Hobby Lobby

The decision, written by Justice Alito, is beyond disturbing. It essentially grants for-profit corporations a free pass not to follow laws by invoking their “religious rights” under RFRA. While Alito and his buddies said their ruling was narrow, nothing could … Continue reading

The decision, written by Justice Alito, is beyond disturbing. It essentially grants for-profit corporations a free pass not to follow laws by invoking their “religious rights” under RFRA.

While Alito and his buddies said their ruling was narrow, nothing could be further from the truth. The door is now wide open for corporations to run to court saying they can discriminate in a variety of ways.

Some key points about Hobby Lobby:

As Justice Ginsberg noted in her dissent, “‘Closely held’ is not synonymous with ‘small.’” America’s five largest “closely held” corporations alone employ more than 436,000 people — one of those companies being the $115 billion, 60,000-employee Koch Industries. And the Washington Post reported that, according to a 2000 study, “closely held” is a term that covers as much as 90 percent (or more) of all businesses, and studies from Columbia University and New York University showed that closely held corporations employed 52 percent of the American workforce.
The duplicitousness of pretending that limiting the ruling to “closely held” corporations really limits it substantially in scope goes beyond just the size and number of “closely held” corporations. In providing no actual reasoning as to why only “closely held” corporations would be afforded religious rights under RFRA, Justice Alito’s Hobby Lobby decision certainly could pave the way for all corporations — even publicly traded ones — to claim these rights.
Many on the Religious Right are already asserting employers’ right to discriminate against LGBT people. While Hobby Lobby states that employers cannot claim religious objections in order to discriminate based on race, it says nothing about sex or sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court ponders the contraceptive mandate

ON March 25th the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare”, was back before the Supreme Court. Two years ago the justices upheld most of the law. This week they heard oral arguments in Sebelius v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v Sebelius. These two consolidated cases concern Obamacare’s “contraceptive mandate”—the requirement that businesses offering their employees health insurance must provide plans that cover all federally-approved contraception methods at no extra cost to their employees.

The legal merits of these cases revolve around the concept of  Corporate personhood


Corporations are NOT people. While it is true that what guides them is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the two basic rules:

  1. Maximize profit
  2. Do whatever is necessary to continue the business.

(Rule number 1 should be modified when it conflicts with rule 2)

It is a slippery road to give personal rights to corporations. The corporation is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms. What’s worse, this “sociopathic” entity is given the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities. A corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence–which it uses freely to reach its goals.

To give a concrete example of the dangers of giving too much power to corporations to allow corporations to participate directly on political campaigns is a very serious threat to democracy.

Campaign finance law in the United States changed drastically in the wake of two 2010 judicial opinions: the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in SpeechNow.org v. FEC.[42] According to a 2011 Congressional Research Service report, these two decisions constitute “the most fundamental changes to campaign finance law in decades.” [43]

Citizens United struck down, on free speech grounds, the limits on the ability of organizations that accepted corporate or union money from running electioneering communications. The Court reasoned that the restrictions permitted by Buckley were justified based on avoiding corruption or the appearance of corruption, and that this rationale did not apply to corporate donations to independent organizations. Citizens United overruled the 1990 case Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, in which the Supreme Court upheld the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, which prohibited corporations from using treasury money to support or oppose candidates in elections.

Two months later, a unanimous nine-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided SpeechNow, which relied on Citizens United to hold that Congress could not limit donations to organizations that only made independent expenditures, that is, expenditures that were “uncoordinated” with a candidate’s campaign. These decisions led to the rise of “independent-expenditure only” PACs, commonly known as “Super PACs.” Super PACs, under Citizens United and SpeechNow, can raise unlimited funds from individual and corporate donors and use those funds for electioneering advertisements, provided that the Super PAC does not coordinate with a candidate.

One should not confuse the individuals working within a corporation with the corporation proper. To elaborate and clarify the point of freedom of speech and corporations let’s consider the case of Media corporations, those whose actual activity revolves around disseminating information and opinion. While journalist, writers, news anchors, and the like have 1st amendment rights, the corporations that they work for do not. This might be a subtle point but it is crucial. When corporations do have positions on some issues, and they always have an agenda, this is NOT freedom of speech, it is censorship. This censorship is exercised trough the firing or ostracizing of staff or source that go astray of the corporate line. Thus, to give corporations freedom of speech rights is actually antithetical of the spirit of the first amendment.

Corporations as such do not have national loyalties. Just as an example, Standard Oil supplied the German government during WW II as Coca Cola did.

The Standard Oil group of companies, in which the Rockefeller family owned a one-quarter (and controlling) interest,1 was of critical assistance in helping Nazi Germany prepare for World War II. This assistance in military preparation came about because Germany’s relatively insignificant supplies of crude petroleum were quite insufficient for modern mechanized warfare; in 1934 for instance about 85 percent of German finished petroleum products were imported. The solution adopted by Nazi Germany was to manufacture synthetic gasoline from its plentiful domestic coal supplies. It was the hydrogenation process of producing synthetic gasoline and iso-octane properties in gasoline that enabled Germany to go to war in 1940 — and this hydrogenation process was developed and financed by the Standard Oil laboratories in the United States in partnership with I.G. Farben.

Evidence presented to the Truman, Bone, and Kilgore Committees after World War II confirmed that Standard Oil had at the same time “seriously imperiled the war preparations of the United States.”2Documentary evidence was presented to all three Congressional committees that before World War II Standard Oil had agreed with I.G. Farben, in the so-called Jasco agreement, that synthetic rubber was within Farben’s sphere of influence, while Standard Oil was to have an absolute monopoly in the U.S. only if and when Farben allowed development of synthetic rubber to take place in the U.S.

Fanta is a global brand of fruit-flavored carbonated soft drinks created by The Coca-Cola Company. There are over 100 flavors worldwide. The drink originated in Germany in 1941.

Fanta originated as a result of difficulties importing Coca-Cola syrup into Nazi Germany during World War II due to a trade embargo.[2] To circumvent this, Max Keith, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland (Coca-Cola GmbH) during the Second World War, decided to create a new product for the German market, using only ingredients available in Germany at the time, including whey and pomace – the “leftovers of leftovers”, as Keith later recalled.[2][3] The name was the result of a brief brainstorming session, which started with Keith exhorting his team to “use their imagination” (“Fantasie” in German), to which one of his salesmen, Joe Knipp, immediately retorted “Fanta!”[3]

While the plant was effectively cut off from Coca Cola headquarters during the war, plant management did not join the Nazi Party. After the war, the Coca Cola corporation regained control of the plant, formula and the trademarks to the new Fanta product — as well as the plant profits made during the war

The U.S. Federal tax system also helps corporations operate in this amoral way by allowing them to deduct from their profits, with some limitations, the cost of public relations campaigns to cover for the damage they cause, the compensation to victims, the cleanup operations, the cost of legal defense, legal damage awards, and the cost of lobbying to change the laws in their favor or gain exemptions from the law. In other words, if they are caught, corporations pay the costs of their destructive, illegal activities with tax-free money. (Tax free for one corporation = somebody else pays more taxes.)

In their current form, corporations are the most dangerous things on earth–because they threaten the survival of humankind and the entire planetary ecosystem.

Birth control does not mean abortion I am not in favor of abortion but I am against using this kind of complicated issues for political ends. How do one balance in black and white gun ownership and the statement that murder is wrong? In the same way that gun advocates justify killing a human being outside the womb (to themselves) by redefining murder according to the circumstances, others justify killing a human being inside the womb (to themselves) by redefining abortion according to the circumstances.

Tea Party types do believe that killing is proper under some conditions and are against governments interfering with the freedoms of people, so why be in favor of government regulations of any kind? Criminalizing behaviors is not a solution for social problems.

Republican Jodie Laubenberg, who co-authored Texas strict anti-abortion laws in 2013, (because she says she believes that “life begins at conception”) also opposed healthcare for newly developing fetuses. Laubenberg testified that the unborn should not be entitled to health care, because “they aren’t born yet.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) the single most important factor for a healthy pregnancy is a healthy mother. This means that every woman who is of child-bearing age should have regular health screenings, as well as access to services and medications which can help diagnose, prevent, treat or cure chronic or temporary health conditions.

According to the CDC (the only agency in the United States that has the ability to monitor and track abortion rates) in 2009 there were 15.1 abortions for every 1,000 live births. Of those abortion 91.7 percent were performed earlier than 13th week of pregnancy, and of those the majority, almost 70 percent, were performed prior to the 8th week of pregnancy. Additionally, statistics show that many of the abortions that occur later in pregnancy are performed for medical reasons.

In this highly informative article published on Patheos.com, the author explains the many reasons she lost faith in the right wing’s pro-life movement.

“Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds.”

There’s a circus of political shows with no other end that entertain and distract. Like for example that speech of a democrat meant to be an attack on Republican policies when Reagan had just passed an immigration amnesty, and now it is used for opposite purposes. Life is not as simple as good conservatives on the shadow of God against evil liberal lefties doing the devil’s work.


hate begets hate

7 august 2014

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Israel is drunk with power. Elated by its ability to get away with war crimes. American teenagers fighting on the Israeli army making reference to the Wild West by quoting that the good Arab is the dead Arab.

When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.

He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.

If that was not clear enough, the words «Fuck Hamas» had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. «Burn Gaza down» and «Good Arab = dead Arab» were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.

At the same time European Jews are wondering why there is a resurgence of anti-jewish sentiment and blame it on the bad hearts of their neighbors. In the space of just one week last month, according to Crif, the umbrella group for France’s Jewish organisations, eight synagogues were attacked. One, in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, was firebombed by a 400-strong mob. A kosher supermarket and pharmacy were smashed and looted; the crowd’s chants and banners included «Death to Jews» and «Slit Jews’ throats». That same weekend, in the Barbes neighbourhood of the capital, stone-throwing protesters burned Israeli flags: «Israhell», read one banner.

Roger Cukierman, president of France’s Crif, said French Jews were «anguished» about an anti-Jewish backlash that goes far beyond even strongly felt political and humanitarian opposition to the current fighting: «They are not screaming ‘Death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris,» Cukierman said last month. «They are screaming ‘Death to Jews’.» Crif’s vice-president Yonathan Arfi said he «utterly rejected» the view that the latest increase in antisemitic incidents was down to events in Gaza. «They have laid bare something far more profound,» he said. In other words, he refuses to take responsibility for Israeli actions.

The Netherlands’ main antisemitism watchdog, Cidi, had more than 70 calls from alarmed Jewish citizens in one week last month; the average is normally three to five. An Amsterdam rabbi, Binjamin Jacobs, had his front door stoned, and two Jewish women were attacked – one beaten, the other the victim of arson – after they hung Israeli flags from their balconies.

I do not think that all Jews should be blamed for Zionism. But they cannot have it both ways, support Israel, just in case, and at the same time pretend that it is not their business.

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love… Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.
Martin Luther King



7 august 2014

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

Israel is drunk with power. Elated by its ability to get away with war crimes. American teenagers fighting on the Israeli army making reference to the Wild West by quoting that the good Arab is the dead Arab.



When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.

He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.

If that was not clear enough, the words "Fuck Hamas" had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. "Burn Gaza down" and "Good Arab = dead Arab" were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.


At the same time European Jews are wondering why there is a resurgence of anti-jewish sentiment and blame it on the bad hearts of their neighbors. In the space of just one week last month, according to Crif, the umbrella group for France's Jewish organisations, eight synagogues were attacked. One, in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles, was firebombed by a 400-strong mob. A kosher supermarket and pharmacy were smashed and looted; the crowd's chants and banners included "Death to Jews" and "Slit Jews' throats". That same weekend, in the Barbes neighbourhood of the capital, stone-throwing protesters burned Israeli flags: "Israhell", read one banner.

Roger Cukierman, president of France's Crif, said French Jews were "anguished" about an anti-Jewish backlash that goes far beyond even strongly felt political and humanitarian opposition to the current fighting: "They are not screaming 'Death to the Israelis' on the streets of Paris," Cukierman said last month. "They are screaming 'Death to Jews'." Crif's vice-president Yonathan Arfi said he "utterly rejected" the view that the latest increase in antisemitic incidents was down to events in Gaza. "They have laid bare something far more profound," he said. In other words, he refuses to take responsibility for Israeli actions.

The Netherlands' main antisemitism watchdog, Cidi, had more than 70 calls from alarmed Jewish citizens in one week last month; the average is normally three to five. An Amsterdam rabbi, Binjamin Jacobs, had his front door stoned, and two Jewish women were attacked – one beaten, the other the victim of arson – after they hung Israeli flags from their balconies.

I do not think that all Jews should be blamed for Zionism. But they cannot have it both ways, support Israel, just in case, and at the same time pretend that it is not their business.



Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love... Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.
Martin Luther King


hyper-fertile baby machines

Mexifornia (also Calexico or Califaztlán) is a Portmanteau and Neologism of Mexico and California, which refers to what some see as the Mexicanization/Hispanicization of the U.S. state of California as a result of increased legal and especially illegal migration of Mexican and other Hispanic people into California and the transformation of many aspects of the culture of the state.

Mexifornia is seen as a state level version of what is now known as Amexica, the merging of America and Mexico;
«The United States of “Amexica” share more than a border and a common heritage: both sides welcome the benefits of trade but struggle with the pressures of growth». Timemagazine.[1]
This is a topic of a heated debate between the advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants on one side and those wishing to enforce immigration laws on the other side.

See also

References


A Frightening Analysis

We all know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an immigration-overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American’s finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor named Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, «Mexifornia,» explaining how immigration — both legal and illegal — was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.

Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, «If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that ‘An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'»

«Here is how they do it,» Lamm said: First to destroy America, «Turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way: ‘The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.»

Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America, «Invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.

Third, «We could make the United States a ‘Hispanic Quebec’ without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: ‘The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved! Not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.'»

Lamm said, «I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.»

«Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school.»

«My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of ‘Victimology.’ I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.»

«My sixth plan for America’s downfall would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other – that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity! Unity is what it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic Games.

A common enemy Persia threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to over come two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell.

«E. Pluribus Unum» — From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the ‘pluribus’ instead of the ‘Unum,’ we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.»

«Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits ~ make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of ‘diversity.’ I would find a word similar to ‘heretic’ in the 16th century – that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like ‘racist’ or ‘x! xenophobes’ halt discussion and debate.»

«Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of ‘Victimology,’ I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them.»

In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, «Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis’s book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don’t read that book.»

There was no applause.

A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Every discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate ‘diversity.’ American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America — take note of California and other states — to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell’s book «1984.» In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: «War is peace,» «Freedom is slavery,» and «Ignorance is strength.»

Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy are deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don’t get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.

Origins:   Richard D. Lamm was a Democrat who served as governor of Colorado for twelve years from 1975 to 1987. Of the above-quoted third person account regarding his speech on the perils of multiculturalism, he told Snopes.com in mid-June 2005:


Yes, it is a speech I gave a year and a half ago in Washington D.C. It was a 5 minute speech, and I am amazed and gratified it has received so much coverage.



What is the future of Spanish in the United States?

BY  AND 18 COMMENT


FT_Spanish_New
With more than 37 million speakers, Spanish is by far the most spoken non-English language in the U.S. today among people ages 5 and older. It is also one of the fastest-growing, with the number of speakers up 233% since 1980, when there were 11 million Spanish speakers. (The number of Vietnamese speakers grew faster, up 599% over the same period).






Mexifornia: A State of Becoming

by Victor Davis HANSON
Brain LAMB Interviews Victor HANSON

LAMB, HOST: Victor Davis HANSON, the name «Mexifornia» comes from
what?
HANSON: Actually, it`s a term that I discovered that was used by sort of the La
Razza (ph) left that was a connotation for a new hybrid-cultured California that
would be not part of Mexico and not part of the United States. So the editors that
I worked with embraced that as the title, but a lot of people think it came from the
conservative right, but actually, it didn`t
LAMB: Who`s La Razza?
HANSON: It`s a very funny word. It means «the race.» There`s a National
Council of La Razza that`s an advocacy group, people, they claim, of Mexican
heritage. But I`m very worried about that nomenclature because it reminds me of
the connotations of «Das Volk.» Any time you have a word for «the people,» but
it really means the race, I think it`s outside the boundaries of the American
assimilationist experience.
 LAMB: What`s a classics professor doing writing a book about Mexifornia?
 HANSON: I don`t know! Sometimes I wish I hadn`t have written it. But I
actually live on a farm in central California, and I am a fifth generation. I`ve lived
with Mexican-Americans. My daughter`s boyfriend`s a Mexican-American. I
have a brother married to a Mexican-American, step-nephews and nieces. So it
was sort of a memoir, a literary memoir of what I grew up with, and it was — it
was prompted by the idea that I thought that the world that I used to know of
assimilation and second and third-generation Mexican-Americans were such
wonderful citizens that this new generation was not getting the same
opportunities. I was worried about the problems for the future of California.



Fertile Matters
The Politics of Mexican-Origin Women’s Reproduction
By Elena R. Gutiérrez


Fertile Matters is an exploration of the ways we have come to think about the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. In particular, I look closely at one of the most popular and longstanding public stereotypes that portray Mexican American and Mexican women as «hyper-fertile baby machines» who «breed like rabbits.» Although these labels have become colloquially acceptable, I use them to also signify the related beliefs that Mexican families are unduly large and that Mexican-origin women do not use birth control. By examining the historical and sociopolitical evolution of these racial stereotypes, I reveal a complex network of character, ideology, time, and place that has yielded the collectively accepted image of women of Mexican origin as prolific «breeders.»

Chicana feminist scholars have previously documented the existence of this stereotype. However, during the course of writing this book, I was struck by the resilience of these images within public perceptions. For example, almost without fail, when I mentioned that I was researching the reproductive politics of Mexican American women, I received the response, «That is such an important topic. They have so many children!» Latino and non-Latino individuals alike often pointed out the «huge problem» of teenage pregnancy in Latino communities or commented that Latinas do not use birth control. Many asked me to explain why Mexican women have so many children. This widespread perception that Mexican women have too many children, and the belief that this reproductive behavior is a social problem that requires fixing, compelled me to continue trying to understand the sources and consequences of these ideas.

Although the stereotype of Mexican-origin women as perpetually pregnant is longstanding, our reproduction has been targeted for the past fifteen years as a major U.S. social problem. Newspapers carry headlines about the changing composition of the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup, the so-called Latinization of America. Due to a higher than average birth rate among Mexican Americans and a steady stream of immigrants from Mexico, Mexican-origin people are the fastest growing minority group in the United States. As a consequence, the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women has been a central theme in contemporary U.S. politics since the 1990s.

There is no clearer marker of this phenomenon—that is, the construct of Mexican women’s fertility as a social problem—than the passage of Proposition 187, proposed in 1994. The initiative, passed by California voters, was intended to take strong and deliberate measures to «Save Our State» from Mexican immigration. The campaign denied prenatal care and other social services to undocumented immigrants, specifically those of Mexican origin, and particularly women and children. Many of the proposition’s backers identified pregnant immigrants as the problem, claiming that they come to the country illegally to have their babies on U.S. soil in order to achieve citizenship for their children and benefits—namely, access to welfare and other public services.

Although Prop. 187 was eventually overturned in 1996, its original passage demonstrated the growing public concern over the so-called problem of Mexican reproduction and the increased public support for proposals to stop it. While some scholars suggest that this recent focus on women signals a new twist in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment, I demonstrate that public concern about the reproductive behaviors of women of Mexican origin has a much longer presence in the United States, beginning as far back as the turn of the twentieth century.

Throughout Fertile Matters I demonstrate the gradual crystallization of widespread interest in the reproduction and «hyper-fertility» of women of Mexican origin during the 1970s. My purpose is in large part to systematically document the development of discourse about women of Mexican origin as «breeders» over the second half of the twentieth century.

Another goal of the book is to demonstrate the impact that such discourses have on the reproductive experiences of the women themselves. Specifically, I examine the coercive sterilization of women of Mexican origin at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC) during the early 1970s. My research reveals that the perception of women of Mexican origin as «breeding like rabbits» was manifested in the coercive actions of doctors and other health providers at LACMC who believed they had the right to sterilize women who, in their opinion, had too many children. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan provides strong evidence that racializing images and beliefs were crucial factors in the abusive handling of these women, both during their deliveries at LACMC and in the Los Angeles County courtroom where their case was tried.

Since I began this project ten years ago, a growing body of literature has documented that reproductive politics are central to racial politics and vice versa. U.S. racial politics and all women’s childbearing capacities have been intimately linked and manipulated throughout history. My research has shown that for women of color, racist stereotypes exist to justify the control of their fertility, and that activists in all communities have resisted accepting these images in their struggles for reproductive justice. However, we still know little about how these stereotypes work.

Fertile Matters intends to deepen public understanding of how the racial politics of reproduction have developed for women of Mexican origin in the United States. It shows that how we talk and think about reproduction is part of a system of racial domination that shapes social policy and impacts individual women’s lives. And finally, it aims to convince readers that reproductive politics are indeed fertile matters for discourse and disclosure, not only for women of Mexican origin, but for all communities.
Chapter Overview

Chapter One provides an overview of the theoretical perspectives and issues that frame my analysis, primarily social constructionist approaches to the study of social problems, racial formation theory, and feminist studies of the racial politics of reproduction. I also sketch a general picture of the ways in which Mexican-origin women’s reproduction has been racialized historically, particularly as they have been cast as «breeders.»

Chapter Two presents the historical background necessary to understand the development of the social construction of Mexican-origin women during the second half of the twentieth century. Focusing on social concerns about overpopulation and immigration that developed after World War II, this account highlights the primary actors and institutions considered in the remainder of the book.

Chapter Three is an empirical case study of the coercive sterilization of Mexican-origin women at Los Angeles County Medical Center, and the trial of Madrigal v. Quilligan that followed. I focus on how the idea that women of Mexican origin have too many children led to the abuses that occurred in both the hospital and the courtroom.

Chapter Four examines the construction of the category of «Mexican-origin women’s fertility» through a review of the development of social scientific interest in the topic. I critically assess the empirical findings of this research trajectory and suggest that this mode of inquiry plays a fundamental role in the social construction of Mexican-origin women’s hyper-fertility.

Chapter Five is a case study based on primary analysis of the platforms of Zero Population Growth (ZPG) Inc., and its offshoot, the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR). I highlight the interests of John Tanton, a former president of ZPG and the founder of FAIR, who was concerned about the «indirect effect» of immigration: the reproduction of Mexican women.

Through consideration of the published writings and public discussions of Chicana activists, in Chapter Six I show how they contest predominant characterizations of Mexican-origin women as breeders and develop a reproductive justice agenda that reflects their position as a racially oppressed group in the United States.

The final chapter discusses the centrality of the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women to more contemporary politics (the 1990s-present), focusing on the controversies over granting birthright citizenship to children born in the United States, changes in California over welfare reform, and the denial of prenatal care to Mexican immigrant women. These legislative and public battles not only represent the most recent incarnations in the lengthy historical trajectory of attempts to control Mexican-origin women’s reproduction, but also indicate that the social construction of these women’s fertility as a social problem has become institutionalized.
Chapter One. The Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: A Social Constructionist Approach

«I think what we are trying to show is that throughout the entire period that the doctors were not using medical reasons to perform these sterilizations, but were using social reasons. That is very pertinent to this case.»

Attorney Antonia Hernández spoke these words as she implored federal district court judge Jesse Curtis to hear the testimony of her next witness. Along with co-counsel Charles Nabarette, Hernández represented ten women of Mexican origin filing a class-action civil suit against physicians at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC). The plaintiffs in the case of Madrigal v. Quilligan, which was tried in 1978, accused the doctors of coercively sterilizing each of them between June 1971 and March 1974. Many alleged that hospital personnel forced them into signing consent forms while under the duress of labor pains, or that they were never approached and informed about the procedure at all. All of the women had various levels of English comprehension, and most testified that they did not understand that tubal ligation would irreversibly terminate their childbearing. The plaintiffs filed suit against state and federal officials, and the administrators and doctors at LACMC for violation of their constitutionally guaranteed right to procreate. In addition to financial compensation, the plaintiffs requested that the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare require federally funded hospitals to provide thorough sterilization counseling and consent forms in Spanish. On this, the sixth day of the trial, tension in the courtroom was high.

The contested witness was Karen Benker, a medical student at the University of Southern California Medical School, and an employee of the Women’s Hospital of LACMC during the period when the alleged forced sterilizations of countless Mexican-origin women occurred. As the only witness who had observed the alleged coercive practices of the doctors firsthand and was willing to testify in court, Benker’s observations confirmed Hernández’s argument that the sterilization of her clients at this hospital was «socially motivated.»

What Dr. Benker would share with the court could prove that the coercive sterilization of these ten plaintiffs was not incidental, accidental, or medically necessary, but was part of a concerted attempt by the doctors at the Women’s Hospital of LACMC to reduce the birth rate of Mexican-origin women. Based on this testimony, Hernández would maintain that many of the physicians deceptively pushed women into sterilization in accordance with an attitude widespread in the hospital community that the high childbearing rates of Mexican-origin women contributed to many social problems and could be effectively remedied through sterilization.

I begin this book with an empirical case study of the forced sterilization at LACMC because it illustrates the convergent discourses around Mexican-origin women’s fertility and the material ramifications of ideological notions of Mexican-origin women as «hyper-fertile» that surfaced during this period. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan lucidly illustrates the central argument of this book: namely, that during the 1970s a confluence of ideas crystallized to construct the fertility of Mexican-origin women as a social problem to be remedied. These issues are part of a larger public policy discourse that has continued into the twenty-first century.
The Demography and Politics of the Population Growth of People of Mexican Origin

The 2000 U.S. census statistically confirmed that Latinos have become the largest racial-ethnic group living in the United States, totaling over forty million people. Between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. Latino population increased by 58 percent.

In what has been called a demographic revolution, Latinos were 12.5 percent of the nation’s population in 2000, and are expected to comprise 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. An ever-increasing volume of academic study, public policy investigation, and social commentary addresses this demographic change. Due to both higher birthrates than the national average and continued immigration from Mexico, persons of Mexican origin represent the largest portion of the Latino population growth in the last thirty plus years. In March 2002, Mexicans comprised 66.9 percent of the Latino population.

