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Letters to the editor

October 3, 2003 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
Another world is possible
Treated like cannon fodder
Pay attention to labor dissidents
Don't let Clinton off the hook

Victims of a witch-hunt

Dear Socialist Worker,
John Ashcroft's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been very busy with its anti-immigrant witch-hunt in Rhode Island. Faraj Boutros, a Syrian-born pizza shop owner in southern Rhode Island is under a deportation order for entering the U.S. in 1984 with a faked passport. Boutros' wife and children are Lebanese citizens, and all were fleeing the civil war that raged in Lebanon in the 1980s. Boutros applied for political asylum in 1991, but was turned down due to bad legal advice.

Danny Sigui, an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, was the star witness in a murder trial in June. Two days after doing what he thought was his civic duty, the ICE sent Sigui a deportation notice, which has now been stayed until September 30. Though Sigui has been incarcerated for more than two months now, his lawyers have been unable to access any of his immigration records.

Amer Jubran, a Palestinian activist, was arrested by the ICE in November 2002 and charged with using a "fraudulent marriage" to a Puerto Rican woman to enter the U.S. Jubran is a prominent activist in the struggle against Israel's apartheid, the U.S. war in Iraq, and Ashcroft's witch-hunt of immigrants--and the case against him clearly had political motivation.

After his arrest, the ICE and the FBI questioned the family of his ex-wife, including a 10-hour interrogation of his ex-wife's sister. They tried to coerce the family into testifying against him, telling them that he could have some connection to the September 11 attacks.

When the case went to trial in July, the charge of fraud was thrown out by the judge, but the prosecution is still pursuing the case--because under new immigration laws, Jubran has to prove why he should still be allowed to stay in the U.S., even though there are no remaining charges against him.

In other words, he is guilty until proven innocent. According to local activists, there have also been many raids on immigrants that have gone unreported. While many of the deportees still have family here, their families have been afraid to speak out for fear that they may be next. We need to build a movement to stop the scapegoating of immigrants, and to stand up to Ashcroft's attempt to destroy all our civil liberties!

Brian Chidester, Providence, R.I.

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Another world is possible

Dear Socialist Worker,
On Saturday, September 13, roughly 250 demonstrators gathered at Larsen Field in San Ysidro, Calif., in solidarity with demonstrators in Cancún, Mexico, protesting the meeting of the World Trade Organization. Protesters marched to the U.S.-Mexico border at noon, escorted by a heavy police presence, decked out in full riot gear.

Solidarity chants energetically called for a world without borders and an end to the fatal exploitation of the working people of all lands. The protest's proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border powerfully drew the connection between the economic and militarized wings of globalization.

With the towering 15-foot high steel fence along the border and the beginnings of construction of a third fence in sight, the violence of an immigration policy designed to militarily control the supply of cheap wage labor and fragment worker solidarity across state-imposed borders could never be clearer.

Michael Cardenas, an activist from the San Diego Independent Media Center, reflected that "as capitalism continues on its natural course, we will see more militarized cities and borders designed to keep people out as they are economically destroyed."

The more attention that is given to the profound connection between globalization, militarization and immigration policies in the activist community, added Cardenas, the more likely antiwar energies will expand into a revitalized, powerful anti-globalization movement.

Several left and activist groups participated in the event, including ANSWER, the First Amendment Center, the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, the San Diego Independent Media Center, Revolution Summer, Earth First, Food First and the International Socialist Organization. The protest was peaceful in spite of the significant police presence and concluded with festivities and a concert.

Katie Jacquet, San Diego

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Treated like cannon fodder

Dear Socialist Worker,
At a recent anti-Bush protest in Bellevue, Wash., I met a medic in the U.S. Army who came because he is opposed to the administration's occupation of Iraq. He said of the U.S. military: "Their technology is superior, but their moral ethic is inferior."

According to this soldier, the first U.S. war against Iraq was "the most inadequate show of military intelligence and capability in world history. Troops were sent into urban combat situations they'd never been trained for. Communications and lower-echelon support were non-existent. "

When he served in Iraq in 1991, he found the conditions for soldiers deplorable, from the extreme heat of the day, to the extreme cold at night. Soldiers suffered from dehydration, heat stroke, ticks, chiggers, and scorpion bites. Troops also didn't have the proper supplies.

If people want to "support the troops," he said, "They should treat us like humans, not cannon fodder." He also stated, "In the military, you're nothing but a number until you make rank--and even then you're expendable."

He says that he stays in the military so that he can change it from the inside. "When young GIs get excited about shooting off some rounds, I tell them, 'Don't tell me warfare is fun.' And I have them read some memoirs from Vietnam...Am I risking my life for George Bush and his oil? No, I'm risking my life for these young kids that don't know any better. I want to fix them up and send them home where they belong."

Maryanne Zarrella, Seattle

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Pay attention to labor dissidents

Dear Socialist Worker,
I was astounded to see no report in your pages of the numerous protest actions at the AFL-CIO's August Executive Council Meeting in Chicago. Since the ISO is headquartered in Chicago, I fully expected first-person reports in your pages of actions both in the streets and inside the Drake Hotel, of rank-and-file activists protesting the undemocratic way in which the AFL-CIO operates. Free Speech Radio and Indymedia both had reports.

One notable incident was the forcible ejection of 89-year-old dissident labor activist Harry Kelber by an AFL-CIO goon squad, as a "security risk" for his decades of challenging the AFL-CIO's clandestine elite.

Your coverage of labor dissidence, by which I mean the widespread struggle of rank and filers for democracy within their own unions, is sorely lacking. While you occasionally hint at this crucial problem inside unions, you could be doing a much better job.

You did cover Gary McClain's story back in 2001, for instance, but you have yet to follow up. McClain, who was institutionalized briefly by his employer for trying to organize a union, remains unemployed, his case buried by the AFL-CIO leadership.

The question needs to be asked of labor elites: Is this the kind of support that will encourage other workers to join a union? At your Socialism summer conference, I have witnessed heartrending reports from the most inspiring dissident labor activists like Billy Robinson and the Accuride workers from Henderson, Ky., and many in the audience.

Working people need good leftist critiquing of union bureaucracy and elitism to counter right-wing anti-union screeds, and to better understand how to take their unions back from the bureaucratic elite that currently run most of them.

Janice Rothstein, San Francisco

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Don't let Clinton off the hook

Dear Socialist Worker,
A recent letter (SW, September 19) credited Bill Clinton with, among other things, doing a great job as far as "race relations" in the U.S. That isn't the Bill Clinton I remember.

Clinton presided over the greatest incarceration boom in the nation's history, which disprortionately affected African-Americans. This was thanks to Clinton-supported legislation like the Omnibus Crime Bill and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

In fact, by the end of his term, the U.S. imprisoned a greater percentage of its Black population that did apartheid South Africa. We'll do a lot better by organizing and fighting back, than by supporting people like Clinton and the Democrats.

Stuart Easterling, Pittsburgh

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