Sherriff Joe Arpaio’s policies have been directed at so-called illegal's and Brown bodies under the guise of maintaining law and order. Most so-called illegal's cross the border in order to be able to support their families. Many US industries are dependent upon their labour to stay in business. These families are hunted by the INS, and treated as less than human in many border states. Many Americans function with the myth that undocumented workers are stealing American jobs without considering the fact that because of the unfair trade agreements the US has made with Mexico and the rest of Latin America, that they have no choice but to immigrate to acquire subsistence.
In times of economic retrenchment we have been trained to blame the weakest members of society, rather than focusing on the rich bourgeoisie who maintain a system of economic hierarchy, that in most cases forces POC into poverty. The poor are the least powerful members globally and we need only look at the captains of industry and the racist, patriarchal, capitalist state, to see whom is truly living a life of privilege. The minutemen have so internalized the hatred of poor brown bodies, that advocating their death is understood as unproblematic.
Brandy Baron: Kill any man woman or child that comes across the border illegally. I’ll bet you, you kill enough of them right off the bat, them people stop coming over here. Personally I think I minefield would be good. Why build a fence, just plant some mines. I’d be fair about it. I’d put signs up in Spanish on the other side, warning them, enter at your own risk. That would be fair. If they’re stupid enough to try it, then they get blown up…oh well.
Interviewer: You said that you would kill kids
Brandy Baron. If they’re being drug across the border hell yes. See that’s difference between those people and us. Our country is number one, yours..(obscene sound)
As shocking as this interview is, it represents the attitude of the nativist supporters of Joe Arpaio. Even if one agrees that crossing the border illegally constitutes a crime, how does advocating murder demonstrate a respect for the rule of law? Nativists continually couch their defence in respect for the stars and stripes thereby hiding the racism that is evident in their position. Undocumented workers do not only come from Mexico and yet it is Latino bodies that are most often targeted for violence. To these people, human specifically means white and this is evidenced by their continued attempts to construct those of Latin descent as unequal and or undeserving of the most basic protections. As they rant and rave, they fail to consider that each person that is not of Aboriginal descent is themselves an immigrant and I daresay many Native communities would consider Nativist to be “illegal”, considering the land theft and near genocide of a people.
Minutemen were allowed to fester and grow under the Bush administration. Instead of taking ownership for the terrible economy that his domestic and foreign policies created, he sought to foist blame upon the most powerless – so-called illegal immigrants. This vitriolic ideology was embraced by Sherriff Joe, who was quick to provide an outlet for the frustrations of white supremacist minutemen. Their actions are not a display of true patriots, they are in fact the result of racists who lack the basic knowledge to understand that their acceptance of such ideology keeps them impoverished. What did this woman gain from aligning herself with Arpaio’s policies but the ability to distract herself from the fact that to the ruling elite she is just as meaningless as the so-called illegal immigrants that she denigrates.
Illegal is now a descriptor; it is no different than nigger, or faggot. Just like many social signifiers it functions to infer a constructed difference and a lack of value. You cannot see a border from orbit. These differences are man made and we support them in order to maintain privilege. The idea that a nationality represents anything of significant value other than a marker of cultural similarities is mendacious and harmful to many impoverished bodies globally. Existing on a piece of land does not infer ownership, it merely signifies occupation. We are all nothing but squatters and the time each person may occupy any particular space is finite. If these Nativist truly respected the United States they would remember the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. Citizenship is not an accomplishment, it is an accident of birth.