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After Bin Laden: Latinos and Muslims a Threat?

After Bin Laden: Latinos and Muslims a Threat?

Nearly a decade ago, America’s War on Terror began as a manhunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But over the next nine years, that anti-terrorism effort evolved into a multi-faceted crusade: birthing a new national security agency, blossoming into two bloody wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, institutionalizing the racial profiling and surveillance of Muslim Americans and even redefining unauthorized Latin American immigration as — of all things — a national security issue. Now, in the wake of Osama Bin Laden’s death, which elements of that crusade will persist or expand and which — if any — will dissolve?

Muslim Americans celebrate bin Laden’s death…

Following the announcement of bin Laden’s death last Sunday, Americans feverishly rejoiced at the news that a mission actually was accomplished in the War on Terror. Profoundly, the celebrants included scores of individuals who had unwittingly become targets of that crusade — Pakistani immigrants and American Muslims.

Mohsin Zaheer of Feet in Two Worlds reports that Islamic groups in the United States wasted no time applauding President Barack Obama for Bin Laden’s death, taking the opportunity to distance themselves and Islam from the legacy of the slain terrorist. And while many Americans forget that the 9/11 terror attacks killed nationals from 70 different countries, Zaheer notes that the many immigrants who lost loved ones that day took some comfort in knowing that justice has been done.

But Muslims in the U.S. also had another cause for celebration. Bin Laden’s death coincided with the termination of a grossly discriminatory federal program that has targeted, tracked and deported thousands of immigrants from predominately Muslim countries since 2002. ColorLines.com’s Channing Kennedy describes the program (called NSEERS or the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System) as “one of the most explicitly racist, underreported initiatives in post-9/11 America” which “functioned like Arizona’s SB 1070, with working-class Muslims as the target.” The Department of Homeland Security has been vague about its reasons for ending the program, but the decision amounts to a victory for immigrant rights groups that have been protesting the effort since its launch nine years ago.

…but still face an uncertain fate

That said, the fate of Muslims in America is far from rosy. As Seth Freed Wessler notes at ColorLines.com, the Department of Homeland Security continues to target, detain and deport Muslims “in equally insidious, but less formal ways” than the NSEERS program.

Pointing to investigations by “Democracy Now!” and the Washington Monthly, Wessler explains that the Department of Justice “has repeatedly used secret informant-instigators to manufacture terrorist plots” and advocated religious intolerance, racial profiling and harassment in its search for homegrown terrorists. Through these means, the quest for security has degenerated into the systemic persecution of American Muslims and countless other immigrants deemed threats to national security becaue their race, religion or nationality. And that didn’t die with bin Laden.

As recently as last March, in fact, Republican Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, held a hearing on the radicalization of Muslim Americans — during which numerous witnesses repeatedly reiterated the dire threat posed by radical Muslims in the U.S. At the time, Behrouz Saba of New America Media noted that the hearing lacked any discussion of U.S. military presence in the Middle East and its impact on radicalization. Rather than critically examine the many ways in which U.S. foreign policy and military conflict breeds the monster it aims to destroy, the hearing instead served to demonize a growing, well-educated and largely law-abiding population of the United States.

The Latin American link

But the War on Terror has deeply impacted other marginalized communities as well. Even the circumstances of bin Laden’s death bears an alleged connection to the frought issue of Latin American immigration to the U.S. — an issue that has, itself, undergone massive scrutiny and regulation following 9/11.

ThinkProgress reports that out that one of the Navy Seals involved in Bin Laden’s extermination is, purportedly, the son of Mexican migrants. While the veracity of that claim has been contested by some, Colorlines.com’s Jamilah King argues that the rumor nevertheless “raises serious questions around the military’s recruitment of Latino youth, the staggering numbers of Latino war causalities, and the Obama administration’s often contradictory messages on immigration reform.” She continues:

Casualties among Latino soldiers in Iraq rank highest compared to other groups of soldiers of color. Yet while the military actively courts Latino youth and immigrants with one hand, it’s aggressively deporting them and their families with the other.

It’s worth noting that, within the government, the most vocal proponents of the DREAM Act supported the legislation because they expected it to dramatically increase Latino enrollment in the military. While the DREAM Act ultimately died in the Senate, proponents of its military provision are perpetuating a troubling and persistent dichotomy that is only reinforced in the wake of bin Laden’s demise: immigrants are welcome on our battlefields, but not in our neighborhoods.

