Today in Fascism:
Trump Orders Start of Border Wall, Leap in Anti-Immigrant Repression, and Attacks on Sanctuary Cities
January 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Bob Avakian on "Why do people come here from all over the world?" from REVOLUTION: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About
Starting with the unprecedented inaugural speech and continuing at a rapid-fire pace since then, Trump and his regime are moving very quickly with the fascist reordering of society. Every day has brought new outrages—as revcom.us has covered—whether in the form of executive orders ramping up repression, new assaults on the press, appointments of more fascist ghouls to government positions, or the imposition of “alternative facts”—in other words, the lies they are trying to force down everyone’s throats.
Trump began his campaign by slandering Mexican immigrants as “rapists and criminals.” And his vows to build a Mexico border wall and deport millions of undocumented immigrants have been a big part of his fascist call to arms. On Wednesday, Trump went to the Department of Homeland Security to sign two executive orders aimed at jump-starting the moves to make those reactionary vows a reality—“Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” and “Interior Immigration Enforcement.”
And Trump reportedly will sign other orders on Thursday to indefinitely block Syrian refugees from coming into the U.S. and bar refugees from other countries for at least three months, as well as suspend any immigration for at least a month from a number of predominantly Muslim countries.
The Border Wall
Trump’s orders declared the intention of the executive branch to “secure the southern border of the United States through the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border.” The wall would supposedly cover the whole 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump said on Wednesday that the construction would begin “as soon as we can physically do it.” The Trump team also says they will hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents, bringing the armed border force to a total of 26,000.
During the campaign, Trump said that he will force Mexico to pay for the billions of dollars it would cost to build the wall, through measures like seizing the remittances that Mexican immigrants in the U.S. send to their families back home. He now says U.S. funds will be used to start the construction but that “we’ll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make with Mexico.”
The militarization of the southern border area started long before Trump—under Clinton and then continuing under Bush and Obama. But the Trump wall and the beefing up of the Border Patrol is a major leap in the militarized repression on the border.
Along with the border wall, Trump’s Wednesday orders signaled a major ramping up of repression against immigrants within the U.S. His orders restored the Secure Communities program—which Obama had started, leading to a big rise in arrests and deportations, but then abandoned in the face of widespread opposition. One aspect of the program is to have the local police forces notify federal immigration authorities whenever they arrest someone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.
In the name of “executing faithfully the immigration laws of the United States,” Trump’s orders called on the Department of Homeland Security to “prioritize for removal” not only immigrants charged or convicted of criminal offenses but also those who are accused of acts that may constitute a chargeable criminal offense; those who engaged in “willful misrepresentation” in connection with government matters (for instance, using a false ID to get a job); or those “in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.”
A Los Angeles Times article went into some of what this would mean: “The most immediate impact of Trump’s actions might be a vast increase in the number of people subject to detention and deportation. Trump’s orders call for an expansion of detention facilities holding asylum seekers and others awaiting immigration hearings. It would end so-called catch-and-release practices that allow these immigrants to remain at large if there is overcrowding or if they are mothers with children, unaccompanied minors or face a credible fear of persecution from their home countries.”
These detention facilities that are already operating (often run by private for-profit corporations) have been exposed as sites of brutality and torture against immigrants, including children. A report last year by Common Dreams described conditions in one such detention center in Karnes County, Texas as “plagued with human rights abuses, including: denial of food and medical care, lack of due process, and allegations of sexual assault.” An immigrant rights group documented incidents at this center like a girl, soaking wet, who was thrown into a freezing cell known as a hielera—ice box—with a toilet as her only drinking water. The Trump-Pence regime’s anti-immigrant offensive will put many more people into these hellholes.
Targeting Sanctuary Jurisdictions
Trump’s executive orders call for withdrawal of federal funds from “sanctuary jurisdictions”—states, cities, counties, and others that refuse to comply with Secure Communities or other federal laws and measures aimed at tracking down, arresting, and deporting immigrants accused of being in the country illegally.
Beyond the threat to take away federal funds, what is very ominous about these orders from Trump is that they accuse the sanctuary cities and other entities of causing “immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.” This is clearly a threat that local officials who refuse to comply will be legally charged (perhaps even with treason), and/or that “patriotic” mobs will be unleashed against them by the Trump-Pence regime. And it is part of the fascist drive to criminalize common forms of protest and even critical thinking and expressions of dissent. (See “Clampdown on Dissent Intensifying and Spreading: Wave of State Laws Threaten Harsh Penalties for Common Forms of Protest“)
Trump has, and continues to, justify the border wall and fascist anti-immigrant crackdown with claims that there is a flood of “illegal immigration” coming over the border, bringing in a huge amount of “criminals” that threaten the “American people” as well as taking jobs away from them. These are insidious lies on two levels. First, many different studies and reports have made clear that immigrants are not more likely to turn to crime than native-born people, or that immigrants take away jobs. A Pew Research Center study three years ago, for example, found that among all people 12 to 24 years old, immigrants were much less likely to commit crime than those born in the U.S.
But on another level, Trump’s anti-immigrant rants are a lie in an even bigger sense. It is the U.S. that has committed multiple huge crimes against Mexico—from the U.S. war in the 1800s that stole half of Mexico’s land to the “free trade” agreement in the 1990s that forced millions of peasants off their land. It is U.S. imperialism which has fucked up Mexico and other countries so badly, economically and in other ways, that millions have had no choice but to make the arduous and dangerous trek north, with hundreds dying each year in the attempt to cross the border.
If you’re one of the immigrants who manage to find their way into the U.S., you find yourself living in a terrible nightmare. You’re trapped in the most dangerous, low-paying jobs and forced to endure whatever they throw at you, because your family here and back home depend on you for survival. But then people like you are treated as pariahs in this society... accused of being criminals or stealing jobs... looked down on for not speaking the “right” language or having the wrong skin color. Hunted down like runaway slaves. You’re constantly fearful and on alert, because at any moment you could be snatched up by the immigration pigs, like hundreds around the U.S. are every week—then deported and separated from your kids, your spouse, your friends.
Now Trump and his ghouls are bringing on an even worse nightmare on top of the nightmare for these immigrants.
Trump’s executive orders on the border and immigration “enforcement” make clear that the U.S. imperialist crimes against Mexico and other countries, and the horrors for immigrants within the “belly of the beast,” are being ratcheted up to a whole new level under a fascist regime.
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