A Kinder, Gentler Form of Ethnic Cleansing

One hundred thousand Latinos have fled Arizona in the three months since the passage of SB1070. This represents a huge demographic shift in the state, and the reasons behind it could be explained as a kinder, gentler form of ethnic cleansing.

Ethic cleansing: the planned deliberate removal from a specific territory, persons of a particular ethnic group, by force or intimidation, in order to render that area ethnically homogeneous.
– The United Nations Commission of Experts

According to the United States Census Bureau, Arizona has a Latino population of 1.9 million which is 30 percent of the state. In addition, there were an estimated 460,000 undocumented Latino migrants in the state as of April 2010.

As reported by myself from Phoenix at the time, there was a palpable tension in the air, a charged atmosphere between those who advocated comprehensive immigration reform and those who advocated a harsh crackdown. It appeared as if one stupid spark from either side could have set the whole state ablaze.

In the midst of this polarized atmosphere, the resurgent ultra-conservative base in the Tea Parties, backed up by openly vocal White Supremacists in the state hatched the infamous Arizona Anti-Immigration Law, also known as SB1070. The bill itself was introduced by State Senator Russell Pearce, who has called the Holocaust a “tale” and has ties to J. T. Ready, a Minuteman and nativist linked to the American National Socialist Movement. Further, the bill itself was written by Kris Kobach, a birther who was an attorney for the legal arm of the pseudo-racist organization “FAIR”, and is the Secretary of State elect from Kansas.

SB1070 is an unfunded mandate that has a few central points. It
-Outlaws the hiring of day laborers off the street
-Prohibits anyone from transporting an undocumented migrant
-Forces police to check the residency status of people they suspect are illegally in the country

This last provision is key here, and the source of the controversy that has surrounded the bill. Beyond superceding federal immigration laws, this law would mandate charging anyone without their papers with trespassing, even if it takes place on private property. What criteria would law enforcement officials be using to judge who looks like they are in the country illegally? They would either have to use racial profiling or have to question everyone, either of which would violate the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

SB1070 is likely to be unconstitutional, as was determined by courts around the country when local municipalities have attempted to pass similar measures.

Regardless of the constitutionality or source of the Arizona Anti-Immigration Law, the effect has been the same: to generate fear and intimidation towards the majority of the Hispanic community, much in the way the staunchly militaristic policies of Sheriff Joe Arpaio have done.

Think Progress reports that, “a new study from BBVA Bancomer Research, using data collected by the U.S. Current Population Survey, finds that as many as 100,000 Latinos may have left the state in the time period between when the law was enacted and October of this year.”

Let me repeat: 100,000 Latinos have left Arizona between July 29th and October 2010, a span of only 3 months.

Over 23,000 Mexican immigrants returned to Mexico around this time frame. Where the others have gone is only speculation at this point, but the point is: they are gone.

Ethnic cleansing is something that has occurred various times over history. Although it is recently being more globally recognized and condemned it is in no way a new concept. The actual term “Ethnic Cleansing” started being widely used in the 1990’s. One of the main causes of Ethnic Cleansing over history is nationalism. Nationalistic feelings spark ideas in people to want to “clean” or “purify” the area that they are living in from “aliens” or other undesired people. Over the years there has been a few different forms of Ethnic Cleansing.

There has been a consistent and pervasive pattern at play here that has contributed to this effect, as reflected by hateful ultra-conservative rhetoric towards these undocumented migrants, painting a very clear picture. Many on the extreme right seem to rationalize their hatred with various rationales (most of which are either not true or exaggerations), but the intent is clear: to dehumanize those who are in the country without proper documentation in order to justify a brutal crackdown. Even the term “illegal alien” does this, and it is no surprise to hear many on the extreme right use the term “rats” or “invasion.”

That being said, the deliberate clearing of Latinos from Arizona has not been done with many of the most brutal methods seen in other parts of the world. There are no rape camps like in Bosnia. There are not machete wielding mobs killing indiscriminately like in Rwanda. There are no security forces evicting people from their homes on the scale that took place in Kosovo (where 300,000 people were chased out in one week). This is a kinder, gentler form of ethnic cleansing.

Of course with the internal military policing that is being pushed for, the security apparatus could be in place in America to conduct large-scale deportations, should the situation escalate. Remember that in Kosovo there were coordinated attacks by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) on security, political, and civilian targets in what was termed terrorism by the State Department. Imagine how quickly the reprisals could escalate if police stations began to be overrun, if helicopters began to get shot down, or if crowds in coffee shops began to get massacred.

The forced expulsions from the US are being targeted predominantly at undocumented Latinos. Regardless of the legality of their presence, they are human beings with inalienable human rights. They are protected by the Constitution of the United States of America. If this was happening in the former Yugoslavia, there is no doubt that the Pentagon would be calling it ethnic cleansing.



