Wednesday, August 1, 2012

UndocuBus on its way to Charlotte: Good idea?

What is being called the "UndocuBus" got on the road Sunday, with plans to wend its way through Arizona and several other states with strict immigration policies targeting illegal immigrants - Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia among them - and ending up here in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention that's about a month away.

On the bus, if you haven't heard, will be young people who are in the U.S. illegally - most fitting the criteria President Obama outlined in a directive that would prevent their deportation. The directive says the government will not seek deportation for those who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

A story in today's Observer illustrates how precarious that distinction can still be. A Raleigh-based activist says she handed herself over to border patrol in Florida and told them she was undocumented. An youth immigration advocacy group says federal immigration officials have not made any changes since Obama's directive and are still detaining people who are eligible to stay under the directive. The detained activist, Viridiana Martinez, said she had turned herself in to document that a Florida center was still detaining dozens of young people who are low-priority and by the directive's criteria should be able to stay.

The UndocuBus is being billed as a modern-day version of the Freedom Rides, in which African Americans and whites rode buses from the North into the South where segregation and Jim Crow laws were enforced with violence, too often deadly violence. The "undocubus" riders won't have to face the risk of bodily harm - something that became a reality for the young Freedom Riders of the '60s. The Freedom Riders were most brutally attacked in Alabama but they got their first beatings during their first stop in South Carolina in our neighbor city of Rock Hill. Civil rights activist John Lewis, now a U.S. congressman, and another black man stepped off the bus at Rock Hill, they were beaten by a white mob that was uncontrolled by police. The event drew national attention.

We've progressed in this country since that time and hopefully no violence will meet the UndocuBus riders. But the threat of being detained - and maybe even deported - still exists despite Obama's directive. So this is no small symbolic thing.

The New York Times in a Sunday editorial echoes the feelings of many: "Their civil disobedience should not have been necessary. Hopes for [immigration] reform were high in 2006, a year of huge, peaceful pro-immigrant marches in cities across the country, after which Congress entertained comprehensive reform that had strong bipartisan support. But Republicans killed the bill, and the years of inaction that followed crushed immigrants’ hopes while reinforcing the broken status quo — to the benefit of border vigilantes, the private-prison industry, the engorged homeland security apparatus and hard-right ideologues who started planting neo-nativist laws in legislatures across the land, starting in Arizona."

Others of course echo the sentiments of Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio who has demonized undocumented immigrants and has engaged in aggressive racial profiling to find them and get them deported. The racial profiling and discriminatory practices have put him in a courtroom this week defending himself against federal charges.

The New York Times has an online debate today about whether the UndocuBus is a good idea. What do you think?

Most people, no matter how they feel about undocumented immigrants, agree that the country's immigration system is badly broken. Congress needs to stop procrastinating and do something about it. Maybe the UndocuBus can open more eyes about what's at stake.

Fannie Flono


WashuOtaku said...

I say we treat each illegal immigrant like they would be treated from their home country.

Oh wait, they treat illegals typically worse than we do.

David Logan said...

hmmm , methinks ... American Republicans , at least since the 1980s , flashback , and then , the Spanish Inquisition (preferably re-enacted by Monty Python) ... do the math , people !

Wolfy Wolf said...

A bus full of illegal INVADERS who are here in this country in clear violation of US law... Hmmmm... I say they just take them to the border and drop them off!!!! Only a liberal would think this is unfair!

annnort said...

I can not imagine being in any country in the world and blatantly disregard the law as these people are doing. They would not be deported, they would sit in jail for years. That illegals would do this proves that someone is not upholding his/her oath to uphold the laws of the USA. Those people who refuse to uphold the law should be jailed, also. This is a daring stunt and it should not go unpunished.

Anonymous said...

It's a law enforcement officer's dream to have a bus full of criminals drive themselves to a convention! Don't even let them off the bus. Give them a choice of beginning the citizenship process or being deported.