Part I: With My Irony Meter Set to Stun
May Day morning I arrived at the State Capitol grounds as an undocumented migrant to protest AZ SB 1070. No, I am not, nor was I, at the time, pretending to be stupid, noble or even clever. It didn't even have any intended symbolic value to it, just ineptness. Notice, it merely says "migrant" not "immigrant." I had simply migrated from my home at the So-Hi Peacesign Themepark, west of Kingman, to the state capitol in Phoenix, leaving my driver's license on the counter at a gas station in Wickenburg on my way down the previous afternoon.
Though my non-documentation had been unplanned; I can't say that while I was at the rally, or more so afterwards, that the symbolism of the circumstance did not strike me. There I was risking detention for being undocumented when I was protesting against arresting people for being undocumented.
Though there is no doubt that I could have proven the fact I was born a US citizen of US citizen parents, I was still at risk for getting detained. Notice, I did not say "arrested," merely detained. Merely detained. Unless you've been through it, it is easy to act like it is nothing at all.
In fact as far as some are concerned, it is a wonder why all the silly little babies on the Left have whined so much over the years over such a trivial inconvenience. Perhaps taken downtown and held in a cell while they "ran your prints and made sure everything checked out." Probably only take a few hours, not too much for an innocent man to sacrifice if it keeps the borders safe, "no harm, no foul," some say. I say, I don't think so--full body cavity searches having generally been seen by me and my various cavities/orifices as a bit more than "a mere inconvenience."
Still, lost license or no, potential probing or not, May Day morning I found myself, like thousands of others drawn to downtown Phoenix to join my voice in the struggle. Unfortunate schedule i was traveling under i arrived five hours before the rally and couldn't stay long. Which was fine because it didn't take long to start finding the comedy in the ongoing disaster 2010 American race relations. As comically rich as it was, my inadvertent anonymity isn't what pegged the old irony meter that morning. That would be Saturday morning at ten AM, five hours before the main part of the event, when the clean-up crews were still out when I arrived.
First thing I noticed was the veteran press lounging around the satellite trucks of the local affiliates of the major news channels, at the back edge of the parking lot. Their dreary faces and morning coffees showed they thought it was going to be another long and unpleasant day spent standing around talking about what an unpleasant job it is to have to stand around talking about what an unpleasant job you have.
Then, there past the satellite trucks, standing out in the crisp cool of that May Day morning were the shockingly orange jumpsuits of the prisoner slave-labor workforce being used by the police to police the state capitol grounds and parking areas in preparation for the day's rally. Personally, I could possibly be OK in some very specific ways regarding the use of prison labor, but most of what I've seen of prison labor is slave labor (having grown up in the county seat of the only county in the US to indict Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales for being part of the prison-industrial complex).
So yeah, let's not pretend prisons in the US are about justice. They are sold for money and bought for revenge. Prisoner medical neglect and gang violence run rampant. That is the world we throw our immigrant into. In the US, thanks to SB 1070, especially for imprisoned immigrants Arizona, justice also comes at a price. Besides the part about being incarcerated with folks that are often rightly separated from society, once the bill takes effect, immigration prisoners will be charged for their room and board over the course of their time served. At the mandatory minimum built into the bill of six months, that'll run a person about ten grand. Actually the bill says "jail costs," so who knows what that could mean. Perhaps they will charge the prisoners for the privilege of getting to wear their orange jumpsuits. Perhaps they will have to pay it back by working picking up trash.
Get a lot more prisoners, we could pick up a lot more trash and somebody could make a lot of money manning these houses of pain and others could sell or sew orange jumpsuits, to each according to their immigration status. If no one else SB1070 is guaranteed to be a money maker for fine folks who own prisons.
Everybody knows America likes to punish its prisoners. We don't caudle them like they do in some countries. We make sure they pay. And so Americans tell each other it's OK if someone suffers injustices while in prison. In Arizona, we make a point of electing guys with ideas like that, even when we know they don't need to be so mean about doing their job. As Arpaio himself admitted, the Feds launched an investigation into his operation for prisoner and civil rights abuses shortly after Obama took office. Nowadays, Arpaio and his deputies often trail a pack of watchdog groups aiming to document that next instance of police brutality, which will surely come.
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