It’s comforting, albeit naïve, to believe that Osama bin Laden’s death will cap a decade of military conflict and draw a torturously long anti-terrorism crusade to a close. But more likely, our multiple wars will persist longer than they should, and our domestic security apparatus will continue targeting the most vulnerable members of our society under the misguided notion that such enforcement strengthens rather than divides us.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.

 

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Photo from swanksalot via flickr
by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

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89 comments

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1:44PM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

Jane you are right. No religion is any better than any other. All religions that claim to be a revelation from some gtod are equally bad. They are all inherently bigotted, intolerant, oppressive, violent, misogynistic and evil.
~;^}>

8:25AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

no religion is better than any other. to each his own.

9:18PM PDT on May 8, 2011

Send a Green Star to Lee S.

Sending a Green Star is a simple way to say "Thank you".

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8:43PM PDT on May 8, 2011

TIME WILL TELL!!!!

4:32PM PDT on May 8, 2011

Drop a piece of paper in the garbage with mo's name on it and the zombies roll. people are torn apart fo an occurance t'otherside of the world for what?...... and PC land gets all uptight about "racism?".
Relatively tame celebration by people in the land where a psychophic man who is now dead, killed thousands in one strike
The response is to play the blame game, equate responses and play footsy with the father of lies and his servants.
Look up .Jesus is Lord.

3:19PM PDT on May 8, 2011

Terrorism is wrong- illegal immigration is wrong; neither has my sympathy.

Also wrong are invading countries under the pretext of finding "WMD", engineering 'regime changes' that are soft towards US interests (such as oil) in foreign countries, installing and feeding despots who pander to US needs (such as oil) in foreign countries who in turn become terrorists. All this is a complete circle. Plunder of oil & other global resources-> installing despots-> disenfranchisement and impoverishment of natives of foreign lands-> illegal immigration-> regime change of countries where illegal immigrants come from -> installing despots-> plunder of global resources-> some more impoverishment of global communities-> more illegal immigration-> terrorism-> hate-> regime change->>>>>>>

Where does this end?!!!!!!

1:43PM PDT on May 8, 2011

Ameer T., your biggest gem is here. You wrote : " forgeting the fact that Jews and Christians have lived in Saudi Arabia and especially Mecca since before the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and were never killed then as they aren't being killed now."
Why do you considr us idiots, Moslem? There were 3 tribes of Jews in Arabia before the appearnce of teh so called "prophet"- Banu Qaynuka , Banu Nadir and Banu Qurayza. Mohammed robbed and brutally expelled the first and the second on trumped-up charges and most brutally exterminated the Banu Qurayza after a mock trial. C. 900 Jews were beheaded by broad daylight un the centre of Medina, the women and the children were sold on the local slave market by the gangster-prophet.Nowadays for wearing a cross in public in Saudi Arabia you get jailed. For preaching Christianity you are executed. The Saudi religion police does its best to implement Islam's evil teachings. So much for remembering things Moslems always forget to tell us kafirs.

1:28PM PDT on May 8, 2011

Ameer T., Isn't it dismally symptomatic and grotesque that the very person who sees and blames ignorance everywhere save in himself is at the same time such an excellent example of ignorance as what you have written shows ? You said :
"Again there are people here who misquote from the Quran and justify their point of view that muslims are working on some kind of world domination agenda where anyone who does not accept Islam should be killed."
What is misquoted according to you, Moslem Fifth Columnist ? 9.23 ? Or 8.12 "I will terrorize the infidels. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them" ? Or according to you the Moslems' final goal isn't the restoration of the worldwide caliphate they once had with us infidels as their slaves? And by the way we infidels are just "the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah" (8.55) and we infidels are "truly...unclean" (9.28 ), aren't we? So how can you Moslems ever pretend to respect "the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah" and the "unclean"? Imagine we kafirs are not as stupid as your oligophrenic Islam makes you believe.

10:03PM PDT on May 7, 2011

muslims will continue to press for Sharia Law in the US and elsewhere..i have no doubt in the future we will be witnessing beheadings here ( already have been honor killings in the USA ) by islamists. When they get voting majority all non muslims will be required to pay an infidel tax...already in parts of the USA muslims are beginning to harrass book stores to place the Koran on the top shelf and put the Christian bible on the bottom shelf..

In France a woman shopkeeper has been beaten and raped b/c she refuses to wear a headscarf. She is not a muslim.

10:57AM PDT on May 7, 2011

I don't enjoy his death.

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