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Tag: "immigration"

Today in American Fascism

[ 40 ] May 29, 2017 |

Of course the fascist war against immigrants continues on Decoration Day. In Texas, pro-immigrant protestors held a rally inside the state capital. Now I don’t want to alarm you, but some Texas legislators are really racist. Such as this guy.

A Texas Republican reportedly threatened to “put a bullet in one of his colleague’s heads” during a scuffle on the House floor over the state’s new anti-‘sanctuary cities’ law on Monday, Democrats said.

Representative Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, reportedly made the comment “in the direction of” Representative Poncho Nevárez during a dispute that began when Rinaldi told two Hispanic lawmakers that he called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Senate Bill 4 protesters at the Capitol.

“There was a subsequent exchange between my brother Poncho and Representative Rinaldi and there was a threat made from Rinaldi to put a bullet in one of my colleague’s heads,” Representative Justin Rodriguez told reporters after the incident. “That kind of threatening language he needs to be called out and held accountable for.”

Rinaldi told Representative Ramon Romero Jr. on the House floor that the hundreds of protesters who were chanting in the gallery were a “disgrace,” Romero told the Observer.

“Fuck them, I called ICE,” Rinaldi said, according to Romero.

Romero said that prompted Representative Cesar Blanco to tell Rinaldi that Italian immigrants “are just like us,” and Rinaldi responded, “Yeah, but we love our country.”

“He saw a bunch of people who look Latino, and he assumed they’re undocumented,” Romero told the Observer. “So how can he say SB 4 won’t lead to racial profiling?”

A white supremacist from the Dallas suburbs? No! Oh, but I’m sure the Republicans who control the Texas legislature, the racists elected to leading state government positions, and the voters of Irving will totally see that this violent racist asshole is punished. Right? SB-4 is the Texas bill to punish sanctuary cities.

Meanwhile, there’s America’s fascist shock troops, the ethnic cleansing organization known as ICE.

Guadalupe Plascencia said she was alarmed when a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy asked her to sign papers related to her immigration status.

The 59-year-old hairdresser from San Bernardino had spent the night of March 29 in jail because of a decade-old bench warrant related to her alleged failure to appear as a witness in a court case. During her night in jail, Plascencia said a deputy asked her to sign documents acknowledging that officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had inquired about her.

“Why?” Plascencia asked. “I’m an American citizen.”

Confused and scared, Plascencia did as she was asked, assuring herself that the entire ordeal was a mistake that would soon be cleared up.

But as she tried to leave the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Plascencia said she was met by immigration enforcement agents, handcuffed and placed in the back of a van. Plascencia would spend the rest of the day in ICE custody, fearful that she would be deported despite becoming an American citizen some 20 years ago, following an amnesty program initiated by President Ronald Reagan.

“I felt helpless, like I was no one,” she said in a recent interview. “Here, they talk about rights … in that moment, I realized, we don’t have rights.”

Plascencia was eventually released after her daughter showed ICE agents her passport. But now she has taken the first step toward filing a lawsuit against the federal immigration agency and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in a case that raises issues of how an American citizen wound up in the custody of immigration enforcement agents.

Whoops! This citizen could have easily been deported, especially given the decreasing access to legal counsel those unfortunate enough to be picked up by ICE are receiving. But hey, she had an accent. Must be illegal! Get her!

At least our president showed great leadership over the white supremacist murders in Portland….


ICE: America’s Fascist Agency

[ 56 ] May 25, 2017 |

Yesterday, ICE agents ate at a restaurant in Michigan. They then detained 3 of the workers, although it’s not even clear why as they were all released. Presumably they had accents and thus must be here without documentation. There is a term for this sort of behavior. That term is fascism. Below is footage of what these ICE agents did.

ICE is a fascist agency. It needs to be destroyed. These agents are reprehensible people who act in ways that would have made the SS proud.

Too Much Winning

[ 35 ] April 25, 2017 |


Trump and Sessions’ fascism once again halted by the courts.

A San Francisco judge barred enforcement of President Donald Trump’s executive order withholding funds from so-called sanctuary cities that fail to comply with federal immigration demands by shielding undocumented immigrants.

San Francisco and its Silicon Valley neighbor, Santa Clara County, on Tuesday both won preliminary injunctions blocking the Jan. 25 edict by Trump who declared sanctuary jurisdictions cause “immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic.” The city and county argued the president’s order violated the Constitution and threatened to deprive them of funding for local programs.

