As news comes again today that Democrats are committed to "securing the border" as a prerequisite for immigration reform, I think it's quite fortunate timing that our comrades over at O'odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective have posted up their compelling piece, "Movement Demands Autonomy: An O'odham Perspective on Border Controls and Immigration". Previously appearing as a pamphlet, this article does a fine job as a primer on understanding the point of view of the O'odham on questions of movement and the border -- a perspective that is sadly marginalized to say the least.
Indeed, we as anarchists, along with the indigenous peoples of this region, are well-placed to call out this bogus pairing of one so-called "reform" with another for what it really is -- a sell out. First off, if anyone has the right to say who can come and go, it is the original people of this land. And, second, the "securing" of the border that Democrats demand is not only a concession to the right wing but it is a betrayal of the various peoples whose traditional lands cross and are crossed by the border, including but not limited to Tohono O'odham territory in the south of Arizona and north of Mexico. Truth is, the people of Arizona should be turning to the indigenous to answer the question of who shall pass through these lands, not the racist settler state government.
In fact, when we hear "secure" what we ought to really understand is "militarization". Already T.O. is an armed camp of almost Warsaw Ghetto like quality, with border patrol and local cops (beefed up with Federal money) running wherever they please, harassing locals and denying traditional rights of crossing, not to mention maintaining checkpoints at the points of entry and exit from the rez (not just at border crossing points, which would be awful enough). The same controls and demands that will soon be made on migrants and everyone else the state deems worthy of suspicion are already in full effect on T.O. The surveillance we see here on our freeways originates on those border fences, checkpoints and spy towers. And the demand for their proliferation to the south will only increase them up here in the end. The dreadful situation in T.O. will soon manifest everywhere if we do nothing.
Of course, one can appreciate the bind that many indigenous people are in these days. "Reform" sells them out and the attack of SB1070 subjects them to the same profiling and abuse that it does the Mexican and other migrants who cross their lands, a great many of whom are in fact indigenous themselves. And the status quo is hardly acceptable either. These and other facts naturally dictate that there is no option on the table in the mainstream now which is satisfactory to solving this problem.
The fact is, as we and our comrades in OSABC have been saying for quite a long time now, there is no solution to the question of the movement of people without starting from the position of the indigenous. Not only are they more than deserving of justice given their history and ties to this land, but it is precisely their situation that reveals the bogus deal that is "immigration reform".
Knowing that, no one can in good conscience ignore or put their struggles on the back burner, or treat them as an after thought. If there is no justice for the indigenous of this region, then there is no justice at all. No borders, no State, no papers!
Read OSABC's article here:
Movement Demands Autonomy: An O'odham Perspective on Border Controls and Immigration