Demographic and government interest in the birthrates of the Mexican-origin community have also grown steadily over the past three decades. In 1998, the U.S. government conducted a first-ever, multiyear analysis of Hispanic birthrates, which established that, even within the rising rates for Hispanic women as a group, women of Mexican origin display markedly higher rates of childbirth than other Latinas. Media coverage of the 1998 report by the National Center for Health Statistics publicized the «dramatic rise» in Hispanic births between 1989 and 1995, attributing much of this growth to the «soaring» rates of teenage pregnancy. Commentators expressed an almost singular preoccupation with the ascending birthrates of Latina teens (which notably overtook those of African Americans for the first time in history) and pondered the social and political ramifications of such a demographic pattern. One commentator from the conservative journal National Review warned,

For those who cluck cheerfully about the ‘strong family ties’ of Hispanic immigrants, the new figures are ominous: two-thirds of young Latina mothers have no husbands. . . . Because the Latino share of the population is expanding, any burgeoning Latino culture of poverty will make its impact widely felt. Thirty-three years ago Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) gave a prescient warning about the breakdown of the African American family, for which he had no easy remedy. Now, thanks to feckless immigration policies, the United States is sowing difficulties which could prove of at least comparable scope.

Alluding to Senator Moynihan’s much-critiqued analysis of black family life, which faulted the matriarchal family structure of African Americans as the core cause of their poverty, the above statements suggest a similar case for national action concerning the reproductive behavior of Latinas.

Social and political interest in controlling the fertility of Latinas is of course nothing new. Control of the reproduction of Mexican, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican women’s reproduction served as a crucial tool of colonization and social repression of entire communities. Puerto Rico’s population has long served as a social laboratory for the U.S. birth control industry, and ideologies of population control and economic development justified the massive sterilization abuse of Puerto Rican women. With 33 percent of Puerto Rico’s women sterilized, and similar rates for Puerto Rican women living on the U.S. mainland, anthropologist Iris Lopez argues that the procedure has now become an institutionalized, or «medicalized,» practice of women faced with limited options. She writes, «Once Puerto Rican women’s reproductive decision-making is medicalized, they lose the ability to control their own fertility. . . . The medicalization of women’s reproductive behavior infused and gave medical and state authority more control.»

Other commentators similarly portray immigrant families as opportunists who are sapping social services and other scarce public resources. Public discourse surrounding California’s Proposition 187 (passed in November 1994), a paradigmatic embodiment of contemporary nativism in the United States, provides a classic case in point. The fertility of women of Mexican origin assumed center stage in the debates surrounding this controversial proposition, which was a measure designed to deny undocumented immigrants access to education and health care services. Proponents of the «Save Our State» initiative persistently alluded to the high fertility of Mexican women as one of the primary problems with recent immigration from Mexico (births to Hispanic mothers outnumber all other groups in the state). The very substance of the policy prescriptions of Proposition 187 (which I explore in greater detail in Chapter Seven) assumes that the allure of social benefits (i.e., health care, education, welfare) is the driving motivation for Mexican women to cross the border to bear their children on U.S. soil.

Supporters of the anti-immigration proposition encouraged strict sanctions to deter migrants from coming to the United States and «stealing» health and social service benefits that were not rightfully theirs. Although the proposition’s expressed goal was to halt all immigration, especially from Mexico, women were particularly targeted. Proposition 187 singled out «poor, pregnant immigrant women who, with their children, come to the United States to give birth in publicly-financed county hospitals, allowing the newborns to become U.S. citizens, and all their children to receive public assistance, medical care, and public school education.»

Fear of the «Latinization» of California and the possible ascent of people of Mexican origin to political power has led to vociferous anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican mobilization in the state and in the larger Southwest, sentiments that are increasingly echoed across the nation.

Consider the message in Mexifornia, a book written by classics professor Victor Davis Hanson of California State University, Fresno. Published in 2003, the title reflects «the strange society that is emerging as the result of a demographic and cultural revolution like no other in our times.» Hanson attributes a transformation of U.S. culture to a lack of assimilation by recent immigrants. At the heart of the complaint, though, is the ultimate culprit. Hanson bemoans that «every year the state must continue to deal with a succession of first-generation immigrant families with three to six children at or below the poverty line. Moreover, no advocate in the university promotes family planning as a means of economic self-sufficiency; there is no campaign in Chicano studies departments encouraging immigrant families to have only one or two children so as to ensure financial solvency.» According to Hanson, the continuing immigration of large, poor families has led to an unassimilated class of Mexicans that is changing the very nature of the state of California.

Again in 2003, Samuel Huntington, a distinguished Harvard professor, received national recognition for his treatise on «The Hispanic Challenge.» In Who Are We? The Challenge to America’s National Identity, Huntington wrote that «the single most serious challenge to America’s traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American ‘natives.'» Huntington clearly identifies the growth of the Mexican-origin population as a very real problem for the United States. He further warns that if these «floods» of immigrants are not stopped, the country’s cultural and political integrity will be endangered.

Some scholars suggest that the recent focus on women signals a «new twist» in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment. However, criticisms of immigrant motherhood have prevailed in the United States since at least 1890. According to Katrina Irving, between 1890 and 1925 «all writers, no matter what their ideological position—nativism (‘scientific racism’), American-ization, or cultural pluralism—drew upon discourses that articulated feminine gender in order to construct an immigrant woman who would, in turn, embody their particular version of the immigrant ‘problem.'» In particular, nativists questioned the eugenic quality of children of very fertile immigrant mothers, predating contemporary concerns about the fertility of Mexican immigrant women. Later in this chapter, I will show that over the course of the twentieth century not only nativists, but some social scientists, members of the medical community, and population control proponents have expressed a similar racial anxiety over the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. First, I clarify my argument and review the major theoretical threads upon which my analysis is built.
The Tools of Social Constructionism: Situating the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin

To explore the politics of Mexican women’s reproduction, I draw upon the analytical perspective represented by sociological research on the social construction of social problems. Such an approach(well articulated by Malcolm Spector and John Kitsuse, and Joseph Gusfield, and perceptively deployed by Constance Nathanson) posits that it is not the putative social conditions that should be the focus of study, but the processes central to the definition of any social occurrence as a «social problem.»

The construction of a social problem is a collective process within which individuals or groups define some set of putative circumstances as unduly problematic. While objectivists believe that social problems are literal conditions that pose a concretely real and objective threat to the good of society, social constructionists approach social problems from an alternative standpoint. Contextual constructionists argue that social problems do not objectively exist, but are fundamentally conceived by certain interests within a particular context; they are «constructed in the human mind, constituted by the definitional process.» Proponents of contextual constructionism argue that it is impossible for any given set of conditions to be considered a social problem outside of its sociopolitical context, and thus historical analysis is necessary to any project engaging the construction of such a problem.

The epistemological approach offered by social constructionism relies on an empirical focus on the actors, historical moments, and interests that contribute to the construction of the fertility of Mexican women as a matter of public interest and concern. Moreover, in his thoughtful analysis of drinking and driving, Joseph Gusfield notes that «analyzing public problems as structures means finding the conceptual and institutional orderliness in which they emerge in the public arena. The public arena is not a field on which all can play on equal terms; some have greater access than others and greater power and ability to shape the definition of public issues.» My research thus focuses centrally on those institutions that claim ownership of the problem of the fertility of Mexican women—that is, demographers, medical professionals, population policymakers, and Chicana feminists.

Accordingly, my intention is to «turn the camera around» to investigate those institutions, groups, and policies that have observed the reproduction of women of Mexican origin. Such a maneuver helps us shift the focus from attempting to unravel the «truth» of what is happening with the fertility and reproduction of women of Mexican origin toward an exploration of perspectives, interests, and policies that have played a role in creating «truths» about this topic.

A social constructionist perspective provides a completely different vantage point from which to engage the topic of the fertility of women of Mexican origin. In this vein, Sally Andrade, one of the first scholars to trace the biased nature of social science research about women of Mexican origin, wrote in 1982,

If one’s primary interest were research on the family size of Chicanas, the primary question remaining to be clarified would be whether the cultural background or the educational status of Mexican American women is the more important factor in terms of understanding their fertility regulation attitudes and behaviors. If one wants to examine the implications of social sciences inability to confront issues of racism, sexism, and social class bias with reference to research on Mexican women, however, different questions emerge.

Thus, principles of social constructionism provide a useful corrective to most of the extant social scientific research on the reproduction of women of Mexican origin, which primarily attempts to document and understand their «unusually high rates» and focuses on the attitudinal and behavioral aspects of their family planning practices. Typically based on secondary analysis of quantitative data, such projects conceptualize the reproduction of Mexican-origin women as a culturally dictated behavior to be understood. These projects largely reinscribe the reproduction of women of Mexican origin as the primary locus of inquiry, and the women themselves as the principal unit of analysis, often ignoring the sociopolitical context within which the reproductive activities of Mexican-origin women occur. A social constructionist approach considers academic scholarship as complicit in the creation of ideas about the fertility of women of Mexican origin. As such, demographic research about Mexican-origin women’s fertility is treated as a focal object of study in my analysis rather than as literature upon which my analysis is built.

Diverging from the previous social scientific research, in this project I argue that the important question is not how many children are born to women of Mexican origin or whether abortion intervention or birth control is practiced. Rather, I explore why the fertility of women of Mexican origin is in itself such a significant issue in so many sociopolitical discourses. This is not a study of the fertility of Mexican women per se, but an investigation of the sociohistorical context within which such a topic, and the structures that shape it, become significant.

Because such emphasis has been placed on enumerating and tracking the actual rates of fertility for Mexican-origin women (the number of children they bear), this project is particularly interested in exploring the concept of «fertility.» Popular discussions of such a category are inevitably tied up with a host of other related issues such as reproductive behavior, birth control practices, and attitudes toward the family. This project will thus envelop any and all topics related to reproduction with respect to Mexican-origin women, and the terms fertility and reproduction will be used as synonyms throughout to encompass this variety.
Discourse, Ideology, and the Racial Politics of Reproduction

When anthropologists Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp theorize the politics of reproduction—which bridges the micro-level of reproductive behavior and practices, and the macro-level of the politics involved in that process—they stress that reproductive issues are largely discursive terrain and that discourse analysis «can be used to analyze ‘reproduction’ as an aspect of other contests over hegemonic control.» Since I am primarily concerned with the ideological construction of the fertility of women of Mexican origin as a social problem, this project pays considerable attention to discursive realms. Such a focus on discourse fundamentally assumes its political nature.

Moreover, my focus on the «ideological effects» of these discursive constructions implies that «these practices are always more than semiotic because they inscribe signs within social practices as a condition of existence of the meanings and subjectivities produced.» Thus, discourse is also located in public policy, social institutions, and practices.

Racialized reproductive images about women of Mexican origin circulating in public discourse are central to this project. I am equally interested in how these ideological constructs are tied to structural and institutional modes of reproduction and racial control. Drawing from racialization theory, most extensively articulated by Omi and Winant, I argue that the social construction of women of Mexican origin as hyper-fertile is a racial project and that the discourse surrounding and constructing their reproductive behavior as problematic must be viewed as racially based. Omi and Winant define racial formation as «the historical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed,» and as «a process of historically situated projects in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized.» Imperative to my perspective is the vigilant consideration of racial projects in both their ideological and structural nature. I argue that ideological representations of women of Mexican origin as «hyper-fertile» must not only be analyzed in their form and content, but additionally in their relation to the structural associations within which they historically emerge.

I further draw upon a growing body of critical analyses that argue that race and reproductive politics are fundamentally intertwined. Research since the 1980s has traced the systemic intrusions on the reproductive liberty of African American and other women of color and the historical control of fertility as a mechanism of racial domination and economic exploitation. Legal scholar Dorothy Roberts’s treatise Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty deftly demonstrates that racial domination and reproductive control have been intricately tied throughout history. Central to her examination is how images about African American women render significant implications for their reproductive freedom. According to Roberts, «Regulating Black women’s fertility seems so imperative because of the existence of powerful stereotypes that propel these policies; myths are meaningful as expressions of what we believe to be true; [and] have justified the restrictions on Black women’s childbearing.»

Other authors have documented how the development of racializing images and ideologies is central to the reproductive control of women of color. Sociologist Patricia Hill Collins has identified that «controlling images» such as the mammy, welfare queen, and Jezebel are historically deployed to devalue African American women. Collins’s ground-breaking work theorizes how controlling images of African American women serve as «powerful ideological justifications» for class, race, gender, and sexuality domination. Stressing the ubiquity of these ideas in her now-classic treatise Black Feminist Thought, Collins writes that «schools, the news media, and government agencies constitute important sites for reproducing these controlling images. Scholarship has helped produce and disseminate controlling images.» It is in these spaces where the discourse of reproductive politics is created and communicated.

Through the denial of black motherhood and the characterization of African American women as «bad mothers,» the material deprivation of their reproductive rights to bear children has been symbolically justified. This dichotomization of good/bad, black/white motherhood is indeed a significant aspect of the racial politics of reproduction in the United States. However, in contrast to the depiction of African American women as neglectful mothers, historically and contemporarily, women of Mexican origin are more typically cast as overly identified mothers and reproducers.
The Politics of the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: Historical Antecedents

Women’s procreation has been a subject of political interest from the time of the Spanish colonization of Mexico. Spanish colonizers claimed a state imperative to control the childbearing of native women. Because a growing California needed a Hispanicized Indian population, missionaries took affirmative steps to encourage reproduction. Historian Antonia Castañeda has documented that in addition to encouraging marriages of converted AmerIndian women and mestizo soldiers by offering bounties, colonial officials also brought niños and niñas de cuna (foundlings) from Spain to populate California.

Castañeda’s research further demonstrates how women of Mexican origin first came to be depicted as hyper-fertile. In particular, impressions collected in the narratives of Euro-American pioneers (many of which were commissioned by Hubert Howe Bancroft during the 1870s and 1880s) provide some of the first documented characterizations of the Mexican family, which dominated subsequent histories of early California. According to Castañeda, descriptions of the patriarchal Spanish-Mexican family, their reproductive patterns, and family size abound in the recordings of Euro-Americans and elite Californios: «the texts described California women as ‘remarkably fecund’ and frequently commented that families were exceptionally large, with women bearing twelve, fifteen, and twenty children.» These stereotypical narratives provided a foundation on which most of the history of Mexican California is written. However, the research of Castañeda and others has dispelled these common mischaracterizations, suggesting that there was significant regional variation in the size of Spanish-Mexican California families, many of which had much smaller numbers of children than noted in founding texts.

Accounts of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States continued into the twentieth century. For example, in 1929 Samuel J. Holmes, a University of California professor, posed a foreboding question in an article entitled «Perils of the Mexican Invasion,» published in the North American Review: «At a recent state fair in Sacramento, California, when prizes were offered for the largest families, the first prize went to a Mexican family with sixteen children…. This excessive fecundity is of course exceptional, but it is indicative of the breeding habits of this class of our population. Is it not evident, then, that the Mexican invasion is bound to have far-reaching effects upon our national life?» Concerns about a possible «Mexican invasion» of the United States are clearly expressed here, with particular speculation about the resulting cultural effects on the nation.

From the beginning of the century into the early 1940s, growing nativist sentiment blamed Mexican immigrants for societies’ ills and commonly bemoaned their fertility. In a 1929 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, the editor offered his opinion under the heading «The Mexican Conquest»: «The very high Mexican birth rate tends to depress still further the low white birth rate. Thus a race problem of the greatest magnitude is being allowed to develop for future generations to regret and in spite of the fact that the Mexican Indian is considered a most undesirable ethnic stock for the melting pot.»

This concern about the fertility of Mexican women was wholeheartedly adopted by those associated with eugenic efforts. Sociologist David Montejano wrote:

The outcry about social decay reached near-hysterical levels. Eugenicists pointed out with alarm that Mexicans were not only intellectually inferior—they were also quite «fecund.» Imaginative calculations were formulated to drive home the point. C. M. Goethe, president of the Immigrant Study Commission, speaking of a Los Angeles Mexican with thirty-three children, figured that «it would take 14,641 American fathers…at a three-child rate, to equal the descendants of this one Mexican father four generations hence.»

Goethe, a Sacramento realtor, wrote in 1935, «It is this high birthrate that makes Mexican peon immigration such a menace. Peons multiply like rabbits.» The social panic that eugenicists instigated often incited public outcries to deport Mexicans (immigrant or not); at times their messages were informed by germ theories and hereditarianism.

Alternatively, proponents of the Americanist agenda (1915-1929) believed that efforts should be made to assimilate the Mexican population in the United States. A growing body of literature has shown that these efforts primarily focused on the assimilation of Mexican immigrant women and their children into American culture. Historian George Sánchez has noted that for Americanists, motherhood represented «the juncture at which the Mexican immigrant women’s potential role in Americanization was most highly valued.» Ideas about fertility, reproduction, and motherhood all gained significant racial meaning within the process of Americanization, as female Mexican immigrants were believed to be the bearers and sharers of culture.

In her study of the Houchen Settlement, a «Christian Americanization» program run in El Paso, Texas, from 1920 to 1960, historian Vicki Ruiz argues that this and other groups like it paid particular attention to expectant mothers. Millie Rockford, who worked at the settlement, shared the logic behind this approach with Ruiz: «If we can teach her [the mother to be] the modern methods of cooking and preparing foods and simple hygiene habits for herself and her family, we have gained a stride.»

In some cases Americanization policies bore important implications for the birth control practices of Mexican immigrant women. Americanists attempted to inculcate Anglo ideals of family planning and family size into the women’s values in hopes of ultimately changing behavior as well. Efforts to transform the reproductive ideas and behavior of recent immigrants were fueled by nativist and Americanist fears of race suicide. According to Sánchez, «the nativists wanted to control Mexican population growth for fear of a ‘greaser invasion,’ while Americanists viewed unrestricted population growth as a vestige of Old World ways that would have to be abandoned in a modern industrial world.» Regardless of their motivations, both nativists and Americanists centered their efforts on the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women.

More recently, social science literature on Mexican American women provides an acute example of these racializing images. Prevalent among depictions of Mexican-origin women in this body of research are assumptions that they are solely defined by their capacity to bear children. In a 1982 review of such representations in the extant social scientific literature, Sally Andrade wrote, «An exaggerated ‘super-mother’ figure emerges from a summary of the above impressions about Mexican American women: the unceasingly self-sacrificing, dedicated, ever-fertile woman totally without aspiration for self or initiative to do other than reproduce.»

While dissimilar to the ideological constructs that shape the reproductive context for African American women, images of Mexican women as overly identified mothers are also embedded in a framework of racial domination. One important component of the circumvention of Mexican women’s motherhood is the social construction of their hyper-fertility. Chicana feminist scholars have challenged these prevailing notions, showing that not only are these women complex in their identification as mothers, but that they are sexual beings who have diverse opinions regarding reproductive matters. Such efforts to deconstruct existing racist discourse and contribute to more accurate representations and analyses of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin are deliberately part of a Chicana feminist project. As Aida Hurtado explains, «Chicana feminisms proclaim that creating and controlling their own discourse are essential to decolonization. Passive silence has been the enemy that allowed others to construct who Chicanas are, what they can and cannot do, and what they are capable of becoming.»

While scholars demonstrate the complex construction of racializing images and ideologies central to the reproductive control of African American and women of Mexican origin, less obvious are the ways that these images impact women’s lives. I argue that beyond serving as key components of a «generalized ideology of domination,» by which the oppression of women of color is justified, these notions are often manifested in social institutions and actors that construct individual experience. In this volume, I advance such an examination by considering both the discursive dimensions of fertility and reproduction as they pertain to women of Mexican origin and their circulation in policy and public attitudes—or rather, how these social constructions work.

Throughout the following chapters I explore ideas about Mexican-origin women’s fertility in public discourse, assess the reasons for their deployment, and grapple with the relationship between «ideas» about fertility and the actual abuses enacted on the bodies of Mexican-origin women, including forced sterilization. I examine multiple forms of data (including written texts, oral statements, and other documents gathered through archival research) that construct social knowledge about Mexican-origin women’s fertility. I empirically ground our notions of Mexican-origin women as «breeders» in historical context, and explore the implications of these ideas in the discursive practices of various social actors.

Mexifornia (also Calexico or Califaztlán) is a Portmanteau and Neologism of Mexico and California, which refers to what some see as the Mexicanization/Hispanicization of the U.S. state of California as a result of increased legal and especially illegal migration of Mexican and other Hispanic people into California and the transformation of many aspects of the culture of the state.
Mexifornia is seen as a state level version of what is now known as Amexica, the merging of America and Mexico;
"The United States of “Amexica” share more than a border and a common heritage: both sides welcome the benefits of trade but struggle with the pressures of growth". Timemagazine.[1]
This is a topic of a heated debate between the advocates of amnesty for illegal immigrants on one side and those wishing to enforce immigration laws on the other side.

See also

References




A Frightening Analysis


We all know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an immigration-overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American's finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor named Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, "Mexifornia," explaining how immigration — both legal and illegal — was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.



Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, "If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let's destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that 'An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'"



"Here is how they do it," Lamm said: First to destroy America, "Turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way: 'The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans."



Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America, "Invent 'multiculturalism' and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.



Third, "We could make the United States a 'Hispanic Quebec' without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: 'The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved! Not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.'"



Lamm said, "I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities."



"Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school."



"My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of 'Victimology.' I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population."



"My sixth plan for America's downfall would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other - that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity! Unity is what it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic Games.



A common enemy Persia threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to over come two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell.



"E. Pluribus Unum" — From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the 'pluribus' instead of the 'Unum,' we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo."



"Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits ~ make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of 'diversity.' I would find a word similar to 'heretic' in the 16th century - that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like 'racist' or 'x! xenophobes' halt discussion and debate."



"Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of 'Victimology,' I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them."



In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, "Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis's book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don't read that book."



There was no applause.



A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. Every American in that room knew that everything Lamm enumerated was proceeding methodically, quietly, darkly, yet pervasively across the United States today. Every discussion is being suppressed. Over 100 languages are ripping the foundation of our educational system and national cohesiveness. Barbaric cultures that practice female genital mutilation are growing as we celebrate 'diversity.' American jobs are vanishing into the Third World as corporations create a Third World in America — take note of California and other states — to date, ten million illegal aliens and growing fast. It is reminiscent of George Orwell's book "1984." In that story, three slogans are engraved in the Ministry of Truth building: "War is peace," "Freedom is slavery," and "Ignorance is strength."



Governor Lamm walked back to his seat. It dawned on everyone at the conference that our nation and the future of this great democracy are deeply in trouble and worsening fast. If we don't get this immigration monster stopped within three years, it will rage like a California wildfire and destroy everything in its path, especially The American Dream.



Origins:   Richard D. Lamm was a Democrat who served as governor of Colorado for twelve years from 1975 to 1987. Of the above-quoted third person account regarding his speech on the perils of multiculturalism, he told Snopes.com in mid-June 2005:



Yes, it is a speech I gave a year and a half ago in Washington D.C. It was a 5 minute speech, and I am amazed and gratified it has received so much coverage.






What is the future of Spanish in the United States?



BY  AND 18 COMMENT


FT_Spanish_New
With more than 37 million speakers, Spanish is by far the most spoken non-English language in the U.S. today among people ages 5 and older. It is also one of the fastest-growing, with the number of speakers up 233% since 1980, when there were 11 million Spanish speakers. (The number of Vietnamese speakers grew faster, up 599% over the same period).





Mexifornia: A State of Becoming

by Victor Davis HANSON
Brain LAMB Interviews Victor HANSON

LAMB, HOST: Victor Davis HANSON, the name "Mexifornia" comes from
what?
HANSON: Actually, it`s a term that I discovered that was used by sort of the La
Razza (ph) left that was a connotation for a new hybrid-cultured California that
would be not part of Mexico and not part of the United States. So the editors that
I worked with embraced that as the title, but a lot of people think it came from the
conservative right, but actually, it didn`t
LAMB: Who`s La Razza?
HANSON: It`s a very funny word. It means "the race." There`s a National
Council of La Razza that`s an advocacy group, people, they claim, of Mexican
heritage. But I`m very worried about that nomenclature because it reminds me of
the connotations of "Das Volk." Any time you have a word for "the people," but
it really means the race, I think it`s outside the boundaries of the American
assimilationist experience.
 LAMB: What`s a classics professor doing writing a book about Mexifornia?
 HANSON: I don`t know! Sometimes I wish I hadn`t have written it. But I
actually live on a farm in central California, and I am a fifth generation. I`ve lived
with Mexican-Americans. My daughter`s boyfriend`s a Mexican-American. I
have a brother married to a Mexican-American, step-nephews and nieces. So it
was sort of a memoir, a literary memoir of what I grew up with, and it was -- it
was prompted by the idea that I thought that the world that I used to know of
assimilation and second and third-generation Mexican-Americans were such
wonderful citizens that this new generation was not getting the same
opportunities. I was worried about the problems for the future of California.



Fertile Matters
The Politics of Mexican-Origin Women's Reproduction
By Elena R. Gutiérrez


Fertile Matters is an exploration of the ways we have come to think about the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. In particular, I look closely at one of the most popular and longstanding public stereotypes that portray Mexican American and Mexican women as "hyper-fertile baby machines" who "breed like rabbits." Although these labels have become colloquially acceptable, I use them to also signify the related beliefs that Mexican families are unduly large and that Mexican-origin women do not use birth control. By examining the historical and sociopolitical evolution of these racial stereotypes, I reveal a complex network of character, ideology, time, and place that has yielded the collectively accepted image of women of Mexican origin as prolific "breeders."

Chicana feminist scholars have previously documented the existence of this stereotype. However, during the course of writing this book, I was struck by the resilience of these images within public perceptions. For example, almost without fail, when I mentioned that I was researching the reproductive politics of Mexican American women, I received the response, "That is such an important topic. They have so many children!" Latino and non-Latino individuals alike often pointed out the "huge problem" of teenage pregnancy in Latino communities or commented that Latinas do not use birth control. Many asked me to explain why Mexican women have so many children. This widespread perception that Mexican women have too many children, and the belief that this reproductive behavior is a social problem that requires fixing, compelled me to continue trying to understand the sources and consequences of these ideas.

Although the stereotype of Mexican-origin women as perpetually pregnant is longstanding, our reproduction has been targeted for the past fifteen years as a major U.S. social problem. Newspapers carry headlines about the changing composition of the nation's racial and ethnic makeup, the so-called Latinization of America. Due to a higher than average birth rate among Mexican Americans and a steady stream of immigrants from Mexico, Mexican-origin people are the fastest growing minority group in the United States. As a consequence, the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women has been a central theme in contemporary U.S. politics since the 1990s.

There is no clearer marker of this phenomenon—that is, the construct of Mexican women's fertility as a social problem—than the passage of Proposition 187, proposed in 1994. The initiative, passed by California voters, was intended to take strong and deliberate measures to "Save Our State" from Mexican immigration. The campaign denied prenatal care and other social services to undocumented immigrants, specifically those of Mexican origin, and particularly women and children. Many of the proposition's backers identified pregnant immigrants as the problem, claiming that they come to the country illegally to have their babies on U.S. soil in order to achieve citizenship for their children and benefits—namely, access to welfare and other public services.