Of course given that Neil “Murderer of Disabled Black Arkansas Prisoners” Gorsuch is now on the Supreme Court, I don’t know how optimistic I am in the long term, but all this seriously slows down the horror of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III and his attempt to impose the race relations of 1931 on the entire country.

America’s Funnyman

[ 63 ] April 23, 2017 |


When he takes a break from dropping his ridiculously awesome sense of humor that mere mortals would call racism, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is continuing his reign of terror against undocumented people. Here’s some stories from scared people in Rhode Island.

The Haitian immigrant sits in a reporter’s car, parked on a side street, his eyes scanning for police or federal agents. Dreading potential arrest and deportation, “Joseph” says this is only the third time he’s ventured from his basement hideaway since before President Donald Trump took office.

A slender 35-year-old with wide cheekbones and close-cropped hair, Joseph remains secluded with his girlfriend and their infant in a two-room concrete basement. They’ve taped blackout cloth over the one tiny window. They speak in low tones. They watch television with the volume off and captions on. They hope the baby’s cries don’t attract attention. His aunt, who owns the house, attends to their needs.

Through an interpreter, Joseph says that “because of the problem with Donald Trump, they are putting everybody in the same boat,” lumping all undocumented immigrants with those who have committed crimes. He hopes that Trump “may change his mind, and allow [undocumented] people to stay if they have no criminal record.”

If he doesn’t, Joseph says, “Only God knows” what will happen to his family.

Joseph is one of several undocumented immigrants The Journal interviewed who are living under self-imposed home confinement because of the Trump administration’s executive orders that appear to put many of the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk. The Journal has granted them anonymity because of their fears. Joseph is being interviewed in the car so the reporter will not know where he lives.

Just another hilarious joke by that comedic genius from Alabama!

Much of the response on the left to Trump has been heartening, with protests ranging from the Women’s March to the JFK protest to yesterday’s Science March. But I have to say that the lack of attention paid to the approximately 11 million people in this country who are being terrorized by Sessions and his fascist strikeforce that is ICE is upsetting. These are the single biggest targets of Trump and yet this doesn’t concern liberals and the left as much as other, less immediate issues. As I believe we can be mad about many things at once, I don’t think we have to sacrifice the anger at the administration anti-science policies in order to also be, say, setting up an underground railroad to get people to Canada or a network where local people can create flash protests whenever the fascists arrest an undocumented person. We can do a lot more on these issues than we are doing.

“You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

[ 309 ] April 7, 2017 |


I know we are surrounded by low information voters and said voters are not too bright or interested. Alas, such is the majority of the population. But this story of a woman who voted for Trump despite being married to an undocumented immigrant from Mexico and whose husband has now been deported is just so beyond anything I can handle right now. What does one even do with this story?

More About America’s Last True Liberal President (TM)

[ 39 ] March 27, 2017 |


Let’s learn more about the Last Real Liberal President Unlike Neoliberal Sellout Barack Obama!

Richard Nixon was the first U.S. president who made a promise to close the U.S-Mexican border to illegal drugs and unwanted people part of an election-winning strategy. Speaking on the campaign trail from Anaheim, California, in 1968, Candidate Nixon promised to deal with the “marijuana problem” protested by parents of California’s youth by intercepting Mexican drugs at the border. Then, on September 21, 1969, just eight months after his inauguration, President Nixon’s Treasury and Justice Departments launched Operation Intercept along the almost 2,000 miles of southern border in a supposed attempt to enforce federal narcotics laws.

Spending $30 million USD, Intercept staffed the border with thousands of federal law enforcement agents who were charged with executing intense, time-consuming customs inspections. Nixon’s bottlenecks at the international bridges disrupted life and business on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. They also provoked resistance. The Mexican Chamber of Commerce led a brief U.S.-travel boycott on behalf of merchants who had lost trade in Mexican border communities, including Ciudad Juárez. Then Mexican president Gustavo Díaz Ordaz said Intercept “raised a wall of suspicion” between the two countries. Indeed, for almost three weeks, Intercept created a “wall effect” as the U.S. government turned a fluid border into an obstacle course.

