If last year it looked to you like the Minutemen were a too convenient crisis, then your paranoia has been rewarded. Next week, the neocon border begins.
Talk about the Eyes of Texas. While the Governor feeds reporters stories about how he’s going to let every citizen patrol the border from their laptops, his staff is printing final drafts of a memo that will deploy National Guard, not actually to enforce immigration law, says everyone from Alberto Gonzales on up (and down), but to help with construction, transportation, and translation.
Construction, transportation, and bilingualism, let’s see. The words alone could apply to repairing schools and getting kids to summer language classes, but no, that end of the issue can’t be touched by the Governor’s pen. Instead, the border is going to get a wall. Migrant workers are going to be turned into criminals who will need transportation to jail, apparently with someone in the vicinity who can explica the whole thing in Spanish.
Meanwhile, Halliburton will be standing by to build camps as needed. Voice of America reports that a new detention program for immigrants in the Del Rio sector seems to be working well enough to apply elsewhere: “the secret to the program’s success is the application of existing law and the use of penalties spelled out in the statutes.” Instead of sending folks back to Mexico, they get six months and a criminal record. Border crossings in the Del Rio sector are down 50 to 70 percent.
Activists stretched to the limit by immigration policy in Washington and military policy in Iran seem to be standing this one out, even as the infrastructure of empire comes home to roost. The difference between the Minutemen last year and the giant immigrant marches this year is that the Minutemen are still on the side of history in the making, if not the promise of history to come.
Preliminary planning for the border operation has involved chiefs of the five border sectors in Texas, including Laredo, El Paso, and Marfa, says Chief Moncada of the Guard public affairs office in Austin. A spokesperson for the Governor’s office says the operation is in “final stages of planning” and that the memorandum of agreement “has been drafted and is being finalized for signatures”.
“We hope to get personnel to the border as quickly as possible,” said Rachael Novier from the Governor’s press office. Texas has 21,000 troops in the Army and Air National Guard, says Chief Moncada. Currently 3,600 are deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Sinai. Two thousand of the Texas guard assisted relief efforts following hurricane Katrina, and 1,500 were deployed for hurrican Rita, said Moncada. During the wildfires of December 2005, 6 aircraft were deployed. Moncada says there is “some discussion” about a need for guard aircraft at the border.
As for that pipe dream about schools: education remains the single largest challenge facing a “comprehensive” border solution. In Ingles, however, “comprehensive” doesn’t mean “liberty and justice for all.” What “comprehensive” means is that all five pistons of Empire have to be firing at the same time. Stay tuned for photo ops of legitimation, coming at you live from the Rio Grande.
GREG MOSES is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. His chapter on civil rights under Clinton and Bush appears in Dime’s Worth of Difference, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.