American politics is not my usual thing – this is about Wikipedia and gender after all – but I have been asked to say something about immigration, and like most Americans, I usually do have an opinion about politics, no matter how half-baked.
Immigration rallies are few and far between, and when they do happen they are usually poorly attended. So this is not a burning issue for most.
And illegal immigration has long been accepted for other reasons. In some cities, there just aren’t enough people to do all the jobs. Why would Americans want to work in a mind-numbing factory for minimum wage when they can make so much more money with prostitution or drugs. On the other hand, if you make money in the U.S. and spend it in a different economy, say Mexico or Poland, it goes a lot further. So this is win-win for everyone, and cities tend to look the other way in order to get a stable workforce. Municipalities may refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agencies, and even periodically advocate for amnesty for those who have been here the longest, when their particular political party is in power.
The difference with this administration is the use of contractors to construct detention centers, as has long been done with prisons in certain areas, with the obvious political payoff using federal monies, and Trump family members getting outlandish fees for obtaining the now-rare work visas.. Supply and demand. You need immigrants to run your business? It’s gonna cost ya. Follow the money.
Unlike most politics though, immigration can touch people directly, as deportations begin to touch people they know, or when their own local communities start to think about whether to offer sanctuary.
I don’t see immigration as a “borders are immoral” issue. There are other reasons besides racism to limit immigration. And if I go to another country, I am also subject to their laws, which may range from a dollar-a-day fine for over-staying a visa, to visa extensions of several hundred dollars and some obvious hanky-panky going on with the fees, to mandatory AIDS-testing requirements that may see you in a not-first-world type of public clinic situation wondering how clean the needles are.
But immigration-in-theory is never the same as coming face to face with someone.
For quite some time, there has been an “underground railroad” for immigrants in my area, nothing written down, all word of mouth. I don’t usually think of myself as being connected or well-networked, but I know exactly where to direct someone with an immigration problem, where they will have confidential and safe access to legal and probably other services. I don’t know where sanctuary is being offered, and I don’t want to know, all I know is the first step on the path.
And now this is becoming a political issue with AOC and George Takai of Star Trek fame, who spent time in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II, calling them “concentration camps”.
There is Movimiento Cosecha (red link), that claims to be the heir to Cesar Chavez’ movement in the 70s. They even use the “huelga” (strike) slogan in their URL. https://www.lahuelga.com/strategy Who are they? A Boston-based group that has picketed Boston’s Logan Airport in support of detained Muslims, and that supported a May 1 (International Workers’ Day) strike for immigrants. https://socialistworker.org/2017/02/16/a-conference-to-build-pro-immigrant-power (Communism and socialism are not the big deal in the Latino world like they are here.) They are on Twitter as @CosechaMovement also on Medium. Two people in Grand Rapids were interviewed by name. There is a handheld video on Facebook from a New Jersey group, in Spanish, no idea what nationality. They’ve got the t-shirts at least, even if they can’t seem to tear themselves away from their texting long enough to make a video. And their picketing actions on Facebook don’t seem to be exactly huge. But no matter. These days, with facial recognition software in more and more public places (passport control at some airports is now totally automated), it is becoming more and more common for people to cover their faces during demonstrations, especially if they are demonstrating against ICE. And these groups serve another purpose. It is the idea of “cultural appropriation”. You can no longer have a valid political/social protest movement if it is not “inclusive”, that is, you must include members of the groups your protest is trying to represent. Which brings us to the next group, Never Again Action, the group that is partnering with them.
Never Again Action is a Jewish activist group based in ….Boston? This group does seem to be getting some traction. They have done protests in Chicago, Boston, (with 18 arrests), a New Jersey detention center (36 arrests) , Philadelphia, (33 detained), San Francisco, on and on. And they do seem to have some very good media access. Numbers of arrests seem to be report-worthy, and these days there is more and more presence of neutral legal observers, usually in the green hats from the National Lawyers Guild (red link). The neutrality of these observers is more and more being respected, after lawsuits resulting from mass arrests during inauguration day protests. Never Again Action is now being covered by Haaretz, Huffington Post, and Newsweek. Their Go-fund-me page reached their $180,000 goal in only 11 days after it was re-tweeted by New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
For those who like to watch things, here is a video:
I would like to be optimistic and think this is really about the children dying in the camps, but cynicism tells me it is really about 2020. Not that that isn’t a valid concern. But if you talk to people in the street, they don’t even know about the children being separated from their families and held in cages, they don’t know about the deaths, that when you read the reports about them, seem to have been preventable. And they don’t know that when children are asked to draw pictures of their experiences in the camps, they draw cages.
So yeah, now I did think of a connection to Wikipedia.
What’s with all these random checkusers? In spite of the fact that there is supposed to be a rule against “fishing expeditions” it seems like checkuser is getting more and more abused lately. Where is the oversight? UTRS? What a laugh, it’s just like a rogue police department, they protect each other. Unless someone complains publicly. And who s going to complain when they are trying to be anonymous. And yeah there is a specific case of someone getting picked up by immigration less than 24 hours after being checkusered by an admin in a bordering country. And no, it was not a nice country like America where people are allowed to protest against such things, it was in a place with a repressive government, with the checkuser also done by someone highly placed in a different repressive government.
This is what comes of the WMF’s recruitment policies of the past. Shall we take another look at Sue’s hiring spreadsheet for the Markup?
There’s a column for “famous” and it’s not all that different from the current drive for “branding”. In a way this is legitimate and in a way not. Of course you want people who are powerful enough to cut through red tape to lead programs, and overcome stupid objections. But this is a double edged sword. On the one hand is the idea of “wasta“, or nepotism, which in its worst case merely means greasing palms, or doing someone a favor, like publicity in exchange for publicity. On the other hand you have the type of “clout” used by government agencies to silence criticism, the type that in some countries will land you in jail or get you disappeared. And which is it, when a checkuser is not accompanied by a SPA, or when IP (and therefore geolocation) is publicly linked to named accounts. Or when an agent of a foreign government is given access to the checkuser tools. In this case, the individual ended up safe, unlike the one that Jimbo talked about in his Wikimania speech in Mexico, but how many more are there. And how much stuff is not getting into Wikipedia because it does not suit some foreign power’s ambassador/double agent to Wikipedia.