Super Bowl Sweep Targets Immigrants

Revolutionary Worker #1186, February 9, 2003, posted at

The week before the Super Bowl in San Diego, the U.S. government carried out its latest attack on immigrant workers: Operation Game Day . Dozens of people were rounded up, arrested and deported.

The government started the operation three months before the January 26 football game, when it requested the records of Contemporary Services Corp., which supervises workers at Qualcomm Stadium (the site of the game). 2,500 workers who serve food and sell souvenirs at the stadium had their names run through an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) database. Large numbers of these workers are Latino immigrants.

Then the government targeted another 15,000 workers, including taxi, limousine and bus drivers and security guards who might go near the stadium, or might go near special events that were leading up to the Super Bowl. Many of these workers are from Middle Eastern and Muslim countries. A spokesperson for the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) called the arrests a form of "ethnic cleansing."

It has become a common practice since September 11, 2001 for U.S. government anti-immigrant operations to be carried out in secret--where people are just "disappeared." In San Diego, the INS at first refused to release any information on how many people it had arrested. They finally said that they had filed deportation proceedings against 69 people, about half for unspecified criminal convictions and the others for lack of work permits. An INS spokesman then said that media reports had disrupted their operation.

Anthony Ajayi is a 24-year-old British citizen. He is married to a U.S. citizen. On January 10, his employer asked him to come in to work. He found INS agents waiting. As soon as he entered the office at his workplace, the INS agents barred the door and arrested him. After the roundups of immigrants under the Special Registration program begun last year, the government said they were no longer going to arrest people whose applications for a change of status were still pending. But the ACLU of San Diego said the case of Anthony Ajayi shows the INS is not keeping this so-called promise.

Statements from INS agents themselves reveal the blatant racial profiling guiding these attacks. Adele Fasano from the INS San Diego field office said, "In the aftermath of 9/11, our priority is to examine areas that pose the highest security threat, and take appropriate action." Another INS officer called the targeting of Latinos and Middle Easterners "a preventive measure."

Drink servers and cab drivers are called the "highest security threat," and deporting security guards from a pre-game party is defended as a "preventive measure" to ensure the safest football game ever. "Is it my imagination," Brian B wrote on the San Diego Indymedia website, "or are dozens of perfectly innocent San Diegans being rounded up like cattle because of their heritage?"

Operation Game Day was only one part of a vast and heavy-handed police-state atmosphere imposed around the Super Bowl. The $9 million plan included added security at the U.S.-Mexico border, a 7-mile- wide no-fly zone around the stadium, and 50 new surveillance cameras. The huge parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium was closed, and those attending the game had to park five miles away, board a shuttle, and go through airport-type security procedures to watch the game.

The president of the police union that represents INS cops in San Diego joined other cops in praising the racial profiling of Operation Game Day. He said, "This is something we should be doing all the time."

The Super Bowl attacks on immigrants were condemned by the ACLU and ADC, and a demonstration to protest the roundups was held at the downtown Federal Building.

The organization La Resistencia issued a statement against the Super Bowl sweeps which said in part: "Who are these supposedly dangerous people? They are refugees and immigrants who come here to work and survive, including many of whom that have come here to escape persecution. Most have been here for years, working hard at low-paying jobs. Now they are being heartlessly persecuted and deported in these high-profile raids, like the Operation Tarmac, carried out nationwide just a few months ago against foreign-born airport employees. This is extremely cruel and unjust and paves the way for further repression against anyone the government deems `suspicious.' THESE OPERATIONS MUST BE STOPPED. BEING AN IMMIGRANT IS NOT A CRIME!"

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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