By Larry Jones

Outgoing homeland security director Michael Chertoff told the New York Times on January 7 that plans have been made for a massive U.S. military surge at the U.S.-Mexico border and he informed his putative successor Janet Napolitano that he “put helping Mexico get control of its borders” at the top of his list of national security concerns.
“We completed a contingency plan for border violence, so if we did get a significant spillover, we have a surge — if I may use that word — capability to bring in not only our own assets but even to work with” the Defense Department, Chertoff said in a telephone interview.

The “spillover” Chertoff refers to is a possible overflow of the violent Mexican drug wars. But while the horrors of the Mexican drug wars are a dangerous reality, such a military force could also be easily used against Mexicans and others seeking to enter the U.S. to find a job to support their families. 

It is significant that former U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey contends that millions of people from Mexico may overrun the border attempting to cross if security conditions worsen and lead to a governmental collapse in that country. "A failure by the Mexican political system to curtail lawlessness and violence could result (in) a surge of millions of refugees crossing the U.S. border to escape the domestic misery of violence, failed economic policy, poverty, hunger, joblessness, and the mindless cruelty and injustice of a criminal state," said McCaffrey. 
McCaffrey also suggested that president elect Barack Obama "immediately focus on the dangerous and worsening problems in Mexico, which fundamentally threaten U.S. national security." Such focus certainly did not appear to be the case on January 12 when Obama met with the conservative Mexican president Felipe Calderon who of course would not hint of the possibility of a government collapse. Calderon reiterated the theme that cooperation was necessary between Mexico and the U.S. in the fight against drug cartels and regarding mutual security. "It will be the beginning of an extraordinary age in the relationship between the United States and Mexico," he said.
The right-wing Calderon has been close to George Bush, who successfully urged Congress to pass a $1.4-billion package of security aid, known as the Merida Initiative, to give Mexico aircraft, high-tech scanning gear, safety equipment and training. Both sides of the border are being militarized, with American made weapons. Escalating conflict among Mexican drug gangs – who often have links and alliances with various sections of federal, state, and local police and military in Mexico - and a deepening spiral of crisis and lack of confidence in the Mexican government among very wide sections of the Mexican people, have contributed to an already explosive situation in Mexico. Millions of people in Mexico are experiencing an excruciating economic crisis in that country, and despite the severe drop in employment in this country and a harsh climate of anti-immigrant hatred fostered by all levels of government and the media, many people continue to be forced to make desperate efforts to come to this country for the “privilege” of working menial jobs. These impoverished people desperate for work, not the “drug lords”, are the ones who are mainly the targets of the border militarization.
Whether Obama will go along with all this killer hardware at the border remains to be seen, but it is revealing to note a report by human rights reporter Brenda Norrell that “[a]mong Obama's top supporters and a member of his team of financial advisors is James Crown, a member of the board of General Dynamics. General Dynamics has a long history of buying and selling weapons, including selling to Elbit Systems. . . which produces unmanned aerial vehicles, which can spy and kill, operated by remote personnel using computers.
“On the Southwest border, Elbit supplies unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), based at Fort Huachuca, to the US Border Patrol. Elbit, through a subcontract with Boeing, provided spy technology for the spy towers on the US/Mexico border. Elbit provided spy technology for both the Apartheid border wall in Israel/Palestine and the border wall on the US/Mexico border.” 
Calderon has sharply criticized U.S. immigration policies, especially the building of a 700 mile long wall between the two neighbors and the mistreatment of Mexican undocumented workers. He disagrees with Obama on renegotiating the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Both believe, however, that NAFTA is good for both countries. But is it actually good for average Mexicans or only Mexican businesses?
What has happened since NAFTA went into effect in 1994 under the Clinton administration is that heavily subsidized U.S. corn, for example, is dumped onto the Mexican market at prices lower than local farmers can sell their product. Some two million Mexican farmers have been forced off their land and those remaining often live in deep poverty. Many of the women have moved to the northern border to work in the Maquiladoras, sweatshop factories with ultra-low wages and miserable working conditions. Such factories have proved profitable for American businesses, but have greatly degraded the lives of many Mexican women.
