Se Ve, Se Siente, El Pueblo Está Presente!
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Statement of National Council of Arab Americans
No Human Being is Illegal
Throughout the course of the past several weeks, a blossoming movement demanding dignity and justice for millions of undocumented workers and their families has emerged across the United States. This movement was ignited by the accumulation of discriminatory immigration polices, the latest installment of which was the passing of House Resolution 4437, also known as the Sensenbrenner Bill. This bill would make it a felony to be an undocumented worker, and would further criminalize all service providers to this community. It would also seek to develop the militarization of the US-Mexico border by constructing a massive 700 mile wall.
Needless to say on basic principles of human dignity it is essential to oppose this bill. But our criticism of this bill and our support for this movement is rooted in more than these basic moral arguments.
Everyone knows that US driven neoliberal economic policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have wreaked havoc upon the people of Latin America. It is also known that many of these people are forced to abandon their families and trek hundreds of miles through dangerous terrain, to take up low-paying jobs in the US, because they are forced to out of material need. The gross exploitation and discrimination this community often has to endure at the hands of their bosses to try and protect its basic rights of family unification, decent work conditions, and a fair wage and benefits are truly shameful.
Furthermore the scapegoating, incitement and harassment heaped on by police, border patrol agents, Homeland Security officials, politicians, vigilantes and corporate media personalities only add insult to an already clear injury.
The National Council of Arab-Americans stands in full solidarity with the millions of our immigrant sisters and brothers from Latin America demanding full legalization, and an
immediate end to the criminalization, exploitation and racism they suffer beneath. Our strident support for this movement is rooted in a perspective which is both in solidarity with them as the major force behind this rising movement, and which also sees our rights and interests directly tied to this movement.
Not only did the great majority of Arabs in the United States come here under similar conditions, often having to flee their homeland after it was either occupied by Western colonial powers, or made destitute by the shameful policies of reactionary Arab governments (often in alliance with the US). It is also not uncommon to find amongst the Latino immigrant community in the US, many who actually come from Arab backgrounds themselves, meaning that their families were forced to emigrate more than once, often within the short time span of the past 100 years.
Once arriving in the US, Arab immigrants have suffered similar practices of exploitation and racism at the hands of their employers, and tremendous difficulties in obtaining visas for uniting their families. Moreover, after September 11, 2001 and particularly with the signing of
the USA Patriot Act, the racism, scapegoating and wholesale eradication of any pretense of due process or civil rights for Arab- Americans has been comfortably done away with by the powers that be. As a result, Arab-Americans have been routinely detained, beaten, deported,
intimidated, and sometimes even killed for simply being who they are, while law enforcement agents either turn a blind eye, or openly participate in this xenophobic behavior.
The NCA sees these practices as part of a historical trend whereby racist policies have been used by the US government against a domestic immigrant population to justify its foreign policy endeavors. This was the case with similar legislation and detainment of Japanese, Chinese and Italian-American immigrants at different times in US history. Today while the US government blatantly supports and arms Israel in its occupation of Arab land, continuing to prevent the return of millions of Palestinian refugees to their ancestral homes; as it occupies and exploit the people and land of Iraq; and as it actively defends and arms reactionary Arab governments erecting military bases throughout the Arab world - it comes as no surprise to see how Arabs, Muslims and Arab- Americans must necessarily be dehumanized and criminalized, to grease the wheels of US imperialism and its economic and geopolitical interests.
Moreover, it comes as no surprise to see US government efforts to establish a wall on the US- Mexico border, after its brazen support of the Israeli Apartheid wall in Palestine. In both cases, military force was used to unilaterally delineate a border as a means to annex another
peoples land. In Palestine, the Israeli Apartheid Wall has been constructed in the past 5 years to take large tracts of land from the West Bank; along the US-Mexico border, military force was used at different stages in history to take over enormous tracts of land which belonged to Mexico in present day California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and even sections of Wyoming and Colorado. Today plans for the US-Mexico wall seek to finalize this conquest, which to many Mexicans is still seen as unjust.
Needless to say, the points of intersection between our histories and rights are many, though by no means comprehensive. Ultimately our support for the immigrant rights movement does not stem from any perfect parallel between our causes, but rather is derived from basic principles which we- together with millions of other working class Americans, particularly in communities of colors -are fighting for: human dignity, civil rights, justice and the rejection of all forms of racial, religious or national bigotry and intolerance.
*For this reason we proudly call upon the Arab- American community to join in the immigrant rights movement in full force linking arms in our collective struggle and declaring:* *
* Support and Participate in May 1st - "The Day Without an
Immigrant" National Walkout!
* Full immediate legalization and amnesty for the undocumented!
* Family Reunification Now!
* No Fines or humiliating conditions!
* No Guest Worker programs!
* No to militarization of the US Mexico Border!
* No to the US Patriot Act!
* Immediately End the US occupation of Iraq and the Israeli
Occupation of Palestine!
* Tear Down the Racist Apartheid Wall in Palestine!
* Yes to the Right of Return for all Palestinian Refugees to their
lands and homes!
*The National Council of Arab-Americans
26 April 2006*