Although Prop. 187 was eventually overturned in 1996, its original passage demonstrated the growing public concern over the so-called problem of Mexican reproduction and the increased public support for proposals to stop it. While some scholars suggest that this recent focus on women signals a new twist in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment, I demonstrate that public concern about the reproductive behaviors of women of Mexican origin has a much longer presence in the United States, beginning as far back as the turn of the twentieth century.

Throughout Fertile Matters I demonstrate the gradual crystallization of widespread interest in the reproduction and "hyper-fertility" of women of Mexican origin during the 1970s. My purpose is in large part to systematically document the development of discourse about women of Mexican origin as "breeders" over the second half of the twentieth century.

Another goal of the book is to demonstrate the impact that such discourses have on the reproductive experiences of the women themselves. Specifically, I examine the coercive sterilization of women of Mexican origin at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC) during the early 1970s. My research reveals that the perception of women of Mexican origin as "breeding like rabbits" was manifested in the coercive actions of doctors and other health providers at LACMC who believed they had the right to sterilize women who, in their opinion, had too many children. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan provides strong evidence that racializing images and beliefs were crucial factors in the abusive handling of these women, both during their deliveries at LACMC and in the Los Angeles County courtroom where their case was tried.

Since I began this project ten years ago, a growing body of literature has documented that reproductive politics are central to racial politics and vice versa. U.S. racial politics and all women's childbearing capacities have been intimately linked and manipulated throughout history. My research has shown that for women of color, racist stereotypes exist to justify the control of their fertility, and that activists in all communities have resisted accepting these images in their struggles for reproductive justice. However, we still know little about how these stereotypes work.

Fertile Matters intends to deepen public understanding of how the racial politics of reproduction have developed for women of Mexican origin in the United States. It shows that how we talk and think about reproduction is part of a system of racial domination that shapes social policy and impacts individual women's lives. And finally, it aims to convince readers that reproductive politics are indeed fertile matters for discourse and disclosure, not only for women of Mexican origin, but for all communities.
Chapter Overview

Chapter One provides an overview of the theoretical perspectives and issues that frame my analysis, primarily social constructionist approaches to the study of social problems, racial formation theory, and feminist studies of the racial politics of reproduction. I also sketch a general picture of the ways in which Mexican-origin women's reproduction has been racialized historically, particularly as they have been cast as "breeders."

Chapter Two presents the historical background necessary to understand the development of the social construction of Mexican-origin women during the second half of the twentieth century. Focusing on social concerns about overpopulation and immigration that developed after World War II, this account highlights the primary actors and institutions considered in the remainder of the book.

Chapter Three is an empirical case study of the coercive sterilization of Mexican-origin women at Los Angeles County Medical Center, and the trial of Madrigal v. Quilligan that followed. I focus on how the idea that women of Mexican origin have too many children led to the abuses that occurred in both the hospital and the courtroom.

Chapter Four examines the construction of the category of "Mexican-origin women's fertility" through a review of the development of social scientific interest in the topic. I critically assess the empirical findings of this research trajectory and suggest that this mode of inquiry plays a fundamental role in the social construction of Mexican-origin women's hyper-fertility.

Chapter Five is a case study based on primary analysis of the platforms of Zero Population Growth (ZPG) Inc., and its offshoot, the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR). I highlight the interests of John Tanton, a former president of ZPG and the founder of FAIR, who was concerned about the "indirect effect" of immigration: the reproduction of Mexican women.

Through consideration of the published writings and public discussions of Chicana activists, in Chapter Six I show how they contest predominant characterizations of Mexican-origin women as breeders and develop a reproductive justice agenda that reflects their position as a racially oppressed group in the United States.

The final chapter discusses the centrality of the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women to more contemporary politics (the 1990s-present), focusing on the controversies over granting birthright citizenship to children born in the United States, changes in California over welfare reform, and the denial of prenatal care to Mexican immigrant women. These legislative and public battles not only represent the most recent incarnations in the lengthy historical trajectory of attempts to control Mexican-origin women's reproduction, but also indicate that the social construction of these women's fertility as a social problem has become institutionalized.
Chapter One. The Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: A Social Constructionist Approach

"I think what we are trying to show is that throughout the entire period that the doctors were not using medical reasons to perform these sterilizations, but were using social reasons. That is very pertinent to this case."

Attorney Antonia Hernández spoke these words as she implored federal district court judge Jesse Curtis to hear the testimony of her next witness. Along with co-counsel Charles Nabarette, Hernández represented ten women of Mexican origin filing a class-action civil suit against physicians at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center (LACMC). The plaintiffs in the case of Madrigal v. Quilligan, which was tried in 1978, accused the doctors of coercively sterilizing each of them between June 1971 and March 1974. Many alleged that hospital personnel forced them into signing consent forms while under the duress of labor pains, or that they were never approached and informed about the procedure at all. All of the women had various levels of English comprehension, and most testified that they did not understand that tubal ligation would irreversibly terminate their childbearing. The plaintiffs filed suit against state and federal officials, and the administrators and doctors at LACMC for violation of their constitutionally guaranteed right to procreate. In addition to financial compensation, the plaintiffs requested that the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare require federally funded hospitals to provide thorough sterilization counseling and consent forms in Spanish. On this, the sixth day of the trial, tension in the courtroom was high.

The contested witness was Karen Benker, a medical student at the University of Southern California Medical School, and an employee of the Women's Hospital of LACMC during the period when the alleged forced sterilizations of countless Mexican-origin women occurred. As the only witness who had observed the alleged coercive practices of the doctors firsthand and was willing to testify in court, Benker's observations confirmed Hernández's argument that the sterilization of her clients at this hospital was "socially motivated."

What Dr. Benker would share with the court could prove that the coercive sterilization of these ten plaintiffs was not incidental, accidental, or medically necessary, but was part of a concerted attempt by the doctors at the Women's Hospital of LACMC to reduce the birth rate of Mexican-origin women. Based on this testimony, Hernández would maintain that many of the physicians deceptively pushed women into sterilization in accordance with an attitude widespread in the hospital community that the high childbearing rates of Mexican-origin women contributed to many social problems and could be effectively remedied through sterilization.

I begin this book with an empirical case study of the forced sterilization at LACMC because it illustrates the convergent discourses around Mexican-origin women's fertility and the material ramifications of ideological notions of Mexican-origin women as "hyper-fertile" that surfaced during this period. The case of Madrigal v. Quilligan lucidly illustrates the central argument of this book: namely, that during the 1970s a confluence of ideas crystallized to construct the fertility of Mexican-origin women as a social problem to be remedied. These issues are part of a larger public policy discourse that has continued into the twenty-first century.
The Demography and Politics of the Population Growth of People of Mexican Origin

The 2000 U.S. census statistically confirmed that Latinos have become the largest racial-ethnic group living in the United States, totaling over forty million people. Between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. Latino population increased by 58 percent.

In what has been called a demographic revolution, Latinos were 12.5 percent of the nation's population in 2000, and are expected to comprise 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. An ever-increasing volume of academic study, public policy investigation, and social commentary addresses this demographic change. Due to both higher birthrates than the national average and continued immigration from Mexico, persons of Mexican origin represent the largest portion of the Latino population growth in the last thirty plus years. In March 2002, Mexicans comprised 66.9 percent of the Latino population.

Demographic and government interest in the birthrates of the Mexican-origin community have also grown steadily over the past three decades. In 1998, the U.S. government conducted a first-ever, multiyear analysis of Hispanic birthrates, which established that, even within the rising rates for Hispanic women as a group, women of Mexican origin display markedly higher rates of childbirth than other Latinas. Media coverage of the 1998 report by the National Center for Health Statistics publicized the "dramatic rise" in Hispanic births between 1989 and 1995, attributing much of this growth to the "soaring" rates of teenage pregnancy. Commentators expressed an almost singular preoccupation with the ascending birthrates of Latina teens (which notably overtook those of African Americans for the first time in history) and pondered the social and political ramifications of such a demographic pattern. One commentator from the conservative journal National Review warned,

For those who cluck cheerfully about the 'strong family ties' of Hispanic immigrants, the new figures are ominous: two-thirds of young Latina mothers have no husbands. . . . Because the Latino share of the population is expanding, any burgeoning Latino culture of poverty will make its impact widely felt. Thirty-three years ago Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) gave a prescient warning about the breakdown of the African American family, for which he had no easy remedy. Now, thanks to feckless immigration policies, the United States is sowing difficulties which could prove of at least comparable scope.

Alluding to Senator Moynihan's much-critiqued analysis of black family life, which faulted the matriarchal family structure of African Americans as the core cause of their poverty, the above statements suggest a similar case for national action concerning the reproductive behavior of Latinas.

Social and political interest in controlling the fertility of Latinas is of course nothing new. Control of the reproduction of Mexican, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican women's reproduction served as a crucial tool of colonization and social repression of entire communities. Puerto Rico's population has long served as a social laboratory for the U.S. birth control industry, and ideologies of population control and economic development justified the massive sterilization abuse of Puerto Rican women. With 33 percent of Puerto Rico's women sterilized, and similar rates for Puerto Rican women living on the U.S. mainland, anthropologist Iris Lopez argues that the procedure has now become an institutionalized, or "medicalized," practice of women faced with limited options. She writes, "Once Puerto Rican women's reproductive decision-making is medicalized, they lose the ability to control their own fertility. . . . The medicalization of women's reproductive behavior infused and gave medical and state authority more control."

Other commentators similarly portray immigrant families as opportunists who are sapping social services and other scarce public resources. Public discourse surrounding California's Proposition 187 (passed in November 1994), a paradigmatic embodiment of contemporary nativism in the United States, provides a classic case in point. The fertility of women of Mexican origin assumed center stage in the debates surrounding this controversial proposition, which was a measure designed to deny undocumented immigrants access to education and health care services. Proponents of the "Save Our State" initiative persistently alluded to the high fertility of Mexican women as one of the primary problems with recent immigration from Mexico (births to Hispanic mothers outnumber all other groups in the state). The very substance of the policy prescriptions of Proposition 187 (which I explore in greater detail in Chapter Seven) assumes that the allure of social benefits (i.e., health care, education, welfare) is the driving motivation for Mexican women to cross the border to bear their children on U.S. soil.

Supporters of the anti-immigration proposition encouraged strict sanctions to deter migrants from coming to the United States and "stealing" health and social service benefits that were not rightfully theirs. Although the proposition's expressed goal was to halt all immigration, especially from Mexico, women were particularly targeted. Proposition 187 singled out "poor, pregnant immigrant women who, with their children, come to the United States to give birth in publicly-financed county hospitals, allowing the newborns to become U.S. citizens, and all their children to receive public assistance, medical care, and public school education."

Fear of the "Latinization" of California and the possible ascent of people of Mexican origin to political power has led to vociferous anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican mobilization in the state and in the larger Southwest, sentiments that are increasingly echoed across the nation.

Consider the message in Mexifornia, a book written by classics professor Victor Davis Hanson of California State University, Fresno. Published in 2003, the title reflects "the strange society that is emerging as the result of a demographic and cultural revolution like no other in our times." Hanson attributes a transformation of U.S. culture to a lack of assimilation by recent immigrants. At the heart of the complaint, though, is the ultimate culprit. Hanson bemoans that "every year the state must continue to deal with a succession of first-generation immigrant families with three to six children at or below the poverty line. Moreover, no advocate in the university promotes family planning as a means of economic self-sufficiency; there is no campaign in Chicano studies departments encouraging immigrant families to have only one or two children so as to ensure financial solvency." According to Hanson, the continuing immigration of large, poor families has led to an unassimilated class of Mexicans that is changing the very nature of the state of California.

Again in 2003, Samuel Huntington, a distinguished Harvard professor, received national recognition for his treatise on "The Hispanic Challenge." In Who Are We? The Challenge to America's National Identity, Huntington wrote that "the single most serious challenge to America's traditional identity comes from the immense and continuing immigration from Latin America, especially Mexico, and the fertility rates of these immigrants compared to black and white American 'natives.'" Huntington clearly identifies the growth of the Mexican-origin population as a very real problem for the United States. He further warns that if these "floods" of immigrants are not stopped, the country's cultural and political integrity will be endangered.

Some scholars suggest that the recent focus on women signals a "new twist" in nativist and anti-immigrant sentiment. However, criticisms of immigrant motherhood have prevailed in the United States since at least 1890. According to Katrina Irving, between 1890 and 1925 "all writers, no matter what their ideological position—nativism ('scientific racism'), American-ization, or cultural pluralism—drew upon discourses that articulated feminine gender in order to construct an immigrant woman who would, in turn, embody their particular version of the immigrant 'problem.'" In particular, nativists questioned the eugenic quality of children of very fertile immigrant mothers, predating contemporary concerns about the fertility of Mexican immigrant women. Later in this chapter, I will show that over the course of the twentieth century not only nativists, but some social scientists, members of the medical community, and population control proponents have expressed a similar racial anxiety over the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States. First, I clarify my argument and review the major theoretical threads upon which my analysis is built.
The Tools of Social Constructionism: Situating the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin

To explore the politics of Mexican women's reproduction, I draw upon the analytical perspective represented by sociological research on the social construction of social problems. Such an approach(well articulated by Malcolm Spector and John Kitsuse, and Joseph Gusfield, and perceptively deployed by Constance Nathanson) posits that it is not the putative social conditions that should be the focus of study, but the processes central to the definition of any social occurrence as a "social problem."

The construction of a social problem is a collective process within which individuals or groups define some set of putative circumstances as unduly problematic. While objectivists believe that social problems are literal conditions that pose a concretely real and objective threat to the good of society, social constructionists approach social problems from an alternative standpoint. Contextual constructionists argue that social problems do not objectively exist, but are fundamentally conceived by certain interests within a particular context; they are "constructed in the human mind, constituted by the definitional process." Proponents of contextual constructionism argue that it is impossible for any given set of conditions to be considered a social problem outside of its sociopolitical context, and thus historical analysis is necessary to any project engaging the construction of such a problem.

The epistemological approach offered by social constructionism relies on an empirical focus on the actors, historical moments, and interests that contribute to the construction of the fertility of Mexican women as a matter of public interest and concern. Moreover, in his thoughtful analysis of drinking and driving, Joseph Gusfield notes that "analyzing public problems as structures means finding the conceptual and institutional orderliness in which they emerge in the public arena. The public arena is not a field on which all can play on equal terms; some have greater access than others and greater power and ability to shape the definition of public issues." My research thus focuses centrally on those institutions that claim ownership of the problem of the fertility of Mexican women—that is, demographers, medical professionals, population policymakers, and Chicana feminists.

Accordingly, my intention is to "turn the camera around" to investigate those institutions, groups, and policies that have observed the reproduction of women of Mexican origin. Such a maneuver helps us shift the focus from attempting to unravel the "truth" of what is happening with the fertility and reproduction of women of Mexican origin toward an exploration of perspectives, interests, and policies that have played a role in creating "truths" about this topic.

A social constructionist perspective provides a completely different vantage point from which to engage the topic of the fertility of women of Mexican origin. In this vein, Sally Andrade, one of the first scholars to trace the biased nature of social science research about women of Mexican origin, wrote in 1982,

If one's primary interest were research on the family size of Chicanas, the primary question remaining to be clarified would be whether the cultural background or the educational status of Mexican American women is the more important factor in terms of understanding their fertility regulation attitudes and behaviors. If one wants to examine the implications of social sciences inability to confront issues of racism, sexism, and social class bias with reference to research on Mexican women, however, different questions emerge.

Thus, principles of social constructionism provide a useful corrective to most of the extant social scientific research on the reproduction of women of Mexican origin, which primarily attempts to document and understand their "unusually high rates" and focuses on the attitudinal and behavioral aspects of their family planning practices. Typically based on secondary analysis of quantitative data, such projects conceptualize the reproduction of Mexican-origin women as a culturally dictated behavior to be understood. These projects largely reinscribe the reproduction of women of Mexican origin as the primary locus of inquiry, and the women themselves as the principal unit of analysis, often ignoring the sociopolitical context within which the reproductive activities of Mexican-origin women occur. A social constructionist approach considers academic scholarship as complicit in the creation of ideas about the fertility of women of Mexican origin. As such, demographic research about Mexican-origin women's fertility is treated as a focal object of study in my analysis rather than as literature upon which my analysis is built.

Diverging from the previous social scientific research, in this project I argue that the important question is not how many children are born to women of Mexican origin or whether abortion intervention or birth control is practiced. Rather, I explore why the fertility of women of Mexican origin is in itself such a significant issue in so many sociopolitical discourses. This is not a study of the fertility of Mexican women per se, but an investigation of the sociohistorical context within which such a topic, and the structures that shape it, become significant.

Because such emphasis has been placed on enumerating and tracking the actual rates of fertility for Mexican-origin women (the number of children they bear), this project is particularly interested in exploring the concept of "fertility." Popular discussions of such a category are inevitably tied up with a host of other related issues such as reproductive behavior, birth control practices, and attitudes toward the family. This project will thus envelop any and all topics related to reproduction with respect to Mexican-origin women, and the terms fertility and reproduction will be used as synonyms throughout to encompass this variety.
Discourse, Ideology, and the Racial Politics of Reproduction

When anthropologists Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp theorize the politics of reproduction—which bridges the micro-level of reproductive behavior and practices, and the macro-level of the politics involved in that process—they stress that reproductive issues are largely discursive terrain and that discourse analysis "can be used to analyze 'reproduction' as an aspect of other contests over hegemonic control." Since I am primarily concerned with the ideological construction of the fertility of women of Mexican origin as a social problem, this project pays considerable attention to discursive realms. Such a focus on discourse fundamentally assumes its political nature.

Moreover, my focus on the "ideological effects" of these discursive constructions implies that "these practices are always more than semiotic because they inscribe signs within social practices as a condition of existence of the meanings and subjectivities produced." Thus, discourse is also located in public policy, social institutions, and practices.

Racialized reproductive images about women of Mexican origin circulating in public discourse are central to this project. I am equally interested in how these ideological constructs are tied to structural and institutional modes of reproduction and racial control. Drawing from racialization theory, most extensively articulated by Omi and Winant, I argue that the social construction of women of Mexican origin as hyper-fertile is a racial project and that the discourse surrounding and constructing their reproductive behavior as problematic must be viewed as racially based. Omi and Winant define racial formation as "the historical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed," and as "a process of historically situated projects in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized." Imperative to my perspective is the vigilant consideration of racial projects in both their ideological and structural nature. I argue that ideological representations of women of Mexican origin as "hyper-fertile" must not only be analyzed in their form and content, but additionally in their relation to the structural associations within which they historically emerge.

I further draw upon a growing body of critical analyses that argue that race and reproductive politics are fundamentally intertwined. Research since the 1980s has traced the systemic intrusions on the reproductive liberty of African American and other women of color and the historical control of fertility as a mechanism of racial domination and economic exploitation. Legal scholar Dorothy Roberts's treatise Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty deftly demonstrates that racial domination and reproductive control have been intricately tied throughout history. Central to her examination is how images about African American women render significant implications for their reproductive freedom. According to Roberts, "Regulating Black women's fertility seems so imperative because of the existence of powerful stereotypes that propel these policies; myths are meaningful as expressions of what we believe to be true; [and] have justified the restrictions on Black women's childbearing."

Other authors have documented how the development of racializing images and ideologies is central to the reproductive control of women of color. Sociologist Patricia Hill Collins has identified that "controlling images" such as the mammy, welfare queen, and Jezebel are historically deployed to devalue African American women. Collins's ground-breaking work theorizes how controlling images of African American women serve as "powerful ideological justifications" for class, race, gender, and sexuality domination. Stressing the ubiquity of these ideas in her now-classic treatise Black Feminist Thought, Collins writes that "schools, the news media, and government agencies constitute important sites for reproducing these controlling images. Scholarship has helped produce and disseminate controlling images." It is in these spaces where the discourse of reproductive politics is created and communicated.

Through the denial of black motherhood and the characterization of African American women as "bad mothers," the material deprivation of their reproductive rights to bear children has been symbolically justified. This dichotomization of good/bad, black/white motherhood is indeed a significant aspect of the racial politics of reproduction in the United States. However, in contrast to the depiction of African American women as neglectful mothers, historically and contemporarily, women of Mexican origin are more typically cast as overly identified mothers and reproducers.
The Politics of the Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: Historical Antecedents

Women's procreation has been a subject of political interest from the time of the Spanish colonization of Mexico. Spanish colonizers claimed a state imperative to control the childbearing of native women. Because a growing California needed a Hispanicized Indian population, missionaries took affirmative steps to encourage reproduction. Historian Antonia Castañeda has documented that in addition to encouraging marriages of converted AmerIndian women and mestizo soldiers by offering bounties, colonial officials also brought niños and niñas de cuna (foundlings) from Spain to populate California.

Castañeda's research further demonstrates how women of Mexican origin first came to be depicted as hyper-fertile. In particular, impressions collected in the narratives of Euro-American pioneers (many of which were commissioned by Hubert Howe Bancroft during the 1870s and 1880s) provide some of the first documented characterizations of the Mexican family, which dominated subsequent histories of early California. According to Castañeda, descriptions of the patriarchal Spanish-Mexican family, their reproductive patterns, and family size abound in the recordings of Euro-Americans and elite Californios: "the texts described California women as 'remarkably fecund' and frequently commented that families were exceptionally large, with women bearing twelve, fifteen, and twenty children." These stereotypical narratives provided a foundation on which most of the history of Mexican California is written. However, the research of Castañeda and others has dispelled these common mischaracterizations, suggesting that there was significant regional variation in the size of Spanish-Mexican California families, many of which had much smaller numbers of children than noted in founding texts.

Accounts of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin in the United States continued into the twentieth century. For example, in 1929 Samuel J. Holmes, a University of California professor, posed a foreboding question in an article entitled "Perils of the Mexican Invasion," published in the North American Review: "At a recent state fair in Sacramento, California, when prizes were offered for the largest families, the first prize went to a Mexican family with sixteen children.... This excessive fecundity is of course exceptional, but it is indicative of the breeding habits of this class of our population. Is it not evident, then, that the Mexican invasion is bound to have far-reaching effects upon our national life?" Concerns about a possible "Mexican invasion" of the United States are clearly expressed here, with particular speculation about the resulting cultural effects on the nation.

From the beginning of the century into the early 1940s, growing nativist sentiment blamed Mexican immigrants for societies' ills and commonly bemoaned their fertility. In a 1929 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, the editor offered his opinion under the heading "The Mexican Conquest": "The very high Mexican birth rate tends to depress still further the low white birth rate. Thus a race problem of the greatest magnitude is being allowed to develop for future generations to regret and in spite of the fact that the Mexican Indian is considered a most undesirable ethnic stock for the melting pot."

This concern about the fertility of Mexican women was wholeheartedly adopted by those associated with eugenic efforts. Sociologist David Montejano wrote:

The outcry about social decay reached near-hysterical levels. Eugenicists pointed out with alarm that Mexicans were not only intellectually inferior—they were also quite "fecund." Imaginative calculations were formulated to drive home the point. C. M. Goethe, president of the Immigrant Study Commission, speaking of a Los Angeles Mexican with thirty-three children, figured that "it would take 14,641 American fathers...at a three-child rate, to equal the descendants of this one Mexican father four generations hence."

Goethe, a Sacramento realtor, wrote in 1935, "It is this high birthrate that makes Mexican peon immigration such a menace. Peons multiply like rabbits." The social panic that eugenicists instigated often incited public outcries to deport Mexicans (immigrant or not); at times their messages were informed by germ theories and hereditarianism.

Alternatively, proponents of the Americanist agenda (1915-1929) believed that efforts should be made to assimilate the Mexican population in the United States. A growing body of literature has shown that these efforts primarily focused on the assimilation of Mexican immigrant women and their children into American culture. Historian George Sánchez has noted that for Americanists, motherhood represented "the juncture at which the Mexican immigrant women's potential role in Americanization was most highly valued." Ideas about fertility, reproduction, and motherhood all gained significant racial meaning within the process of Americanization, as female Mexican immigrants were believed to be the bearers and sharers of culture.

In her study of the Houchen Settlement, a "Christian Americanization" program run in El Paso, Texas, from 1920 to 1960, historian Vicki Ruiz argues that this and other groups like it paid particular attention to expectant mothers. Millie Rockford, who worked at the settlement, shared the logic behind this approach with Ruiz: "If we can teach her [the mother to be] the modern methods of cooking and preparing foods and simple hygiene habits for herself and her family, we have gained a stride."

In some cases Americanization policies bore important implications for the birth control practices of Mexican immigrant women. Americanists attempted to inculcate Anglo ideals of family planning and family size into the women's values in hopes of ultimately changing behavior as well. Efforts to transform the reproductive ideas and behavior of recent immigrants were fueled by nativist and Americanist fears of race suicide. According to Sánchez, "the nativists wanted to control Mexican population growth for fear of a 'greaser invasion,' while Americanists viewed unrestricted population growth as a vestige of Old World ways that would have to be abandoned in a modern industrial world." Regardless of their motivations, both nativists and Americanists centered their efforts on the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women.

More recently, social science literature on Mexican American women provides an acute example of these racializing images. Prevalent among depictions of Mexican-origin women in this body of research are assumptions that they are solely defined by their capacity to bear children. In a 1982 review of such representations in the extant social scientific literature, Sally Andrade wrote, "An exaggerated 'super-mother' figure emerges from a summary of the above impressions about Mexican American women: the unceasingly self-sacrificing, dedicated, ever-fertile woman totally without aspiration for self or initiative to do other than reproduce."

While dissimilar to the ideological constructs that shape the reproductive context for African American women, images of Mexican women as overly identified mothers are also embedded in a framework of racial domination. One important component of the circumvention of Mexican women's motherhood is the social construction of their hyper-fertility. Chicana feminist scholars have challenged these prevailing notions, showing that not only are these women complex in their identification as mothers, but that they are sexual beings who have diverse opinions regarding reproductive matters. Such efforts to deconstruct existing racist discourse and contribute to more accurate representations and analyses of the reproduction of women of Mexican origin are deliberately part of a Chicana feminist project. As Aida Hurtado explains, "Chicana feminisms proclaim that creating and controlling their own discourse are essential to decolonization. Passive silence has been the enemy that allowed others to construct who Chicanas are, what they can and cannot do, and what they are capable of becoming."

