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Thoughts on jail and deportations from a “Move the Game” protest arrestee

"What city were you born in?"
Statement by Molly Glasgow |
August 16, 2010
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Protesters being arrested at 8/11/10 Move the Game protest in Mpls
Protesters being arrested in hotel lobby after attempting to bring 110,000 petition to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig at 8/11/10 Move the Game protest in Minneapolis (Fight Back! News/Staff)

This essay was written by one of five people arrested at the Move the Game protest in Minneapolis on August 11, 2010. The protest confronted a meeting of Major League Baseball (MLB) team owners and league Commissioner Bud Selig, demanding that they move the 2011 All Star game out of Arizona unless the anti-immigrant law SB1070 is repealed. The essay focuses on part of the arrestees’ jail experience, bringing to light this largely hidden site of large numbers of immigrant deportations.

What city were you born in?

8/12/2010

Minneapolis, MN - Expecting to hear a question about country of origin, I was thrown off. On August 11th, 5 of us had been arrested during a "Move the Game" protest organized by The Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAc) and their Boycott Arizona Minnesota Campaign (BAM!) demanding that the 2011 All-Star Game be moved out of Arizona unless the state repeals it's racist, anti-immigrant law, SB1070. Arrested for attempting to present a 110,000 signature petition to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, during an MLB owners meeting at a downtown Minneapolis hotel, we prepared to refuse to state our birthplace during the booking process in jail, since that question that is used to determine whether someone might be an undocumented immigrant. ICE can then interview people and put them into deportation proceedings.

Given the nature of our initial protest for immigrant rights and our personal political beliefs, we had decided not to answer that question.

I asked if it was necessary to answer that question and was met with a forceful threat that if we did not answer we would be unable to complete the booking process and be returned to the holding cell. That is exactly how the system is arranged. Clerks and deputies shoot off questions at you in order to catch you off guard. It is extraordinarily easy to be lost in the process, and that is used to their advantage.

If these questions were purely used for identification purposes it would be one thing, but files of those who are undocumented are flagged, opening them up to questioning by ICE and the possibility of deportation. Three of us who had not been charged refused to answer any question that inquired about place of birth. We were each held in solitary confinement for varied amounts of time until we agreed to go through with the booking process.

My 12 hours in custody and 6 hours in solitary confinement is nothing compared to the years of separation that families face when a loved one is deported. I do not kid myself that my night and the nights of my fellow protesters in jail will by itself greatly impact the system, but I believe in this movement, in the strong organizers in our communities, and hope to use our story to further the fight for immigrant rights. What happens in jails is largely invisible to the outside world. Yet it is precisely this process of asking a seemingly innocent question about city of birth during the booking process (before people have even been convicted of a crime), that has contributed to the skyrocketing of deportation over the past year under the "Criminal Alien Program". By telling our story, I hope to shed some light on this largely invisible source of deportations and tearing apart of families, so we can organize to stop it.

Molly Glasgow is a member of the Minnesota Immigrant Righs Action Committee (MIRAc).

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