Although the U.S. government officially ceased the operation of the program in October 1969, Intercept’s principles have guided border policy for every president since Nixon. In the late 1970s, Kent State University political scientist R. B. Craig called Intercept “a benchmark in United States-Mexico narcotics policy.” In 1999, U.S. Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D-El Paso) remembered Intercept because it “initiated new approaches to a problem of national magnitude.” Reyes would know. Prior to Congress, he was the El Paso sector Border Patrol chief, and in 1993, he designed and executed Operation Blockade/Hold-the-Line, placing agents at roughly 50-yard intervals along the urban border between El Paso and Juárez to stop smuggling and unauthorized immigration. Reyes immediately followed Hold-the-Line with an attempt to build a fence on the western outskirts of Juárez/El Paso. Similarly, law-and-order politicians, like former Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, fondly remember Intercept. As the New Yorker’s William Finnegan reported in 2009, Arpaio, who worked on Intercept with erstwhile Nixon operative G. Gordon Liddy, said the operation “nearly closed the border with Mexico.” The no-exceptions customs inspections became permanent after September 11, 2001.

Today, Donald Trump’s threatened U.S.-Mexico border wall—like Nixon he wants to keep unwanted elements from Mexico out of the U.S.—comes straight from Nixon’s playbook. As Grace Slick of the rock band Jefferson Airplane sang in 1970 in response to the dearth of marijuana in the U.S. for the months after Intercept, “Mexico is under the thumb of a man we call Richard.” As with Nixon, so too with Trump. And now, perhaps more than ever, Mexico must beware of the United States’ longstanding inclination for unilateral action on the two nations’ shared border. After all, Trump won’t so much build the wall as complete it: at present, a fence 18 feet tall lines 650 miles of the southern border.

Who was put in charge of this lovely program?

G. Gordon Liddy—the infamous Watergate burglar—was Intercept’s foreman and Joe Arpaio his henchman. Lieutenants in Nixon’s Justice and Treasury Departments, Richard Kleindienst and Eugene Rossides, sent then Special Agent to the Treasury Liddy to towns along the border in the summer of 1969 to lay out the border operation. Bob Ybarra, a reporter for the El Paso Herald-Post remembered Liddy’s visit to El Paso in an oral history interview in 1994. “This is the way we are going to do business from now on,” Ybarra recalled Liddy saying, referring to how Intercept changed border inspections to a no-exceptions-to-inspections regime. Prior to Intercept, the New York Times reported, customs officers “took less than a minute to process a vehicle and its passengers. Only one car in twenty was given the present three-minute treatment, including thorough scrutiny of the trunk and engine areas, under seats and behind cushions and door panels.” According to Ybarra, it was Intercept that brought “the phenomenon of long lines [to the border].”

G. Gordon Liddy AND Joe Arapio! What a pair! But Nixon showed tremendous bravery in signing environmental legislation that passed the House 405-3! What a great liberal!!!

The whole article is really fantastic.

The Sessions Press Conference

[ 49 ] March 27, 2017 |


Above: Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III struck today.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a surprise appearance at the White House press briefing Monday afternoon to urge sanctuary cities to change their policies, noting that the Department of Justice plans to deny them funding if they do not begin following federal immigration laws.

“I strongly urge our nation’s states and cities ad counties to consider carefully the harm they are doing to our citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and to rethink these policies,” Sessions said.

So-called “sanctuary cities” offer safe harbor to undocumented immigrants who might otherwise be deported by federal law enforcement officials. The United States has more than 140 sanctuary jurisdictions, either cities or counties, including 37 cities. Among the sanctuary cities are San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles.

But the Trump administration has argued that sanctuary cities also offer safety from deportation for undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

“When cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe,” Sessions said. “Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk, especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.”

Sessions’ comments follow approximately two months after President Trump’s executive order allowing the attorney general and homeland security secretary to decide whether sanctuary cities would be eligible for federal grants. The order was one of the first Mr. Trump signed after taking office.

This is of course entirely expected with a racist white nationalists in the Oval Office naming an open neo-Confederate as Attorney General. The Slave Power lives. The extent to which cities fight back will be very interesting. The key is that they do not cave. If one or two cave, a bunch will. This will take grassroots activism to demand mayors do the right thing, even if it costs money. This is an ethnic cleansing moment and as I have said before, if you want to know what you would have done if you lived under a fascist power in the past, well, now you know based upon what you do today.

Why did this happen today? David Kurtz speculates, convincingly.

Perhaps the White House had planned all along for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make an appearance at today’s press briefing to rail against sanctuary cities. But the timing is consistent with what I’ve long feared will be the impulse for the Trump administration: When the going gets rough (failed Obamacare repeal, low poll numbers, etc), it will fall back on appeals to racism and xenophobia to regain political footing.

With so much incompetence taking root, it’s not difficult to envision a scenario where those base appeals must become more amped up, extreme, and scurrilous to be “effective.” It threatens to turn into a vicious cycle the likes of which we’ve never seen in this country.