While scholars demonstrate the complex construction of racializing images and ideologies central to the reproductive control of African American and women of Mexican origin, less obvious are the ways that these images impact women's lives. I argue that beyond serving as key components of a "generalized ideology of domination," by which the oppression of women of color is justified, these notions are often manifested in social institutions and actors that construct individual experience. In this volume, I advance such an examination by considering both the discursive dimensions of fertility and reproduction as they pertain to women of Mexican origin and their circulation in policy and public attitudes—or rather, how these social constructions work.

Throughout the following chapters I explore ideas about Mexican-origin women's fertility in public discourse, assess the reasons for their deployment, and grapple with the relationship between "ideas" about fertility and the actual abuses enacted on the bodies of Mexican-origin women, including forced sterilization. I examine multiple forms of data (including written texts, oral statements, and other documents gathered through archival research) that construct social knowledge about Mexican-origin women's fertility. I empirically ground our notions of Mexican-origin women as "breeders" in historical context, and explore the implications of these ideas in the discursive practices of various social actors.

Mantcunanjin

Standing Bear (1834(?) – 1908) (Páⁿka iyé official orthography: Maⁿchú-Naⁿzhíⁿ/Macunajin;[1] other spellings: Ma-chú-nu-zhe, Ma-chú-na-zhe or Mantcunanjin pronounced [mãtʃuꜜnãʒĩꜜ]) was a Ponca Native American chief who successfully argued in U.S. District Court in 1879 in Omaha that Native Americans are «persons within the meaning of the law» and have the right of habeas corpus. His wife Susette Primeau was also a signatory on the 1879 writ that initiated the famous court case.

In 1875, the Ponca paramount chief White Eagle, Standing Bear, and other Ponca leaders met with US Indian Agent A. J. Carrier and signed a document allowing removal to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). White Eagle and other Ponca leaders later claimed that because of a mistranslation, he had understood that they were to move to the Omaha Reservation, not to the Indian Territory.

In February 1877, eight Ponca chiefs, including Standing Bear, accompanied Inspector Edward C. Kemble to the Osage Reservation to select a site. Due to lack of preparation by the agent, they did not identify a site. Angry about what he called the Ponca chiefs’ «insubordination», Kemble left them to walk back north. He proceeded to prepare to remove the tribe. In April, Kemble headed south to the Quapaw Reservation near present-day Peoria, Oklahoma, with those Ponca willing to leave. In May the US Army forced the removal of the rest of the tribe, including Standing Bear and his family.[4]

The Ponca arrived in Oklahoma too late to plant crops that year, and the government failed to provide them with the farming equipment it had promised as part of the deal. In 1878 they moved 150 miles west to the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River, south of present-day Ponca City, Oklahoma. By spring, nearly a third of the tribe had died due to starvation, malaria and related causes. Standing Bear’s eldest son, Bear Shield, was among the dead. Standing Bear had promised to bury him in the Niobrara River valley homeland, so he left to travel north, with 65 followers.[5]

When they reached at the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska, they were welcomed as relatives. Word of their arrival in Nebraska soon reached the government. Under orders from the Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz, who also directed the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Brigadier General George Crook had the Ponca arrested for having left the reservation in Indian Territory.[6] The Army took Standing Bear and the others to Fort Omaha, where they were detained. Although the official orders were to return them immediately to Indian Territory, Crook was sympathetic to the Ponca and appalled to learn of the conditions they had left. He delayed their return so the Ponca could rest, regain their health, and seek legal redress.[7]

Crook told the Ponca story to Thomas Tibbles, an editor of the Omaha Daily Herald, who publicized it widely. The attorney John L. Webster offered his services pro bono and was joined by Andrew J. Poppleton, chief attorney of the Union Pacific Railroad.

They aided Standing Bear, who in April 1879 sued for a writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Nebraska. Acting as interpreter for Standing Bear was Susette LaFlesche, an accomplished and educated, bilingual Omaha of mixed-race background. The case is called United States ex rel. Standing Bear v. Crook. General Crook was named as the formal defendant because he was holding the Ponca under color of law.

As the trial drew to a close, Judge Dundy announced that Chief Standing Bear would be allowed to make a speech in his own behalf. Raising his right hand, Standing Bear proceeded to speak. Among his words were, «That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain,» said Standing Bear. «The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.»[8]

On May 12, 1879, Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled that «an Indian is a person» within the meaning of habeas corpus. He stated that the federal government had failed to show a basis under law for the Poncas’ arrest and captivity.[9]

It was a landmark case, recognizing that an Indian is a “person” under the law and entitled to its rights and protection. “The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the more fortunate white race,” The judge concluded.

Years later, blind and in failing health, Poppleton would reflect on his final court plea for Standing Bear: “I cannot recall any two hours’ work of my life with which I feel better satisfied.”[10]

Standing Bear and his followers were immediately freed. The case gained the attention of the Hayes administration, which provided authority for Standing Bear and some of the tribe to return to the Niobrara valley in Nebraska.


At first the United States district attorney considered appealing the decision, but after studying Judge Dundy’s written opinion (a brilliant essay on human rights), he made no appeal to the Supreme Court. The United States government assigned Standing Bear and his band a few hundred acres of unclaimed land near the mouth of the Niobrara, and they were back home again.

As soon as the surviving 530 Poncas in Indian Territory learned of this astonishing turn of events, most of them began preparations to join their relatives in Nebraska. The Indian Bureau, however, was not sympathetic. Through its agents the bureau informed the Ponca chiefs that only the Great Council in Washington could decide if and when the tribe might return. The bureaucrats and politicians (the Indian Ring) recognized Judge Dundy’s decision as a strong threat to the reservation system; it would endanger the small army of entrepreneurs who were making fortunes funneling bad food, shoddy blankets, and poisonous whiskey to the thousands of Indians trapped on reservations. If the Poncas were permitted to leave their new reservation in Indian Territory and walk away as free American citizens, this would set a precedent which might well destroy the entire military-political-reservation complex.

In his annual report, Big Eyes Schurz admitted that the Poncas in Indian Territory «had a serious grievance,» but he strongly opposed permitting them to return to their homeland because it would make other Indians «restless with a desire to fol­low their example» and thereby cause a breakup of the territorial reservation system.16

At the same time, William H. Whiteman, who headed the lucra­tive Ponca agency, tried to discredit Standing Bear’s band by describing them as «certain renegade members of the tribe,» and then he wrote in glowing terms of his considerable expenditures for materials and tools to develop the reservation in Indian Territory. Whiteman made no mention of the discontent prevalent among the Poncas, their constant petitions to return to their homeland, or of his feud with Big Snake.

Big Snake was Standing Bear’s brother, a giant with hands like hams and shoulders as big as a buffalo’s. Like many huge men, Big Snake was quiet and gentle of manner (the Poncas called him the Peacemaker), but when he saw that White Eagle and the other head men were being intimidated by agent Whiteman, he decided to take action on his own. After all, he was the brother of Standing Bear, the Ponca who had won freedom for his people.

Determined to test the new law, Big Snake requested permis­sion to leave the reservation and go north to join his brother. As he expected, permission to leave was refused by agent Whiteman. Big Snake’s next move was not to leave Indian Territory, but to travel only a hundred miles to the Cheyenne reservation. With him went thirty other Poncas, making what they believed to be a gentle testing of the law which said that an Indian was a person and could not be confined to any particular reservation against his will.

Whiteman’s reaction was that of any entrenched bureaucrat whose authority is threatened. On May 21, 1879, he telegraphed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, reporting the defection of Big Snake and his party to the Cheyenne reservation, and requesting that they be arrested and detained at Fort Reno «until the tribe has recovered from the demoralizing effects of the decision recently made by the United States district court in Nebraska, in the case of Standing Bear.»17

Big Eyes Schurz agreed to the arrest, but evidently fearing another challenge in the courts, he asked the Great Warrior Sherman to transport Big Snake and his «renegades» back to the Ponca reservation as quickly and quietly as possible.

In his usual blunt manner, Sherman telegraphed General Sheridan on May 22: «The honorable Secretary of the Interior requests that the Poncas arrested and held at Fort Reno, in the Indian Territory… be sent to the agency of the Poncas. You may order this to be done.» And then, as if anticipating Sheridan’s apprehensions about flying in the face of Judge Dundy’s recent decision, Sherman decreed: «The release under writ of habeas corpus of the Poncas in Nebraska does not apply to any other than that specific case.»18 For the Great Warrior Sherman it was easier to unmake laws than it was for the courts of the land to interpret them.

And so Big Snake lost his first test of his brother’s victory at law, and he never had a chance to try again. After being brought back to the Ponca agency in the Corn Is in Silk Moon, Big Snake was marked for destruction. Agent Whiteman reported to Washington that Big Snake had «a very demoralizing effect upon the other Indians … extremely sullen and morose.» In one para­graph Whiteman charged that Big Snake had repeatedly threatened to kill him, and in another complained that the Ponca had never spoken to him since his return. The agent became so furious that he begged the Commissioner of Indian Affairs «to arrest Big Snake and convey him to Fort Reno and there confine him for the remainder of his natural life.»19

Finally, on October 25, Whiteman obtained authorization from Sherman to arrest Big Snake and imprison him in the agency guardhouse. To make the arrest, Whiteman requested a detail of soldiers. Five days later, Lieutenant Stanton A. Mason and thirteen soldiers arrived at the agency. Whiteman told Mason that he would send out a notice to the Poncas, ordering those who had money coming to them for special work to report to his office the next day. Big Snake would be among them, and as soon as he entered the office, Mason was to make the arrest.

On October 31 Big Snake entered Whiteman’s office about noon and was told to take a chair. Lieutenant Mason and eight armed men then surrounded him, Mason informing him that he was under arrest. Big Snake wanted to know why he was being arrested. Whiteman spoke up then and said one charge against him was threatening his (Whiteman’s) life. Big Snake calmly denied this. According to the post trader, J. S. Sherburne, Big Snake then stood up and threw off his blanket to show he was not armed.

Hairy Bear’s statement: «The officer told Big Snake to come along, to get up and come. Big Snake would not get up, and told the officer he wanted him to tell him what he had done. He said he had killed no one, stolen no horses, and that he had done nothing wrong. After Big Snake said that, the officer spoke to the agent, and then told Big Snake he had tried to kill two men, and had been pretty mean. Big Snake denied it. The agent then told him he had better go, and would then learn all about it down there. Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong, and that he would die before he would go. I then went up to Big Snake and told him this man [the officer] was not going to arrest him for nothing, and that he had better go along, and that perhaps he would come back all right; I coaxed all I could to get him to go; told him that he had a wife and children, and to remember them and not get killed. Big Snake then got up and told me that he did not want to go, and that if they wanted to kill him they could do it, right there. Big Snake was very cool. Then the officer told him to get up, and told him that if he did not go, there might something hap­pen. He said there was no use in talking; I came to arrest you, and want you to go. The officer went for the handcuffs, which a soldier had, and brought them in. The officer and a soldier then tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them both away. Then the officer spoke to the soldiers, and four of them tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. One soldier, who had stripes on his arms, also tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. They tried several times, all of them, to get hold of Big Snake and hold him. Big Snake was sitting down, when six soldiers got hold of him. He raised up and threw them off. Just then one of the soldiers, who was in front of him, struck Big Snake in the face with his gun, another soldier struck him alongside the head with the barrel of his gun. It knocked him back to the wall. He straightened up again. The blood was running down his face. I saw the gun pointed at him, and was scared, and did not want to see him killed. So I turned away. Then the gun was fired and Big Snake fell down dead on the floor.»20

The Interior Department first issued a statement that Standing Bear’s brother «Big Snake, a bad man» had been «shot accidentally.»21 The American press, however, growing more sen­sitive to treatment of Indians since the Standing Bear case, demanded an investigation in Congress. This time the military-political-reservation complex was operating in the familiar climate of Washington, and nothing came of the investigation.

The Poncas of Indian Territory had learned a bitter lesson. The white man’s law was an illusion; it did not apply to them. And so like the Cheyennes, the diminishing Ponca tribe was split in two—Standing Bear’s band free in the north, the others prisoners in the Indian Territory. (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, pp. 360-66)

Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong: that he carried no knife; and threw off his blanket and turned around to show he had no weapon. The officer again told him to come along. Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong and that he would die before he would go. I then went up to Big Snake and told him this man (the officer) was not going to arrest him for nothing, and that he had better go along, and that perhaps he would come back all right; I coaxed all I could to get him to go; told him that he had a wife and children and to remember them and not get killed. Big Snake t hen got up and told me that he did not want to go, and that if they wanted to kill him they could do it, right there. Big Snake was very cool. Then the officer told him to get up and told him that if he did not go, there might something happen. He said there is no use in talking; I came to arrest you and want you to go. The officer went for the handcuffs, which a soldier had, and brought them in. The officer and a soldier then tried to put them on him, but Big Snake pushed them both away. Then the officer spoke to the soldiers, and four of them tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. One soldier, who had stripes on his arms, also tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them off. They tried several times, all of them, to get hold of Big Snake and hold him. But Big Snake was sitting down, when six soldiers got hold of him. He raised up and threw them off. Just then one of the soldiers, who was in in front of him, struck Big Snake in the face with his gun, another soldier struck him along side the head with the barrel of his gun. It knocked him back to the wall. He straightened up again. The blood was running down his face. I saw the gun pointed at him, and was scared and did not want to see him killed. So, I turned away. Then the gun was fired and Big Snake fell down dead on the floor.

From Senate Executive Document No. 14, 46th Congress, 3d Session (January 5, 1881), p. 13.


United States, ex rel.
Standing Bear, v. George Crook, a
Brigadier-General of the Army of the United States.

  1. An Indian is a /person/ within the meaning of the /habeas corpus/ act, and as such is entitled to sue out a writ of /habeas corpus/ in the federal courts when it is shown that the petitioner is deprived of liberty under color of authority of the United States, or is in custody of an officer in violation of the constitution or a law of the United States, or in violation of a treaty made in pursuance thereof.
  2. The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent, and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the white race.
  3. The commissioner of Indian affairs has ample authority for removing from an Indian reservation all persons found thereon without authority of law, or whose presence may be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians.
  4. The military power of the government may be employed to effect such removal; but where the removal is effected, it is the duty of the troops to convey the persons so removed, by the most convenient route, to the civil authorities of the judicial district in which the offense may be committed to be proceeded against in due course of law. In time of peace, no authority civil or military exists for transporting Indians from one section of the country to, another, without the consent of the Indians, nor to confine then to any particular reservation against their will; and where officers of the government attempt to do this and arrest and hold Indians who are at peace with the government for the purpose of removing teens to and confining them on a reservation in the Indian Territory they will be released on /habeas corpus/.

(Before DUNDY, J.)
/habeas corpus/.-/Right of Indian to Writ/.
The facts are fully stated in the opinion of the court.
/A. J. Poppleton/ and /John L. Webster/, for the relators.
/G. M. Lambertson/, United States attorney, for the government.

DANDY, J.-During the fifteen years in which I have been engaged in administering the laws of my country, I have never been called upon to hear or decide a case that appealed so strongly to my sympathy as the one now under consideration On the one side, we have a few of the remnants of a once numerous and powerful, but now weak, insignificant, unlettered and generally despised race; on the other, we have the representative of one of the most powerful, most enlightened, and most Christianized nations of modern times. On the one side, we have the representatives of this wasted race coming into this national tribunal of ours, asking for justice and liberty to enable them to adopt our boasted civilization, and to pursue the arts of peace, which have made us great and happy as a nation; on the other side, we have this magnificent, if not magnanimous, government, resisting this application with the determination, of sending these people back to the country
which is to then less desirable than perpetual imprisonment in their own native land. But I think it is creditable to the heart and mind of the brave and distinguished officer who is made respondent herein to say that he has no sort of sympathy in the business in which he is forced by his position to bear a part so conspicuous; and, so far as I am individually concerned, I think it not improper to say that, if the strongest possible sympathy could give the relators title to freedom, they would have been restored to liberty the moment the arguments in
their behalf were closed. No examination or further thought would then have been necessary or Reliant. But in a country where liberty is regulated by law, something more satisfactory and enduring than mere sympathy must furnish and constitute the rule and basis of judicial action. It follows that this case must be examined and decided on principle of law, and that unless the relators are entitled to their discharge under the constitution or laws of the United States, or some treaty made pursuant thereto, they must be remanded to the custody of
the officer who caused their arrest, to be returned the Indian Territory, which they left without the consent of the government.

On the 8th of April, 1879, the relators, Standing Bear and twenty-five others, during the session of the court held at that time at Lincoln, presented their petition, duly verified, praying for the allowance of a writ of /habeas corpus/ and their final discharge from custody thereunder.

The petition alleges, in substance, that the relators are Indians who have formerly belonged to the Ponca tribe of Indians, now located in the Indian Territory; that they had some time previously withdrawn from the tribe, and completely severed their Tribal relations therewith, and had adopted the general habits of the whites, and were then endeavoring to maintain themselves by their own exertions, and without aid or assistance from the general government; that whilst they were thus engaged and without being guilty of violating any of the laws of the United States, they were arrested and restrained of their liberty by order of the respondent, George Crook.

The writ was issued and served on the respondent on the 8th day of April, and, the distance between the place where the writ was made returnable and the place where the relators were confined being more
than twenty miles, ten days were allotted in which to make return.

On the 18th of April the writ was returned, and the authority for the arrest and detention is therein shown. The substance of the return to the writ, and the additional statement since filed, is that the relators are individual members of, and connected with, the Ponca tribe of Indians; that they had fled or escaped from a reservation situated some place within the limits of the Indian Territory-had departed therefrom without permission from the government; and, at the request of the secretary of the interior, the general of the army had issued an order
which required the respondent to arrest and return the relators to their tribe in the Indian Territory, and that, pursuant to the said order, he had caused the relators to be arrested on the Omaha Indian reservation, and that they were in his custody for the purpose of being returned to the Indian Territory.

It is claimed upon the one side, and denied upon the other, that the relators had withdrawn and severed, for all time, their connection with the tribe to which they belonged; and upon this point alone was there any testimony produced by either party hereto. The other matters stated in the petition and the return to the writ are conceded to be true; so that the questions to be determined are purely questions of law.

On the 8th of March, 1859, a treaty was made by the United States with the Ponca tribe of Indians, by which a certain tract of country, north of the Niobrara river and west of the Missouri, was set apart for the permanent home of the said Indians, in which the government agreed to protect them during their good behavior. But just when, or how, or why, or under what circumstances, the Indians left their reservation in
Dakota and went to the Indian Territory, does not appear.

The district attorney very earnestly questions the jurisdiction of the court to issue the write, and to hear and determine the case made herein, and has supported his theory with an argument of great ingenuity and much ability. But, nevertheless, I am of the opinion that his premises are erroneous, and his conclusions, therefore, wrong and unjust. The great respect I entertain for that officer, and the very able manner in which his views were presented, make it necessary for me to give somewhat at length the reasons which lead me to this conclusion.

The district attorney discussed at length the reasons which led to the origin of the writ of /habeas corpus/, and the character of the proceedings and practice in connection therewith in the parent country.

It was claimed that the laws of the realm limited the right to sue out this writ to the /free subjects/ of the kingdom, and that none others came within the benefits of such beneficent laws; and, reasoning from
analogy, it is claimed that none but American citizens are entitled to sue out this high prerogative writ in nay of the federal courts. I have not examined the English laws regulating the suing out of the writ, nor have I thought it necessary so to do. Of this I will only observe that if the laws of England are as they are claimed to be, they will appear at a disadvantage when compared with our own. This only proves that the laws of a limited monarchy are sometimes less wise and humane than the laws of our own republic-that whilst the parliament of Great Britain was legislating in behalf of the favored few, the congress of the United States was legislating in behalf of all mankind who come within our jurisdiction.

Section 751 of the revised statutes declares that «the supreme court and the circuit and district courts shall have power to issue writs of /habeas corpus/.» Section 752 confers the power to issue writs on the judges of said courts, within their jurisdiction, and declares this to be » for the purpose of inquiry into the cause of restraint of liberty.»

Section 753 restricts the power, limits the jurisdiction, and defines the cases where the writ may properly issue. That may be done under this section where the prisoner » is in custody under or by color of authority of the United States, * * * or is in custody for an act done or omitted in pursuance of a law of the United States, * * * or in custody in violation of the constitution or of a law or treaty of the United States.» Thus, it will be seen that when a /person/ is in custody or deprived of his liberty under color of authority of the United States, or in violation of the constitution or laws or treaties of the United States, the federal judges have jurisdiction, and the writ can properly issue. I take it that the true construction to be placed upon this act is this, that in /all/ cases where federal officers, civil or military, have the custody and control of a person claimed to be unlawfully restrained of liberty, they are /then/ restrained of liberty under color of authority of the United States, and the federal courts can properly proceed to determine the question of unlawful restraint, because no other courts can properly do so. In the other instance, the federal courts and judges can properly issue the writ in /all/ cases where the /person/ is alleged to be in custody in violation of the constitution or a law or treaty of the United States. In such a case, it is wholly immaterial what over, state or federal, has custody of the person seeking the relief. These relators may be entitled to the writ in either case. Under the first paragraph they certainly are-that is, if an Indian can be entitled to it at all-because they are in custody of a
federal officer, under color of authority of the United States. And they may be entitled to the writ under the other paragraph, before recited, for the reason, as they allege, that they are restrained of liberty in violation of a provision of their treaty, before referred to. Now, it must be borne in mind that the /habeas corpus/ act describes applicants for the writ as /»persons,»/ or /» parties,»/ who may be entitled thereto. It nowhere describes them as citizens, nor is citizenship in any way or place made a qualification for suing out the writ, and, in the absence of express provision or necessary implication which would require the interpretation contended for by the district attorney, I should not feel justified in giving the words /person/ and /party/ such
a narrow construction. The most natural, and therefore most reasonable, way is to attach the same meaning to /words/ and /phrases/ when found in a statute that is attached to them when and where found in general use.
If we do so in this instance, then the question cannot be open to serious doubt. Webster describes a person as «a living soul; a self-conscious being; a moral agent; especially a living human being; a mans or child; an individual of the human race.» This is comprehensive enough, it would seem, to include even an Indian. In defining certain generic terms, the 1st section of the revised statutes declares that the word /person/ includes copartnerships and corporations. On the whole, it seems to me guise evident that the comprehensive language used in this section is intended to apply to all mankind-as well the relators as the mere favored white race. This will be doing no violence to language, or to the spirit or letter of the law, nor to the intention, as it is
believed, of the law-making power of the government I must hold, then, that /Indians/, and consequently the relators, are /persons/, such as are described by and included within the laws before quoted. It is said, however, that this is thirst instance on record in which an Indian has been permitted to sue out and maintain a writ of /habeas corpus/ in a federal court, and /therefore/ the court must be without jurisdiction in the premises. This is a /non sequitur/. I confess I do not know of another instance where this has been done, but I can also say that the occasion for it perhaps has never before been so great. It may be that the Indians think it wiser and better, in to end, to resort to this peaceful process than it would be to undertake the hopeless task of redressing their own alleged wrongs by force of arms. Returning reason, and the sad experience of others similarly situated, have taught them the folly and madness of the arbitrament of the sword. They can readily
see that any serious resistance on their part would be the signal for their utter extirmination. Have they not, then, chosen the wiser part by resorting to the very tribunal erected by those they claim have wronged and oppressed them ? This, however, is not the tribunal of their own choice, but it is the /only/ one into which they can lawfully go for deliverance. It cannot, therefore, be fairly said that because no Indian ever before invoked the aid of this writ in a federal court, the rightful authority to issue it does not exist. Power and authority right
fully conferred do not necessarily cease to exist in consequence of long non-user. Though much time has elapsed, and many generations have passed away, since the passage of the original habeas corpus act, from which I have quoted, it will not do to say that these Indians cannot avail themselves of its beneficent provisions simply because none of their ancestors ever sought relief thereunder.

Every /person/ who comes within our jurisdiction, whether he be European, Asiatic, African, or «native to the manor born,» must obey the laws of the United States. Every one who violates them incurs the penalty provided thereby. When a person is charged, in a proper way, with the commission of crime, we do not inquire upon the trial in what country the accused was born, nor to what sovereign or government allegiance is due, nor to what race he belongs. The questions of guilt and innocence only form the subjects of inquiry. An Indian, then, especially off from his reservation, is amenable to the criminal laws of the United States, the same as all other persons. They being subject to arrest for the violation of our criminal laws, and being persons such as the law contemplates and includes in the description of parties who may sue out the writ, it would indeed be a sad commentary on the justice and impartiality of our laws to hold that Indians, though natives of, our
own country, cannot test the validity of an alleged illegal imprisonment in this manner, as well as a subject of a foreign government who may happen to be sojourning in this country, but owing it no sort of allegiance. I cannot doubt that congress intended to give to /every person/ who might be unlawfully restrained of liberty under color of authority of the United States, the right to the writ and a discharge thereon. I conclude, then, that, so far as the issuing of the writ is concerned, it was properly issued, and that the relators are within the
jurisdiction conferred by the /habeas corpus/ act.

A question of much greater importance remains for consideration, which, when determined, will be decisive of this whole controversy. This relates to the right of the government to arrest and hold the relators for a time, for the purpose of being returned to a point in the Indian Territory from which it is alleged the Indians escaped. I am not vain enough to think that I can do full justice to a question like the one under consideration. But, as the matter furnishes so much valuable material for discussion, and so much food for reflection, I shall try to present it as viewed from my own standpoint, without reference to consequences or criticisms, which, though not specially invited, will be sure to follow.

A review of the policy of the government adopted in its dealings with the friendly tribe of Poncas, to which the relators at one time belonged, seems not only appropriate, but almost indispensable to a correct understanding of this controversy. The Ponca Indians have been at peace with the government, and have remained the steadfast friends of the whites, for many years. They lived peaceably upon the land arid in
the country they claimed and called their own.

On the 12th of March, 1858, they made a treaty with the United States, by which they ceded all claims to lands, except the following tract:
«Beginning at a point on the Niobrara river, and running due north so as to intersect the Ponca river twenty-five miles from its mouth; thence from said point of intersection up and along the Ponca river twenty
miles; thence due south to the Niobrara river; and thence down and along said river to the place of beginning; which tract is hereby reserved for the future homes of said Indians.» In consideration of this cession, the
government agreed » to protect the Poncas in the possession of the tract of land reserved for their future homes, and their persons and property thereon, during good behavior on their part.» Annuities were to be paid them for thirty years, houses were to be built, schools were to be established, and other things were to be done by the government, in consideration of said cession. (See 12 Stats. at Large, p. 997.)

