Cesar Chavez Shows His Papers; So Does Jan Brewer

I was going to talk about Cesar Chavez had he lived to see the advent of Arizona’s AB 1070, and its not so thinly veiled demonization of “illegal immigrants”, or those among us who might be, walking around brown like some people do. I would imagine Chavez would have felt compelled to mobilize Latinos in Arizona: rousing them to get out and protest en masse (along with civil liberties allies of all colors, and whoever are the Bobby Kennedys of today), and, just as important, rousing them to vote – also en masse.

Cesar Chavez, who died in the 1993, co-founded the United Farm Workers with Dolores Huerta in 1962, protecting as unions do, via strike and boycott, theretofore exploited farm workers, mainly in central California. But Chavez wasn’t in favor of illegal immigrants, coming over and taking farm jobs. He was in favor of rights – like equal pay, hours, and benefits – for the workers, mostly of Hispanic origin, who were here legally, and were therefore entitled to the rights of all other workers.

And today, he would not be supportive of illegal immigration, but for the preservation of the civil rights of folks here legally. So it wouldn’t take much to expand his activism to the rights of people in color (especially brown) apt to be harassed by Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the rest of the cowboys running Arizona like the vigilantes of old California, demanding to see “papers” – or go to a lock up till you can prove your legitimacy.

Chavez would show his papers.

The “papers” would perhaps be a permit to march (if denied, he’d march anyway). Or they’d be a lawsuit to protest stopping citizens in violation of civil rights. Or they’d be posters expressing who might be better candidates for public office. Or the “papers” might be directions for where and when to vote, and what number to call if you need a ride to the polls.

It would not be a popular cause among the general population. It seems like such an outrage, but of course the campaign of terror about these “terrorists” has been affective PR. Not surprising. Racism often greases the skids for outrageous political actions. The Nazis seemed to prove that.

The “illegals” – and of course in the broad net cast, these could be anybody brown walking around the streets of Phoenix or Tucson – are, don’t you, not interested in picking crops, caring for children, or washing restaurant dishes. No they are robbing, kidnapping and murdering. Of course this catastrophic picture was undermined by actual crime statistics.

So, strangely, Chavez, if he were to come on the scene, would see that much of the work was done for him indirectly by the very proponents of the draconian measure. The intense campaign has been more than a little self-defeating, for instance horrifying not only local voters, but possible tourists, and whatever judge has been called upon to rule on the constitutionality of the measure… not to mention pissing off professionals, like brown entertainers and brown athletes and, well, the city of Los Angeles who pulled conventions scheduled for the state.

In other words, a Cesar Chavez would not have to suggest folks boycott. They took his lead from 50 years ago on their own.

But still the politicians railed about the porous borders and the criminals among us, including “maverick” Senator John McCain, in a tough primary race against a noted anti-immigration hawk. McCain supports the bill, and further, wants the useless border wall to be finished. And state senator Russell Pearce, the infamous author of the measure, remains fantastically popular. He’s looking for biggest fish to fry – to make schools turn over illegal kids, to stop the “anchor baby” epidemic by gutting the 14th Amendment of their beloved Constitution (which provides if you’re born here, you’re a citizen).

Something else must be going on. There’s just got to be something else.

While there is no denying there is a problem with the influx of illegal immigrants seeking work (although that’s down this year, since there ain’t that much work, given the economy), and with border enforcement (although Homeland Security chief, and, ironically, former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano says numbers of border patrols are up, surveillance flights are up and even deportations are up).

But still they persist in the demagoguery. They really must care about protecting their Arizonans.

Wait a moment… wait a moment..” – HAL the computer in 2001.

But goodness, wouldn’t there be a lot of extra arrests? Where would all these captured aliens go?

Why to jail of course.

So doesn’t that mean, a lot of new jail cells need to be built?

Yes, that is true.

Private companies build the jails in Arizona for the influx of these new residents. Jails are big business. That is why they hire lobbyists to get legislators and governors to do their bidding.

Like creating laws that create new potential prisoners?

“Correctamundo” as Jules would say in “Pulp Fiction”.

Turns out, it’s all about the jails. Jailco, Slammers R Us, Lockup LLD, whatever the names of the companies are avid supporters of Russell Pearce, Governor Brewer, and for sure, AB 1070.

