Category: criminalizing immigrants

At Mexican Border, Four in Five Drug Busts Involve American Citizens

ImagePosted by  Pierre Berastain

“Three out of four people found with drugs by the border agency are U.S. citizens, the data show. Looked at another way, when the immigration status is known, four out of five busts—which may include multiple people—involve a U.S. citizen.”

Amidst the accusations of people like Governor Brewer and Sheriff Apaio that undocumented immigrants are dangerous criminals responsible for smuggling millions of dollars worth of drugs , this article brings a new and fresh perspective.

At Mexican Border, Four in Five Drug Busts Involve American Citizens


The public’s view of a typical Mexican drug smuggler might not include U.S. Naval Academy grad Todd Britton-Harr, who was caught at a Border Patrol checkpoint in south Texas in December 2010 hauling a trailer with 1,100 pounds of marijuana.

Nor would someone like Laura Lynn Farris leap to mind. Border Patrol agents stopped the 52-year-old woman at a border checkpoint 15 miles south of the west Texas town of Alpine in February 2011 with 162 pounds of marijuana hidden under dirty blankets in laundry baskets. (more…)

The importance of criminalizing immigrant labor

Christian Parenti

By Alan Bean

If you think the immigration debate will be sane and smooth, consider these paragraphs from Christian Parenti, one of the most thoughtful and responsible authorities on crime and punishment in America.  Lots of big words, but if you want to understand the immigration debate read and re-read these words until you get his drift.

I have been told that the extreme anti-immigrant legislation proposed in the last session of the Texas Legislature was beaten back by a coalition comprised of immigrant rights activists and business owners.  The owners didn’t want their supply of cheap labor drying up.  But how will they react if their workers are no longer subject to deportation?

“What keeps agricultural labor so amazingly inexpensive, unorganized, and efficient, if not a pervasive culture of fear among immigrant laborers?  To the extent that raids ‘reproduce’ a supply of poorly remunerated agricultural labor, then the economic damages suffered by individual employers are simply the diseconomies and political externalities of maintaining the interests of employers in general.

It is axiomatic that owners of capital need labor to be inexpensive relative to the price of labor’s product if profits are to remain healthy, and that impoverished people, driven by desperation, will generally labor for lower wages than people with some degree of social power and wealth.  But sometimes poverty is not enough.  In many dangerous and dirty low-wage labor markets–such as food processing, agriculture, and apparel manufacturing–employers seem to prefer not just poor workers, but criminalized workers.  A labor supply of undocumented, ideologically demonized, and literally hunted immigrants is to American capitalists what drugs are to America’s consumers: an essential import.”

The usefulness, if not necessity, of criminalizing immigrant labor became apparent in the wake of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which gave green cards to 1.2 million undocumented farm workers.  As soon as these laborers received this slightest of legal protections, the vast majority of them evacuated the fields in search of better employment.  As soon as these migrant laborers were ‘legal’ they had a degree of upward mobility; poverty alone was not enough to ‘keep them down on the farm.’  Only police terror can assure that.  To remain passively trapped at the very bottom run of the labor market, immigrants must be legally and ideologically constructed as criminals.”  (Lockdown America, pp. 153-154)