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Cesar Chavez Shows His Papers; So Does Jan Brewer

Robert Illes: 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.

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?

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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.

bob illes

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.