Obviously we can’t know this. But doesn’t shifting from a defeat by fanning the flames of racism sound exactly like something Steve Bannon would do?

The Official Presidency of Domestic Abusers and Rapists

[ 23 ] March 25, 2017 |


I too am shocked that President Pussy Grabbing Fascist would create fascist policies that facilitate the crimes of domestic abusers and rapists.

Latinos in Los Angeles are making dramatically fewer reports of rape and domestic violence amid a climate of fear over increased immigration enforcement, according to the city’s Police Chief Charlie Beck.

Since the beginning of 2017, reports of rape among the city’s Latino population have declined by 25 percent, compared to the same period last year. Domestic violence reports have dropped nearly 10 percent. According to statistics provided by the Los Angeles Police Department, no other ethnic group experienced a comparable decrease.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Beck said there was a “strong correlation” between the Trump administration’s new immigration rules, which empower federal agents to more aggressively deport those without documentation regardless of whether they’ve committed a serious crime, and the deflated numbers.

“Imagine a young woman—imagine your daughter, sister, mother, your friend—not reporting a sexual assault because they are afraid that their family will be torn apart,” he said during an appearance with Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The Pew Research Center estimates that the Los Angeles metro area has one million undocumented immigrants, more than any other area in the country except New York. In a press release, the LAPD cautioned that while “there is no direct evidence that the decline is related to concerns within the Hispanic community regarding immigration, the department believes deportation fears may be preventing Hispanic members of the community from reporting when they are victimized.”

And hey, when the fascist shock force known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement starts arresting women at their domestic violence hearings, turns out it will stop women from protecting themselves through the legal system. I wonder how many women Trump will kill because of this. A feature, not a bug, no doubt.

This Day in Labor History: March 24, 1934

[ 25 ] March 24, 2017 |


On March 24, 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Tydings-McDuffie Act. Better known as the Philippine Independence Act, Tydings-McDuffie initially sounds like a victory for anti-colonialist forces. However, a look at the history of law demonstrates that it actually came out of the deep anti-Asian racism of the West Coast who saw Asian populations both as competition for white labor and competition for white women.

From the beginning of Anglo-American occupation in California, white workers defined the state as a white man’s republic. This was basically repeated in Oregon and Washington. And yet from the very beginning, the polyglot population of the region challenged those assumptions. The arrival of Mexicans and Chinese along with whites into California freaked out the white population, which quickly sought to take over the diggings. The Chinese were pushed into menial labor, as well as the most difficult and dangerous labor, such as railroad building. White workers saw these workers as a direct threat, committed murderous violence against them, and lobbied for the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first major legislative victory for unions in American history. But California employers continued their search for cheap labor, turning to the Japanese. But the same anti-Asian sentiment rose up against the Japanese, especially as these workers began organizing as well, and the Gentlemen’s Agreement cut that labor off in 1907. But western employers now had a new source of labor: Filipinos. This was much more difficult for anti-Asian zealots to organize against, for Filipinos had the right to immigrate as colonial subjects of the United States since the 1898-1902 war of subjugation.

By the 1920s, Filipino immigration to California expanded rapidly, with over 24,000 coming between 1925 and 1929, mostly young men to work in the fields. In response, the San Francisco Chronicle editorialized, “There is a serious immigration problem involved in the introduction of large numbers of person who are unassimilable yet who are given a statue little short of full citizenship.” They lived in the same terrible camps that other workers suffered through in the fields, with housing that was basically chicken coops. The growers liked them because they worked hard and made little trouble on the farms. But the new arrival of non-whites infuriated many Californians. To make it worse for white Californians, many Filipino men, and men made up 94% of the migrants, ended up having sexual relationships with white women. This was not what their cheap, exploitable labor was supposed to do. Said Fred Hart, a farmer from Salinas, “The Filipinos will not leave our white girls alone…Frequently they intermarry.” That these new workers had status as Americans made their brazenness even more outrageous for white California.

