Sunday, February 18, 2018


Immigration policy is of prime interest to me. Recently I uncovered the mystery of my own childhood misery: my parents’ marriage was a sham. My father married my mother for her papers because it would save him from deportation to Mexico, the country of his birth. The year before they married, the U.S. government had begun deporting what would total 2 million Mexicans of all social and economic classes from areas as far apart as Texas, New Mexico, and my parent’s New York City.

Here’s a message from my college classmate now living in Fresno, the Central Valley’s agricultural heart land where crops have been left to rot in the fields because no Mexicans are left to pick them:

“One [school] district with seven schools is in a town almost entirely populated by immigrant workers and the teachers tell me that children come to school not knowing who, if anyone, will still be at home when they return. Since these are often children already traumatized by what they went through to get here, you can imagine how well they are doing in school. And this Valley is rich in gangs both Mexican and Salvadoran, ready to pick them up. 

“People in the town of Mendota, where a sizable portion of the population is Salvadoran, live in fear of the removal of their Temporary Placement Status as well as in terror of ICE, tell me that they know deportation will come to their town soon, and when it does the town's economy and the farms around it will be devastated. In Fresno, ICE has already raided two packing plants (passing on jokes about low hanging fruit) which leaves crops that have [already] been picked rotting in sheds instead of going to market. So this hatred of the unknown brown person affects everyone -- the immigrants and their families, the people providing them services and employment, and even the housewife in Peoria buying groceries who will be horrified that the price of canned tomatoes is so high.”

Crops left to rot in the field
The man hunt is on again. No further evidence is needed to conclude that a full-blown immigrant vendetta has been unleashed today in the United States of America, a country built on the backs of genocided Indians, coerced African slaves, and generation upon generation of immigrants, whose labor over generations has enriched the very capitalist oligarchs now calling for their expulsion and placing as many of them as possible under the joint stresses of continued economic exploitation, and threatened round ups.

This week, in response to a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, a Los Angeles law firm, and the National Immigrant Justice Centers, a California federal court ruled last Thursday that ICE (Immigrant and Customs Enforcement), and LASD (the Los Angeles County Sheriffs’ Department) unlawfully detained thousands of suspected immigrants on the basis of ICE unconstitutional request for immigrant detainers.  And sinking from the criminal to the deeply venal, a top ICE attorney plead guilty to stealing immigrants’ identities to go on a $190,000 shopping spree.

A panel teach-in titled NO BAN, NO WALL held this week at the University of California made this point: “The Trump presidency has increased attacks on immigrants and marginalized people, revoking temporary protected status for thousands. These actions are based on a long-standing foundation of xenophobia and criminalization. Such repression manifests not only at borders, but also in our backyards in the form of militarized policing, state surveillance and collusion between local and federal “law” enforcement . The panelists identified some of the root factors:

•Law enforcement as we know it is violent by nature, stemming historically from its beginnings as informal vigilantes organized to capture escaped slaves. As such its violence continues to be directed primarily against people of color.

•Racism undergirds foreign policy as well, exemplified by invasions, occupations, and “regime change” as they serve American economic (resource) “interests” and directed primarily against people of color. It is no accidents that Puerto Rico is still without power 6 months after the hurricane, or that Hawaii was selected as the experimental lab to see how people would react to a high alert warning, and by our failure to extend amnesty to Dreamers.

Separation Wall

*Incarceration has two faces both of which target disproportionate numbers of people of color: jail and prison. Jail houses pretrial, pre-conviction “offenders,” and as part of law enforcement is designed to punish through violence. Both public and private jails and prisons are profit-making enterprises for their owners.

•Racism (call it white supremacy, or Aryan uber alles) is capitalism’s  profit-making  tactic, designed to indoctrinate people that they are separate from one another, thus depriving them of their power of solidarity. (See a more detailed report-back below.)

•Deportation means being forcibly repatriated to a country where you may no longer have tied, cut loose in an airport without money or personal resources. It means being deparated from family and loved ones, and left to shift for yourself.

•Deportations are already impacting public education and the economy, especially in the agricultural sectors. Is the game of upholding white supremacy worth the candle?

This week as we go to press. matters remain in flux, but so far:

•The status of Dreamers remains in limbo after congress rejects four different proposals, suggesting that there may be no permanent solution anytime soon for the 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who face a March 5th deadline when they lose their right to work and become subject to deportataion.
•Wednesday’s news reported a bipartisan Senatorial group known as the “Common Sense Caucus” had reached an immigration “deal” (since voted down) granting the Trumpian border wall funding, and cuts to family reunification (nicely referred to as “chain immigration,”) a deal later denounced as a “mass deportation bill.”

