Translated By Halszka Czarnocka
May 5, 2007
Mexico - La Jornada
This past first of May, tens of thousands of people across the United States demonstrated for across-the-board immigration reform and against the wall being built on the border with Mexico. In Los Angeles, although people were marching peacefully, police using tear gas, rubber bullets and clubs attacked the multitude - which included women and children - with a singular and inexplicable violence.
The brutal repression in Los Angeles was one more among many acts of violence perpetrated against migrants in the U.S. over recent days. Last Thursday in Gaithersburg, Maryland, there was an attempt to set fire to a center for day laborers, apparently by a group of xenophobes. Also on May 1st, an armed man - supposedly a member of the anti-immigrant organization the Minutemen - was detained during a march of about two thousand on the streets of Washington D.C. These events are signs of a growing tendency to attack undocumented workers: intimidation, threats, insults, beatings and even kidnappings are becoming more and more frequent realities.
At the same time, the White House is preparing for the Cinco de Mayo celebration, a day that has become an important holiday for all Hispanics in the United States. Nevertheless, this importance only figures in speeches and not in the acts of the Bush administration.
The growing wave of xenophobia and racism against Latinos in the United States is not a series of isolated incidents: it is nourished by Washington's deliberate policy of criminalizing immigrants, which translates into institutional violence against them. The granting of broader powers to the Border Patrol to contain the migration, the ease and impunity with which its agents can kill undocumented people, an aggressive media campaign against the immigrants and the raids and deportations of recent months - which have produced an atmosphere of terror and threaten to tear apart entire families - have all led to a climate of aggression against Hispanics. How can one avoid this kind of violence when the authorities of the United States are the main perpetrators?
This situation is also partly due to the fact that due to a severe lack of cohesion and unity, the Hispanic movement has been unable to add the needed force and weight to its demands. Thus, this year's May 1st demonstrations drew a smaller number of people than last year, when marches were mobilized due to the debate on migratory reform.
For its part, the Mexican government persists in its silence on the issue of human rights violations that its citizens suffer on U.S. soil, instead of protecting them, which is its constitutional obligation.
In the face of this wave of aggression, it is urgent to stress the human rights aspects of migration and to close off the path toward violence - which can only contaminate the debate and foil cooperation on an issue that is vital to both countries. The question of migration cannot be confronted like a problem of national security, since it is far more a question of economics.