapting to the production of new systems of meaning. Evidence of paradox seems to be the fracture in hegemony. The observed paradox is the target for action. This is the location with the most leverage for change.
Here are a few other locations of leverage...
repatriations policies of the Border Patrol, enforcement of state and federal laws concerning vigilantes on the border, and one of my favorites...the Nogales Complex. The Nogales Complex is the name I have given to the condition of the Ambos Nogales (Sonora and Arizona). Nogales was one of the first locations along the border to receive phenomenal growth in Maquiladora development from U.S. investment. Because of a lack of enforcement protocol in Mexico these Maquilas have had the opportunity to turn the Nogales watershed into one of the most toxic places in North America. Here's the twist. Because the U.S. now receives about 80% of its produce from Mexico, and much of that is located in the northern half of Mexico, 80% of the produce produced in Mexico comes through the Nogales, AZ port of entry. This would not be a bad thing if the produce distributors did not wash the produce with water from the Nogales watershed. Does this make sense to anyone?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Challenging State Power

Peter Andreas wrote a book entitled "border games" in which he describes some of the symbolic aspects of enforcing immigration policy. He goes on to say that those who wish to have the border dissolved underestimate the importance of deploying symbolic resources that establish state legitimacy. Peter wrote this book in the late 90's, a time of growing militarization and increasing economic pressure to migrate. The astronomical escalation of resources devoted to enforcing the harsh immigration policies following closely after NAFTA has more than doubled the budget and personnel since Peter wrote his book. The dramatic increases of migrant deaths in Arizona's Southern deserts is a result of border barracading and militarization around urban regions in the hopes that the hostile desert environment would be a passive deterrent, they were wrong. In just this year more than 80 deaths have occured as a result of these policies. That is an increase in three times the rate of last year. These deaths are also a symbolic representation of the way that immigration policy regards the migrants who support the domestic U.S. economy at its very foundation. The deaths of migrants in the desert represent the utter lack of respect for human rights; it is also important to recognize that labor rights are human rights. In this way, the symbolism of state legitimacy includes the hypocracy of legislation that is both pro-immigration and anti-immigrant and inhumane in the treatment of migrants. The policy is essentially a strategy that treats migrants as labor inputs. The defacto effect of immigration policy has been the maintenance of a large pool of cheap labor ready upon demand for exploitation in the "post-industrial" U.S. economy. If the U.S. is to ameliorate its symbolic legitimacy, then the border militarization must be stopped, legalization available for migrant workers, and real economic development for migrant sending countries. It is appaulingly apparent that current strategies of development through globalization are wholely inadequate as formal means of improving the quality of life of people equally.
In response to these horrific symbols of inhumane state power, we of the No More Deaths Coalition have chosen to deploy our own symbolic resources to demonstrate the humanity of migrating people, respect for thier rights and contributions to the U.S. economy, while calling attention to the dire need for legislative reform in immigration and economic policy. The No More Deaths Migrant Trail Walk for Life is a symbolic gesture deployed by people who are tired of unfair policies that force out our migrating brothers and sisters into situations of exploitation and even death. The Migrant Trail Walk for Life is a statement of resistance and a proclomation of hope. State symbols of power and legitimacy that result in the death of innocent people constitute a neeed to challenge that system.
Too many people have died. Policies are not benefiting enough people. The potential benefits of broadening legal immigration have been muddled by the wave of misinformation from racist anti-immigrant groups.
This movement is in part a reflection of the unequal process of globalization created by the simulaneous loosening of regulations on financial capital flows and restricting labor flows. Clandestine labor mobility has become a common response by the most disenfranchised of underdeveloped nations. Violating human rights in an effort to control sources of cheap labor is a long and vile tradition. A tradition in which people have always resisted by creating ne symbolic meansings to the official and legitimate structures that oppress them. In this sense, the No More Deaths Migrant Trail Walk for Life is creating a more legitimate meaning of the border through an adherance to dignity, justice, and human rights by transforming the border from an anonimous monument to security and the rule of law to a memorial to the casualties of an economic and political order of inequality. Creating new meanings for the border is an essential method of progressive change and establishing an ethical interpretation of legislative reform.