Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Phoenix, AZ will chain together hundreds of detained immigrants today and force them to march out of a detention facility and into a “Tent City”.
Arpaio’s Maricopa County office released a media advisory titled, Arpaio Orders Move of Hundreds of Illegal Aliens to Their Own Tent City, that can be described as eerily familiar to the first phase of Nazi Germany’s anti-Semitic propaganda. The statement describes detainees being housed in an outdoor city of tents surrounded by an electric fence, with misbehavior punishable by forced labor on a chain gang.
They will be treated like all other inmates incarcerated here with two exceptions. Arpaio wants them to be instructed in American immigration laws, as a way to help them understand that the violation of these laws has serious consequences not only to them but to society as a whole. And anyone found to violate jail rules, may end up on a chain gang. This chain gang will work to clean the areas of the valley, which have been impacted by human trafficking trade.
The release even quotes Arpaio himself:
“This is a population of criminals more adept perhaps at escape,” the Sheriff says. “But this is a fence they won’t want to scale because they risk receiving quite a shock - literally.”
Wow. One of the more disturbing parts of the statement is the description of when and how the immigrants will be forced to march along with a map and parking instructions for those who wish to witness the event. Parading shackled detainees for public viewing is disgusting.
As a Jewish American it is deeply offensive to see an elected official brazenly flaunt the oppressive treatment of a people whose only crimes were entering the United States without documentation. The dire situation in Arizona is a shameful insult to the democratic freedoms of this country, and should draw cries of outrage from anyone who values the sacrifices our nation has made in the face of oppression.
We’ve seen this pattern in history before. First comes the bigoted propaganda and deprivation of basic human rights, then the intimidation, the detentions, the chains and the forced labor, and sometimes, god forbid, we see the worst. We saw it in Nazi Germany, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, the Japanese American Internment Camps, the Trail of Tears…the list goes on.
It’s the same old story. Just with a different tyrant - Joe Arpaio.
*Dan Weiss is a Chicago Hip Hop artist and the coordinator of the Center for New Community’s Hip Hop Project.