The right-wingers perhaps haven’t shown their “papers”, but have shown their hand. That’s right, if Republicans are advancing some drastic program in the face of all facts and logic, there’s got to be something else going on and – this just in folks – sure enough, there is.

In 2003, Pearce wrote a bill that would privatize ALL of Arizona’s prisons. That didn’t go anywhere. They tried it again last year. No go.

But now, a different story, per a late breaking CBS News report in Arizona. The Corrections Corporation of America, builder of private prisons to whom state governments outsource their prisoners, made the maximum campaign donation allowable to one Russell Pearce. One of Gov. Brewer’s advisors on AB1070 has ties to the prison lobby. CCA has also famously lobbied states and congress for harsher prison sentences – the more time folks can enjoy their accommodations!

So this AB1070 is perhaps not so much a “protect Arizonans from brown aliens” scheme as it is a protect the private prisons profits scheme. And of course, a fatten up the war chests of Republican politicians scheme.

The noble cause perhaps noble not so much.

The story’s not finished. But it’s looking like Cesar Chavez can rest in peace, and can keep his papers in his pocket. For now.

Robert Illes

Robert Illes is an Emmy winning television writer and producer, currently developing series for Nickelodeon and TV Land. He is an LA native, and a graduate of USC, who lived in Sherman Oaks for 23 years before escaping to Santa Monica (but visits a lot). A member of Valley Democrats United, Bob is also an AirAmericaRadio freak, active in the Writers Guild mentor program, as well as the Democratic Party, and is constantly Bush bashing, fighting for verifiable voting procedures, and fighting against Jerry’s Deli showing Fox News on their overhead TVs. What’s the matter with those people!?

Reposted with permission from the Valley Dems United Newsletter.


  1. Benito says

    In the last four months Jan Brewer has been caught lying, three times and counting.

    The comments made on June 16, 2010, and June 27, 2010, clearly indicates that the Brewer says that immigrants are beheading people in the United States desert. She first ran away from the question and the press when confronted with the question. She finally when to FOX/ FAKE News to recant her lie.

    When Brewer was confronted with the fact the two of her top Advisors (Paul Senseman, Chuck Coughlin) are lobbyist for “Private Prisons” giant CCA she first ran away from the question and the press.

    In an attempt to gain sympathy, she first said her father had died in Germany fighting the Nazi in World War II (which ended 1945) but of course we find out the truth that her father was never in Germany and died in California in 1955. Do you see a trend here?

    Brewer signed into law SB 1070 Bill (Did she even read it?), lied about the crime rates in AZ (even Janet Napolitano knows that all crimes rates went down), and now we find out that she is in the pockets of PRIVATE PRISONS who stand to benefit with the increase Federal jailing, and thus they will pay her back, I wonder if it has to do anything about the fact that her son was transferred to a brand new prison, he was convicted for rape and sexual assault, I guess the fruit does not fall far the tree.

    “Private Prisons Lie”

    “AZ Crime Rates”

    “Father Lie”

  2. says

    In fact, until all private prisons in America have been abolished and outlawed, “the promise” of fairness and justice at every level of this country’s judicial system will remain unattainable. We must restore the principles and the vacant promise of our judicial system. There is urgent need for the good people of this country to emerge from the shadows of indifference, apathy, cynicism, fear, and those other dark places that we migrate to when we are overwhelmed by frustration and the loss of hope.
    My hope is that you will support the National Public Service Council to Abolish Private Prisons (NPSCTAPP) with a show of solidarity by signing “The Single Voice Petition”

    Please visit our website for further information: http://www.npsctapp.blogspot.com

    –Ahma Daeus
    “Practicing Humanity Without A License”…

  3. annieR says

    By definition, private prisons are bound to result in longer seentences with no possibility of leniency. As with any other corporation, the bottom line is all. Government-run prisons benefit from fewer prisoners; private prisons benefit from maximum numbers of prisoners. It’s no longer a secret that two close advisors of Half-Governor Jan Brewer have vested financial interests in the private prison corporation (CCA, I think)that runs much of Arizona’s prison system, including the minimum security prison where the killers of the New Mexico couple were inappropriately housed. Go figure. Brewer was an x-ray technician, so I’m guessing she needs to build up her retirement fund.

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