“Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Phoenix’s Maricopa County—dubbed America’s Toughest Sheriff by the national media—had made a kind of blood sport of detaining Latinos, staging telegenic midnight raids to catch workers in the act of working, their incriminating mops and brooms in hand.” – Margaret Regan, The Death of Joesseline: Immigration Stories From the Arizona Borderlands
“There is a lynching at Home Depot of the last day laborer / In this sanctuary city with its anchor-baby births / They say ‘It’s time we had some justice for the white race on this earth.’” – Desaparecidos, “MariKKKopa”
There’s a really good chance this is going to turn into a tangent, so let me knock this out first: The new Desaparecidos 7” is great. Return to form. Angry and loud as ever. Conor Oberst may have retired the Bright Eyes moniker, but he’s already got something else coming up with Desaparecidos. Or maybe his old politi-punk group just synched up with where he was at again.
For the last couple of years, Oberst has been outspoken about the abuses illegal immigrants are facing in Arizona, where the Border Patrol is working day and night to detain them. Ostensibly, the goal is to cut down on the drug trade, and the organization does seize tons of narcotics every year (for example, 1,039,443 pounds of marijuana were confiscated in fiscal year 2011). That’s good, right?
The 123,285 illegal immigrants stopped during that same fiscal year, however, were not 100 percent dealers. Many of them were families looking for work in a country they’d heard good things about. And just so we’re clear, crossing into Arizona is really fucking hard. When the Bush Administration started sealing the border, they assumed that Arizona’s mountainous, deadly terrain would create a natural border that no one would want to encounter. Instead, they effectively created a funnel, and a deadly one. While crossing deaths have dropped since the peak year 2005 (472 reported), crossing into Arizona from Mexico is still a dangerous choice. Coyotes, human traffickers that sneak Mexicans and South Americans into the U.S., have a tendency to fudge the numbers when they say it only takes a few hours to get into the country, when in reality it takes several days through deadly terrain and even deadlier heat.
So when people like Sheriff Arpaio make a “blood sport” out of attacking and arresting people who have gone through all that just to take on menial labor jobs that us bloated Americans don’t want anyway, it rubs Oberst the wrong way (Seriously, check out the "Controversies" section of this dude's Wikipedia page). And my word, does his anger rise up. “MariKKKopa,” the first new song of the first Desaparecidos release in a decade, targets fascists like Arpaio who would try to kidnap helpless people dead on (Lest we forget, Desaparecidos means “Disappeared Ones”). It’s possibly the best song in the band’s brief discography.
B-side “Backsell” is pretty great too, but it deals with record labels and the homogeneity of mainstream music. It’s good, but after something as serious as “MariKKKopa,” it’s a distant second as a concern. Still, it’s awesome to have the ’Cidos back. While MariKKKopa won’t be released physically until October, it’s available digitally now.