Mexican scholar Celina Martinez in her monograph about the desperate illegal conditions in the Maquiladoras has written poignantly about life on each side of the border. “I have grown up with the children of maquiladora owners, who attend elite private schools, who delightfully enjoy their multiple homes on both sides of the river, and who bask in all their acquired possessions without any worries.  And I have also seen the employees in Mexico, the hard, sad looks on their faces, the abysmal homes that they live in, and the need for their children to work on the streets to try to make ends meet.” 
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary designate Timothy Geithner is creating a bump in the Obama road because of tax problems and having a housekeeper who for several months was not in the U.S. legally. That, however, is being brushed off as a mere technicality which should not be a problem for Geithner’s senate approval. But when it comes to thousands of immigrants who are deported on technicalities, it is a far different story.
A Columbian immigrant whom his lawyers simply call Jose came here seeking asylum after refusing to pay “protection” money to one of the roving militia groups who had just killed his neighbor. Because of confusion about a hearing date, Jose’s asylum application was thrown out. If he is sent back to Columbia, he will certainly be killed.
Many other immigrants cannot defend themselves in court after being arrested because of the government’s use of classified evidence which is not shared with the person facing deportation. This “makes it possible for an individual with extensive family and community ties in the United States to be deported on the testimony of unnamed informants whose charges are taken as fact and cannot be challenged,” according to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Such unconstitutional procedures by the government only exacerbate the enormous problems created by the massive raids being carried out by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch of Homeland Security (ICE). During a raid in 2007 in the San Francisco Bay Area, Kebin Reyes, a then 6-year-old U.S. citizen, was detained for 10 hours in an ICE field office after his home was raided by ICE. Such raids have been on the increase in the last year of the Bush regime.
The largest workplace raid in U.S. history last May at Agriprocessors Inc., the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse resulted in the arrest of more than 380 people on suspicion of document fraud and criminal activity. The raid by ICE and 16 local, state and federal agencies took place as police helicopters circled overhead. The raid cost $5.2 million, or about $14,000 per immigrant. Added to that was the millions more to have the prosecutions take place in criminal rather than immigration court. 
About a thousand people gathered in Postville where the raid took place, many arriving by bus from the Twin Cities and Chicago. They circled the streets on a route about a mile long. Some clutched banners and signs such as one that read, "United for immigrant and worker rights."
Rabbi Harold Kravitz of the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka, Minnesota, spoke when the rally paused near the driveway of Agriprocessors, on the outskirts of town. Shouting into a portable microphone, he said the protesters wanted to stop the criminalization of people who come to the U.S. simply to make a living.
The raid has come under fire from immigration reform groups as well as lawmakers who objected to group prosecutions that they say violated due process and who criticized the decision to disproportionately go after workers instead of employers.
"This looks and feels like a cattle auction, not a criminal prosecution in the United States," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a former immigration lawyer and chair of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, which held a five-hour hearing Thursday on the Postville raid. 
Will Obama continue the xenophobic policies of the Bush regime? He has called for immigration reform but how that will materialize is an open question. In his book Audacity of Hope, Obama wrote: “And, if I'm honest with myself, I must admit that I'm not entirely immune to such nativist sentiments. When I see Mexican flags waved at pro-immigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I'm forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.   (p. 266) 
This is just one more piece of evidence that Obama, as all presidents have, sees the world through an AMERICA FIRST lens. We must continue to raise the slogan: STOP THINKING ABOUT AMERICA AND START THINKING ABOUT HUMANITY. We, too, must think that way and not get caught up in the widespread USA No. 1 craze.

With immigrants, whether documented or not, we say “We Are All Illegals,” Todos Somos Illegales.”



World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.