So whites did what whites do so frequently in American history–they turned to violence against the people who color who dared stand up for human rights and labor rights. On January 21, 1930, about two hundred white Californians tried to raid a Filipino-owned club near Monterey where nine white women worked as entertainers. The mob expanded to about 500 people and the next night they started attacking Filipinos they found on the streets and in the orchards. On January 23, the mob killed a farmworker named Fermin Tobera, who had come to California in 1928 to work in the fields and send money back to his impoverished family. The bunkhouse in which he slept on the Murphy Ranch near Watsonville was set upon by whites who started firing into it. Tobera was shot in the head. This outraged the Filipino community working for the rights of their people in Washington, as well as Filipinos in Manila. Other violent incidents popped up around California over the next couple of days, leading to beating and a stabbing. On January 29, someone blew up the Stockton headquarters of the Filipino Federation of America. Although several people were sleeping inside, no one was killed. Given the trans-Pacific anger this violence caused, California law enforcement had to do something. Eight men pleaded guilty for incitement to riot; four of them served thirty days in prison and the rest of the sentences for all of them were suspended.

This violence is the context in which the U.S. considered granting the Filipinos their independence. Both supporters and opponents of Filipino migration to the U.S. thought independence was probably the best solution by the early 1930s. The Watsonville Evening Pajaronian editorialized that it hoped the Philippines would get their independence so Japan would invade them and turn them into a new Korea. Given the rapidly growing availability of white labor as the Great Depression deepened, the California growers wouldn’t struggle to find a new labor force either.

The law itself granted the Philippines independence after ten years. In exchange, Filipinos would have to abide by the racist immigration quota system of the 1924 Immigration Act immediately. A whopping 50 immigrants from the Philippines a year were allowed into the United States. They were also denied citizenship rights. A 1946 law, the same year that the Philippines actually received independence, doubled the quota to a whole 100 immigrants and restored the ability of Filipinos to become citizens. A year after Tydings-McDuffie, Congress passed the Filipino Repatriation Act that provided free transportation for Filipinos who wanted to return to the islands but could not afford to do so. The nation didn’t quite get to the point of rounding up these workers, but they can awfully close.

In conclusion, the United States was actually too racist and too concerned about interracial sex to remain a colonial power.

Of course, Filipino labor did not disappear from the United States after Tydings-McDuffie, even as new immigration did. These workers would play a critical role in the early farmworker movements that eventually led to the United Farm Workers, even as Latino workers supplanted the Filipinos in the movement.

I borrowed from Dorothy B. Fujita-Rony, “Empire and the Moving Body: Fermin Tobera, Military California, and Rural Space,” in Bender and Lipman, Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialism in the writing of this post.

This is the 212th post in this series. Previous posts are archived here.


[ 39 ] March 22, 2017 |


Today, I am participating in an event at my university about supporting immigrants against Trump’s racist and fascist immigration regime. In preparing for it, I thought this piece on the sanctuary movement of the 1980s and its relevance today was quite useful and important.

In Guatemala, the decades-long civil war would eventually claim 200,000 lives, with state forces responsible for 93 percent of the violence, according to a UN report; in El Salvador, 75,000 were killed, with state forces responsible of at least 85 percent of the crimes. The Reagan administration also covertly and illegally armed and supported paramilitary “contra” forces against the Sandinista government, financing this illicit venture through clandestine arms deals with Iran.

As these anti-communist proxy wars ravaged Central America, a massive grassroots response arose in the United States.

This movement, sometimes referred to as the Central America solidarity movement or the Central America peace movement, encompassed a vast and diverse amalgamation of organizations and tactics fighting to halt U.S. support for the wars, defend the revolutionary projects of Central American popular movements, and protect Central American refugees seeking a safe haven in the United States.

As part of the movement, activists traveled to Sandinista Nicaragua under siege from the contras, indigenous communities facing genocidal violence in Guatemala, liberated guerilla territory in El Salvador, and Salvadoran refugee camps in Honduras to witness first-hand the collective organizing for social and economic justice so fiercely opposed by the “Free World” and to gather testimonies on the depredations of U.S. foreign policy. In the United States, they engaged in collective acts of civil disobedience, put their lives on the line in courageous direct actions, waged national political campaigns, provided aid and services for victims of the violence, and organized mass mobilizations.

As an array of forces again raise the mantel of “sanctuary,” it’s important to remember that the sanctuary movement of the 1980s was but one component of a broad-based, cross-border, anti-imperialist liberation struggle. This is the radical heritage that our organized responses to mass deportations, refugee bans, and imperialist wars must claim today.

There are of course critical differences between the sanctuary movement then and now, the most important of which is that the movements of the 80s were closely connected to particularly awful Central American governments. Those governments aren’t that great today, but protecting people from Efrain Rios Montt and Jose Napoleon Duarte gave very concrete targets because of their relationship to Reagan’s horrendous Central American policies that the drug wars don’t. That said, breaking the law to protect people’s rights to stay in this country is going to be absolutely necessary for resisting Trump’s whitening of America. I’m not entirely sure of quite what that should look like of course, but past movements ranging from the Underground Railroad to ACT-UP to the sanctuary movements of the 1980s provide real, concrete examples we can learn from. Because if we care about protecting our immigrant neighbors, that might mean hiding them in our houses, allowing them to stay in our churches, and shuttling them to Canada for their safety.