On the 10th of March, 1865, another treaty was made, and a part of the other reservation was ceded to the government. Other lands, however, were, to some extent, substituted therefor, » by way of rewarding them
for their constant fidelity to the government, and citizens thereof, and with a view of returning to the said tribe of Ponca Indians their old burying-grounds and cornfields.» This treaty also provides for paying $15,080 for spoliations committed on the Indians. (See 14 Stats. at Large, p. 675.)

On the 29th day of April, 1868, the government made a treaty with the several bands of Sioux Indians, which treaty was ratified by the senate on the 16th of the following February, in and by which the reservations
set apart for the Poncas under former treaties were completely absolved.

(15 Stats. at Large, p. 635.) This was done without consultation with, or knowledge or consent on the part of, the Ponca tribe of Indians.

On the 15th of August; 1876, congress passed the general Indian appropriation bill, and in it we find a provision authorizing the secretary of the interior to use $25,000 for the removal of the Poncas to the Indian Territory, and providing them a hone therein, with consent of the tribe. (19 Stats. at Large, p.192.)

In the Indian appropriation bill passed by congress on the 27th day of May, 1878, we find a provision authorizing the secretary of the interior to expend the sum of $30,000 for the purpose of removing and locating the Ponca Indians on a new reservation, near the Kaw river.

No reference has been made to any other treaties or laws, under which the right to arrest and remove the Indians is claimed to exist.

The Poncas lived upon their reservation in southern Dakota, and cultivated a portion of the same, until two or three years ago, when they removed therefrom, but whether by force or otherwise does not appear. At all events, we find a portion of them, including the relators, located at some point in the Indian Territory. /There/, the testimony seems to show, is where the trouble commenced. Standing Bear, the principal witness, states that out of five hundred and eighty-one Indians who went from the reservation in Dakota to the Indian Territory, one hundred and fifty-eight died within a year or so, and a great proportion of the others were sick and disabled, caused, in a great measure, no doubt, from change of climate; and to save himself and the
survivors of his wasted family, and the feeble remnant of his little band of followers, he determined to leave the Indian Territory and return to his old home, where, to use his own language, «he might live and die in peace, and be buried with his fathers.» He also states that he informed the agent of their final purpose to leave, never to return, and that he and his followers had finally, fully, and forever severed his and their connection with the Ponca tribe of Indians, and had resolved to disband as a tribe, or band, of Indians, and to cut loose
from the government, go to work, become self-sustaining, and adopt the habits and customs of a higher civilization. To accomplish what would seem to be a desirable and laudable purpose, all who were able so to do went to work to earn a living. The Omaha Indians, who speak the same language, and with whom many of the Poncas have long continued to intermarry, gave them employment and ground to cultivate, so as to make
them self-sustaining. And it was when at the Omaha reservation, and when /thus/ employed, that they were arrested by order of the government, for the purpose of being taken back to the Indian Territory. They claim to be unable to see the justice, or reason, or wisdom, or /necessity/, of removing them by force from their own native plains and blood relations to a far-off country, in which they can see little but new-made graves
opening for their reception. The land from which they fled in fear has no attractions for them. The love of home and native land was strong enough in the minds of these people to induce them to brave every peril
to return and live and die where they had been reared. The bones of the dead son of Standing Bear were not to repose in the land they hoped to be leaving forever, but were carefully preserved and protected, and
formed a part of what was to them a melancholy procession homeward. Such instances of parental affection, and such love of home and native land, may be /heathen/ in origin, but it seems to me that they are not unlike
/Christian/ in principle.

What is here stated in this connection is mainly for the purpose of showing that the relators did all they could to separate themselves from their tribe and to sever their tribal relations, for the purpose of becoming self-sustaining and living without support from the government.

This being so, it presents the question as to whether or not an Indian can withdraw from his tribe, sever his tribal relation therewith, and terminate his allegiance thereto, for the purpose of making an independent diving and adopting our own civilization.

If Indian tribes are to be regarded and treated as separate but dependent nations, there can be no serious difficulty about the question. If they are not to be regarded and treated as separate, dependent nations, then no allegiance is owing from an individual Indian to his tribe, and he could, therefore, withdraw therefrom at any time.

The question of expatriation has engaged the attention of our government from the time of its very foundation. Many heated discussions have been carried on between our own and foreign governments on this great question, until diplomacy has triumphantly secured the right to every person found within our jurisdiction. This right has always been claimed and admitted by our government, and it is now no longer an open question. It can make but little difference, then, whether we accord to the Indian tribes a national character or not, as in either case I think the individual Indian possesses the clear and God-given right to withdraw from his tribe and forever live away from it, as though it had no further existence If the right of expatriation was open to doubt in
this country down to the year 1868, certainly since that time no sort of question as to the right can now exist.
On the 27th of July of that year congress passed an act, now appearing as section 1999 of the revised statutes, which declares that: » Whereas, the right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and, whereas, in the recognition of this principle the government has freely received emigrants from all nations, and invested them with the rights of citizenship. * * ,* Therefore, any declaration, instruction, opinion, order, or decision of any officer of the United States which denies, restricts, impairs, or questions the right of expatriation, is declared
inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the republic.»

This declaration must forever settle the question until it is reopened by other legislation upon the same subject. This is, however, only reaffirming in the most solemn and authoritative manner a principle well settled and understood in this country for why years past.

In most, if not all, instances in which treaties have been made with the several Indian tribes, where reservations have been set apart for their occupancy, the government has either reserved the right or bound itself to protect the Indians thereon. Many of the treaties expressly prohibit white persons being on the reservations unless specially authorized by the treaties or acts of congress for the purpose of carrying out treaty stipulations.

Laws passed for the government of the Indian country, and I for the purpose of regulating trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, confer upon certain officers of the government almost unlimited power
over the persons who go upon the reservations without lawful authority.

Section 2149 of the revised statutes authorizes and requires the commissioner of Indian affairs, with the approval of the secretary of the interior, to remove from any «tribal reservation» any person being thereon without authority of law, or whose presence within the limits of the reservation may, in the judgment of the commissioner, be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians. The authority here conferred upon the commissioner fully justifies him in causing to be removed from Indian reservations /all/ persons thereon in violation of law, or whose presence thereon may be detrimental to the peace end welfare of the Indians upon the reservations. This applies as well to an Indian as to a white person, and manifestly for the same reason, the object of the law being to prevent unwarranted interference between the Indians and the agent representing the government. Whether such an extensive discretionary power is wisely vested in the commissioner of Indian affairs or not, need not be questioned. It is enough to know that the power rightfully exists, and, where existing, the exercise of the power must be upheld. If, then, the commissioner has the right to cause the
expulsion from the Omaha Indian reservation of all persons thereon who are there in violation of law, or whose presence may be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians, then he must of necessity be
authorized to use the necessary force to accomplish his purpose. Where, then, is he to look for this necessary force? The military arm of the government is the most natural and most potent force to be used on such
occasions, and section 2150 of the revised statutes specially authorizes the use of the army for this service.
The army, then, it seems, is the proper force to employ when intruders and trespassers who go upon the
reservations are to be ejected therefrom.

The first subdivision of the revised statutes last referred to provides that «the military forces of the United States may be employed, in such manner and under such regulations as the president may direct, in the
apprehension of every person who may be in the Indian country in violation of law, and in conveying him immediately from the Indian country, by the nearest convenient and safe route, to the civil authority of the territory or judicial district in which such person shall be found, to be proceeded against in due course of law.» * * *

This is the authority under which the military can be lawfully employed to remove intruders from an Indian reservation. What may be done by the troops in such cases is here fully and clearly stated; and it is /this/
authority, it is believed, under which the respondent acted.

All Indian reservations held under treaty stipulations with the government must be deemed and taken to be a part of the /Indian country/, within the meaning of our laws on that subject. The relators were found upon the Omaha Indian reservation. That being a part of the Indian country, and they not being a part of the Omaha tribe of Indians, they were there without lawful authority, and if the commissioner of Indian affairs deemed -their presence detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Omaha Indians, he had lawful warrant to remove them from the reservation, and to employ the necessary military force to effect this object in safety.

General Crook had the rightful authority to remove the relators from the reservation, and must stand justified in removing them therefrom. But when the troops are thus employed they must exercise the authority in the manner provided by the section of the law just read. This law makes it the duty of the troops to convey the parties arrested, by the nearest convenient and safe rote, /to the civil authority of the territory or judicial district in which persons shall be found, to be proceeded against in due course of law/. The /duty/ of the military authorities is here very clearly and sharply defined, and no one can be justified in departing therefrom, especially in time of peace. As General Crook tad the right to arrest and remove the relators from the Omaha Indian reservation, it follows, from what has been stated, that the law required him to convey them to this city and turn them over to the marshal and United States attorney, to be proceeded against in due course of law. Then proceedings could be instituted against them in either the circuit or district court, and if the relators had incurred a penalty under the law, punishment would follow; otherwise, they would be discharged from custody. Put this course was not pursued in this case; neither was it intended to observe the laws in that regard, for General Crook’s orders, emanating from higher authority, expressly required him to apprehend the relators and remove them by force to the Indian Territory, from which it is alleged they escaped. But in what General Crook has done in the premises no fault can be imputed to him. He was simply obeying the orders of his superior officers, but the orders, as we think, lack the necessary authority of law, and are, therefore, not
binding on the relators.

I have searched in vain for the semblance of any authority justifying the commissioner in attempting to remove by force any Indians, whether belonging to a tribe or not, to any place, or for any other purpose than what has been stated. Certainly, without some specific authority found in an act of congress, or in a treaty with the Ponca tribe of Indians, he could not lawfully force the relators back to the Indian Territory, to remain and die in that country, against their will. In the absence of all treaty stipulations or laws of the United States authorizing such removal, I must conclude that no such arbitrary authority exists. It is true, if the relators are to be regarded as a part of the great nation of Ponca Indians, the government might, in time of war, remove them to any place of safety so long as the war should last, but perhaps no longer, unless they were charged with the commission of some crime. This is a war power merely, and exists in time of war only. Every nation exercises the right to arrest and detain an alien enemy during the existence of a war, and all subjects or citizens of the hostile nations are subject to be dealt with under this rule.

But it is not claimed that the Ponca tribe of Indians are at war with the United States, so that this war power might be used against them; in fact, they are amongst the most peaceable and friendly of all the Indian tribes, and have at times received from the government unmistakable and substantial recognition of their long-continued friendship for the whites In time of peace the war power remains in abeyance, and must be
subservient to the civil authority of the government until something occurs to justify its exercise. No fact exists, and nothing has occurred, so far as the relators are concerned, to make it necessary or lawful to exercise such an authority over them. If they could be removed to the Indian Territory by force, and kept there in the same way, I can see no good reason why they might not be taken and kept by force in the penitentiary at Lincoln, or Leavenworth, or Jefferson City, or any other place which the commander of the forces might, in his judgment, see proper to designate. I cannot think that any such arbitrary authority exists in this country.

The reasoning advanced in support of my views, leads me to conclude:

/1st./ That an /Indian/ is a PERSON within the meaning of the laws of the United States, and has, therefore, the right to sue out a writ of /habeas corpus/ in a federal court, or before a federal judge, in all cases where he may be confined or in custody under color of authority of the United States, or where he is restrained of liberty in violation of the constitution or laws of the United States.

/2d./ That General George Crook, the respondent, being commander of the military department of the Platte, has the custody of the relators, under color of authority of the United States, and in violation of the laws thereof.

/3d./ That no rightful authority exists for removing by force any of the relators to the Indian Territory, as the respondent has been directed to do.

/4th./ That the Indians possess the inherent right of expatriation, as well as the more fortunate white race, and have the inalienable right to «/life, liberty/, and the pursuit of happiness,» so long as they obey the laws and do not trespass on forbidden ground. And,

/5th./ Being restrained of liberty under color of authority of t the United States, and in violation of the laws thereof, the relators must be discharged from custody, and it is so ordered.

ORDERED ACCORDINGLY.

NOTE-At the May term, 1879, Mr. Justice MILLER refused to hear an appeal prosecuted by the United States, because the Indians who then petitioned for the writ of /habeas corpus/ were not present, having been released by the order of DUNDY, J., and no security for their appearance having been taken.

* Source:
Cases Determined in the United States Circuit Courts for the Eighth Circuit
Reported by John Dillon, The Circuit Judge.
Volume 5
Davenport, Iowa: Egbert, Fidlar, & Chambers. 1880.




Standing Bear (1834(?) - 1908) (Pá?ka iyé official orthography: Ma?chú-Na?zhí?/Macunajin;[1] other spellings: Ma-chú-nu-zhe, Ma-chú-na-zhe or Mantcunanjin pronounced [mãt?u?nã???]) was a Ponca Native American chief who successfully argued in U.S. District Court in 1879 in Omaha that Native Americans are "persons within the meaning of the law" and have the right of habeas corpus. His wife Susette Primeau was also a signatory on the 1879 writ that initiated the famous court case.

In 1875, the Ponca paramount chief White Eagle, Standing Bear, and other Ponca leaders met with US Indian Agent A. J. Carrier and signed a document allowing removal to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). White Eagle and other Ponca leaders later claimed that because of a mistranslation, he had understood that they were to move to the Omaha Reservation, not to the Indian Territory.

In February 1877, eight Ponca chiefs, including Standing Bear, accompanied Inspector Edward C. Kemble to the Osage Reservation to select a site. Due to lack of preparation by the agent, they did not identify a site. Angry about what he called the Ponca chiefs' "insubordination", Kemble left them to walk back north. He proceeded to prepare to remove the tribe. In April, Kemble headed south to the Quapaw Reservation near present-day Peoria, Oklahoma, with those Ponca willing to leave. In May the US Army forced the removal of the rest of the tribe, including Standing Bear and his family.[4]

The Ponca arrived in Oklahoma too late to plant crops that year, and the government failed to provide them with the farming equipment it had promised as part of the deal. In 1878 they moved 150 miles west to the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River, south of present-day Ponca City, Oklahoma. By spring, nearly a third of the tribe had died due to starvation, malaria and related causes. Standing Bear's eldest son, Bear Shield, was among the dead. Standing Bear had promised to bury him in the Niobrara River valley homeland, so he left to travel north, with 65 followers.[5]

When they reached at the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska, they were welcomed as relatives. Word of their arrival in Nebraska soon reached the government. Under orders from the Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz, who also directed the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Brigadier General George Crook had the Ponca arrested for having left the reservation in Indian Territory.[6] The Army took Standing Bear and the others to Fort Omaha, where they were detained. Although the official orders were to return them immediately to Indian Territory, Crook was sympathetic to the Ponca and appalled to learn of the conditions they had left. He delayed their return so the Ponca could rest, regain their health, and seek legal redress.[7]

Crook told the Ponca story to Thomas Tibbles, an editor of the Omaha Daily Herald, who publicized it widely. The attorney John L. Webster offered his services pro bono and was joined by Andrew J. Poppleton, chief attorney of the Union Pacific Railroad.

They aided Standing Bear, who in April 1879 sued for a writ of habeas corpus in U.S. District Court in Omaha, Nebraska. Acting as interpreter for Standing Bear was Susette LaFlesche, an accomplished and educated, bilingual Omaha of mixed-race background. The case is called United States ex rel. Standing Bear v. Crook. General Crook was named as the formal defendant because he was holding the Ponca under color of law.

As the trial drew to a close, Judge Dundy announced that Chief Standing Bear would be allowed to make a speech in his own behalf. Raising his right hand, Standing Bear proceeded to speak. Among his words were, "That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain," said Standing Bear. "The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man."[8]

On May 12, 1879, Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled that "an Indian is a person" within the meaning of habeas corpus. He stated that the federal government had failed to show a basis under law for the Poncas' arrest and captivity.[9]

It was a landmark case, recognizing that an Indian is a “person” under the law and entitled to its rights and protection. “The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the more fortunate white race,” The judge concluded.

Years later, blind and in failing health, Poppleton would reflect on his final court plea for Standing Bear: “I cannot recall any two hours' work of my life with which I feel better satisfied.”[10]

Standing Bear and his followers were immediately freed. The case gained the attention of the Hayes administration, which provided authority for Standing Bear and some of the tribe to return to the Niobrara valley in Nebraska.





At first the United States district attorney considered appealing the decision, but after studying Judge Dundy's written opinion (a brilliant essay on human rights), he made no appeal to the Supreme Court. The United States government assigned Standing Bear and his band a few hundred acres of unclaimed land near the mouth of the Niobrara, and they were back home again.

As soon as the surviving 530 Poncas in Indian Territory learned of this astonishing turn of events, most of them began preparations to join their relatives in Nebraska. The Indian Bureau, however, was not sympathetic. Through its agents the bureau informed the Ponca chiefs that only the Great Council in Washington could decide if and when the tribe might return. The bureaucrats and politicians (the Indian Ring) recognized Judge Dundy's decision as a strong threat to the reservation system; it would endanger the small army of entrepreneurs who were making fortunes funneling bad food, shoddy blankets, and poisonous whiskey to the thousands of Indians trapped on reservations. If the Poncas were permitted to leave their new reservation in Indian Territory and walk away as free American citizens, this would set a precedent which might well destroy the entire military-political-reservation complex.

In his annual report, Big Eyes Schurz admitted that the Poncas in Indian Territory "had a serious grievance," but he strongly opposed permitting them to return to their homeland because it would make other Indians "restless with a desire to fol­low their example" and thereby cause a breakup of the territorial reservation system.16

At the same time, William H. Whiteman, who headed the lucra­tive Ponca agency, tried to discredit Standing Bear's band by describing them as "certain renegade members of the tribe," and then he wrote in glowing terms of his considerable expenditures for materials and tools to develop the reservation in Indian Territory. Whiteman made no mention of the discontent prevalent among the Poncas, their constant petitions to return to their homeland, or of his feud with Big Snake.

Big Snake was Standing Bear's brother, a giant with hands like hams and shoulders as big as a buffalo's. Like many huge men, Big Snake was quiet and gentle of manner (the Poncas called him the Peacemaker), but when he saw that White Eagle and the other head men were being intimidated by agent Whiteman, he decided to take action on his own. After all, he was the brother of Standing Bear, the Ponca who had won freedom for his people.

Determined to test the new law, Big Snake requested permis­sion to leave the reservation and go north to join his brother. As he expected, permission to leave was refused by agent Whiteman. Big Snake's next move was not to leave Indian Territory, but to travel only a hundred miles to the Cheyenne reservation. With him went thirty other Poncas, making what they believed to be a gentle testing of the law which said that an Indian was a person and could not be confined to any particular reservation against his will.

Whiteman's reaction was that of any entrenched bureaucrat whose authority is threatened. On May 21, 1879, he telegraphed the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, reporting the defection of Big Snake and his party to the Cheyenne reservation, and requesting that they be arrested and detained at Fort Reno "until the tribe has recovered from the demoralizing effects of the decision recently made by the United States district court in Nebraska, in the case of Standing Bear."17

Big Eyes Schurz agreed to the arrest, but evidently fearing another challenge in the courts, he asked the Great Warrior Sherman to transport Big Snake and his "renegades" back to the Ponca reservation as quickly and quietly as possible.

In his usual blunt manner, Sherman telegraphed General Sheridan on May 22: "The honorable Secretary of the Interior requests that the Poncas arrested and held at Fort Reno, in the Indian Territory... be sent to the agency of the Poncas. You may order this to be done." And then, as if anticipating Sheridan's apprehensions about flying in the face of Judge Dundy's recent decision, Sherman decreed: "The release under writ of habeas corpus of the Poncas in Nebraska does not apply to any other than that specific case."18 For the Great Warrior Sherman it was easier to unmake laws than it was for the courts of the land to interpret them.

And so Big Snake lost his first test of his brother's victory at law, and he never had a chance to try again. After being brought back to the Ponca agency in the Corn Is in Silk Moon, Big Snake was marked for destruction. Agent Whiteman reported to Washington that Big Snake had "a very demoralizing effect upon the other Indians ... extremely sullen and morose." In one para­graph Whiteman charged that Big Snake had repeatedly threatened to kill him, and in another complained that the Ponca had never spoken to him since his return. The agent became so furious that he begged the Commissioner of Indian Affairs "to arrest Big Snake and convey him to Fort Reno and there confine him for the remainder of his natural life."19

Finally, on October 25, Whiteman obtained authorization from Sherman to arrest Big Snake and imprison him in the agency guardhouse. To make the arrest, Whiteman requested a detail of soldiers. Five days later, Lieutenant Stanton A. Mason and thirteen soldiers arrived at the agency. Whiteman told Mason that he would send out a notice to the Poncas, ordering those who had money coming to them for special work to report to his office the next day. Big Snake would be among them, and as soon as he entered the office, Mason was to make the arrest.

On October 31 Big Snake entered Whiteman's office about noon and was told to take a chair. Lieutenant Mason and eight armed men then surrounded him, Mason informing him that he was under arrest. Big Snake wanted to know why he was being arrested. Whiteman spoke up then and said one charge against him was threatening his (Whiteman's) life. Big Snake calmly denied this. According to the post trader, J. S. Sherburne, Big Snake then stood up and threw off his blanket to show he was not armed.

Hairy Bear's statement: "The officer told Big Snake to come along, to get up and come. Big Snake would not get up, and told the officer he wanted him to tell him what he had done. He said he had killed no one, stolen no horses, and that he had done nothing wrong. After Big Snake said that, the officer spoke to the agent, and then told Big Snake he had tried to kill two men, and had been pretty mean. Big Snake denied it. The agent then told him he had better go, and would then learn all about it down there. Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong, and that he would die before he would go. I then went up to Big Snake and told him this man [the officer] was not going to arrest him for nothing, and that he had better go along, and that perhaps he would come back all right; I coaxed all I could to get him to go; told him that he had a wife and children, and to remember them and not get killed. Big Snake then got up and told me that he did not want to go, and that if they wanted to kill him they could do it, right there. Big Snake was very cool. Then the officer told him to get up, and told him that if he did not go, there might something hap­pen. He said there was no use in talking; I came to arrest you, and want you to go. The officer went for the handcuffs, which a soldier had, and brought them in. The officer and a soldier then tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them both away. Then the officer spoke to the soldiers, and four of them tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. One soldier, who had stripes on his arms, also tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. They tried several times, all of them, to get hold of Big Snake and hold him. Big Snake was sitting down, when six soldiers got hold of him. He raised up and threw them off. Just then one of the soldiers, who was in front of him, struck Big Snake in the face with his gun, another soldier struck him alongside the head with the barrel of his gun. It knocked him back to the wall. He straightened up again. The blood was running down his face. I saw the gun pointed at him, and was scared, and did not want to see him killed. So I turned away. Then the gun was fired and Big Snake fell down dead on the floor."20

The Interior Department first issued a statement that Standing Bear's brother "Big Snake, a bad man" had been "shot accidentally."21 The American press, however, growing more sen­sitive to treatment of Indians since the Standing Bear case, demanded an investigation in Congress. This time the military-political-reservation complex was operating in the familiar climate of Washington, and nothing came of the investigation.

The Poncas of Indian Territory had learned a bitter lesson. The white man's law was an illusion; it did not apply to them. And so like the Cheyennes, the diminishing Ponca tribe was split in two—Standing Bear's band free in the north, the others prisoners in the Indian Territory. (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, pp. 360-66)

Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong: that he carried no knife; and threw off his blanket and turned around to show he had no weapon. The officer again told him to come along. Big Snake said he had done nothing wrong and that he would die before he would go. I then went up to Big Snake and told him this man (the officer) was not going to arrest him for nothing, and that he had better go along, and that perhaps he would come back all right; I coaxed all I could to get him to go; told him that he had a wife and children and to remember them and not get killed. Big Snake t hen got up and told me that he did not want to go, and that if they wanted to kill him they could do it, right there. Big Snake was very cool. Then the officer told him to get up and told him that if he did not go, there might something happen. He said there is no use in talking; I came to arrest you and want you to go. The officer went for the handcuffs, which a soldier had, and brought them in. The officer and a soldier then tried to put them on him, but Big Snake pushed them both away. Then the officer spoke to the soldiers, and four of them tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them all off. One soldier, who had stripes on his arms, also tried to put them on, but Big Snake pushed them off. They tried several times, all of them, to get hold of Big Snake and hold him. But Big Snake was sitting down, when six soldiers got hold of him. He raised up and threw them off. Just then one of the soldiers, who was in in front of him, struck Big Snake in the face with his gun, another soldier struck him along side the head with the barrel of his gun. It knocked him back to the wall. He straightened up again. The blood was running down his face. I saw the gun pointed at him, and was scared and did not want to see him killed. So, I turned away. Then the gun was fired and Big Snake fell down dead on the floor.

From Senate Executive Document No. 14, 46th Congress, 3d Session (January 5, 1881), p. 13.



United States, ex rel.
Standing Bear, v. George Crook, a
Brigadier-General of the Army of the United States.


  1. An Indian is a /person/ within the meaning of the /habeas corpus/ act, and as such is entitled to sue out a writ of /habeas corpus/ in the federal courts when it is shown that the petitioner is deprived of liberty under color of authority of the United States, or is in custody of an officer in violation of the constitution or a law of the United States, or in violation of a treaty made in pursuance thereof.
  2. The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent, and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the white race.
  3. The commissioner of Indian affairs has ample authority for removing from an Indian reservation all persons found thereon without authority of law, or whose presence may be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians.
  4. The military power of the government may be employed to effect such removal; but where the removal is effected, it is the duty of the troops to convey the persons so removed, by the most convenient route, to the civil authorities of the judicial district in which the offense may be committed to be proceeded against in due course of law. In time of peace, no authority civil or military exists for transporting Indians from one section of the country to, another, without the consent of the Indians, nor to confine then to any particular reservation against their will; and where officers of the government attempt to do this and arrest and hold Indians who are at peace with the government for the purpose of removing teens to and confining them on a reservation in the Indian Territory they will be released on /habeas corpus/.
(Before DUNDY, J.)
/habeas corpus/.-/Right of Indian to Writ/.
The facts are fully stated in the opinion of the court.
/A. J. Poppleton/ and /John L. Webster/, for the relators.
/G. M. Lambertson/, United States attorney, for the government.