All week long, various petitions have appeared urging Congress to come up with a “clean” Dreamer act allowing undocumented youth the right to work. Meantime, one such young man, Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento, was marched out of his Texas high school class by the agents of ICE.  Three hundred of his schoolmates walked out in solidarity.  Sign valid petition urging his release NOW. (note: it the link refuses to work, Google-search for the petition.)

But we are long past the petition stage. This Congress takes its cue from white supremacists. It is not about suddenly to discover it harbors a streak of humanity, not any more likely than the government of the Third Reich might have been sensitive to the signing of petitions. What is required now is an outcry that writes outraged letters to the editors of both the national and local press, that spreads to the airports and into the streets.

Here’s a run-down of this week’s articles on immigration:

None of these are “slow” articles, i.e., deep analyses of the origins and implications of what’s happening, because right now the level of hysteria, panic, and dismay is too high.

Top ICE attorney pleads guilty to stealing immigrants’ identities to go on $190,000 shopping spree. Daily Kos, February 16, 2017.

Following member’s deportation, NY State teamsters swing into action. Daily Kos, February 13, 2018.

Recently discharged hospital patient reflects on the deep caring he receives at the hands of immigrants. Daily Kos, February 14, 2018

#FreeDennis: 300 students stage walkout after Texas teed detained by ICE.

Government of Hungary passes a Draconian anti-immigration bill hitting on NGOs.


Here’s a summary of last Thursdays’ UCB NO BAN NO WALL presentation:

The four panelists, variously Mexican American, Arab American, Haitian, and Guatemalan, represented a rich diversity of origin and approach. Among their points of discussion were:
•The spontaneous outpouring of activism at airports throughout the Untied States in response to the first Muslim ban shows that popular action can be effective, and exhilarating.
•Distinction between jail and prison.  Jails as part of pre-trial, pre-conviction law enforcement, are designed to punish; 
 •At the root of immigration policy lies racism, the racism that serves the needs of profit-making Capitalism; the nature of law enforcement is violent.
•The movement to deport immigrants is global as exemplified by “Urban Shield,” held annually in  the Bay Area on 9.11, a collaboration between law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, and the County of Alameda under the direction of Sheriff Ahern. STOP URBAN SHIELD activist protest has forced it out of Oakland, but its three-day-long war games and its weapons expo now held in Pleasanton exemplifies and expands the militarization of domestic law enforcement, and unabashedly singles out people of color in actual target practice. Its best-selling T-shirt reads Black Guns Matter in direct reference to the #blacklivesmatter Movement.
•STOPURBANSHIELD activism is effective. Alameda County is the fiscal agent, and it’s on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors that pressure needs to be directed.
• To seek refuge is a human right. Following the Haitian earthquake some 80,000 Haitian asylum seekers and thousands of Salvadoran victims of that country’s civil war, stand at risk of immediate deportation because their Temporary Protection Status (TPS) is being revoked. Some 1.8 million “Dreamers” also stand at immediate risk of deportation once the March 5th extension deadline expires.
The U.S. occupation of Haiti, using the UN as a fig leaf, conducted massacres in Haiti, a matter of which the U.S. public remains in total ignorance.
•One of the most effective tools creating solidarity between people who find themselves oppressed is to learn their histories from one another. For example, a little known chapter of Haitian history concerns a regiment of Poles, part of Napoleon’s colonialist army sent to quell the Haitian Revolution who, once they had assessed how the cards were stacked, turned coat to join the Rebellion.
•An alternative approach to medicine, pioneered by Cuban schools of medicine  requires that to cure the whole person, the social determinants of health, namely the moral, psychological, political as well as the physical realities of the patient need to be taken into account.  A local clinic based on such a vision makes a practice of holding discussion circles with its patients, creating a safe space where they can share their perceptions of their illnesses, at the same time offering a formalized escape plan in the event of an ICE raid.

Common Dreams: In a letter to the American people Taliban urges peace.

Common Dreams: Public Citizen suit forces White House to release “visitor’s logs” (Menckenese for corporate lobbyist lists.)

Common Dreams: Court Rules Obama-era energy efficiency standard must prevail despite the trumpistration attempt to scrap the rules.

Joining the Ninth Circuit, the Fourth Circuit Court of appeals rules travel ban unlawfully discriminates against Muslims and violates the U.S. Constitution.

Portland bans fossil fuel expansion.  Idaho, California and Washington contemplate similar climate actions.

Common Dreams: Seattle news station partners with N.Y.-based charity to wipe out $l million in Seattle-area residents’ medical debt.

Sign up for Bay Area Rapid Response by texting RESIST to 41411

Write an outraged letter to the editor.

Join the protest outside your local ICE headquarters. In San Francisco every day from Noon to 1 Pm at 630 Sansome Street.

Join the SEIU picket at 630 Sansome in S.F. every Friday from 2 to 3 PM.

Next week we begin publication of a 4-part in-depth series on immigrant detention.

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