Ongoing injustices require ongoing resistance. Such is the case with efforts to call public attention to the plight of immigrants and asylum seekers along the southern border of the United States.
The mass demonstrations of June have given way to July’s protests near locations with literal or symbolic connections to the Trump administration’s enforcement mechanisms.
Despite the court rulings saying Zero Tolerance and its kindred sadism aren’t legal, authorities are stalling and/or proceeding as though some draconian solution will eventually prevail.
In response to proposals for construction of a tent city detention center, Indivisible Fallbrook and other North County groups have staged protests near a gate to Camp Pendleton on consecutive Mondays.
This week’s Fallbrook Freedom For Families Rally took place from 5 to 6:30pm at the corner of South Mission and Ammunition Roads. About 40 people participated, doubling the crowd size number from the first effort.
and others are headed into their third weekly demonstration on Thursday in Chula Vista outside of the Customs and Border Patrol Sector Headquarters, 2411 Boswell Road.
Participants dressed in black and white are staging a choreographed, nonviolent, and silent protest–with the exception of broadcasting audio recordings of separated children crying for their parents.
Hunger Strikers for Justice are encamped outside a Border Patrol facility in San Ysidro, with a half-dozen full-time participants are encouraging others from around the country to participate.
The hunger strikers call on State and local government officials to publicly proclaim that they support the abolition of ICE.
They are also calling for the reunification of all families separated by the inhumane immigration system that has separated about 3000 children from their families, an act they say is in violation of human rights and international law by the United Nations human rights office. Strikers called the countries immigration system inhumane.
Some of the protesters say they’ve tried to make their voices and concerns heard in other ways by attending rallies and writing letters but now they are stepping it up.
Smaller protests around the country, with many using the hashtag #OccupyICE, began in mid-June, when dozens of protesters assembled outside of an ICE facility in Portland, Oregon. Within a week, a much larger group of people were camped outside the location.
Homeland Security suspended operations at that office until June 28th, when law enforcement authorities removed the protesters. Nine people were arrested in the sweep.
A new protest camp nearby has been established, complete with well-stocked kitchen, onsite child care, and a 6-ft tall wooden barricade to protect it from the street. Several of the occupants began a hunger strike on July 5. The government has now built a chain link fence around the ICE building to keep demonstrators away from the grounds.
On July 2, 29 protesters were cited by police for “Failure to Disperse” outside of ICE offices in Philadelphia.
Other #OccupyICE actions have occurred in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Louisville (KY), Witchita (KS), Atlanta, Detroit, and Tacoma.
There’s something to be said for putting a little sand in the gears of the immigration machine. Persistence can pay off in the long run, especially when confronting an issue with as many facets as immigration enforcement.
From Matt Taylor, writing at Vice:
It’s still too early to say just how effective protests will be at seriously impeding or even halting ICE operations, especially since much of the damage to immigrant families is happening hundreds of miles south, at the border. But with some of the thousands of children separated from their parents moved to the very states where occupations are taking place, and more structural “abolish ICE” sentiment infiltrating the debate in Democratic congressional primaries, the potential for even relatively modest occupations to make life a lot more complicated for immigration overlords is already clear.
“Occupy itself was sort of an eruption from a field of hot energy under the surface that came and went with respect to what was being felt on the street,” recalled Todd Gitlin, a Columbia professor and social-movement historian who was president of Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s. Comparing ICE occupations to similar actions at Army draft board locations at the height of the Vietnam War, he pointed to the midterm elections as a key measuring stick for what this latest eruption of Occupy-style protests really means, and what activists intend to get before they back down.
“They may or may not feel the need to do something more orderly or organized down the pike, but for now they feel enraged and this seems to be a sort of natural place to put that energy,” he told me.
This is a lie. I’ve never been allowed into one of these facilities, and not for lack of trying. https://t.co/kTY6S4INIC
— Brooke Binkowski (@brooklynmarie) July 11, 2018
Meanwhile, there are signs of the Trump administration’s continuing bad intentions. The Office of Refugee Resettlement is preparing for the possibility of another surge in family separations. Internal documents obtained by Slate show that ORR has modeled a scenario in which the Trump administration’s border policies could require the detention of thousands more immigrant children.
Slate has acquired documents indicating the ORR is working hard on a scenario involving another surge in immigrant minors over the next three months. The premise is the agency could need as many as 25,400 beds for immigrant minors by the end of the calendar year.
It’s impossible to know whether this exercise is based on victories in the appellate courts or if the administration is willing to simply defy court orders. The agency estimates include a budget shortfall of as much as $1.9 billion by the end of the calendar year. Paying for the deficit could involve cuts for other programs.
To help cover these potential costs, the documents say, HHS will seek supplemental appropriations from Congress. The documents also indicate that HHS plans to pay for child separation by reallocating money from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which, according to its website, “provides a comprehensive system of care that includes primary medical care and essential support services for people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured.” Per the documents, the process of transferring those HIV/AIDS funds has already begun.
In addition, HHS plans to reallocate $79 million from programs for refugee resettlement, a move that could imperil social services, medical assistance, and English language instructions for refugees in the U.S., as well as programs for torture survivors.
Donald Trump, his apologists, and too many “reasonable” Democrats are trying to cast the call for abolishing ICE as a pathway to anarchy.
We spend more on deporting college students or day laborers than investigating and jailing, as Trump put it, “bad hombres.” Simple math will tell you this federal agency is a burden to taxpayers.
This is bullshit, first of all, because starting with the premise of ‘reforming’ something that’s gone this wrong means you’ll end up keeping too much of what stinks. And, secondly, maybe it’s time we the people asked the government to stop throwing money at things because rightwingers have ginned up fear of the ‘other.’
Cesar Vargas and Yesenia Mata offer some rational arguments in an essay at HuffPo:
First, let’s point out that ICE is a fairly new government agency, coming into existence in 2003, a post-9/11 legislation era. It’s not an institution that’s embedded in our history, like the U.S. Marine Corps, which saw its beginning in the American Revolution in 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized the first Marine battalions.
We obviously need to administer immigration laws in a rational manner while investigating serious offenses. There already exist, however, other capable law enforcement agencies that investigate terrorism, transnational drug rings, human trafficking and violent gangs.
With the creation of ICE, Congress duplicated an already bloated bureaucracy. We spend more on immigration enforcement than on all other federal law enforcement combined, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
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