DANDY, J.-During the fifteen years in which I have been engaged in administering the laws of my country, I have never been called upon to hear or decide a case that appealed so strongly to my sympathy as the one now under consideration On the one side, we have a few of the remnants of a once numerous and powerful, but now weak, insignificant, unlettered and generally despised race; on the other, we have the representative of one of the most powerful, most enlightened, and most Christianized nations of modern times. On the one side, we have the representatives of this wasted race coming into this national tribunal of ours, asking for justice and liberty to enable them to adopt our boasted civilization, and to pursue the arts of peace, which have made us great and happy as a nation; on the other side, we have this magnificent, if not magnanimous, government, resisting this application with the determination, of sending these people back to the country
which is to then less desirable than perpetual imprisonment in their own native land. But I think it is creditable to the heart and mind of the brave and distinguished officer who is made respondent herein to say that he has no sort of sympathy in the business in which he is forced by his position to bear a part so conspicuous; and, so far as I am individually concerned, I think it not improper to say that, if the strongest possible sympathy could give the relators title to freedom, they would have been restored to liberty the moment the arguments in
their behalf were closed. No examination or further thought would then have been necessary or Reliant. But in a country where liberty is regulated by law, something more satisfactory and enduring than mere sympathy must furnish and constitute the rule and basis of judicial action. It follows that this case must be examined and decided on principle of law, and that unless the relators are entitled to their discharge under the constitution or laws of the United States, or some treaty made pursuant thereto, they must be remanded to the custody of
the officer who caused their arrest, to be returned the Indian Territory, which they left without the consent of the government.

On the 8th of April, 1879, the relators, Standing Bear and twenty-five others, during the session of the court held at that time at Lincoln, presented their petition, duly verified, praying for the allowance of a writ of /habeas corpus/ and their final discharge from custody thereunder.

The petition alleges, in substance, that the relators are Indians who have formerly belonged to the Ponca tribe of Indians, now located in the Indian Territory; that they had some time previously withdrawn from the tribe, and completely severed their Tribal relations therewith, and had adopted the general habits of the whites, and were then endeavoring to maintain themselves by their own exertions, and without aid or assistance from the general government; that whilst they were thus engaged and without being guilty of violating any of the laws of the United States, they were arrested and restrained of their liberty by order of the respondent, George Crook.

The writ was issued and served on the respondent on the 8th day of April, and, the distance between the place where the writ was made returnable and the place where the relators were confined being more
than twenty miles, ten days were allotted in which to make return.

On the 18th of April the writ was returned, and the authority for the arrest and detention is therein shown. The substance of the return to the writ, and the additional statement since filed, is that the relators are individual members of, and connected with, the Ponca tribe of Indians; that they had fled or escaped from a reservation situated some place within the limits of the Indian Territory-had departed therefrom without permission from the government; and, at the request of the secretary of the interior, the general of the army had issued an order
which required the respondent to arrest and return the relators to their tribe in the Indian Territory, and that, pursuant to the said order, he had caused the relators to be arrested on the Omaha Indian reservation, and that they were in his custody for the purpose of being returned to the Indian Territory.

It is claimed upon the one side, and denied upon the other, that the relators had withdrawn and severed, for all time, their connection with the tribe to which they belonged; and upon this point alone was there any testimony produced by either party hereto. The other matters stated in the petition and the return to the writ are conceded to be true; so that the questions to be determined are purely questions of law.

On the 8th of March, 1859, a treaty was made by the United States with the Ponca tribe of Indians, by which a certain tract of country, north of the Niobrara river and west of the Missouri, was set apart for the permanent home of the said Indians, in which the government agreed to protect them during their good behavior. But just when, or how, or why, or under what circumstances, the Indians left their reservation in
Dakota and went to the Indian Territory, does not appear.

The district attorney very earnestly questions the jurisdiction of the court to issue the write, and to hear and determine the case made herein, and has supported his theory with an argument of great ingenuity and much ability. But, nevertheless, I am of the opinion that his premises are erroneous, and his conclusions, therefore, wrong and unjust. The great respect I entertain for that officer, and the very able manner in which his views were presented, make it necessary for me to give somewhat at length the reasons which lead me to this conclusion.

The district attorney discussed at length the reasons which led to the origin of the writ of /habeas corpus/, and the character of the proceedings and practice in connection therewith in the parent country.

It was claimed that the laws of the realm limited the right to sue out this writ to the /free subjects/ of the kingdom, and that none others came within the benefits of such beneficent laws; and, reasoning from
analogy, it is claimed that none but American citizens are entitled to sue out this high prerogative writ in nay of the federal courts. I have not examined the English laws regulating the suing out of the writ, nor have I thought it necessary so to do. Of this I will only observe that if the laws of England are as they are claimed to be, they will appear at a disadvantage when compared with our own. This only proves that the laws of a limited monarchy are sometimes less wise and humane than the laws of our own republic-that whilst the parliament of Great Britain was legislating in behalf of the favored few, the congress of the United States was legislating in behalf of all mankind who come within our jurisdiction.

Section 751 of the revised statutes declares that "the supreme court and the circuit and district courts shall have power to issue writs of /habeas corpus/." Section 752 confers the power to issue writs on the judges of said courts, within their jurisdiction, and declares this to be " for the purpose of inquiry into the cause of restraint of liberty."

Section 753 restricts the power, limits the jurisdiction, and defines the cases where the writ may properly issue. That may be done under this section where the prisoner " is in custody under or by color of authority of the United States, * * * or is in custody for an act done or omitted in pursuance of a law of the United States, * * * or in custody in violation of the constitution or of a law or treaty of the United States." Thus, it will be seen that when a /person/ is in custody or deprived of his liberty under color of authority of the United States, or in violation of the constitution or laws or treaties of the United States, the federal judges have jurisdiction, and the writ can properly issue. I take it that the true construction to be placed upon this act is this, that in /all/ cases where federal officers, civil or military, have the custody and control of a person claimed to be unlawfully restrained of liberty, they are /then/ restrained of liberty under color of authority of the United States, and the federal courts can properly proceed to determine the question of unlawful restraint, because no other courts can properly do so. In the other instance, the federal courts and judges can properly issue the writ in /all/ cases where the /person/ is alleged to be in custody in violation of the constitution or a law or treaty of the United States. In such a case, it is wholly immaterial what over, state or federal, has custody of the person seeking the relief. These relators may be entitled to the writ in either case. Under the first paragraph they certainly are-that is, if an Indian can be entitled to it at all-because they are in custody of a
federal officer, under color of authority of the United States. And they may be entitled to the writ under the other paragraph, before recited, for the reason, as they allege, that they are restrained of liberty in violation of a provision of their treaty, before referred to. Now, it must be borne in mind that the /habeas corpus/ act describes applicants for the writ as /"persons,"/ or /" parties,"/ who may be entitled thereto. It nowhere describes them as citizens, nor is citizenship in any way or place made a qualification for suing out the writ, and, in the absence of express provision or necessary implication which would require the interpretation contended for by the district attorney, I should not feel justified in giving the words /person/ and /party/ such
a narrow construction. The most natural, and therefore most reasonable, way is to attach the same meaning to /words/ and /phrases/ when found in a statute that is attached to them when and where found in general use.
If we do so in this instance, then the question cannot be open to serious doubt. Webster describes a person as "a living soul; a self-conscious being; a moral agent; especially a living human being; a mans or child; an individual of the human race." This is comprehensive enough, it would seem, to include even an Indian. In defining certain generic terms, the 1st section of the revised statutes declares that the word /person/ includes copartnerships and corporations. On the whole, it seems to me guise evident that the comprehensive language used in this section is intended to apply to all mankind-as well the relators as the mere favored white race. This will be doing no violence to language, or to the spirit or letter of the law, nor to the intention, as it is
believed, of the law-making power of the government I must hold, then, that /Indians/, and consequently the relators, are /persons/, such as are described by and included within the laws before quoted. It is said, however, that this is thirst instance on record in which an Indian has been permitted to sue out and maintain a writ of /habeas corpus/ in a federal court, and /therefore/ the court must be without jurisdiction in the premises. This is a /non sequitur/. I confess I do not know of another instance where this has been done, but I can also say that the occasion for it perhaps has never before been so great. It may be that the Indians think it wiser and better, in to end, to resort to this peaceful process than it would be to undertake the hopeless task of redressing their own alleged wrongs by force of arms. Returning reason, and the sad experience of others similarly situated, have taught them the folly and madness of the arbitrament of the sword. They can readily
see that any serious resistance on their part would be the signal for their utter extirmination. Have they not, then, chosen the wiser part by resorting to the very tribunal erected by those they claim have wronged and oppressed them ? This, however, is not the tribunal of their own choice, but it is the /only/ one into which they can lawfully go for deliverance. It cannot, therefore, be fairly said that because no Indian ever before invoked the aid of this writ in a federal court, the rightful authority to issue it does not exist. Power and authority right
fully conferred do not necessarily cease to exist in consequence of long non-user. Though much time has elapsed, and many generations have passed away, since the passage of the original habeas corpus act, from which I have quoted, it will not do to say that these Indians cannot avail themselves of its beneficent provisions simply because none of their ancestors ever sought relief thereunder.

Every /person/ who comes within our jurisdiction, whether he be European, Asiatic, African, or "native to the manor born," must obey the laws of the United States. Every one who violates them incurs the penalty provided thereby. When a person is charged, in a proper way, with the commission of crime, we do not inquire upon the trial in what country the accused was born, nor to what sovereign or government allegiance is due, nor to what race he belongs. The questions of guilt and innocence only form the subjects of inquiry. An Indian, then, especially off from his reservation, is amenable to the criminal laws of the United States, the same as all other persons. They being subject to arrest for the violation of our criminal laws, and being persons such as the law contemplates and includes in the description of parties who may sue out the writ, it would indeed be a sad commentary on the justice and impartiality of our laws to hold that Indians, though natives of, our
own country, cannot test the validity of an alleged illegal imprisonment in this manner, as well as a subject of a foreign government who may happen to be sojourning in this country, but owing it no sort of allegiance. I cannot doubt that congress intended to give to /every person/ who might be unlawfully restrained of liberty under color of authority of the United States, the right to the writ and a discharge thereon. I conclude, then, that, so far as the issuing of the writ is concerned, it was properly issued, and that the relators are within the
jurisdiction conferred by the /habeas corpus/ act.

A question of much greater importance remains for consideration, which, when determined, will be decisive of this whole controversy. This relates to the right of the government to arrest and hold the relators for a time, for the purpose of being returned to a point in the Indian Territory from which it is alleged the Indians escaped. I am not vain enough to think that I can do full justice to a question like the one under consideration. But, as the matter furnishes so much valuable material for discussion, and so much food for reflection, I shall try to present it as viewed from my own standpoint, without reference to consequences or criticisms, which, though not specially invited, will be sure to follow.

A review of the policy of the government adopted in its dealings with the friendly tribe of Poncas, to which the relators at one time belonged, seems not only appropriate, but almost indispensable to a correct understanding of this controversy. The Ponca Indians have been at peace with the government, and have remained the steadfast friends of the whites, for many years. They lived peaceably upon the land arid in
the country they claimed and called their own.

On the 12th of March, 1858, they made a treaty with the United States, by which they ceded all claims to lands, except the following tract:
"Beginning at a point on the Niobrara river, and running due north so as to intersect the Ponca river twenty-five miles from its mouth; thence from said point of intersection up and along the Ponca river twenty
miles; thence due south to the Niobrara river; and thence down and along said river to the place of beginning; which tract is hereby reserved for the future homes of said Indians." In consideration of this cession, the
government agreed " to protect the Poncas in the possession of the tract of land reserved for their future homes, and their persons and property thereon, during good behavior on their part." Annuities were to be paid them for thirty years, houses were to be built, schools were to be established, and other things were to be done by the government, in consideration of said cession. (See 12 Stats. at Large, p. 997.)

On the 10th of March, 1865, another treaty was made, and a part of the other reservation was ceded to the government. Other lands, however, were, to some extent, substituted therefor, " by way of rewarding them
for their constant fidelity to the government, and citizens thereof, and with a view of returning to the said tribe of Ponca Indians their old burying-grounds and cornfields." This treaty also provides for paying $15,080 for spoliations committed on the Indians. (See 14 Stats. at Large, p. 675.)

On the 29th day of April, 1868, the government made a treaty with the several bands of Sioux Indians, which treaty was ratified by the senate on the 16th of the following February, in and by which the reservations
set apart for the Poncas under former treaties were completely absolved.

(15 Stats. at Large, p. 635.) This was done without consultation with, or knowledge or consent on the part of, the Ponca tribe of Indians.

On the 15th of August; 1876, congress passed the general Indian appropriation bill, and in it we find a provision authorizing the secretary of the interior to use $25,000 for the removal of the Poncas to the Indian Territory, and providing them a hone therein, with consent of the tribe. (19 Stats. at Large, p.192.)

In the Indian appropriation bill passed by congress on the 27th day of May, 1878, we find a provision authorizing the secretary of the interior to expend the sum of $30,000 for the purpose of removing and locating the Ponca Indians on a new reservation, near the Kaw river.

No reference has been made to any other treaties or laws, under which the right to arrest and remove the Indians is claimed to exist.

The Poncas lived upon their reservation in southern Dakota, and cultivated a portion of the same, until two or three years ago, when they removed therefrom, but whether by force or otherwise does not appear. At all events, we find a portion of them, including the relators, located at some point in the Indian Territory. /There/, the testimony seems to show, is where the trouble commenced. Standing Bear, the principal witness, states that out of five hundred and eighty-one Indians who went from the reservation in Dakota to the Indian Territory, one hundred and fifty-eight died within a year or so, and a great proportion of the others were sick and disabled, caused, in a great measure, no doubt, from change of climate; and to save himself and the
survivors of his wasted family, and the feeble remnant of his little band of followers, he determined to leave the Indian Territory and return to his old home, where, to use his own language, "he might live and die in peace, and be buried with his fathers." He also states that he informed the agent of their final purpose to leave, never to return, and that he and his followers had finally, fully, and forever severed his and their connection with the Ponca tribe of Indians, and had resolved to disband as a tribe, or band, of Indians, and to cut loose
from the government, go to work, become self-sustaining, and adopt the habits and customs of a higher civilization. To accomplish what would seem to be a desirable and laudable purpose, all who were able so to do went to work to earn a living. The Omaha Indians, who speak the same language, and with whom many of the Poncas have long continued to intermarry, gave them employment and ground to cultivate, so as to make
them self-sustaining. And it was when at the Omaha reservation, and when /thus/ employed, that they were arrested by order of the government, for the purpose of being taken back to the Indian Territory. They claim to be unable to see the justice, or reason, or wisdom, or /necessity/, of removing them by force from their own native plains and blood relations to a far-off country, in which they can see little but new-made graves
opening for their reception. The land from which they fled in fear has no attractions for them. The love of home and native land was strong enough in the minds of these people to induce them to brave every peril
to return and live and die where they had been reared. The bones of the dead son of Standing Bear were not to repose in the land they hoped to be leaving forever, but were carefully preserved and protected, and
formed a part of what was to them a melancholy procession homeward. Such instances of parental affection, and such love of home and native land, may be /heathen/ in origin, but it seems to me that they are not unlike
/Christian/ in principle.

What is here stated in this connection is mainly for the purpose of showing that the relators did all they could to separate themselves from their tribe and to sever their tribal relations, for the purpose of becoming self-sustaining and living without support from the government.

This being so, it presents the question as to whether or not an Indian can withdraw from his tribe, sever his tribal relation therewith, and terminate his allegiance thereto, for the purpose of making an independent diving and adopting our own civilization.

If Indian tribes are to be regarded and treated as separate but dependent nations, there can be no serious difficulty about the question. If they are not to be regarded and treated as separate, dependent nations, then no allegiance is owing from an individual Indian to his tribe, and he could, therefore, withdraw therefrom at any time.

The question of expatriation has engaged the attention of our government from the time of its very foundation. Many heated discussions have been carried on between our own and foreign governments on this great question, until diplomacy has triumphantly secured the right to every person found within our jurisdiction. This right has always been claimed and admitted by our government, and it is now no longer an open question. It can make but little difference, then, whether we accord to the Indian tribes a national character or not, as in either case I think the individual Indian possesses the clear and God-given right to withdraw from his tribe and forever live away from it, as though it had no further existence If the right of expatriation was open to doubt in
this country down to the year 1868, certainly since that time no sort of question as to the right can now exist.
On the 27th of July of that year congress passed an act, now appearing as section 1999 of the revised statutes, which declares that: " Whereas, the right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and, whereas, in the recognition of this principle the government has freely received emigrants from all nations, and invested them with the rights of citizenship. * * ,* Therefore, any declaration, instruction, opinion, order, or decision of any officer of the United States which denies, restricts, impairs, or questions the right of expatriation, is declared
inconsistent with the fundamental principles of the republic."

This declaration must forever settle the question until it is reopened by other legislation upon the same subject. This is, however, only reaffirming in the most solemn and authoritative manner a principle well settled and understood in this country for why years past.

In most, if not all, instances in which treaties have been made with the several Indian tribes, where reservations have been set apart for their occupancy, the government has either reserved the right or bound itself to protect the Indians thereon. Many of the treaties expressly prohibit white persons being on the reservations unless specially authorized by the treaties or acts of congress for the purpose of carrying out treaty stipulations.

Laws passed for the government of the Indian country, and I for the purpose of regulating trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes, confer upon certain officers of the government almost unlimited power
over the persons who go upon the reservations without lawful authority.

Section 2149 of the revised statutes authorizes and requires the commissioner of Indian affairs, with the approval of the secretary of the interior, to remove from any "tribal reservation" any person being thereon without authority of law, or whose presence within the limits of the reservation may, in the judgment of the commissioner, be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians. The authority here conferred upon the commissioner fully justifies him in causing to be removed from Indian reservations /all/ persons thereon in violation of law, or whose presence thereon may be detrimental to the peace end welfare of the Indians upon the reservations. This applies as well to an Indian as to a white person, and manifestly for the same reason, the object of the law being to prevent unwarranted interference between the Indians and the agent representing the government. Whether such an extensive discretionary power is wisely vested in the commissioner of Indian affairs or not, need not be questioned. It is enough to know that the power rightfully exists, and, where existing, the exercise of the power must be upheld. If, then, the commissioner has the right to cause the
expulsion from the Omaha Indian reservation of all persons thereon who are there in violation of law, or whose presence may be detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Indians, then he must of necessity be
authorized to use the necessary force to accomplish his purpose. Where, then, is he to look for this necessary force? The military arm of the government is the most natural and most potent force to be used on such
occasions, and section 2150 of the revised statutes specially authorizes the use of the army for this service.
The army, then, it seems, is the proper force to employ when intruders and trespassers who go upon the
reservations are to be ejected therefrom.

The first subdivision of the revised statutes last referred to provides that "the military forces of the United States may be employed, in such manner and under such regulations as the president may direct, in the
apprehension of every person who may be in the Indian country in violation of law, and in conveying him immediately from the Indian country, by the nearest convenient and safe route, to the civil authority of the territory or judicial district in which such person shall be found, to be proceeded against in due course of law." * * *

This is the authority under which the military can be lawfully employed to remove intruders from an Indian reservation. What may be done by the troops in such cases is here fully and clearly stated; and it is /this/
authority, it is believed, under which the respondent acted.

All Indian reservations held under treaty stipulations with the government must be deemed and taken to be a part of the /Indian country/, within the meaning of our laws on that subject. The relators were found upon the Omaha Indian reservation. That being a part of the Indian country, and they not being a part of the Omaha tribe of Indians, they were there without lawful authority, and if the commissioner of Indian affairs deemed -their presence detrimental to the peace and welfare of the Omaha Indians, he had lawful warrant to remove them from the reservation, and to employ the necessary military force to effect this object in safety.

General Crook had the rightful authority to remove the relators from the reservation, and must stand justified in removing them therefrom. But when the troops are thus employed they must exercise the authority in the manner provided by the section of the law just read. This law makes it the duty of the troops to convey the parties arrested, by the nearest convenient and safe rote, /to the civil authority of the territory or judicial district in which persons shall be found, to be proceeded against in due course of law/. The /duty/ of the military authorities is here very clearly and sharply defined, and no one can be justified in departing therefrom, especially in time of peace. As General Crook tad the right to arrest and remove the relators from the Omaha Indian reservation, it follows, from what has been stated, that the law required him to convey them to this city and turn them over to the marshal and United States attorney, to be proceeded against in due course of law. Then proceedings could be instituted against them in either the circuit or district court, and if the relators had incurred a penalty under the law, punishment would follow; otherwise, they would be discharged from custody. Put this course was not pursued in this case; neither was it intended to observe the laws in that regard, for General Crook's orders, emanating from higher authority, expressly required him to apprehend the relators and remove them by force to the Indian Territory, from which it is alleged they escaped. But in what General Crook has done in the premises no fault can be imputed to him. He was simply obeying the orders of his superior officers, but the orders, as we think, lack the necessary authority of law, and are, therefore, not
binding on the relators.

I have searched in vain for the semblance of any authority justifying the commissioner in attempting to remove by force any Indians, whether belonging to a tribe or not, to any place, or for any other purpose than what has been stated. Certainly, without some specific authority found in an act of congress, or in a treaty with the Ponca tribe of Indians, he could not lawfully force the relators back to the Indian Territory, to remain and die in that country, against their will. In the absence of all treaty stipulations or laws of the United States authorizing such removal, I must conclude that no such arbitrary authority exists. It is true, if the relators are to be regarded as a part of the great nation of Ponca Indians, the government might, in time of war, remove them to any place of safety so long as the war should last, but perhaps no longer, unless they were charged with the commission of some crime. This is a war power merely, and exists in time of war only. Every nation exercises the right to arrest and detain an alien enemy during the existence of a war, and all subjects or citizens of the hostile nations are subject to be dealt with under this rule.

But it is not claimed that the Ponca tribe of Indians are at war with the United States, so that this war power might be used against them; in fact, they are amongst the most peaceable and friendly of all the Indian tribes, and have at times received from the government unmistakable and substantial recognition of their long-continued friendship for the whites In time of peace the war power remains in abeyance, and must be
subservient to the civil authority of the government until something occurs to justify its exercise. No fact exists, and nothing has occurred, so far as the relators are concerned, to make it necessary or lawful to exercise such an authority over them. If they could be removed to the Indian Territory by force, and kept there in the same way, I can see no good reason why they might not be taken and kept by force in the penitentiary at Lincoln, or Leavenworth, or Jefferson City, or any other place which the commander of the forces might, in his judgment, see proper to designate. I cannot think that any such arbitrary authority exists in this country.

The reasoning advanced in support of my views, leads me to conclude:

/1st./ That an /Indian/ is a PERSON within the meaning of the laws of the United States, and has, therefore, the right to sue out a writ of /habeas corpus/ in a federal court, or before a federal judge, in all cases where he may be confined or in custody under color of authority of the United States, or where he is restrained of liberty in violation of the constitution or laws of the United States.

/2d./ That General George Crook, the respondent, being commander of the military department of the Platte, has the custody of the relators, under color of authority of the United States, and in violation of the laws thereof.

/3d./ That no rightful authority exists for removing by force any of the relators to the Indian Territory, as the respondent has been directed to do.

/4th./ That the Indians possess the inherent right of expatriation, as well as the more fortunate white race, and have the inalienable right to "/life, liberty/, and the pursuit of happiness," so long as they obey the laws and do not trespass on forbidden ground. And,

/5th./ Being restrained of liberty under color of authority of t the United States, and in violation of the laws thereof, the relators must be discharged from custody, and it is so ordered.

ORDERED ACCORDINGLY.

NOTE-At the May term, 1879, Mr. Justice MILLER refused to hear an appeal prosecuted by the United States, because the Indians who then petitioned for the writ of /habeas corpus/ were not present, having been released by the order of DUNDY, J., and no security for their appearance having been taken.

* Source:
Cases Determined in the United States Circuit Courts for the Eighth Circuit
Reported by John Dillon, The Circuit Judge.
Volume 5
Davenport, Iowa: Egbert, Fidlar, & Chambers. 1880.




