On May 1, 2007, thousands of people around the US marched and rallied for immigrant rights. Media coverage focused on the fact that the demonstrations were much smaller than similar actions last spring—even though advocates knew well in advance that the numbers in the streets this May 1 wouldn't match last year's mass mobilizations. Organizers and policy analysts offered several reasons for the lower numbers: conflict over the STRIVE Act, a legislative proposal which some groups support but many see as far too punitive; the fact that harsh anti-immigrant legislation like HR4437, which spurred last year's protests, is no longer on the table; and fear among immigrants stemming from a major increase in raids over the past year. Immigrants and supporters rallied this year around legalization as well as an end to the raids. In all, more than half a million people demonstrated in over 100 cities and towns in 26 states and the District of Columbia. The following summary is based on available news reports.
The National Rifle Association is urging the Bush administration to withdraw its support of a bill that would prohibit people on terrorism watch lists from buying firearms. In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, NRA director Chris Cox said the bill "would allow arbitrary denial of Second Amendment rights based on mere 'suspicions' of a terrorist threat." Current law already denies sales to "illegal" immigrants—and the NRA has no problem with that. (AP, May 4) Meanwhile, the right-wing militia terror networks appear to be rearming—and planing attacks on immigrants. From AP May 1:
A White House press release, April 30:
Loyalty Day, 2007
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
America was founded by patriots who risked their lives to bring freedom to our Nation. Today, our citizens are grateful for our Founding Fathers and confident in the principles that lead us forward. On Loyalty Day, we celebrate the blessings of freedom and remember our responsibility to continue our legacy of liberty.
On April 24, some 60 federal agents armed with rifles and dressed in bulletproof vests raided the Little Village Discount Mall on Chicago's southwest side. The agents closed off exits, locked down the mall and stopped about 150 shoppers and workers. Witnesses said as many as 16 people were taken away. Baltazar Enriquez, a construction worker who was at the mall buying shoes when the raid took place, said the agents were carrying pictures of suspects and lined people up against a wall to compare them to the photos. "It was everybody who looked Latino," he said. Marisol Iniguez, an employee at the mall, said agents kicked open bathroom doors with guns drawn. "They treated us like criminals," she said.
On April 20, ICE agents arrested 13 Mexican immigrant workers employed at the Eagle Bag Corporation factory in East Oakland, California. Twelve of the workers were arrested at the factory; one was picked up at a residence. The workers were taken to the ICE office in San Francisco to be interviewed, photographed and fingerprinted; they are being held on administrative immigration violations while ICE continues its investigation to determine whether any will face federal prosecution for aggravated identity theft. (ICE news release, April 20; Insidebayarea.com, April 24)
On April 4, ICE agents searched apartments and stopped people on the street in the mid-Hudson community of Valatie, New York, arresting eight out-of-status immigrants. In nearby Chatham, ICE arrested two men on the street. ICE spokesperson Mike Gilhooly verified that there were 42 arrests in the Capital District of New York over the week of April 2 as part of "Operation Return to Sender," a nationwide program targeting immigrants who have failed to comply with deportation orders. However, only 18 of the 42 people arrested had already been ordered removed by an immigration judge; the other 24 were just picked up on suspicion of being out of status. Six of those arrested reportedly had criminal records. ICE received support from the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, and state police were also on the scene.
An April 19 pre-dawn raid by the New York State Police and DEA agents on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton led to what law enforcement officials called the "dismantling" of "a major narcotics distribution network" on Long Island. Those arrested include eight residents of the Shinnecock Nation, as well as Awan Gumbs, son of tribal trustee Lance A. Gumbs, state police said. Vehicles, handguns, shotguns and rifles were seized, as well as marijuana, heroin, crack, drug paraphernalia, a computer and almost $2,000 in currency. The raid was the result of an investigation police said was opened at "a request from the Trustees of the Shinnecock Indian Reservation" in a letter to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.
You don't have to support either Michael Bloomberg or gun control to understand why this is sinister. We hope. From AP via amNY, April 18, links added:
NEW YORK -- A magazine cover by the National Rifle Association protesting Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign against guns is raising questions for its depiction of him as an octopus, which has a history of use as an anti-Semitic symbol.