287(g): A Racist and Unjust Law

El Kilombo Intergaláctico

Today we come together in the heart of the Latino part of town, to denounce the unjust and racist law, 287g. 287g was passed at a national level in 1996, but it only began being implemented in North Carolina in 2006. First, we find it interesting that this law was put in place by Congress only two short years after that same Congress had passed NAFTA. Virtually everyone knew that the effect of NAFTA would be to devastate the countryside in Mexico, sending millions of Mexicans north in search of a means of survival.

Secondly, we also find it striking that 287g began to be put in place in 2006, thanks to the lobbying efforts of the racist state senator Elizabeth Dole. 2006 was of course the first time many started to talk of a coming economic crisis in the United States. And 287(g) grew in North Carolina as the economic crisis grew. This is merely proof of what we already knew: immigration in the United States is governed not according to some deeply held belief in the law. Rather, it is governed according to the economic needs of big businesses. When the economy is booming, they look for as many migrants as possible, documented or undocumented. When the economy is shrinking, they all of a sudden become strong believers in the law.

We chose to hold this demonstration here on Roxboro Street because this street is proof of the fallacy of many claims about migrants. Roxboro street has been radically transformed for the better by migrants who have come to Durham. 15 years ago, it was a struggling part of town, with many abandoned buildings. Now, it is a booming business corridor of Black and Latino businesses. All of these businesses pay taxes, and all their patrons do as well. They are contributing to society, and transforming it for the better. And many times, this contribution receives no benefit on the back end, when the government prohibits migrants from access to public benefits such as schools, health care, and drivers licenses.

We say it is too late to denounce migrants, after you have benefited from their work. Do you like to eat at restaurants? Thank a migrant for your food. Do you like your new home or office building? Thank a migrant for the construction. After having benefited economically from the cheap labor and business boost these migrants have brought to our state, it is now too late to throw them out, under a racist law that pretends to target criminals, but really targets people of a specific race, Latinos.

What is more, on this May day, we stand together with all workers facing the difficulties of economic crisis. We are here to say: we must unite! While government hands out billions of dollars to the very same banks that got us in this mess, the common worker is left with nothing. Migrants are workers, and therefore they have the same needs and desires. Health insurance, good education for their children, the freedom to move about in public without fear that the government is watching them. Migrants and workers must therefore unite, for we have a common cause. We must unite here in Durham with our African American brothers and sisters, who have suffered so long the same racial discrimination that we suffer today under 287(g). And we must unite with all workers, regardless of color, who seek a more just and equitable society.

Halt the Raids! Halt 287g!

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