By Juan Santos
Everyone will have to register their nationality with the government. No one will be exempt. People of certain nationalities will be targeted for removal. Those who look like they might be from those nations will be marked as suspects, constantly subject to harassment, official and unofficial.
Certain people, based on their nationality, will not be allowed to work. They will not be allowed to live in this place. They will be denied access to hospitals, to doctors. They will not be allowed to purchase medicine or food. Their children will be driven from the schools.
Every store clerk will become a race cop, compelled by law to check the papers of every customer they find ‘suspect.’ Everyone who isn’t white will be challenged at the point of sale for any commodity they might need or want. The official language will be English: only. Those who try to shelter, clothe, feed, or give gainful employment or medical assistance to the targeted population will be punished.
According to the LA Times, when the law passed, white citizens burst into applause. The Times reported the reaction of one white woman to the news: "The only ones who are against it are the Hispanics," she said, "and that's because it's against them."
This isn’t South Africa under Apartheid; it’s not the Deep South under Jim Crow. It’s not Nazi Germany, or 1984 - It’s Hazleton Pennsylvania, USA, population 31,000. The year is 2006 in the Common Era: 514 years since the white invasion of the Americas.
Let’s make one thing clear; none of this is about ‘illegal immigration.’ It’s not even about immigration. Before it passed, Anna Arias spoke at the Hazelton council meeting against the ordinance, warning that its approval would make Hazleton "the first Nazi city in the country." When she asked the crowd if they would deport the children of undocumented workers - utterly ‘legal’ US citizens - the crowd shouted ‘Yes!’
There’s only one thing the ‘immigration debate’ is about: It’s about white nationalism.
The law recently passed by the Hazelton City Council in a 4-1 vote wasn’t the brain child of anyone in Hazleton. It’s a copycat measure based on a design by a xenophobe from San Bernardino, California by the name of Joe Turner.
Turner, age 27, is an angry young white man with a sneering manner who heads up a group of Minutemen-style thugs called Save Our State (SOS.) He was the author of the original Hazleton-style measure, one that recently failed to get on the ballot in his home town.
Turner’s group has appeared publicly with members of the neo-Nazi organization Stormfront in tow; he says California is being turned into a ‘Third World Cesspool’ by migrants, that Mexican culture is ‘inferior’ to white European culture and that being a white nationalist ‘doesn’t make you a racist.’
"Americans," Turner says, "are tired of watching their great American culture disappear, only to watch it be replaced by other cultures that are inferior and contradictory to everything this country was built upon."
Turner says, "Gone are the days when we allowed our opponents to define the terminology of the debate." In an SOS email thread entitled "Racism Redefined," SOS members show what he means:
One writes: "I say: "Racist and proud of it" when they hurl their slime at me."
Everyone who hates migrants and wants them gone or under lockdown denies their feelings in the matter have anything to do with race ‘ even Turner, when he’s pressed.
That goes for Hazleton mayor Louis Barletta as well; having copied the persecutorial legislation advanced by Turner, he denies being "racist, intolerant and unfair," claiming that "illegal is illegal" and that the Hazleton ordinance doesn’t "target any particular race."
But demographic trends show that the nation as a whole will be half peoples of color by 2050, a fact that causes no small unease among white cultural conservatives across the country, especially in the ‘Red States’ which are largely white, and whose populations have recently shifted in both culture and color.
Barletta is no exception. The very presence of non-white people disturbs him. "There's no place for me to hide in a small city," he said, according to the Times."I get it in the grocery store, I get it at the lunch counter, when I get my morning coffee, when I'm pumping gas.
"People are begging me, because we are losing the one asset that this city has to offer - our quality of life."
That’s the same complaint Joe Turner and overt white nationalist groups raise when they say US cities are turning into ‘Third World Cesspools.’
"It's about time," said Francis X. Tucci, a white business owner and lifelong resident of Hazleton. "We were a nice community," she added. Now the ‘nice’ community is 30% Brown. One anti-migrant commentator wrote that the new law would frighten migrants. "The only people it will scare Christian," he wrote, "are those here illegally and they should be scared."