27 Responses to A Kinder, Gentler Form of Ethnic Cleansing

  1. Jim B November 15, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    It is clear that this law is working. I think that after Jan, 2011 we will see more laws like SB1070 moving forward. When our leaders can find a way to create jobs Americans may have a different attitude. but for now there are just not enough jobs to allow them to go to illegal aliens. We are fighting for our lives.

    • Ole Ole Olson November 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm

      I understand where you are coming from Jim, but what Americans are honestly willing to pick strawberries in the hot sun filled with stinging insects for 10 hours for $40/day? Most of the jobs immigrant labor is doing are jobs other Americans reject. Now if we would actually enforce labor standards so that these industries (yard work, turkey farms, etc.) would have to hire living wages and the rest of country is willing to pay a bit higher prices, you would certainly have a strong point.

      • Dan November 16, 2010 at 6:46 am

        “Most of the jobs immigrant labor is doing are jobs other Americans reject.”

        Sadly, that is simply because the majority of immigrant workers now have, on average, much lower education levels than what was the case historically. So the immigrants that come in are actually robbing jobs from Americans on the lower end of the economic ladder, not just those farm workers but hotel workers, kitchen workers, porters, day labor construction workers… all decent jobs. And because many of the immigrants taking these jobs have no documentation they are paid less, given no benefits and have virtually no job rights or protections. Typically management realizes this and treats these workers as replaceable cogs to financially exploit them. It’s a race to the bottom for the American worker in general.

        We do agree that labor standards do need to be enforced but as long as there is a supply of immigrants to exploit then management will find a way around the standards or treat the penalties as a cost of doing business.

        • Rig November 19, 2010 at 3:53 am

          The argument you are presenting here is the same we can follow with drugs, should we blame the supply or the demand?
          I could argue that the immigrants want to move to the US because they know that there are greedy employer who will take them, without that, how could they make a living? only with crime.
          So you should attack both fronts not just the worker.

      • Ellis November 16, 2010 at 8:18 am

        If someone is being paid $4 an hour for any work in the US, their employer is a criminal.

      • p November 16, 2010 at 10:44 am

        Except they are not taking the jobs we don’t want they are taking the revenue stream we need to tap but can’t because illegal labor is too cheap, think about mechanical harvesting etc, they would BUY machines, hopefully american built machines (but atleast us import taxed machines) and us operated machines and us serviced machines to do the job.

    • AZ dude November 16, 2010 at 8:46 am

      I live in AZ and 1070 is BS, I hope the law is completely struck down. And by the way I am white.

      • WTG1070 November 16, 2010 at 11:50 am

        I think that we should get rid of ALL illegal immigrants. They are a drain on our resources (just ask California) and we don’t get anything in return.

        How much in taxes have they paid on the money they make? How much of that money leaves our country and goes elsewhere?

        I think people like AZ Dude should pay MORE taxes than the rest of us to make up the difference.

        • Ole Ole Olson November 16, 2010 at 11:30 pm

          You would be incorrect in that assumption wtg. While researching this article, I found out that there the level of remittances to Latin America from undocumented migrants was expected to reach ~$23 billion in a few years, while the tax revenue collected from them amounted to ~$58 billion. Remember, the govt. will allow anyone to pay taxes, but you can only get a refund if you are a citizen.

  2. Mike November 16, 2010 at 6:32 am

    You’re absolutely right, there would be few, if any, people willing to work for $40/day. and what will the famers do when that happens? let their crops rot in the field? nooooo, they will pay workers what they have to and pass along those costs to consumers. and what will consumers do when their food prices go up? starve? noooo, they will demand wage increases from their employers, and they’ll get it too. and what will employers do when their employeee wages go up? file bankruptsy? noooo they’ll loser their outrageous CEO wages/benefits.
    it is a fascinating little cycle, but it does seem to work itself out doesn’t it?

    • Michael November 16, 2010 at 9:16 am

      When people talk about produce prices being so low at the store, they aren’t taking into account the BILLIONS of dollars we spend of our tax money to make that happen.

      When you factor in all of the medical services, schooling, welfare, emergency services, and just normal use of our infrastructure… then the cost of that “cheap” produce is much, much higher. I would be fine with eliminating the burden on our social services, and in turn paying slightly more at the register when I buy avocados.

    • Sean November 16, 2010 at 10:28 am

      If only America was a closed system. You forgot about the cheap labor in other countries that causes their food prices to be low and retailers in america buying from them. Then to try and keep american produced food cheap and competitive the government will subsidize the farmers and impose tarrifs (which has been going on with great fervor for the past 100 years). Both of which cost you in taxes.

      I would also like to point out that already 1/8 americans use food stamps. This has not translated into workers demanding higher wages or any of the changes you have mentioned.

      Also wages never keep up the increases in cost of living, and sometimes not even with inflation.