Sanctuary Cities

[ 6 ] March 10, 2017 |


I suspect I will be writing a lot about immigration going forward. To build on this post and this post, let me point you to this excellent Lauren Carasik piece at Boston Review on all the good that sanctuary cities do.

Jurisdictions have good reasons to adopt sanctuary policies, some political and some pragmatic. Some municipalities do not want local law enforcement to be active participants in mass deportation and have rallied to the defense of their immigrant communities, in part because the failure of immigration reform has made it impossible for people to stay legally and they abhor the idea of tearing communities apart. Others believe immigration enforcement should be reserved for federal authorities. But the objections extend far beyond jurisdictional and political ones. The primary one is that effective policing is predicated on community trust. The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recognized this: “At all levels of government, it is important that laws, policies, and practices not hinder the ability of local law enforcement to build the strong relationships necessary to public safety and community well-being.” The report concludes that “whenever possible, state and local law enforcement should not be involved in immigration enforcement.”

This is particularly important to protect the vulnerable, such as victims of domestic and sexual violence or exploitation. For them, the fear that interaction with law enforcement could lead to deportation bolsters the power of abusers and serves to further isolate and silence them. Last month in Texas, a woman was detained by ICE—which was acting on a tip suspected to have come from her alleged abuser—in the courthouse just after obtaining a protective order against him. Although records later showed that the woman may have had her own criminal history, the message to other victims about the risks of seeking protection is chilling. Similarly, witnesses critical to prosecuting crimes or good Samaritans may be reluctant to come forward without assurances that they do not risk being reported to immigration authorities. Compounding the cost to community trust, using police departments’ resources to assist in federal immigration enforcement can drain local budgets. Facilitating deportation exacts significant social costs as well, by devastating families and losing immigrants’ contributions to community.

Of course, making of these things worse are part and parcel of Republican policy.

Denying Entry to Migrants: Our Racist National Shame

[ 255 ] March 10, 2017 |


The morally bankrupt immigration policy of the United States with its Gestapo-like Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency seeking to round up desperate people flies in the face of what this nation should value. The people crossing the border are escaping really horrible things. And now they aren’t coming because the enormous financial investment and personal risk up to and too often including death isn’t worth it if they are going to be deported. But they have nothing to return to in their home nations. They are coming here for good reasons, after all.

Reiner Ríos Gómez, who is from Honduras’s capital, Tegucigalpa, lifted his shirt last week to expose a scar about 12 inches long in the middle of his back, where he said a machete hit him as he fled the robbers who were trying to steal his pay: 2,800 lempiras, or about $119, for half a month’s work in construction.

To escape that life, he set out for the United States on Jan. 15, making it as far as Sonoyta, Mexico, a city on the Arizona border where roadside stalls sell the camouflage clothes and backpacks that migrants use to cross to the other side. Then he called a cousin in Houston.

“Why are you coming?” he said his cousin asked him. “They’re going to send you back.”

So Mr. Ríos, 33, settled down at a shelter in Sonoyta, unsure of what to do next. “I have nothing to go back to,” he said. “And I don’t know if there’s anything for me on the other side.”

Customs and Border Protection reported this week that the number of people caught trying to enter the United States illegally from Mexico had fallen in February to the lowest level in five years. The Trump administration said the sharp decline was a sign that its promises to hire more enforcement agents, deport more people and wall off the border were discouraging people from even trying to cross.

People are leaving Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, escaping horrific violence. How can we turn them away? Because we are a horrible racist nation, that’s how.

This is the modern equivalent of the 1930s refusal to allow Jewish refugees into the United States, dooming them to death. There is no significant difference between that crime against humanity made in the name of keeping America white and the current crime against humanity in the name of Make America White Again. While I don’t advocate for completely open borders, largely because there are policy implications that can’t be ignored, I certainly advocate for significantly increased levels of immigration. People like Ríos need a chance to live a dignified life. The United States should represent the place where people can do that. But now we are refusing that life to him and to millions of other people in the name of whiteness. It’s disgusting. Future Americans will see this as a national shame. And then they will probably start excluding people once again in the name of whiteness or national identity or whatnot.

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