24 hours at a time with no overtime pay

According to a recent front-page article in Bloomberg Magazine, Wal-Mart hired a defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, to use military-grade cybersecurity techniques to monitor the social media accounts of labor organizers and Wal-Mart employees. Worse, on at least one occasion, the company’s global security team “began working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces” to counter worker protests.1
Giant corporations shouldn’t be able to enlist the FBI’s help to crack down on workers simply asking for dignity and respect. So we are joining our friends at OUR Walmart to demand that the Department of Justice investigate the FBI’s relationship with Wal-Mart and whether the agency or company broke any laws.
Wal-Mart jobs pay so little that some workers go hungry. Most face irregular hours that make it impossible to raise parents or plan ahead, and have few benefits or health care coverage. All Wal-Mart employees are asking for is higher pay, safe working conditions, dependable schedules, and respect in the workplace.2 This is not terrorism, and there is no way the FBI should be involved.
The Bloomberg report reveals an intentional and long-running effort on the part of Wal-Mart executives to monitor current and former employees who are involved with OUR Walmart. Wal-Mart organized a “Delta team” of executives tasked with cracking down, staffed up its labor hotline, and hired Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest defense contractors in the world.3 Many of the employees monitored were later fired, potentially violating the law.4
In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Wal-Mart, claiming that the company violated labor law in 14 states by engaging in retaliation against workers who organized for better pay and better lives.5 The NLRB investigation turned up thousands of documents, some of which detail Wal-Mart’s hiring of Lockheed Martin – and its unacceptable coordination with the FBI.6
OUR Walmart has submitted a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation, and we need to show that hundreds of thousands of Americans stand with them.7
We do not know how often the FBI and Wal-Mart have teamed up. The documents unearthed by the NLRB also do not reveal the extent of FBI involvement in monitoring protesters who traveled by bus across the country to the retail behemoth’s Arkansas headquarters. It is also possible that Wal-Mart used information turned over by the FBI to illegally retaliate against employees.8
OUR Walmart and Wal-Mart workers have been at the forefront of the «Fight for $15» and their courageous stand has yielded results providing momentum for higher wages across the country. If the FBI’s anti-terrorism team is partnering with Wal-Mart, it may be working with other companies as well. We need to make sure the Justice Department doesn’t turn a blind eye any outrageous and dangerous abuse of authority targeting Wal-Mart workers.
Tell the Justice Department: Investigate reported FBI spying on Wal-Mart employees. Click below to sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. Susan Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce,” Bloomberg, November 24, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. OUR Walmart, «Letters to the Department of Justice,» United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  5. Amanda Becker, “U.S. labor board alleges Wal-Mart violated labor law in 14 states,” Reuters, January 15, 2014.
  6. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”
  7. OUR Walmart, «Letters to the Department of Justice,» United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  8. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”

Started by: Ana Rosa Diaz, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
My name is Ana Rosa Diaz. I’m 40 years old and I have four children. I came to the United States on an H-2B guestworker visa from my home in Tamaulipas, Mexico. I work in a small town in Louisiana with other guestworkers, peeling crawfish for a company called C.J.’s Seafood, which sells 85% of its products to Walmart.
Our boss forces us to work up to 24 hours at a time with no overtime pay. No matter how fast we work, they scream and curse at us to make us work faster. Our supervisor threatens to beat us with a shovel to stop us from taking breaks.
We live in trailers across from the boss’s house, and we’re under surveillance all the time. The supervisors come into our trailers without warning, and they threaten to fire us if we leave after 9 p.m.
The supervisor also locked us in the plant so we couldn’t take breaks. One worker called 911. After that the boss rounded us up at 2:30 a.m., closed the door to keep the American employees out, and threatened our families.
He said, “As a friend I can be very good, but you don’t want to know me as an enemy. I have contacts with good people and bad people, and I know where all your families live. I can find you no matter where you hide.” We were terrified. 
We want to work. We need to support our families. But we also want to be treated like human beings.
We joined the National Guestworker Alliance and decided to go on strike. The boss refused to take back his threats against our families, so now we’re taking our demands to Walmart.
Walmart says it doesn’t allow forced labor by any of its suppliers. But Walmart is profiting from the forced labor we lived through right here in Louisiana. And now they’re trying to cover up what happened to us — while refusing even to speak with us.
Walmart needs to meet with us immediately, and to show its suppliers that it won’t tolerate forced labor. We’re demanding that Walmart:
1. Cancel its contract with C.J.’s Seafood to show that it won’t profit from forced labor in Louisiana.
2. Sit down with us, the striking workers, immediately as a first step toward a real investigation — rather than a cover-up.
3. Sign the NGA’s Guestworker Dignity Standards to prevent forced labor and guarantee civil and labor rights for guestworkers across the Walmart supply chain. 
Please sign and stand with us!
According to a recent front-page article in Bloomberg Magazine, Wal-Mart hired a defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, to use military-grade cybersecurity techniques to monitor the social media accounts of labor organizers and Wal-Mart employees. Worse, on at least one occasion, the company’s global security team “began working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces” to counter worker protests.1
Giant corporations shouldn’t be able to enlist the FBI’s help to crack down on workers simply asking for dignity and respect. So we are joining our friends at OUR Walmart to demand that the Department of Justice investigate the FBI’s relationship with Wal-Mart and whether the agency or company broke any laws.
Wal-Mart jobs pay so little that some workers go hungry. Most face irregular hours that make it impossible to raise parents or plan ahead, and have few benefits or health care coverage. All Wal-Mart employees are asking for is higher pay, safe working conditions, dependable schedules, and respect in the workplace.2 This is not terrorism, and there is no way the FBI should be involved.
The Bloomberg report reveals an intentional and long-running effort on the part of Wal-Mart executives to monitor current and former employees who are involved with OUR Walmart. Wal-Mart organized a “Delta team” of executives tasked with cracking down, staffed up its labor hotline, and hired Lockheed Martin, one of the biggest defense contractors in the world.3 Many of the employees monitored were later fired, potentially violating the law.4
In 2014, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint against Wal-Mart, claiming that the company violated labor law in 14 states by engaging in retaliation against workers who organized for better pay and better lives.5 The NLRB investigation turned up thousands of documents, some of which detail Wal-Mart’s hiring of Lockheed Martin – and its unacceptable coordination with the FBI.6
OUR Walmart has submitted a letter to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation, and we need to show that hundreds of thousands of Americans stand with them.7
We do not know how often the FBI and Wal-Mart have teamed up. The documents unearthed by the NLRB also do not reveal the extent of FBI involvement in monitoring protesters who traveled by bus across the country to the retail behemoth’s Arkansas headquarters. It is also possible that Wal-Mart used information turned over by the FBI to illegally retaliate against employees.8
OUR Walmart and Wal-Mart workers have been at the forefront of the "Fight for $15" and their courageous stand has yielded results providing momentum for higher wages across the country. If the FBI’s anti-terrorism team is partnering with Wal-Mart, it may be working with other companies as well. We need to make sure the Justice Department doesn’t turn a blind eye any outrageous and dangerous abuse of authority targeting Wal-Mart workers.
Tell the Justice Department: Investigate reported FBI spying on Wal-Mart employees. Click below to sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ?
  1. Susan Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce,” Bloomberg, November 24, 2015.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. OUR Walmart, "Letters to the Department of Justice," United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  5. Amanda Becker, “U.S. labor board alleges Wal-Mart violated labor law in 14 states,” Reuters, January 15, 2014.
  6. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”
  7. OUR Walmart, "Letters to the Department of Justice," United4Respect.org, January 14, 2016.
  8. Berfield, “How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce.”



Started by: Ana Rosa Diaz, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
My name is Ana Rosa Diaz. I'm 40 years old and I have four children. I came to the United States on an H-2B guestworker visa from my home in Tamaulipas, Mexico. I work in a small town in Louisiana with other guestworkers, peeling crawfish for a company called C.J.’s Seafood, which sells 85% of its products to Walmart.
Our boss forces us to work up to 24 hours at a time with no overtime pay. No matter how fast we work, they scream and curse at us to make us work faster. Our supervisor threatens to beat us with a shovel to stop us from taking breaks.
We live in trailers across from the boss's house, and we’re under surveillance all the time. The supervisors come into our trailers without warning, and they threaten to fire us if we leave after 9 p.m.
The supervisor also locked us in the plant so we couldn’t take breaks. One worker called 911. After that the boss rounded us up at 2:30 a.m., closed the door to keep the American employees out, and threatened our families.
He said, “As a friend I can be very good, but you don’t want to know me as an enemy. I have contacts with good people and bad people, and I know where all your families live. I can find you no matter where you hide.” We were terrified. 
We want to work. We need to support our families. But we also want to be treated like human beings.
We joined the National Guestworker Alliance and decided to go on strike. The boss refused to take back his threats against our families, so now we’re taking our demands to Walmart.
Walmart says it doesn't allow forced labor by any of its suppliers. But Walmart is profiting from the forced labor we lived through right here in Louisiana. And now they're trying to cover up what happened to us -- while refusing even to speak with us.
Walmart needs to meet with us immediately, and to show its suppliers that it won't tolerate forced labor. We’re demanding that Walmart:
1. Cancel its contract with C.J.’s Seafood to show that it won't profit from forced labor in Louisiana.
2. Sit down with us, the striking workers, immediately as a first step toward a real investigation -- rather than a cover-up.
3. Sign the NGA's Guestworker Dignity Standards to prevent forced labor and guarantee civil and labor rights for guestworkers across the Walmart supply chain. 
Please sign and stand with us!

Mitt Romney is mexican

MIAMI – Mitt Romney, who rarely discusses his ancestry, has repeated a striking comment in Florida in recent days to soften his rhetoric about immigration and woo the crucial Hispanic voting bloc.

“My dad was born in Mexico,’’ Romney says at many campaign stops, as he expresses empathy and solidarity with immigrant families. It follows sharp rhetoric in places such as Iowa, where he decried what he called efforts to provide “amnesty’’ to the nation’s 12 million illegal immigrants.

Were he to tell the rest of the story, it doubtless would resonate with many here: George Romney was born in Mexico and was 5 years old when a revolution forced his family members in 1912 to flee their Mormon colony and seek refuge in the United States. The Mormon exiles lost their homes, farms, and most of their belongings, were welcomed by the United States, and benefited from a $100,000 refugee fund established by Congress.

But there are other elements to the Romney story that may explain why he doesn’t tell the full tale on the campaign trail. The reason that George was born in Mexico is that his grandfather – Mitt’s great-grandfather – had taken refuge there in order to escape US laws against polygamy. It was this family patriarch, Miles Park Romney, who established the colony and lived there with four wives.

At a time when Mormonism was under attack in the United States, resulting in state and federal legislation against polygamy, some Mormon groups – including Romney’s ancestors – fled to Mexico where they were able to continue the practice until the Mexican Revolution forced them to return to the United States.

As detailed in “The Real Mitt Romney” by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman of The Boston Globe, the former Massachusetts governor’s early ancestors did practice polygamy in North America, but that did not include his grandfather’s family in the United States or Mexico.

Romney told Fox News:

«My dad’s dad was not a polygamist. My dad grew up in a family with a mom and a dad and a few brothers and one sister. They lived in Mexico and lived a very nice life there from what I understand and then when [my father] was 5 or 6 years old there was a revolution in Mexico, They escaped…. My dad had a very tough upbringing.»

If George Romney was born in Mexico, how could he run for president?

It is clear that naturalized citizens cannot qualify for the office of president, but there is no clarification in the U.S. Constitution pertaining to people born to U.S. citizens in a foreign country, and there is no definition of a “natural-born citizen.”

Some experts have challenged the idea that foreign-born children of U.S. citizens are “natural-born” because citizenship is conferred upon them after birth. A Congressional Research Service report published in November comes closest to answering that question. “There have been legitimate legal issues raised concerning those born outside of the country to U.S. citizens,” the report states. “The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term ‘natural born’ citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship ‘by birth’ or ‘at birth,’ either by being born ’in’ the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship ‘at birth.’”

Romney was born to American citizens living in a Mormon church colony in Chihuahua, Mexico. Even though he wasn’t born in a United States territory or state, George Romney was given citizenship at birth because he was born to American citizens, essentially granting him the status of a natural-born citizen. “When you’re born outside the United States to [U.S.] citizens, you have citizenship at birth,” explained Peter J. Spiro, a professor of law and an expert on the law of citizenship at Temple University. “You don’t have to do anything to claim your citizenship. You are a citizen from birth.”

Romney was the first presidential candidate born outside the United States, and his decision to run against Nixon in the Republican primary of 1968 raised many questions. “This is not the kind of issue that was decided by the courts,” Spiro said. “No court has said definitively, but I think there’s some consensus understanding that a person such as George Romney would be eligible to be president.”

The issue came to the limelight again in 2008 with both parties’ candidates. Sen. John McCain was born on a U.S. naval air station in the Panama Canal Zone when his father was posted there, leading some to question whether he would be eligible for the presidency. It turned out to be a non-issue because a law passed in 1937, and applied retroactively, gave citizenship to anyone born in Panama whose mother or father was a U.S. citizen. President Obama was dogged for much longer by the birther movement about where he was born. The president released his birth certificate as proof that he was born in Hawaii.

Citizenship for foreign-born children of U.S. nationals is not an issue that has gained widespread attention.

George Romney didn’t make it far enough into the campaign for it to pose a problem, but that’s likely to change, Spiro says. “Going forward, there are likely to be other cases of other individuals who are born out the United States with citizenship, who achieve political prominence and who are in the ballpark for presidency,” he said. “This issue is not going to go away.” Several members of Congress — mostly Republicans — have attempted to cement this practice into a bill. Former Sen. Don Nickles introduced the Natural Born Citizen Act in 2004 to define the term, natural-born citizen, to include people who derived citizenship at birth from a U.S. citizen parent and to children under 18 who were adopted by U.S. citizens. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, went a step further, introducing the Equal Right to Govern Amendment in July 2003 to allow immigrants who had been naturalized for at least 20 years to run for president. Appearing on The Chris Matthews Show, in a discussion on the upcoming Florida primary, Andrea Mitchell claimed that Mitt Romney‘s relatives entered the United States illegally.

“And looking ahead to the next primary in Florida, 30 percent of the Hispanic community is Cuban-American. That’s a smaller proportion, and so the Hispanic community there is different. And they are less prone to be susceptible to Mitt Romney’s really hard line on immigration, more prone to the Newt Gingrich approach to immigration,” Mitchell observed. “The other interesting little fact is about the Mexican Romneys, those looking back at all of those records say that Mitt Romney should look back at the records because the Romneys that came back from Mexico to the United States, they crossed the border illegally.”

In 1912, the Mormons fled their colonies in Mexico to escape the violence of the Mexican revolution. Miles Park Romney begat Gaskell Romney, who begat George Romney. George — who was never a Mexican citizen — was 5 years old when the family left Mexico. He went on to be an auto executive, governor of Michigan, and a presidential candidate. George begat Mitt, who was born in Detroit. Most of the Mormons never went back to Mexico. But one of Miles Park’s sons, Miles Archibold, did return. And it is his progeny who remain here today, Mitt’s second cousins.

Burnett told Mediaite he did not come across any documents indicating the Gaskell Romney family came to the US illegally, noting they were part of an exodus of 1,200 Mormons from Mexico. Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled the United States and crossed into Mexico in 1885 to escape religious persecution. He helped build the Mormon enclave of Colonia Juarez in Chihuahua.

Miles Park Romney never became a Mexican citizen, and neither did his son, Gaskell, or grandson, George. They were all denied Mexican citizenship because statutes on the books in Mexico denied that right to American settlers and their offspring.



MIAMI - Mitt Romney, who rarely discusses his ancestry, has repeated a striking comment in Florida in recent days to soften his rhetoric about immigration and woo the crucial Hispanic voting bloc.

“My dad was born in Mexico,’’ Romney says at many campaign stops, as he expresses empathy and solidarity with immigrant families. It follows sharp rhetoric in places such as Iowa, where he decried what he called efforts to provide “amnesty’’ to the nation’s 12 million illegal immigrants.

Were he to tell the rest of the story, it doubtless would resonate with many here: George Romney was born in Mexico and was 5 years old when a revolution forced his family members in 1912 to flee their Mormon colony and seek refuge in the United States. The Mormon exiles lost their homes, farms, and most of their belongings, were welcomed by the United States, and benefited from a $100,000 refugee fund established by Congress.

But there are other elements to the Romney story that may explain why he doesn’t tell the full tale on the campaign trail. The reason that George was born in Mexico is that his grandfather - Mitt’s great-grandfather - had taken refuge there in order to escape US laws against polygamy. It was this family patriarch, Miles Park Romney, who established the colony and lived there with four wives.

At a time when Mormonism was under attack in the United States, resulting in state and federal legislation against polygamy, some Mormon groups – including Romney’s ancestors – fled to Mexico where they were able to continue the practice until the Mexican Revolution forced them to return to the United States.

As detailed in “The Real Mitt Romney” by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman of The Boston Globe, the former Massachusetts governor’s early ancestors did practice polygamy in North America, but that did not include his grandfather’s family in the United States or Mexico.

Romney told Fox News:
"My dad's dad was not a polygamist. My dad grew up in a family with a mom and a dad and a few brothers and one sister. They lived in Mexico and lived a very nice life there from what I understand and then when [my father] was 5 or 6 years old there was a revolution in Mexico, They escaped…. My dad had a very tough upbringing."
If George Romney was born in Mexico, how could he run for president?

It is clear that naturalized citizens cannot qualify for the office of president, but there is no clarification in the U.S. Constitution pertaining to people born to U.S. citizens in a foreign country, and there is no definition of a “natural-born citizen.”

Some experts have challenged the idea that foreign-born children of U.S. citizens are “natural-born” because citizenship is conferred upon them after birth. A Congressional Research Service report published in November comes closest to answering that question. “There have been legitimate legal issues raised concerning those born outside of the country to U.S. citizens,” the report states. “The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term ‘natural born’ citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship ‘by birth’ or ‘at birth,’ either by being born ’in’ the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship ‘at birth.’”

Romney was born to American citizens living in a Mormon church colony in Chihuahua, Mexico. Even though he wasn’t born in a United States territory or state, George Romney was given citizenship at birth because he was born to American citizens, essentially granting him the status of a natural-born citizen. “When you’re born outside the United States to [U.S.] citizens, you have citizenship at birth,” explained Peter J. Spiro, a professor of law and an expert on the law of citizenship at Temple University. “You don’t have to do anything to claim your citizenship. You are a citizen from birth.”

Romney was the first presidential candidate born outside the United States, and his decision to run against Nixon in the Republican primary of 1968 raised many questions. “This is not the kind of issue that was decided by the courts,” Spiro said. “No court has said definitively, but I think there’s some consensus understanding that a person such as George Romney would be eligible to be president.”

The issue came to the limelight again in 2008 with both parties’ candidates. Sen. John McCain was born on a U.S. naval air station in the Panama Canal Zone when his father was posted there, leading some to question whether he would be eligible for the presidency. It turned out to be a non-issue because a law passed in 1937, and applied retroactively, gave citizenship to anyone born in Panama whose mother or father was a U.S. citizen. President Obama was dogged for much longer by the birther movement about where he was born. The president released his birth certificate as proof that he was born in Hawaii.

Citizenship for foreign-born children of U.S. nationals is not an issue that has gained widespread attention.

George Romney didn’t make it far enough into the campaign for it to pose a problem, but that’s likely to change, Spiro says. “Going forward, there are likely to be other cases of other individuals who are born out the United States with citizenship, who achieve political prominence and who are in the ballpark for presidency,” he said. “This issue is not going to go away.” Several members of Congress — mostly Republicans — have attempted to cement this practice into a bill. Former Sen. Don Nickles introduced the Natural Born Citizen Act in 2004 to define the term, natural-born citizen, to include people who derived citizenship at birth from a U.S. citizen parent and to children under 18 who were adopted by U.S. citizens. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, went a step further, introducing the Equal Right to Govern Amendment in July 2003 to allow immigrants who had been naturalized for at least 20 years to run for president. Appearing on The Chris Matthews Show, in a discussion on the upcoming Florida primary, Andrea Mitchell claimed that Mitt Romney‘s relatives entered the United States illegally.
“And looking ahead to the next primary in Florida, 30 percent of the Hispanic community is Cuban-American. That’s a smaller proportion, and so the Hispanic community there is different. And they are less prone to be susceptible to Mitt Romney’s really hard line on immigration, more prone to the Newt Gingrich approach to immigration,” Mitchell observed. “The other interesting little fact is about the Mexican Romneys, those looking back at all of those records say that Mitt Romney should look back at the records because the Romneys that came back from Mexico to the United States, they crossed the border illegally.”
In 1912, the Mormons fled their colonies in Mexico to escape the violence of the Mexican revolution. Miles Park Romney begat Gaskell Romney, who begat George Romney. George — who was never a Mexican citizen — was 5 years old when the family left Mexico. He went on to be an auto executive, governor of Michigan, and a presidential candidate. George begat Mitt, who was born in Detroit. Most of the Mormons never went back to Mexico. But one of Miles Park’s sons, Miles Archibold, did return. And it is his progeny who remain here today, Mitt’s second cousins.

Burnett told Mediaite he did not come across any documents indicating the Gaskell Romney family came to the US illegally, noting they were part of an exodus of 1,200 Mormons from Mexico. Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled the United States and crossed into Mexico in 1885 to escape religious persecution. He helped build the Mormon enclave of Colonia Juarez in Chihuahua.

Miles Park Romney never became a Mexican citizen, and neither did his son, Gaskell, or grandson, George. They were all denied Mexican citizenship because statutes on the books in Mexico denied that right to American settlers and their offspring.

border town


By Lourdes Medrano, Correspondent / December 3, 2012 NOGALES, ARIZ. It’s a scene all too familiar on this Arizona stretch of the Southwest border: One or more people, under the cover of darkness, clamber over the tall metal fence that is the international boundary in a mad rush to smuggle marijuana bundles into the United States without detection.

On Oct. 10, authorities say, a similar incident resulted in the death of 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, shot multiple times after a Border Patrol agent responded with gunfire to a rock attack.
Under Border Patrol policy, bullets can be a justified response to rocks, because rocks have caused serious injuries to agents in the past. But both American civil liberties groups and Mexican authorities are drawing attention to the incident, saying it raises worrying questions not only about the Border Patrol’s use of force, but also its recent surge of manpower along the border.
The teen became at least the 16th person to die along the 2,000-mile border at the hands of the Border Patrol since January 2010 – and the eighth in which agents have cited rock-throwing as a reason for using deadly force, according to border watch groups.
The FBI is investigating, as are Mexican officials. At the behest of concerned members of Congress, the Office of Inspector General is already reviewing border agencies’ use-of-force guidelines in connection with a different incident.
A primary concern is whether a hiring boom in recent years has hurt training.
«This massive increase of agents with very little proportional accountability and oversight, I think has led to some problems,» says Vicki Gaubeca, director of the American Civil Liberties Union‘s Regional Center for Border Rights in Las Cruces, N.M.
The Border Patrol, which in 2003 became part of the Department of Homeland Security under Customs and Border Protection, has more than doubled its size to approximately 21,000 agents since 2004. Most, close to 18,500, guard the Southwest border, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a congressional committee in September.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) representatives in Arizona, Washington, and Texas, declined to discuss the agency’s use-of-force policy or any of the agent-involved fatalities.

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – A U.S. Border Patrol agent, accused of buying guns in the United States and smuggling them to Mexico for use by drug cartels, must remain in jail pending a detention hearing later this week, a U.S. Magistrate Judge ruled on Tuesday. Ricardo Montalvo, 28, and his girlfriend Carla Gonzales-Ortiz, 29, briefly appeared in court for the first time since their arrest on Monday. They are charged with conspiracy to buy firearms and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition to be smuggled into Mexico. They are accused of acting as «straw purchasers» of at least nine firearms between November 2010 and January 2011. Straw purchasers say they are purchasing weapons for themselves but conceal the true buyer. A grand jury indictment accuses Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz of purchasing guns, including five AK-47-type pistols, two .380-caliber pistols, and two .22-caliber rifles. The guns are favored by Mexican drug cartels, the indictment says. The pair are accused of purchasing more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition, 97 high-capacity magazines and four 37mm flair guns, which are sought by Mexican cartels for conversion into grenade launchers, the indictment says. The indictment does not say if the weapons were actually smuggled into Mexico. Montalvo, who is based in El Paso, Texas, had been on administrative desk duty since January 2011 when the investigation started. Mexican cartels rely on purchases of firearms in the United States and the Mexican government has often complained about the smuggling across the border. The arrest of Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz came only days after three men pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking high-powered rifles and other guns to Mexico from Arizona under the botched «Fast and Furious» federal sting operation. Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama’s administration for allowing the Fast and Furious program – under which a government agency permitted weapons smuggling across the border in order to try to nab the criminals in a sting operation. The failed operation embarrassed the administration and led to some calls for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign. Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz will be arraigned at a hearing on Friday, said Terri Abernathy, senior litigation counsel. (Editing by Greg McCune and Lisa Shumaker)


SUNLAND PARK, N.M. (AP) — While much of New Mexico is west of the Rio Grande, this dusty enclave of 14,000 residents is the only U.S. city located on the Mexico side of the river, on the same side as — and just across the border fence from — Juarez.

But it’s more than the anomalous location that lends to the town’s persistent reputation as a self-contained banana republic.

When state police descended on the dysfunctional community before the March elections, the reaction wasn’t so much surprise as «what now?»

And that would be the latest allegations of extortion and financial kickbacks among municipal officials, and, more colorfully, that a mayoral candidate tried to force his opponent out of the race with a secretly recorded video of the other man getting a topless lap dance.

But what is relatively new in Sunland Park and in other troubled border cities and towns is the harsh response to such shenanigans. State and federal agencies are cracking down on border town corruption as part of the larger effort to battle Mexican drug cartels.

«Everyone turned their heads for so long,» said Richard Schwein, a former FBI agent in nearby El Paso, Texas, where at least 28 people have either been convicted or indicted recently for voting scandals or awarding fraudulent contracts. Then, when the Department of Justice and the FBI made it a priority, «Bingo!»

Another example can be found 70 miles west of El Paso, in tiny Columbus, N.M., where authorities a year ago arrested the mayor, police chief, a town trustee and 11 other people who have since pleaded guilty to charges they helped run guns across the border to Mexican drug cartels.

That corruption that seems endemic to the border towns can be blamed on a mix of small-town politics, an influx of corrupt government practices from across the border, and, of course, the rise of the cartels and their endless supply of cash.

«If you’re (a small town police officer) making $35,000 a year, and someone offers you $5,000 cash … and next month there’s another $5,000 in it for you, you’ve just (substantially increased) your income by not being on patrol on a given road,» said James Phelps, an assistant professor with the Department of Security Studies and Criminal Justice at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

The U.S. attorney for New Mexico, Kenneth Gonzalez, says more local officials have gotten caught up in scandals as federal authorities put a more intense and sophisticated focus on border towns as part of their attempts to thwart the cartels.

«A result of that intense scrutiny is that we more than likely are going to ensnare someone abusing their position,» Gonzalez said.

In Sunland Park, an inquiry into local elections turned into a major probe by multiple agencies.

State auditor Hector Balderas said that broad cooperation among agencies shows that law enforcement is starting to realize that «many crimes are interrelated.»

«I think law enforcement agencies and other agencies are now learning that these fiscal problems are symptoms of potentially greater corruption,» Balderas said. «And a village or municipality can be infiltrated by criminal elements very easily.»

Dona Ana District Attorney Amy Orlando stated in court that Sunland Park’s former mayor pro tem and then mayor-elect, Daniel Salinas, 28, had boasted to his codefendants in the cases there that he had ties to the cartels and could call on them to have people who testify against him killed.

Salinas’ attorney vehemently denied those allegations.

The two dozen felonies filed against Salinas to date focus on corruption of the financial and voting processes. Although he won the mayor’s chair, he was barred from taking office by the terms of his bail.

So allies on the City Council recently named a political newcomer to the job. The new mayor, 24-year-old Javier Perea, most recently worked as a jewelry store employee at an El Paso mall. He replaces former Mayor Martin Resendiz, who dropped a bid for Congress after admitting in a deposition that he signed nine contracts while drunk.

Said Orlando, «Unfortunately I think what is happening down in Sunland Park is that it was being run by a small group of people that were using funds and using the resources there for their own gain, operating it really as just their own little town — not following rules, not following regulations.»

Incorporated in 1983, Sunland Park could geographically be considered a suburb of El Paso or Las Cruces, N.M., or even an upscale neighborhood in north Juarez. The town has a modern racetrack, replete with casino gambling, on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. There are a few store fronts, churches and even horse stables lining its main road.

The residents are friendly, but weary of the attention that they fear has made the town a laughingstock.

Salinas has declined to talk about the case, citing advice from his lawyer. But during an encounter outside his house after the second of his three arrests, he seemed at ease for a man facing multiple felony charges and continued investigation.

«I could write a book,» he said with a wry smile.

And the native of the town still has many supporters.

«He is a good man, you can see it in his eyes,» a man at the senior center said, before rushing off when asked for his name.

Besides Salinas, several city workers, including the city manager, the city’s public information officer, the public works director and former city councilors and the former police chief, have also been indicted in the three separate criminal cases.

In one, Salinas and others are accused of trying to force his mayoral opponent, Gerardo Hernandez, out of the race with the lap dance video. Hernandez, who finished second, told investigators that an unidentified man threatened to blackmail him by producing a still image from the video. Hernandez said he was set up.

In another case, Salinas is accused of giving the former acting police chief the job of chief for convincing his sister not to run against a Salinas ally for city council. And in the third, Salinas and others are accused of billing hookers, drinks and campaign videos to a $12 million fund set up for the city by the owner of Sunland Park casino and racetrack to aid the town’s ongoing efforts to get a border crossing built there.