  3. anon November 16, 2010 at 6:37 am

    you do realize that this law is almost a mirror of national law already in place. It just allows state and local law enforcement to do something about it instead of waiting for ICE to do something about it. Also, this law is more in place to protect the farmers and ranchers(primarily) in Arizona from drug/people trafficker’s who have been known to attack and kill these law abiding citizens of the U.S. while they are using the 100s or 1000s of acres to perform their crimes.

    P.S., being in the U.S. illegally is a crime and violators should be prosecuted (innocent until proven guilty though!)

    P.P.S. Mexico has had worse immigration laws in place, such as a heavy fine for first time infractions and jail time and deportation for anything after that

  4. bob November 16, 2010 at 6:52 am

    being an illegal immigrant regardless of race is still a crime. Just because a majority of violators are of a particular race doesn’t make it ethnic cleansing.

  5. bobblehead November 16, 2010 at 7:18 am

    the passage of the papers please bill was not based on naziism or racism or ethnic cleansing. it had nothing to do with the race of the people. it was about the fact that those people were there illegally. there is a process which potential citizens must go through in order to lawfully be here. you don’t just waltz into a country and expect to receive the same benefits. i’m glad they’re gone. if they want to come back in legal manner, then i will welcome them, but not until. good riddance.

  6. Aliaysleigh November 16, 2010 at 7:52 am

    This a horrible article. Ethnic cleansing is not what is going on in Arizona and the author of this article just pulled those words to make it sound more like the establishment is the criminal than the criminal is. Sorry. You must not have your paper work in order to be frightened by this law.

    • Sean November 16, 2010 at 10:38 am

      Do you carry your passport, birth certificate, or social security card with you when you drive in your car or walk down the street? If not do you have someone available to y ou to retrieve that paper work if you were arrested and put in jail for multiple days? Often having your drivers license is not enough, especially if you “look foreign”.

      I do not, and if you do not either then I would be frightened by this law.

      • Gary November 16, 2010 at 1:42 pm

        “Often having your drivers license is not enough, especially if you “look foreign”.”

        And you know this how?

        I carry my driver’s license with me at all times. When I’ve been pulled over by the police for speeding or not coming to complete stop at a stop sign, they’re perfectly fine with me pulling out my driver’s license. That’s why it’s called a form of identification.

        And I am the legal child of legal immigrants, by the way.

        • Ole Ole Olson November 16, 2010 at 11:35 pm

          I don’t believe a driver’s license is a valid form of citizenship though.

        • Sean November 17, 2010 at 7:24 am

          Your drivers license is identification yes, but it is not valid proof of citizenship. With the new Arizona law you can be put in jail if you are suspected of being an illegal immigrant and do not have one of the documents I mentioned if they are requested.

          It hasn’t happened to you yet, but just wait.

        • Sean November 17, 2010 at 7:37 am

          After doing some more research on the issue there is apparently a clause in the law that allows your drivers license as a form of identification (could not find this when reading the law), unless you are from one of the 12 states that do not require you to prove your citizenship to receive a drivers license. In those cases your drivers license would not be valid proof of citizenship.

  7. Ellis November 16, 2010 at 8:12 am

    >the planned deliberate removal from a specific territory, persons of a particular ethnic group, by force or intimidation, in order to render that area ethnically homogeneous.

    Removing the 460,000 illegal immigrants from the pool of 1.9 million Latinos will in no way result in an ethnically homogeneous Arizona. Not even close. This is nothing like ethnic cleansing.

  8. Charles November 16, 2010 at 8:43 am

    “…in order to render that area ethnically homogeneous.”

    We’ll just leave that part out… This is a flawed argument.

    The Constitution does not give people the right to break our laws and defy the authority of voters.

    Stop trying to make this a racial issue. Just because the law affects a large population of Latinos doesn’t necessarily make it racial. Just because a large percentage of our inmate population is Latino, doesn’t mean Latinos are criminals. To make the connection is faulty logic and is just flame bait.

  9. Michael November 16, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Wow, if this is true, this is great news! We cannot afford to subsidize the entire third world.

  10. Sean November 17, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Also, why should cops only check the citizenship status of those they “reasonablly suspect” (whatever that means) and not everyone they pull over?

    Why not check citizenship status when you rent an apartment, get a credit card, get a job, fly on an airplane, etc? There are plenty of places in our system where we already check many things about a person, but do not check citizenship. It would be very easy to do but buisnesses do not want to reject paying customers.

  11. Justin November 17, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Every time I’ve been pulled over by a police officer, he asks for identification. I would think that would qualify as a first step of checking citizenship status since the drivers license in itself is proof. So, this only really applies to those who get pulled over without a drivers license. At that point, they’ll have o refer to other methods of verifying your ID. I think that is absolutely reasonable as long as every common sense method is used to verify. If I know my drivers license info by heart, but forget my wallet, I would imagine that is good enough. Otherwise, I might have to have somebody bring my wallet.

  12. Eli November 18, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Requiring Residents to immigrate legally is not ethnic cleansing, it’s following the law.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login