immigration t-shirts

Maybe just because I am a Chicana, though I like to think it has more to do with my belief in social justice (of course the two are inherently connected for me), I have half-heartedly wanted an anti-Arizona immigration policy t-shirt.

I know, I know-- t-shirts don't change a damn thing. Maybe t-shirts are an American response to futility? The United States, where there is a t-shirt, an organization, a conference, and more for every thing, every identity, every theory...

Anyways, all the t-shirts I had come across were fairly blah-- not saying too much, not aesthetically pleasing. And the simple text "I Might Be Illegal" across the chest seems a little too much, because I don't get mistaken for being undocumented (depending on who is looking though, I get mistaken for being lots of things-- Puerto Rican, etc. In Mexico, many assume that because of the way I look I am Chilango-- from Mexico City, probably for the same style/class reasons some people in the US assume I am white...longer analysis necessary...).

I just did a quick depressing google search for t-shirt designs. Don't do this. You have better things to do. And I, sadly, did it for you.

Some results of my brief survey:

  1. There seems to be many more t-shirt designs in support of Arizona. Ah! The daily reminders of how awful people can be. Including t-shirts that read: "Support Arizona, send all illegals to San Francisco"and a intense, bizarre, sad, t-shirt for a pregnant woman, that reads across the belly: "My Illegal Immigrant Bastard Child Will Speak English God Bless America." "White Pride" somehow came up in the search as well...hmm...
  2. There are some well-intentioned, still poorly designed, t-shirts for white people, oops, apologies, for people of European descent (my dad's white, I'm not hating). Ex: "Illegal European Immigrant 4th Generation Removed" and "Deport Illegals, They are taking Native Jobs"
  3. There is no denying the Anti-Obama, Anti-Democrat rhetoric entwined with many of the Support Arizona t-shirts. The designers, the hypothetical wearers, are still demanding Obama's papers.
  4. Kobe Bryant's wife wore a "Do I Look Legal?" shirt to one of her husband's games. Interesting. Reports guessing at why she wore it say that she is 1/2 Mexican. I can't stand Kobe's arrogant ass, but plus one for the wife. Wait, minus one, she stayed with him. Guess that makes her even.
  5. I'd read about this before, but a reminder: Many undocumented people, some of whom have been living and working in the United States for 10-20 years, have taken to the streets in some of these pro-immigration t-shirts. Including ones that question their own immigration status. They have taken life altering risks. Many have been arrested, continue to be arrested, and will now face deportation.
Let me redeem myself. A little. Below are some better-than-looking-at-t-shirts-on-the-internet options:

 Washington Post book review of Just Like Us

I have taught this book in Chicana/o Studies courses and it has been well received. I am pretty sure I will be using it again in a Composition classroom this Fall. Just Like Us provides a nuanced, careful view into the complications of immigration issues.

High Country News Article

My good friend Emilene is interning at the above and I am glad for the excuse to start reading this excellent independent paper of the West. The article covers much of the same ground as the above book about undocumented youth, for whom the only home they have ever really known is in the United States.

Recent Utah developments on proposed anti-immigrant legislation there

and I guess there was a protest in Los Angeles yesterday:

"An immigration rights group is ushering in President Obama’s visit to Los Angeles with a bit of Hollywood flair.
More than 100 immigration protesters are expected to gather in Hancock Park late Monday afternoon dressed in costumes from “The Wizard of Oz.”
“It’s a story about searching for a dream, searching for that promised land,” said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, spokesman for immigrant rights organization CHIRLA. “We find there’s a lot of parallels.”
According to a CHIRLA statement, Dorothy represents Obama’s “hopeful vision” in a “land of bickering.”
The heartless Tin Man is being equated with the Republican Party. The Cowardly Lion is a stand-in for the Democrats’ congressional leaders. And the Scarecrow represents politicians “pitting immigrants against the rest of America.”
No word yet on the Wicked Witch of the West."

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