FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Who Killed Joaquin Luna?

by JOSEPH NEVINS

Last Friday Joaquin Luna put on a white shirt and black tie—the same ones he wore every Sunday at the church he attended. The eighteen-year-old high school senior then kissed family members, went into the bathroom of his mother’s house in south Texas, and shot and killed himself.

According to his family, Joaquin was suffering from emotional and psychological distress related to his unauthorized immigrant status. Since the age of six months, when his family crossed the U.S.-Mexico boundary and settled in Mission, Texas, 40 miles north of Ciudad Miguel Alemán, just on the Mexican side of the international divide, Joaquin had lived in the United States as an “illegal.” He had become increasingly anxious as his graduation approached, and limited life prospects, given his unauthorized status, became apparent.

Before taking his life, Joaquin penned a note, one which The Guardian of London reported “spoke of his desperation at what he felt to be the wall blocking out his future and preventing him from attaining his dreams. . . . A wall reserved for undocumented immigrants in America.”

His despair became especially apparent in the wake of the U.S. Senate’s failure to pass the DREAM ACT. Had five Democratic senators who opposed the legislation voted differently, and had the Obama White House made the necessary efforts to bring about such a reversal, unauthorized residents who came to the United States as children and complete a bachelor’s degree or two years in the military would be eligible for a “path to citizenship.” The bill’s defeat in Dec. 2010 has blocked such a path, at least for the time being.

Still, “DREAMers”—activist students who are unauthorized immigrants—continue to organize, often taking courageous actions in the process. These range from publicly “outing” themselves to engaging in civil disobedience in recalcitrant legislators’ offices and presenting themselves as “illegals” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Joaquin’s suicide, says his family, was motivated by his desire to further this struggle. It is one made increasingly necessary in a politically brutal climate marked by record-breaking numbers of deportations and detentions of non-citizens, and an ever-growing immigrant policing apparatus in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and beyond.

What and who is responsible of any particular death is a complicated matter. As Angus Wright illustrates in his brilliant book, The Death of Ramón González: The Modern Agricultural Dilemma, one’s quality of life and timing of death in a world of profound and myriad forms of inequality is inextricably linked to processes and relationships tied to geography, history, and their attendant social injustices.

Racism, sexism, and imperialism—among other unjust systems predicated on domination and subjugation—lead to premature death for countless disadvantaged individuals across the globe, while often causing profound psychological and emotional damage. So, too, does the “Juan Crow” system that denies “illegal” immigrants in the United States many basic rights and protections regardless of if they arrived as children or how long they have been present in the country.

It is this system—and those that uphold it—that killed Joaquin Luna. May he rest in peace.

Joseph Nevins teaches geography at Vassar College. He is the author ofDying to Live: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid (City Lights Books, 2008) and Operation Gatekeeper and Beyond: The War on “Illegals” and the Remaking of the U.S.-Mexico Boundary (Routledge, 2010).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 29, 2017
Dave Lindorff
Sy Hersh, Exposer of My Lai and Abu Ghraib, Strikes Again, Exposing US Lies About Alleged Assad Sarin ‘Attack’
Chuck Collins
What Happened to America’s Wealth? The Rich Hid It
Rev. William Alberts
When the Bible is the Root of Evil
Jeff Mackler
Trumps ‘No Fly Zone’ Escalates U.S. War Against Syria
Bill Willers
The Next World War Won’t Just Be “Over There” 
Ellen Brown
Sovereign Debt Jubilee, Japanese-Style
Jack Laun
Will There Finally be Peace With Justice in Colombia?
Binoy Kampmark
Holding the Police to Account in the UK
David Swanson
Against Ignoring the KKK
Rima Najjar
Israel’s Illegitimate Tactics Against Palestinian Armed Resistance vs. Legitimate Global Security Concerns
Mel Gurtov
Advise, Assist, Arm: The United States at War
David Welsh
Berkeley Capitulates to Police Militarization and Spying
Marion Andrew
Not Being Considerate of One’s Audience: US Television’s Coverage of Olympic and International Sports
June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail