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Friday, March 21, 2008

Stop the War on Immigrants

Over this last week of anti-war demonstrations, a new sign was being carried by a significant number of people at events throughout the nation protesting the 5th Anniversary of the War in Iraq. In addition to the usual signs urging a stop to War in Iraq, there were ones calling for a stop to the “War on Immigrants”. Although similar signs have always been present at anti-war demonstrations since the start, this is the first time they have been carried en masse by demonstrators.

Why are these signs being carried? March organizers and demonstrators maintain that after 911, Somalis, Sikhs and Arab Americans were targeted for physical assault, verbal harassment, bullying in schools and housing and employment discrimination. These actions, they say, continued to heighten as the bombs fell over Iraq and as part of the larger “War on Terrorism”. Since 911, there has been a steady increase in racist rhetoric, scapegoating and hate crimes against immigrants of many nationalities.

Blacks and Latinos in the U.S. have always suffered pervasive racist oppression and exploitation. Now with profiling and detention of Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians as an acceptable part of the war on terrorism, immigrants in the United States from almost every part of the world are at risk.

Demonstrators believe that with the war continuing in Iraq, the criminalization of entire immigrant communities is out of control. “The atmosphere we see that has been created by the federal government, anti-immigrant groups and conservative talk radio depicting immigrants as terrorists, vermin and enemies of America is disgusting and shameful”, one demonstrator at a march in Portland, Oregon said. “Really, just look at the verbal attacks and hate we hear on talk radio in Oregon alone. Need I say more?”

Another concern of those wanting the Iraq War to come to an end, is one that Immigrant Rights advocates have been discussing for years. That is the large amount of immigrants that are being used to fight in Iraq, but often are treated as second class citizens or less when they return to the United States.

Since the start of the war five years ago, many parents of U.S. soldiers fighting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan have been deported. In one well publicized incident, after 20 year old Private Armando Soriano died fighting in Haditha, Iraq, his father was deported. Official statistics show that more than 68,000 foreign-born military individuals are serving the U.S.—many of which have parents that could be facing the same fate.

The unmistakable link between the war on Iraq and the domestic “war on terrorism.” many believe is shown clearly in immigrant detentions, deportations, racial profiling, and other civil rights abuses under the Bush administration. These, anti-war demonstrators believe, violate the Constitution and gravely endanger American principles and character.


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