Tucson, Day 2: Arizona is making our heads hurt

On our second day with CultureStrike, a delegation of some fifty writers and artists in a host of media who have come to Arizona to learn from the people here on the front lines of the resistance to a right-wing anti-immigrant onslaught.

Today’s presentations have spanned the gamut from sad to hella sad. We learned a lot about the policy context of immigration. Apparently Arizona is a big ill-conceived social experiment in which people fleeing immiseration and desperate poverty in Latin America and grumpy-pants white Midwestern retirees are forced to live together in a chunk of dessert with no actual economy but intolerable heat. What could go wrong?

We went to the federal courthouse in Tucson and got to watch Operation Streamline. Every day, our government rushes about seventy undocumented immigrants through something that vaguely resembles a court proceeding in about two hours. We saw a group consisting entirely of indigenous-looking men in shackled hand-and-feet who had just been picked up trying to cross the border. Their punishment was to go to a for-profit detention facility in the US for up to six months before being deported. To repeat: the punishment for trying to come to the US illegally is to be kept in the US. This is an appropriate occasion to use the word “retarded” in a precise, literal sense. As in, “the US immigration system is fucking retarded.”

Getting to see in person this process was upsetting for all of us. It led immediately to some grief-eating of chocolate, Full Throttle, and fiber bars. We were upset by what we saw, and our heads immediately exploded witnessing firsthand the sheer irrationality of this system.

It probably goes without saying, but we’re the only comedians down here. It’s cool to hang out with a community of artists, and weird to be the only ones whose artistic vehicle to express our experiences is to make strangers laugh. We’re considering quitting comedy to join a guerrilla army. Hopefully the jokes will come soon.


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