May Day and AROC Immigrant Rights Campaign

mayday2011On May 1st, 2011, San Francisco marched for Immigrant Rights. May 1st is an internationally recognized day in solidarity with workers and immigrants, and the Arab, African, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian community came out strong with a bright banner and a visible contingent. As AROC continues to work for an AAMEMSA narrative within the national immigrant rights movement, we have decided to start an Immigrant Rights Campaign. As a precursor to formulating tangible and reachable demands, several steps must be taken to initiate the campaign, some of which are: ratify the AROC Immigrant Rights Platform and assess community needs via outreach and participatory research. Below is AROC’s Immigrant Rights Platform. Check it out and get involved to help formulate the campaign!

Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Immigrant Rights Platform

As AROC, we understand that:

1.      Immigrants most often leave their homes because they are forced to migrate due to war, occupation, and social or economic pressures.

2.      Further, many of these factors are a direct result of U.S. military and economic action, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), that has accelerated the spread of global markets and the destruction of previous systems of self-sustenance.

3.      Further, the war in Iraq has destroyed that country’s infrastructure and uprooted all governmental and social systems leading to a state of severe insecurity for many of Iraqi’s, leading to their expulsion from their land and the creation of millions of refugees.

4.      The entanglement of immigration enforcement with the criminal justice system through the 287(g) Program, the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), and the Secure Communities Program leads to the criminalization of non-citizens as well as increasing the criminalization of citizen communities of color as they provide a basis for racial profiling and the creation of immigrants into a sub-class of residents.

5.      The criminalization of immigrants in the US adds to their insecurity and deepens the extent to which they are exploited by the country’s profit driven economic system and individuals seeking to exploit power relationships.  Immigrants with so much to lose are stripped of appropriate avenues for demanding fair treatment and human rights.

6.      When we dehumanize any sector of the population, in this case immigrants, we compromise all peoples’ basic human rights and community safety.

Based on this knowledge, we principally believe

1.      All people have the right to services and basic necessities regardless of immigration status and language.  This includes the right to food, shelter, medication, environmental safety, and education.

2.      The US, as a nation that has historically and currently profits from the movement of capital across borders, should give that same consideration to individual migrants by not restricting the flows of migration into this country.  Particular consideration should be given to historical and current US foreign policy, both military and economic, in creating immigration policies that seek to rectify US foreign policies that have been harmful to global citizens

3.      Immigrant families and all individuals deserve to feel a sense of community and support that is not over-shadowed by policies of fear.  The US must provide security to immigrant communities alongside all communities.  As migrant peoples, we must build a broad movement and be conscious of all of our ancestries rooted in other nations, uniting as a global migrant community to struggle for immigrant rights

4.      All laws should apply equally to immigrants (with legal documentation or without) as they do to citizens of the US

Until true migrant justice can be achieved, here are some steps we can take:

1.      There needs to exist a means to legalization that is timely and does not keep people or families waiting in limbo.  Several steps can be taken to expediate this, including:

a.      Implement the DREAM Act without military component

b.      Provide amnesty for all those currently in the US, and an end to deportations

c.      End the visa backlog

d.      De-militarize the border areas, which cause immigrant deaths and where basic rights do not apply

2.      The US must create sufficient visas to expedite the refugee process for the large number of refugees from areas impacted by US military action and who are seeking status in the US.

3.      All families must be given the opportunity to stay together.  Current immigration policies stand in the way of family reunification.  These policies must be immediately changed in order to facilitate the swift reconnection of families, including queer families and alternative family structures.

4.      The US must establish equal immigration policies and non-immigrant visa policies regardless of country of origin, religion, economic class, or individual background.

5.      The rights of immigrant workers should be protected through the establishment of policies at Federal, State, and Municipal levels.  Programs such as e-Verify and other “Desktop Raids” put immigrant workers at risk.  These programs must be immediately halted.

6.      There needs to be a separation between Immigrant Services and the Department of Homeland Security, and similarly, there must be a separation between Immigrant Services and the Criminal Justice System, so that immigrant safety is improved.  Programs such as Secure Communities, CAP, and 287(g) agreements must be immediately halted.

7.      Many individuals are denied entry, or are deported from the US based on supposed “material support for terrorism”.  This law casts a wide net, deporting many people based on little to no evidence of criminal activity.  This policy must be halted.

8.      Individuals receiving derivative visas (ex. spouses of individuals on employment visas) must receive the same benefits as the main visa holder (ex. the right to work)

9.      Many individuals, both US citizens, residents, and other immigrants are finding themselves listed on a “no fly list”, essentially prohibiting their entry into or exit from the USA.  These individuals, many Muslim and/or Arab, are separated from their families, communities, and livelihoods.  This “no fly list” program must also immediately be halted with damages repaid to the victims of this list.