State auditor Balderas said he’s been monitoring the town since 2009. A previous auditor recommended the state take over the town in 2004 after finding scores of violations of state and local laws.

«Sunland Park has had a culture that has lacked accountability for many years,» Balderas said. «They probably should have been taken over many years ago. They got more brazen when they didn’t.»




By Lourdes Medrano, Correspondent / December 3, 2012 NOGALES, ARIZ. It's a scene all too familiar on this Arizona stretch of the Southwest border: One or more people, under the cover of darkness, clamber over the tall metal fence that is the international boundary in a mad rush to smuggle marijuana bundles into the United States without detection.
On Oct. 10, authorities say, a similar incident resulted in the death of 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodriguez, shot multiple times after a Border Patrol agent responded with gunfire to a rock attack.
Under Border Patrol policy, bullets can be a justified response to rocks, because rocks have caused serious injuries to agents in the past. But both American civil liberties groups and Mexican authorities are drawing attention to the incident, saying it raises worrying questions not only about the Border Patrol's use of force, but also its recent surge of manpower along the border.
The teen became at least the 16th person to die along the 2,000-mile border at the hands of the Border Patrol since January 2010 – and the eighth in which agents have cited rock-throwing as a reason for using deadly force, according to border watch groups.
The FBI is investigating, as are Mexican officials. At the behest of concerned members of Congress, the Office of Inspector General is already reviewing border agencies' use-of-force guidelines in connection with a different incident.
A primary concern is whether a hiring boom in recent years has hurt training.
"This massive increase of agents with very little proportional accountability and oversight, I think has led to some problems," says Vicki Gaubeca, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Regional Center for Border Rights in Las Cruces, N.M.
The Border Patrol, which in 2003 became part of the Department of Homeland Security under Customs and Border Protection, has more than doubled its size to approximately 21,000 agents since 2004. Most, close to 18,500, guard the Southwest border, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a congressional committee in September.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) representatives in Arizona, Washington, and Texas, declined to discuss the agency's use-of-force policy or any of the agent-involved fatalities.

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) - A U.S. Border Patrol agent, accused of buying guns in the United States and smuggling them to Mexico for use by drug cartels, must remain in jail pending a detention hearing later this week, a U.S. Magistrate Judge ruled on Tuesday. Ricardo Montalvo, 28, and his girlfriend Carla Gonzales-Ortiz, 29, briefly appeared in court for the first time since their arrest on Monday. They are charged with conspiracy to buy firearms and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition to be smuggled into Mexico. They are accused of acting as "straw purchasers" of at least nine firearms between November 2010 and January 2011. Straw purchasers say they are purchasing weapons for themselves but conceal the true buyer. A grand jury indictment accuses Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz of purchasing guns, including five AK-47-type pistols, two .380-caliber pistols, and two .22-caliber rifles. The guns are favored by Mexican drug cartels, the indictment says. The pair are accused of purchasing more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition, 97 high-capacity magazines and four 37mm flair guns, which are sought by Mexican cartels for conversion into grenade launchers, the indictment says. The indictment does not say if the weapons were actually smuggled into Mexico. Montalvo, who is based in El Paso, Texas, had been on administrative desk duty since January 2011 when the investigation started. Mexican cartels rely on purchases of firearms in the United States and the Mexican government has often complained about the smuggling across the border. The arrest of Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz came only days after three men pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking high-powered rifles and other guns to Mexico from Arizona under the botched "Fast and Furious" federal sting operation. Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama's administration for allowing the Fast and Furious program - under which a government agency permitted weapons smuggling across the border in order to try to nab the criminals in a sting operation. The failed operation embarrassed the administration and led to some calls for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign. Montalvo and Gonzales-Ortiz will be arraigned at a hearing on Friday, said Terri Abernathy, senior litigation counsel. (Editing by Greg McCune and Lisa Shumaker)
SUNLAND PARK, N.M. (AP) — While much of New Mexico is west of the Rio Grande, this dusty enclave of 14,000 residents is the only U.S. city located on the Mexico side of the river, on the same side as — and just across the border fence from — Juarez.

But it's more than the anomalous location that lends to the town's persistent reputation as a self-contained banana republic.

When state police descended on the dysfunctional community before the March elections, the reaction wasn't so much surprise as "what now?"

And that would be the latest allegations of extortion and financial kickbacks among municipal officials, and, more colorfully, that a mayoral candidate tried to force his opponent out of the race with a secretly recorded video of the other man getting a topless lap dance.

But what is relatively new in Sunland Park and in other troubled border cities and towns is the harsh response to such shenanigans. State and federal agencies are cracking down on border town corruption as part of the larger effort to battle Mexican drug cartels.

"Everyone turned their heads for so long," said Richard Schwein, a former FBI agent in nearby El Paso, Texas, where at least 28 people have either been convicted or indicted recently for voting scandals or awarding fraudulent contracts. Then, when the Department of Justice and the FBI made it a priority, "Bingo!"

Another example can be found 70 miles west of El Paso, in tiny Columbus, N.M., where authorities a year ago arrested the mayor, police chief, a town trustee and 11 other people who have since pleaded guilty to charges they helped run guns across the border to Mexican drug cartels.

That corruption that seems endemic to the border towns can be blamed on a mix of small-town politics, an influx of corrupt government practices from across the border, and, of course, the rise of the cartels and their endless supply of cash.

"If you're (a small town police officer) making $35,000 a year, and someone offers you $5,000 cash ... and next month there's another $5,000 in it for you, you've just (substantially increased) your income by not being on patrol on a given road," said James Phelps, an assistant professor with the Department of Security Studies and Criminal Justice at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

The U.S. attorney for New Mexico, Kenneth Gonzalez, says more local officials have gotten caught up in scandals as federal authorities put a more intense and sophisticated focus on border towns as part of their attempts to thwart the cartels.

"A result of that intense scrutiny is that we more than likely are going to ensnare someone abusing their position," Gonzalez said.

In Sunland Park, an inquiry into local elections turned into a major probe by multiple agencies.

State auditor Hector Balderas said that broad cooperation among agencies shows that law enforcement is starting to realize that "many crimes are interrelated."

"I think law enforcement agencies and other agencies are now learning that these fiscal problems are symptoms of potentially greater corruption," Balderas said. "And a village or municipality can be infiltrated by criminal elements very easily."

Dona Ana District Attorney Amy Orlando stated in court that Sunland Park's former mayor pro tem and then mayor-elect, Daniel Salinas, 28, had boasted to his codefendants in the cases there that he had ties to the cartels and could call on them to have people who testify against him killed.

Salinas' attorney vehemently denied those allegations.

The two dozen felonies filed against Salinas to date focus on corruption of the financial and voting processes. Although he won the mayor's chair, he was barred from taking office by the terms of his bail.

So allies on the City Council recently named a political newcomer to the job. The new mayor, 24-year-old Javier Perea, most recently worked as a jewelry store employee at an El Paso mall. He replaces former Mayor Martin Resendiz, who dropped a bid for Congress after admitting in a deposition that he signed nine contracts while drunk.

Said Orlando, "Unfortunately I think what is happening down in Sunland Park is that it was being run by a small group of people that were using funds and using the resources there for their own gain, operating it really as just their own little town — not following rules, not following regulations."

Incorporated in 1983, Sunland Park could geographically be considered a suburb of El Paso or Las Cruces, N.M., or even an upscale neighborhood in north Juarez. The town has a modern racetrack, replete with casino gambling, on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. There are a few store fronts, churches and even horse stables lining its main road.

The residents are friendly, but weary of the attention that they fear has made the town a laughingstock.

Salinas has declined to talk about the case, citing advice from his lawyer. But during an encounter outside his house after the second of his three arrests, he seemed at ease for a man facing multiple felony charges and continued investigation.

"I could write a book," he said with a wry smile.

And the native of the town still has many supporters.

"He is a good man, you can see it in his eyes," a man at the senior center said, before rushing off when asked for his name.

Besides Salinas, several city workers, including the city manager, the city's public information officer, the public works director and former city councilors and the former police chief, have also been indicted in the three separate criminal cases.

In one, Salinas and others are accused of trying to force his mayoral opponent, Gerardo Hernandez, out of the race with the lap dance video. Hernandez, who finished second, told investigators that an unidentified man threatened to blackmail him by producing a still image from the video. Hernandez said he was set up.

In another case, Salinas is accused of giving the former acting police chief the job of chief for convincing his sister not to run against a Salinas ally for city council. And in the third, Salinas and others are accused of billing hookers, drinks and campaign videos to a $12 million fund set up for the city by the owner of Sunland Park casino and racetrack to aid the town's ongoing efforts to get a border crossing built there.

State auditor Balderas said he's been monitoring the town since 2009. A previous auditor recommended the state take over the town in 2004 after finding scores of violations of state and local laws.

"Sunland Park has had a culture that has lacked accountability for many years," Balderas said. "They probably should have been taken over many years ago. They got more brazen when they didn't."

Walmart Stores, Inc

LOS ANGELES — Warehouse workers in Southern California have filed a petition in court to name Walmart as a defendant in a federal wage-theft lawsuit, marking a significant turn in low-wage supply chain workers’ fight with the world’s largest retailer.

Although workers in Walmart’s contracted warehouses in California and Illinois have alleged labor violations in the past, the filing on Friday is the first time Walmart itself has been directly implicated in the claims of abuse. Until now, only the retailer’s subcontractors have been accused in court of shorting workers on pay and forcing them to work in substandard conditions.

«Walmart’s name does not appear on any of these workers paychecks, and the Walmart logo does not appear on the t-shirts they’re required to wear,» Michael Rubin, the workers’ lawyer, said on Friday. «But it has become increasingly clear that the ultimate liability for these workplace violations rests squarely on the shoulders of Walmart.»

While Walmart directly manages much of its distribution network, the company outsources the operation of some of its largest warehouses to third-party logistics firms, which in turn hire low-paid temporary workers to perform the heavy lifting. These warehouses have become the target of a union-backed organizing effort through the groups Warehouse Workers United and Warehouse Workers for Justice, and several of them have been hit with employee lawsuits and labor-law violations.

In the case amended Friday, six workers at a Walmart-contracted warehouse in Riverside, Calif., sued a series of subcontractors last year, claiming they were paid less than the minimum wage, required to work in excessively hot conditions and retaliated against by superiors as they loaded and unloaded trucks and containers. Although the workers said the products they handled were destined for Walmart stores, the mega-retailer was not originally named in the suit.

Worker advocates have argued all along that Walmart, as the top company in the contract chain, is morally responsible for the working conditions at the warehouses its goods pass through. By trying to bring Walmart into the lawsuit now, they hope to prove that the company is legally and financially responsible as well, arguing that Walmart controls the operation and serves as the ultimate beneficiary of the work.

«I know that Walmart is responsible for all of this, even though they say they have nothing to do with us,» said one of the plaintiffs, David Acosta, speaking in Spanish on a call with reporters Friday. «The boxes say Walmart, the containers say Walmart — everything belongs to Walmart.»

Walmart spokesman Dave Tovar has said the company has made a «business decision» to no longer comment for Huffington Post stories, «due to the one-sided reporting and unfair and unbalanced editorial decisions.»

Acosta said he and his colleagues, many of them Latino immigrants, worked 12 to 16-hour days, earning roughly the minimum wage without overtime pay. He said they received a lunch each day but no other breaks. «Our dignity was thrown to the floor,» he added.

The success or failure of the suit could have broader implications for workers who try to sue subcontractors. As HuffPost reported last year, much of the retail sector’s supply chain is now predicated on a system of outsourcing, where larger, brand-name players subcontract the work to smaller, little-seen players, who ultimately hold the legal liability for workers’ well-being. A similar arrangement now persists in many food-processing and manufacturing operations as well.


Walmart Stores, Inc. is an American multinational retail corporation headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas. With over two million employees and 8,500 stores, Walmart is the largest private employer in the world. It is also the third largest corporation in the world, ranked just behind the energy giants Shell and ExxonMobil.
There is perhaps no U.S. corporation that exploits its workers as brutally and effectively as Walmart. Paid on average only $8.81 per hour, hundreds of thousands of Walmart employees—including many full-time workers—live below the poverty line. To keep these underpaid workers vulnerable and compliant, Walmart deploys numerous union-busting tactics and other dirty tricks such as forcing higher-paid, full-time employees to work inconvenient “flexible” shifts in order to get them to quit, imposing Darwinian-style policies on the sales floor to reduce worker morale, and pressuring employees to work overtime without pay or risk being fired. Walmart also systematically engages in illegal employee wage theft, as store managers are trained to falsify time sheets or simply not pay employees for all their hours worked. In fact, between 2005 and 2011, Walmart settled over 70 class action lawsuits involving the stolen wages of over a million current and former employees, costing the company more than $1 billion in damages. And rather than providing affordable health benefits, Walmart offers each of its workers assistance in applying to state and federal welfare programs such as Food Stamps and Medicaid. Recent studies estimate that Walmart’s work force collects a staggering $2.6 billion in taxpayer-funded welfare annually, a sum amounting to $420,000 per store. 
Walmart’s enormous market share combined with its business model of selling the cheapest possible products also puts downward pressure on wages along its entire supply chain of manufacturers and farmers, as thousands of Walmart suppliers [(both in the U.S. and abroad)] are forced to cut their own labor costs in order to compete. Walmart also destroys many more jobs than it creates, eliminating approximately 150 retail jobs in every county it enters, along with many service jobs too, as Walmart’s arrival often decimates entire downtown shopping districts. Walmart’s main pretense—that its low prices save consumers money—is more than offset by the reduced spending power of large segments of the population resulting directly from Walmart’s negative impact on jobs and wages. For these reasons and more, there is no corporation more singly responsible for the impoverishment of American workers than Walmart.
  • Walmart made $15.4 billion in profits in 2011, despite the recession.
  • If Walmart paid all their 1.4 million U.S. employees an extra $5,000 per year, they would still make over $7 billion in profit.
  • The six heirs to the Walmart fortune are together worth $93 billion, which is equal to the net worth of the bottom 41% of the U.S. population.
  • The Walton family has given only 2.4% of their wealth to charity. By comparison, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg and over 70 other wealthy people have given over 50%.
On October 9th, 2012, hundreds of Walmart employees in twelve states walked off the job in the first ever strike in the corporation’s fifty year history, achieving widespread public support and winning some early concessions from the corporation. Given Walmart’s size and influence over the entire economy, the continuing campaign by these courageous workers carries implications far beyond the behemoth’s own big box stores, as their efforts help promote the growth of a mutually-supportive grassroots movement of education, protest and civil disobedience.

References & external links:

LOS ANGELES -- Warehouse workers in Southern California have filed a petition in court to name Walmart as a defendant in a federal wage-theft lawsuit, marking a significant turn in low-wage supply chain workers' fight with the world's largest retailer.

Although workers in Walmart's contracted warehouses in California and Illinois have alleged labor violations in the past, the filing on Friday is the first time Walmart itself has been directly implicated in the claims of abuse. Until now, only the retailer's subcontractors have been accused in court of shorting workers on pay and forcing them to work in substandard conditions.

"Walmart's name does not appear on any of these workers paychecks, and the Walmart logo does not appear on the t-shirts they're required to wear," Michael Rubin, the workers' lawyer, said on Friday. "But it has become increasingly clear that the ultimate liability for these workplace violations rests squarely on the shoulders of Walmart."
While Walmart directly manages much of its distribution network, the company outsources the operation of some of its largest warehouses to third-party logistics firms, which in turn hire low-paid temporary workers to perform the heavy lifting. These warehouses have become the target of a union-backed organizing effort through the groups Warehouse Workers United and Warehouse Workers for Justice, and several of them have been hit with employee lawsuits and labor-law violations.

In the case amended Friday, six workers at a Walmart-contracted warehouse in Riverside, Calif., sued a series of subcontractors last year, claiming they were paid less than the minimum wage, required to work in excessively hot conditions and retaliated against by superiors as they loaded and unloaded trucks and containers. Although the workers said the products they handled were destined for Walmart stores, the mega-retailer was not originally named in the suit.

Worker advocates have argued all along that Walmart, as the top company in the contract chain, is morally responsible for the working conditions at the warehouses its goods pass through. By trying to bring Walmart into the lawsuit now, they hope to prove that the company is legally and financially responsible as well, arguing that Walmart controls the operation and serves as the ultimate beneficiary of the work.
"I know that Walmart is responsible for all of this, even though they say they have nothing to do with us," said one of the plaintiffs, David Acosta, speaking in Spanish on a call with reporters Friday. "The boxes say Walmart, the containers say Walmart -- everything belongs to Walmart."
Walmart spokesman Dave Tovar has said the company has made a "business decision" to no longer comment for Huffington Post stories, "due to the one-sided reporting and unfair and unbalanced editorial decisions."

Acosta said he and his colleagues, many of them Latino immigrants, worked 12 to 16-hour days, earning roughly the minimum wage without overtime pay. He said they received a lunch each day but no other breaks. "Our dignity was thrown to the floor," he added.

The success or failure of the suit could have broader implications for workers who try to sue subcontractors. As HuffPost reported last year, much of the retail sector's supply chain is now predicated on a system of outsourcing, where larger, brand-name players subcontract the work to smaller, little-seen players, who ultimately hold the legal liability for workers' well-being. A similar arrangement now persists in many food-processing and manufacturing operations as well.




Walmart Stores, Inc. is an American multinational retail corporation headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas. With over two million employees and 8,500 stores, Walmart is the largest private employer in the world. It is also the third largest corporation in the world, ranked just behind the energy giants Shell and ExxonMobil.
There is perhaps no U.S. corporation that exploits its workers as brutally and effectively as Walmart. Paid on average only $8.81 per hour, hundreds of thousands of Walmart employees—including many full-time workers—live below the poverty line. To keep these underpaid workers vulnerable and compliant, Walmart deploys numerous union-busting tactics and other dirty tricks such as forcing higher-paid, full-time employees to work inconvenient “flexible” shifts in order to get them to quit, imposing Darwinian-style policies on the sales floor to reduce worker morale, and pressuring employees to work overtime without pay or risk being fired. Walmart also systematically engages in illegal employee wage theft, as store managers are trained to falsify time sheets or simply not pay employees for all their hours worked. In fact, between 2005 and 2011, Walmart settled over 70 class action lawsuits involving the stolen wages of over a million current and former employees, costing the company more than $1 billion in damages. And rather than providing affordable health benefits, Walmart offers each of its workers assistance in applying to state and federal welfare programs such as Food Stamps and Medicaid. Recent studies estimate that Walmart’s work force collects a staggering $2.6 billion in taxpayer-funded welfare annually, a sum amounting to $420,000 per store. 
Walmart’s enormous market share combined with its business model of selling the cheapest possible products also puts downward pressure on wages along its entire supply chain of manufacturers and farmers, as thousands of Walmart suppliers [(both in the U.S. and abroad)] are forced to cut their own labor costs in order to compete. Walmart also destroys many more jobs than it creates, eliminating approximately 150 retail jobs in every county it enters, along with many service jobs too, as Walmart’s arrival often decimates entire downtown shopping districts. Walmart’s main pretense—that its low prices save consumers money—is more than offset by the reduced spending power of large segments of the population resulting directly from Walmart’s negative impact on jobs and wages. For these reasons and more, there is no corporation more singly responsible for the impoverishment of American workers than Walmart.
  • Walmart made $15.4 billion in profits in 2011, despite the recession.
  • If Walmart paid all their 1.4 million U.S. employees an extra $5,000 per year, they would still make over $7 billion in profit.
  • The six heirs to the Walmart fortune are together worth $93 billion, which is equal to the net worth of the bottom 41% of the U.S. population.
  • The Walton family has given only 2.4% of their wealth to charity. By comparison, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg and over 70 other wealthy people have given over 50%.
On October 9th, 2012, hundreds of Walmart employees in twelve states walked off the job in the first ever strike in the corporation’s fifty year history, achieving widespread public support and winning some early concessions from the corporation. Given Walmart’s size and influence over the entire economy, the continuing campaign by these courageous workers carries implications far beyond the behemoth’s own big box stores, as their efforts help promote the growth of a mutually-supportive grassroots movement of education, protest and civil disobedience.

References & external links:

Israel Stops African Immigration

According to an article in the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper, titled “Israel Virtually Stops African Immigration,” the Israeli government has said that its  “border measures have cut off the flow. “Israel has stopped the unapproved infl…

According to an article in the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper, titled “Israel Virtually Stops African Immigration,” the Israeli government has said that its  “border measures have cut off the flow.
“Israel has stopped the unapproved influx of African migrants across its border with Egypt,” the article quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The announcement followed “months of intensive counter-measures on the once porous desert frontier. More than 60,000 African migrants have walked into the Jewish state in recent years, some seeking work and others refuge. They have stirred fear for public order and demographics and prompted the government to build a fortified and closely patrolled fence between Israel and the Egyptian Sinai.”

According to the article, Netanyahu told his cabinet that “54 migrants crossed the border in October and were all taken into custody – a steep decline from the some 2,000 migrants who came through monthly in mid-2012, many of them settling in Israeli cities.
“Given this figure, we can say explicitly that we have halted the infiltration. And now we have to focus on removing or returning those infiltrators who are already in the territory of Israel to their countries of origin,” he said.

Alabama’s strict new immigration crackdown

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Terrified by Alabama’s strict new immigration crackdown, parents living in the state illegally say they are doing something that was unthinkable just days ago — asking friends, relatives, co-workers and acquaintances to take their children if they’re … Continue reading

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Terrified by Alabama’s strict new immigration crackdown, parents living in the state illegally say they are doing something that was unthinkable just days ago — asking friends, relatives, co-workers and acquaintances to take their children if they’re arrested or deported.

Many illegal immigrants signed documents in the past week allowing others to care for their children if needed, assistance groups say, and a couple living illegally in nearby Shelby County extracted a promise from the man’s boss to send their three young children — all U.S. citizens — to Mexico should they be jailed under the law.

A key sponsor of the measure, state Sen. Scott Beason, said such concerns weren’t raised when legislators were considering the bill, and he wonders if the stories now are designed to “pull on heart strings” and build sympathy for illegal immigrants.

But for Maria Patino — who prays every time she leaves home — even a chance encounter with police could end with her two elementary-age children being left alone or taken to foster care if she and her husband are sent back to Mexico. Both are in the country illegally and have no friends or relatives close enough to take in the kids.

“Every time I leave I don’t know if I will come back,” Patino, 27, said through tears. “I can’t stop working. My daughters need shoes and other things.”

Social worker Jazmin Rivera helps dozens of Spanish-speaking immigrants fill out paperwork weekly, and many are now seeking legal documents called powers of attorney so friends and others could care for their children.

“People are scared, and they want to be sure their kids are safe if something happens to them,” said Rivera, a case manager at the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama.

Beason, R-Gardendale, has his doubts about how widespread such cases really are.

“I would do whatever it took for my family to stay with me,” he said. “It’s beyond my comprehension that you would just leave your children anywhere.”

Alabama’s law, regarded by many as the toughest in the U.S., was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature this year and signed by Gov. Robert Bentley. A federal judge blocked some parts of it but allowed key pieces to stand — including a provision that allows police to hold suspected illegal immigrants without bond. On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department and civil rights groups asked a federal appeals court to block the law, saying it could lead to discrimination against even legal residents.

However, the law will remain in effect at least until Nov. 29, when the appeals court said it would hear oral arguments.

Immigrant parents say that leaves them little choice other than to seek out people to care for their children because they fear the youngsters — many of whom are U.S. citizens — will be left home alone or sent to foster care if they are suddenly nabbed under the law.

Cristian Gonzalez, 28, said she has informally asked the manager of the rental property where she lives to take care of her 10-year-old daughter should she and her husband be arrested because they are illegal immigrants. The girl, a U.S. citizen who has medals for making good grades, needs to finish school in America and is deeply rooted in Alabama, she said.

Gonzalez said their other three kids are too young to remain and will go back to Mexico with her and her husband even though they are U.S. citizens.

“We’re afraid to go back to Mexico because of the drugs, the cartels and the killings,” Gonzalez said. “And we are afraid to stay here because of the law.”

Mexican authorities have struggled in the fight against drug cartels known for carrying out brutal killings as they try to tighten control over territory. Authorities say that country’s drug war has claimed thousands of lives.

Under the law, police making traffic stops can question anyone suspected of being in the country illegally and jail them without bond if they lack proof of citizenship. Many police agencies say they have yet to begin enforcing the law because officers haven’t been trained in all of its intricacies.

Still, fear runs deep among people living in the state without visas, passports, driver licenses and other documents.

Patino isn’t sure what would happen to her kids if she is arrested. Neither is stay-at-home mom Cristian Carraon, who is in the country illegally yet is married to a U.S. citizen and has three children — 8, 5 and 3 — who also are citizens.

“My husband works from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. If I get deported, who is going to take care of my kids?” she said.

Illegal immigrants interviewed by The Associated Press repeatedly said they crossed the border illegally because they were poor and could not meet U.S. visa requirements to have stable jobs, bank accounts and property in Mexico. U.S. officials ask for those things to ensure people who obtain a visa have roots in Mexico and plan to return. Parents said they came to provide a better future than their children could ever have in Latin America.

Now, Lety Garcia and her husband are hoping the powers of attorney they signed for each other will allow the children to remain out of foster care should either or both be arrested.

“We are living day to day because we do not know what will happen tomorrow,” Garcia, who identified herself as an illegal immigrant, said through a translator. “Every time I go out of my house I pray to God, ‘Help us come back.’”

It’s not just parents who are worried about their children. Young people fear what might happen to their parents.

Jose Perez’s mother and father brought him into the U.S. from his native Mexico when he was a toddler, and he is now a 15-year-old high school student living in Alabama illegally. Perez — with a Southern accent and dreams of becoming a nurse someday — fears being forced to return to a country he doesn’t know, and he is afraid what could happen to his parents if they are detained.

Perez already has seen the family of a good friend split up because some members were illegal residents and fled back to Mexico.

“It was horrible having to see a friend that I consider almost like a sister cry her eyes out as she is being forced to say goodbye to her little sister and her mom,” said Perez, 15, who lives with his parents and older brother in suburban Birmingham.

As the lawsuits seeking to block the law play out in court, Maria Azamar is praying the law is stopped. Azamar, who said she is living in the U.S. illegally, already has had one daughter deported and now is caring for her 4-year-old granddaughter under a power of attorney document. The 40-year-old said it’s tough explaining to the girl why her mother and friends are going back to Mexico.

“I don’t want to tell her it’s because we’re not wanted,” she said through a translator.