Snapshots

Sheriff of the Exception | mexmigration: History and Politics of Mexican Immigration

Since 2010, when the current wave of anti-immigrant lawmaking [sic] was unleashed, most eyes have focused on the heroic campaigns against legislation that legalized the state of exception in Arizona – SB1070 and HB2281. Of course, under a neoliberal state of exception or emergency, laws are actually meant to suspend the rule of law. In this case, the objective was to launch more systematic and vicious attacks against perceived threats posed by immigration and the existence of free thought as channeled through the critical social scientific and humanities rubric of Chicana/o Studies. Those threats are seen as challenging the continued reign of a white capitalist elite and its partisan lackeys in Arizona.

As a result, it has been much too easy for pundits and analysts to overlook the equally long story of resistance against one of the principal agents-in-charge of this hate-filled partisan project, which has targeted the Mexican-origin people of Arizona for suppression, expulsion, and harassment. I am, of course, referring to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the official bully who has served as lead enforcer of Jan Brewer’s unconstitutional bill, SB1070.

Arpaio is under continuing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for alleged patterns of discrimination and racial profiling against Mexican Americans in Maricopa County, Arizona where he controls the Sheriff’s Department and gained his reputation as “America’s toughest sheriff.” Now, how is it that right-wing partisans confuse bullying with toughness?

But Arpaio and his department are also now defendants in the first of what will be a long string of significant civil action lawsuits against this abusive thug. The case, Melendres v. Arpaio, started in Phoenix federal court this past Thursday, July 12. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational fund represent the plaintiffs in this pivotal class-action complaint.

The lawsuit stems from the false arrest of dozens of legal immigrants and U.S. citizens, some of them born in the United States and some with multigenerational roots in this country dating back to before the establishment of the State of Arizona. The case is named after one of the legal immigrants picked up in 2007 by the deputies serving Arpaio’s Gulag, a Mexican by the name of Manuel de Jesús Ortega Melendres. The ACLU brought suit in 2008 and the courts allowed it to move forward as a certified class action in 2009.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: Sheriff of the Exception | mexmigration: History and Politics of Mexican Immigration.

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