19 March 2008 ~ 0 Comments

'Illegal means Illegal' but not when it comes to Iraq

Today is the 5th anniversary of the war against Iraq, and downtown San Francisco is bustling with protesters, legal observers and cops trying to maintain crowd control and traffic congestion. I witnessed the arrest of two juveniles and police brutality against two cyclists before coming in to work on the legal support hotlines.

How is the war against Iraq linked to our concerns regarding immigration? First, the war in Iraq is illegal under the UN Charter, but the 'illegal is illegal' lobby does not seem to be up in arms. Why does the unauthorized cross-border migration of people draw more concern and uproar than the illegal invasion of a sovereign country followed by the slaughtering of thousands of innocent civilians? Why is there more focus on how much illegal immigration costs America than the social, economic, political and human cost of this illegal war? The issue of 'illegal immigration' is a distraction, a wanton distraction from the economic and political issues that really matter: lies told by the President in support of an illegal war, corporate crimes, the dire state of our health care and education system and so on.

Second, the war against Iraq is a failure, just like the war against 'illegal immigration' is likely to fail. We should have learned from the failures of the drug war that declaring war to solve social problems is not a successful mission. Both 'terrorism' and 'illegal immigration' are largely driven by poverty and political repression. Fighting terrorism with terrorism is a ludicrous idea, while the increased militarization against cross-border migrations does nothing to solve the core issues that encourage people to emigrate/immigrate.

Furthermore, with the existing shortage in the armed forces, it is the minority and immigrant communities that are disproportionately targeted by recruiters. One estimate proposes that 5% of people serving in the United States military are illegal immigrants. In fact, the first soldier to die in the Iraq War was Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala. Over 109 foreign-born American soldiers, including Gutierrez, have been granted post-humous citizenship. It takes death on the battlefield to gain American citizenship–lets call this phenomenon "dead upon documentation."

Even under the DREAM Act, one of the stipulations of the bill is that serving in the military instead of going to college also qualifies undocumented students for a U.S. green card. Of course, they would probably still deport your parents even if you die serving in the United States armed forces.

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