PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. — The City Council here voted 6-1 June 2 to send a resolution to President Obama, and leaders of the U.S. Senate
and House asking for a halt to Border Patrol enforcement including checkpoint
stops on U.S. Highway 101 with overnight deportation of undocumented people.

Before the vote, Carl Nomura, a highly respected community
leader, told the council the checkpoints and raids on the North Olympic
Peninsula remind him of the mass roundup and incarceration of Japanese
Americans during World War II. Nomura said he himself was a victim, imprisoned
in one of the Japanese Relocation Centers. “The law of the land is supposed to
be innocent until proven guilty,” he said.

Councilman Mark Welch said he was reluctant to get involved
with federal policy but quoted Benjamin Franklin’s warning, “They who give up
essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty
nor safety.”

Liz Rivera Goldstein, a veteran peace activist in the Port
Townsend area, hailed the near unanimous adoption of the resolution. “I’m
thrilled about it,” she told the World. “I think it is so important.
So much money has been wasted in
this misguided policy of harassment of citizen and non-citizen alike.”

She said co-workers on her job have arrived late at work
because they were held up at the ICE-Border Patrol checkpoints. “I
know what this is like. I too am of
Mexican descent,” she said. “I have a great aunt who was in the U.S. legally.
Yet she was arrested and deported back to Mexico. We live in America. We are
supposed to have rights.”

Many towns and cities across the country have enacted
council ordinances declaring themselves “sanctuary” cities and proclaiming that
their law enforcement officers will not assist the Border Patrol and ICE agents
in enforcement of the dragnet raids and mass arrests of undocumented people.

That defiant attitude has enraged the ultra-right
immigrant-bashers. An outfit calling itself Respect Washington is scrambling to
collect 241,153 signatures by the July 3 deadline of registered voters in
Washington State to place I-1043 on the ballot in the election next Nov. 3.
Petitions in support of I-1043 were inserted in local newspapers across the
state under a lurid headline, “Stop State Funding of Illegal Aliens, Theft of
Jobs, and Social Security Numbers.”

I-1043 would require state and local law enforcement to
assist federal agents in the enforcement of immigration law. It would require
employers, both private and public, to verify any employee’s legal
status through the federal government’s
“E-Verify.” It would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to also verify
the legal status of anyone applying for a drivers license. And it would also
require state and local officials to verify a person’s eligibility for social
services and benefits including attendance at schools. medical care, food
stamps, or unemployment compensation.

Goldstein denounced the ballot initiative as an attempt “to
codify ignorance and hatred into law.” She charged that the rightwing is trying
to whip up “a backlash against the attempt in our country to reflect a more
diverse and accepting community…the fact that our country was ready to elect
Barack Obama, a real step in the right direction.”

Among groups that have thrown full support to the
immigrant-bashing ballot effort is Stormfront.org, web site of the Ku Klux Klan
that features the “White Pride” ravings of Klansmen David Duke and Don Black.
The Klan posted on their site Respect Washington’s appeal for cash donations to
hire contractors to collect signatures for I-1043.

The Washington State Hispanic/Latino Legislative
Organization s working hard to expose I-1043 and an earlier version I-409,
charging that they “would result in the growth of prejudice and discrimination
against Washington’s Hispanic/Latino and immigrant communities.” It adds, “Hate
groups are using numbers and figures accusing undocumented immigrants of adding
to the economic crisis in our country. This is a campaign of misinformation to
scare people.”

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