Minutemen, Border Guardians and Ku Klux Klan invigorated by border hype and xenophobia
By Christina Leza
Indigenous Alliance Without Borders
WASHINGTON -- Jose R. Matus, Director of the Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras (Indigenous Alliance Without Borders), has been re-appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Arizona State Advisory Committee (SAC). Matus, 55, is a member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and serves as a ceremonial leader of the Yaqui community of Barrio Libre in the City of South Tucson, Arizona.
Matus says while some conditions have improved, border hysteria and xenophobia have increased.
“There is no question that things have improved over the past 30 years, but this country still needs to make a lot more progress in protecting the civil rights of Indigenous peoples, people of color, and all citizens and residents regardless of race, gender or religion," Matus said.
Matus observes that since the tragedy of 9/11, there has been an association in the public mind between illegal immigration and terrorism. As a result, anti-immigration hysteria, xenophobia and racial discrimination have never been higher.
As anti-immigration sentiment increases within the Southern Arizona border region, so do the activities of racist paramilitary groups such as the Minutemen, Border Guardians and the reinvigorated Klu Klux Klan.
Voices advocating for the civil and human rights of immigrants, indigenous rights of mobility, and fair and comprehensive immigration policies are met with deaf ears by those who have developed an Us-versus-Them mentality and who abuse terms like “terror,” “invasion,” and “national security” to justify the violation of civil rights in our region.
Matus stresses that when local activists advocate for “indigenous rights” or “immigrant rights,” they are advocating for civil and human rights.
The mission of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is to appraise federal laws and policies with respect to discrimination or denial of equal protection of the laws, or in the administration of justice, because of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin; to study and collect information relating to discrimination or a denial of equal protection of the laws under the Constitution; to investigate complaints on the denial of citizens’ voting rights, and to discourage discrimination through public education. Four of this organization’s eight Commissioners are appointed by the President, and the remaining four are appointed by Congress. A State Advisory Committee is appointed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for each of the states and the District of Columbia. The Arizona State Advisory Committee is comprised of thirteen citizens who are familiar with local and state civil rights issues. These State Advisory Committee members assist the Commission in its fact-finding and public education functions, and serve without compensation for two-year terms. This is Matus’ second appointment to the Committee.
Matus has worked as an Indigenous Rights activist in Arizona for over 30 years and is the current Director of the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, an affiliate of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development. Now in its 10th year, the Alliance was created by and for Indigenous peoples to promote respect for Indigenous civil and human rights, including traditional rights of mobility and passage for cultural preservation across the U.S. - Mexico border. The Indigenous Alliance consists of individual members of the Cocopah Nation, Tohono O'Odham Nation, Gila River Indian Community, Pascua Yaqui, Kickapoo, Kumeyaay, and O'Odham and Yaqui communities in Mexico, members of Indigenous cultures divided by the Southern border.
The Indigenous Alliance Without Borders will host a public forum in recognition of World Indigenous Day on Thursday August 9th, 11:30 am, at the Santa Rosa Learning Center in Tucson, AZ. The public is invited to hear panel members speak on the history of Indigenous Peoples in the United Nations, how immigration policies affect local Indigenous communities, and how you can support the rights of Indigenous peoples locally and internationally.
Photos by Brenda Norrell: Jose Matus and Indigenous Alliance without Borders.
UPDATE: Alianza members and friends: The Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras-Indigenous Alliance Without Borderswill holda press conference and public forum in recognition of World Indigenous Day onThursday August 9th, 11:30 am at the Santa Rosa Learning Center in Tucson.
The public is invited to hear a panel of local indigenous leaders speak on thehistory of Indigenous peoples in the United Nations, how immigration policies affect local Indigenous communities, and how you can support the rights ofIndigenous peoples locally and internationally. Rebecca Sommer's film "Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations" will also be shown following our panel discussion.
The Santa Rosa Learning Center in Tucson is located at 1075 S. 10th Ave. The Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras is an affiliate of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development. The Alliance was created by and for Indigenouspeoples to promote respect for Indigenous civil and human rights, including traditional rights of mobility and passage for indigenous cultural preservationacross the U.S. - Mexico border.
For more information please contact me at the email address below orcontact our Director, Jose Matus at (520)979-2125 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Anthropology University of Arizona Tucson, AZ email@example.com
Alianza Indigena Sin Fronterase mail: firstname.lastname@example.org: indigenasinfronteras.org