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RE: In support of refugees and immigrants
Every day brings another nationwide protest against Trump. The airport demonstrations against Trump's travel ban have been followed up innumerable actions against Trump's right-wing program. The "indivisibles" denounce congresspeople at Town Hall meetings. February 17 saw a series of actions across the country with the intention of building towards a "general strike" against Trump. While for many people, "Not My President Day" replaced Presidents Day on Feb. 20, with people chanting such slogans as "No ban, no wall, the Trump regime has got to fall!" The "Day Without Immigrants" on February 16 was one part of this ongoing wave of protests.
The refugees and immigrants who aren't citizens are one of Trump's special targets. His travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries is only one of the measures he has been using to terrorize the immigrant community. He is seeking to step up deportations of undocumented workers, to increase the number of immigration agents by 10,000, to strip federal funds from sanctuary cities, and to make immigrants live in fear. Indeed, the arrest in Seattle of Daniel Ramirez Medina by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) showed that legal status might not mean anything any more, unless protests stop the hand of the government. Ramirez had legal status in the US under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), but ICE grabbed him anyway. There are three-quarters of a million immigrants with status under DACA, and others with status under DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents). Now their status is unclear. Everyone remembers that Trump even tried to keep Green Card holders, who have permanent resident status, from being able to return to the US after traveling abroad.
The "Day Without Immigrants" opposed this hateful campaign. It aimed to show people something of the role immigrants, including the undocumented, play in the economy and American life in general. But it was mainly important for showing that the immigrants would stand together in collective protest. There were protests across the country, in the east as well as the west and the country in between. A number of businesses were closed for the day, including many restaurants, the entire McDonalds chain, and a number of small construction companies. Some places closed for lack of workers, and some small businesses closed in sympathy with the protest. Many children of immigrants stayed away from classes, and some schools closed down. Washington DC, for example, saw two schools and several dozen restaurants close down. And demonstrations took place in a number of cities, such as Houston, where 1,000 people rallied, and Detroit, where hundreds of people came out.
The strikes, boycotts, and demonstrations were modest in size, but they showed that immigrants weren't going to be cowed down. Despite the attempt to strip them of all rights, the immigrant community will resist oppression. It displayed great courage in carrying out this protest. Immigrants defied the fear of deportation. Moreover, dozens have lost jobs for taking part in the protest. For example, a company in Nashville, Tennessee that applies industrial coatings to materials fired 18 workers for this one-day strike. Taking a cue from liar-in-chief Trump, management claimed it wasn't firing them for protesting, on no, it just had "time-critical" work that had to be done on February 16 by these workers. But apparently there was no such work on Feb. 17 or 18 or afterward, when their jobs would be vacant while the company looked for replacements.
The wave of protests against him has been a major hindrance to Trump's racist presidential orders. They are the background which have led to various courts ruling against his original travel ban. They have resulted in the Trump administration backing down on the original threats against Green Card holders. They have caused the Trump administration to pretend that it never seriously contemplated a plan to mobilize 100,000 National Guard soldiers against the immigrant communities.
But the Trump administration is determined to continue its hate campaign against immigrants. Trump has appeared on stage with relatives of people killed by immigrants; he doesn't count the terrorist attacks by fascists and white supremacists as important; and he makes up imaginary massacres by immigrants and refugees, massacres that never took place, such as the Bowling Green massacre or the alleged terrorist attack in Sweden that Trump said took place on the night of February 17. He presents immigrants as the source of horrible crime, while in fact undocumented immigrants have a lower crime rate than the native-born population.
The rapid development of the opposition to Trump's attacks on immigrants reflects decades of protests against racism and the maltreatment of the undocumented workers. And the idea for a "day without immigrants" goes back to the struggle against "immigration reform" proposals that called for increasing the criminalization of the immigrants. The Great American Boycott of 2006, which was also called a day without an immigrant, was a protest against the Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, which ultimately failed in the Senate.
When Obama became president, he proceeded to deport record numbers of immigrants, earning the title of Deporter-in-Chief. He thus built up the bureaucratic machinery needed for mass deportations. Trump wants to use this machinery to step up deportations beyond what Obama did, to make it worse and more oppressive, and to push aside those programs from the Obama administration, such as DACA and DAPA, that provided limited and second-class legal status to some immigrants who would otherwise be undocumented. With the central role that Trump gives to attacking immigrants and refugees, the struggle against the Trump hate campaign is going to be a protracted one. As part of this, another "Day without immigrants" is being planned for May 1.
After Trump was elected, there were those, such as Obama and the Democratic establishment, who said that the people should give Trump a chance. The last month shows how reactionary that call was. On taking office, Trump immediately implemented anti-immigrant measures of the worst sort. He's certainly not giving anyone else a chance. Giving him a chance would have meant allowing him to put in place horrible measures without hindrance. It is the mass of protesters, even though many have hopes in the Democrats, who have changed the political scene and ensured that there is a fight against Trump from the beginning.
There is a lot of discussion about what type of struggle is needed. There are those who counterpose economic demands to the defense of immigrants and minorities. But in fact a true class-wide struggle needs both. If the bourgeoisie is allowed to terrorize part of the working class, they will be able to come after the rest. If they can deny legal rights to immigrants and act in expedited fashion to throw them out, they will act more and more harshly against protesters, strikers, and other minorities. Moreover, defending immigrants is part of building international unity with the workers in the countries from which the immigrants come.
By Joseph Green, Communist Voice Organization <>
Neither frigid weather nor the usual hysteria around Super Bowl Sunday could deter the working people of Buffalo from turning out 2,000 strong on February 5 against Trump's attempt to ban refugees from predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). Trump's executive order has been banned from enforcement by the U.S. District Court in Seattle, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has upheld this temporary restraining order, but the legal issue will possibly end up in the Supreme Court. Of course, the refugees will be bounced around all the time the court case continues.
The demands of the protesters were straightforward: An end to Trump's refugee policy and immigration policy. "No ban, No Wall". There was a powerful drive among the protesters for actively uniting together, whatever national or cultural differences, legal immigrant, undocumented, Muslims who have been especially targeted, etc. The attitude of the activists was to find every means to break down walls. "Our homeland is your homeland" rang out in English and Arabic. And for the other guy, "Protect USA, Ban Trump" and "Build a Wall Around Trump".
The speeches were largely from local community groups tied with immigrant or religious organizations. They were lively, encouraging people to remain active, and at least one raised the slogan "Power to the People", which was chanted by the crowd. So there was encouragement for mass activity. At the same time, there was not much clarity about what to expect from the Democrats or what particular type of things to do with the energy that was there, besides rallying to the Democrats in one form or another. So, as has been pointed out already, work needs to be done.
It will also come as no surprise that there was no presence of the trade unions, though certainly there were hundreds of workers there. This would be in line with the policy of national AFL-CIO head Rich Trumka of only a pro forma denunciation of Trump. Moreover, in Buffalo Laborers Local 91 "applauds President Trump" for "Advancing the approval process for the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline [which] embodies the President's commitment to creating good middle-class jobs and ending the political gamesmanship of the last eight years when it came to energy policy."
I distributed at the demonstration 67 copies of the article "Don't denigrate the anti-Trump movement" from the DWV list (http://www.communistvoice.org/DWV-170202.html), and 50 copies of "Aleppo has fallen, but the struggle against dictatorship continues" from the MLK Day issue of DWV (http://www.communistvoice.org/DWV-170116.html).
-- Mark Williams, Detroit Workers Voice <>
(A couple of small corrections have been made in the original post.)
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Posted on March 5, 2017