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Vol. 81/No. 8      February 27, 2017

(lead article)

‘Stop the raids! We are workers, not criminals!’

Thousands join protests against immigration raids

Above, Joe Brusky; inset, Militant/Bernie Senter

Above, more than 20,000 march in Milwaukee Feb. 13 protesting immigration raids and moves by County Sheriff David Clarke to allow his deputies to act as federal immigration agents. Inset, Dennis Richter, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, at Feb. 12 protest against ICE raids in Van Nuys, California.

Protesters took to the streets across the country after more than 680 immigrants were arrested Feb. 6-10 by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in “targeted enforcement actions” focused on undocumented workers who have been found guilty of various crimes.

Immigrants earmarked by la migra, along with others caught up in the raids, were seized in their homes or on the street in the first nationwide raids since President Donald Trump took office. Like similar “targeted” sweeps under the Barack Obama administration, these raids are aimed at dividing and weakening the working class.

The nation’s immigration cops said they were stepping up business as usual to carry out Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order broadening the scope of who they can go after. “Big cities tend to have a lot of illegal immigrants,” one immigration official told the Washington Post. They’re “a target-rich environment.”

In the largest action to date, more than 20,000 people marched in Milwaukee Feb. 13 protesting the raids, the exclusion of refugees and immigrants based on their religion or national origins, and moves by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to allow his deputies to act as federal immigration cops.

Protesters came from all over the state in what Voces de la Frontera, which organized the action, called a “Day Without Latinos, Immigrants, and Refugees.” According to the group, more than 150 farms, factories, restaurants and other businesses across the state closed down in what was in part a one-day strike against the anti-immigrant moves.

“I don’t want to be deported. I work for people and society and it’s unfair to get kicked out, ” Eliseo Rivera, a 30-year-old restaurant cook, told Socialist Workers Party members as they marched together.

“Doesn’t matter if you’re from China, doesn’t matter if you’re from Puerto Rico or from Mexico, we all stand together as one because we believe that we are the people,” Luis Ortega told WBAY-TV News.

SWP candidates: ‘Amnesty now!’

“The truth is that the capitalists want undocumented workers to come to the U.S., because they can be pressured into a pariah status and superexploited, to drive down the value of all our labor power,” Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of New York, told workers at a Feb. 14 protest there.

“Trump’s measures, like those of Obama, Bush and Clinton before him, are not designed to stop the flow of immigrant labor, but to regulate it and to divide the working class,” he said.

“That’s why protests that say ‘Stop the Raids. Amnesty now!’ are so important,” Hart said. “Our trade unions should organize everyone with or without papers into the unions. Together we can fight more effectively for better wages, working conditions and job safety. We should champion demands and protests that advance the unity of the working class.”

Court upholds injunction

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a unanimous vote Feb. 9 upheld an injunction by a federal district court in Washington state staying Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order, which imposed a three-month ban on all travelers from seven mostly Muslim countries, a four-month moratorium on admitting refugees from any country and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. After nationwide protests, the White House backed off a little, saying the ban didn’t apply to permanent U.S. residents.

“We oppose Trump’s blanket ban on refugees and visitors from seven countries. No one should be penalized because of their religious beliefs or background, their political views or their country of origin,” Hart said. “At the same time the slogan raised by many liberals and middle-class leftists to tear down the wall and open the border is utopian and dangerous. If enacted, such moves would sharply increase joblessness and competition among workers, and deal blows to the unity of the working class.”

Lawyers for the state of Washington charged that the executive order was intended as a “Muslim ban.”

While agreeing with government lawyers that the president has wide powers on immigration, the Appeals Court ruled that his decisions are subject to review. And, they said, anyone residing in the United States, regardless of whether or not their presence is “lawful,” has a right to due process.

The White House is considering rewriting the executive order with a clearer focus, but has not ruled out pursuing appeals of the court ruling.

Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order broadening ICE raids has not been challenged in court.

Protests pushed back factory raids

Until 2008, one of the main ways the U.S. government tried to instill fear in workers without papers was through factory raids. But after millions of immigrant workers went on strike and protested on May 1, 2006, against an anti-immigrant bill then in the U.S. Congress, factory raids became more and more unpopular among broad sections of the working class.

They were increasingly met with protests that united Black, Caucasian and Latino workers. The last major factory raid was in Postville, Iowa, in 2008.

The U.S. government shifted gears, ending factory raids and relying more on operations targeting “criminal aliens,” E-Verify, and immigration “audits” to force bosses to fire workers without papers. Some sweeps under Obama detained over 2,000 immigrants.

In Obama’s second term, deporting undocumented workers with felonies or “significant” misdemeanors was proclaimed ICE’s top priority.

Trump’s executive order says U.S. policy is to detain all individuals who violate federal immigration law. Despite this, the recent raids were largely carried out under Obama administration guidelines.

Dan Fein and Samir Qaisar contributed to this article from Milwaukee.
Related articles:
‘Amnesty now!’ says SWP candidate in LA
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