"The city's population has shot from 5% Hispanic to 30% Hispanic in only 6 years," he wrote. "While not all are illegal aliens, there is suspicion that a large majority are."
Hazleton will hunt down its suspects through every ‘legal’ means, using police, health and code officers. "It could be a routine traffic stop or a code violation," Barletta said. ‘When we do come across someone here illegally, we will find their place of employment if there is one and where they live. We would be the first city that would be going after businesses where they work and the place where they sleep."
In a Freudian slip, he added "The illegal citizens, I would recommend they leave."
The Hazleton Illegal Immigration Relief Act forces anyone seeking to rent a dwelling in the city to apply to the city for a residency license and to submit to an investigation of their citizenship status.
Landlords who rent to people without a residency license will be fined $1,000 for each undocumented tenant on their premises and $100 per day the renter remains there without a permit.
Business owners who hire, rent property to, or provide either goods or services to migrants will lose their business permit for five years on a first offense and 10 years on a second, and find themselves ineligible for city contracts.
Barletta cites crime and economic stressors as among the principal reasons for targeting the brown population of the city. But the reality is that migrants have been an immense boon to the Hazleton economy, creating 60 new businesses and markedly boosting the value of real estate. Only a year ago Barletta was bragging that the economy was going through an unprecedented boom, due to migration. Today he says, "Illegal aliens are a drain on our resources, and they are not welcome here.’
In the meantime total arrests are down and violent crimes of all descriptions are down since the influx of Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans began, while, predictably in any community of color, drug related arrests are up.
Barletta says, "We are arresting illegal individuals much more often than we ever have." He doesn’t specify if the arrests are proportional to the population growth in the community, whether there is a differential in the rate of arrests for brown and white people, nor what role racial profiling might play in arrest figures.
Barletta admits the figures don’t back him up. But that’s not the point. The point is that the stereotypes about ‘crime’ and ‘poverty’ are so widespread and deeply entrenched that, even when unequivocally contradicted by hard data, they can be used to stir up a fear driven racist backlash against communities of color - and that is just what Barletta has done.
He knows what his white constituents want.
The white people of Hazleton want to be separate, apart: That’s what Apartheid means. It’s Afrikaans for "Separateness.’ Under international law, Apartheid is a Crime Against Humanity.
The 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid defines the following acts as criminal:
Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognised trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association’
No one in Hazleton will ever be tried - much less convicted - under the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. The US is one of a handful of nations that - through Democrat and Republican administrations alike - has refused to sign the treaty.
Besides, official white Amerika will never admit that the Chicana and Mexicana people, for example, are one people: inseparable; they will never admit that to attack one segment of the community is to attack the whole; they will never admit that Chicanas, Mexicanas and Native Americans are a single group of indigenous descent, an ethnic and racial group that is being singled out for attack.
A Hazleton ophthalmologist - a Puerto Rican - said, "We are family. If you insult part of the family, you insult the whole family."
Official Amerika will never admit that the matter of ‘national origin’ and ‘immigration status’ is little more than a thin excuse for ethnic suppression and ethnic cleansing.
A passage from Ellen Barry’s report on Hazleton in the LA Times makes the point:
‘White people feel free to speak openly about their annoyance with immigrants," said Jessica Cruz, who waits tables in two local diners.
‘Cruz sputtered with anger recalling a recent day when she greeted three friends in Spanish, and a customer looked up from his seat, pointed his finger at her and told her to speak English. Another customer looked into the kitchen and said he couldn't wait until Immigration came to take away the Mexicans.’
Faced with a trio of oppressions ‘ Apartheid style banishment, deportation and racial profiling, brown people are already leaving Hazleton. ‘They feel like this is racism,’ said the publisher of El Mensajero ‘ the community’s newspaper.
They may have no place to go.
What awaits them is a nation poised to give birth to a new Jim Crow, poised at the edge of fascism; a Congress that wants to deport millions and a string of localities poised to make the nation a patchwork of little Nurembergs, like the place where the Nazi laws on citizenship and race were forged in 1935.
It has come this far. The national movement for migrant’s rights must act now and bring all its resources to bear to wipe the Hazleton law clean from the slate.
While there’s still time.
Juan Santos is a writer in Los Angeles.