- Published on Tuesday, 14 August 2012 02:01
The struggle of the undocumented immigrants under the U.S. regime and of the Palestinians under the Israeli regime converge to reveal a harsh and clear reality: the empire is leading an offensive against the marginalized peoples, using the judicial tactic of criminalization and incarceration, and even slavery, to sustain the corporate industry and to maintain the hegemony of the Anglo-capitalist regime.
Each year, more than 300,000 men, women and children are detained by immigration authorities in the United States. They can last from weeks to several years in prison without trial. The number of immigrants detained and deported more than quadrupled since 1996. The Obama administration is guilty of deporting more than a million immigrants in only a few years. Here, then, is where inhumane capitalism jumps in since the federal prisons are no longer sufficient to incarcerate human beings -the majority blacks and Latinos-, opening a vast field for private corporations.
The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) manages more than 60 facilities with a capacity for 90,000 beds. As if it were not enough to incarcerate thousands of innocents for profit, the CCA also exploits them: 90% of CCA employees are detained immigrants that work for $1 dollar a day. The contradictions of the system are unbelievable: these immigrants can work as slaves inside the prisons while in the outside, their work, which provides for their families, becomes a criminal act.
And so the American society is witnessing a prisons and prisoners 'boom', a malevolent cycle in which the law itself supplies the 'clients' and the cheap labor for corporations.
In Palestine/Israel, even though Israeli prisons are not private, they are an important branch of an occupation that is financed and sustained by the private sector. Today, more than 4,400 prisoners are isolated in Israeli prisons. 167 are between the ages of 16 and 18, according to Prisoner´s Society. Many of them are unjustly imprisoned, the majority for the mere fact of being Palestinians and not having the right paper to work in their own land; others, for having been part of the resistance movements during the intifadas and are considered a threat to Israel; and hundreds more are deprived the right to a fair court process and denied the right to have a lawyer if they are under 'administrative detention', method that the United States also uses in its war against terrorism.
Something similar happens with the immigrants detainees in the United States as those who have a criminal record are placed under 'mandatory detention' which denies them the opportunity for a judge to challenge deportation orders. The big majority, nevertheless, are innocent people without criminal backgrounds, many of them having lived in the United States since childhood, but are incarcerated for not having the right papers. Little matters here if they are children, youth, or mothers or fathers.
Solidarity in the struggle- hunger strikes
As there are convergences in the lived realities under the imperial hegemonic system, there are convergences of resistance, struggle, and collective wisdom with strategies and concrete acts that transform their condition of victims to one of peacemakers and spokesmen and spokeswomen for justice. In these contexts of imprisonment, hunger strikes emerge as a powerful weapon to unmask the cannibalistic nature of the capitalist empire, and with its face naked, to challenge the gross actions it commits against a suffering people.
Palestinian prisoners are prophets in this unjust world. More than 2,000 prisoners united for a massive hunger strike in April and May of this year, a strike considered a victory as the number of people in administrative detention decreased from 350 to 250. Several prisoners have achieved their freedom using this method, and others have been able to have more fair processes in the court. More importantly, the cause has been made visible to the entire world.
Those detained in the United States are beginning to employ this method to expose the injustice, as is the struggle of Claudio Rojas, an Argentinean father who has been on hunger strike for more than 70 days. The U.S. anti-immigrant regime separated him from his family 6 months ago, and he is now facing a deportation order. Nevertheless, Claudio refuses to be deported and is sacrificing his life to demand his right to reunite with his family in the United States. In solidarity with Claudio, around 600 immigrant detainees at the Broward Detention Center in Florida joined the hunger strike.
The struggle for the rights of immigrant detainees is been led by the undocumented youth in the United States who-- empowered by the current law of 'deferred action' which, though not a path to citizenship, protects the youth who have been in the country for more than 5 years and who have no criminal record from being detained or deported--, engage in voluntary detention in order to infiltrate the correctional facilities and to find those youth who are eligible to be protected under this new law but who still remain in detention. This tactic is used to publicly expose that, contrary to Obama's promises, there are innocent youth who do not pose any risk to the American state and are growing old inside the prisons.
These realities and struggles of the immigrants in the United States and of the Palestinians open up a path to create cross-cultural coalitions of solidarity. Activists, leaders, and civil society throughout the regions violated by the capitalist system world wide can exchange their ideas, strategies, their experiences and hopes so that the peoples unite for the construction of peace and to unmask the crimes committed by the so-called "lawful" states of this world.