By Josh Varlin in the USA:
Thousands of people protested across the United States Tuesday with the slogan “Close the camps”, demanding the closure of the network of concentration camps in which immigrants are detained.
Organized by the liberal group MoveOn and organizations focused on immigrant rights and human rights more broadly, the protests were a small but significant expression of the mass opposition to the brutal treatment of immigrants at the hands of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Almost 200 protests were planned across the US, in major cities and smaller towns alike. New York City, Boston, Minneapolis, Dallas, Las Vegas, Detroit, Houston, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland and Seattle all saw protests, some with attendance in the hundreds. Protests were also planned in Stuart, Florida; Lubbock, Texas; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Lincoln, Nebraska; Biddeford, Maine; and Minocqua, Wisconsin.
Most of the protests were simply called “Close the Camps”, but others indicated a growing recognition that the barbaric treatment of immigrants in concentration camps had broader implications: “Cut ICE/CBP funds: No more separated families and children’s camps” in Denver and “Family separation is torture” in Miami are just two examples.
Many of the protests were in front of the offices of congressional representatives, largely demanding that they implement legislation to close the detention camps. Others were held in public squares or in front of detention centers …
Newsweek reported that protesters demanded “three things from lawmakers on Tuesday: to close the camps, to stop funding all family detention and to reunite families. They also want members of Congress to bear witness to detention conditions and personally visit facilities this week while they are on recess.”
The signs, particularly handmade ones, express healthy solidarity with immigrants and opposition to the vicious attacks on their democratic rights. “No $ for detention & deportation”. “The kids are dying”, “Put the real crooks in cages!” and “Never again is now!” were among the signs.
Protesters throughout the country likewise expressed outrage to the concentration camps and the broad-based support for democratic rights among workers, immigrant and native-born alike.
“It’s hard to look at this and not think about the concentration camps”, Genie Taylor, a child welfare worker who was protesting in Birmingham, Alabama, told al.com. “I think most people are appalled.”
On June 30, leading up to the July 2 protests, 36 activists were arrested outside of an ICE detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The Elizabeth Detention Center, which is privately managed by Core Civic, was the site of a protest organized by Jewish activists and an immigrant rights group.
The protest was in part a response to the cynical semantic arguments put forward by defenders of the concentration camps, who take umbrage at the term and periodically contrast the Holocaust to the current attacks on immigrants.
A press release addressed this, reading: “Elected officials are spending more time arguing over the language used to describe these conditions than addressing the crisis itself. They claim to speak for us Jews, but they don’t. We refuse to allow politicians to use our trauma as a distraction from the mass atrocities being perpetrated by ICE and CBP at the border and across the country.”
Protesters chanted “Which side are you on?” and held banners and signs saying, “Never again is now” and “Jews against ICE say never again for anyone.” Those arrested were charged and issued summonses.
A similar coalition organized a Tuesday protest in Boston attracting some 1,000 people, where 18 were arrested. Michaela Caplan, an organizer, said, “When we grew up hearing the words ‘never again,’ it’s referring to a moment like this.”
One sign read, “Anne Frank was turned away.”
It is clear that reports from inside the camps have shocked and horrified the public. The announcement that Fort Sill in Oklahoma, which was the site of an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II, would be the site of an immigrant detention facility, confirmed the resurrection of the worst crimes of the twentieth century and American history.
A June report from the Associated Press brought to light some of the torturous conditions in which immigrant children find themselves has also galvanized opposition. The AP report found children caring for infants, with one girl telling reporters, “A Border Patrol agent came in our room with a 2-year-old boy and asked us, ‘Who wants to take care of this little boy?’”
The protests express the growing opposition to the Trump administration’s crimes against immigrants …
Despite … certain of its members, the Democratic Party is hostile to immigrant rights. Its members in the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed two versions of legislation providing over $4 billion to ICE and CBP to fund their xenophobic crackdown. Senate Democrats also voted overwhelmingly to fund the American Gestapo.
The Democratic Party is largely attacking Trump on the issue of his supposed closeness to Russia, rather than the network of concentration camps he is constructing.
This 2 July 2019 video from the USA is called Ocasio-Cortez Exposes HORRIFIC Conditions in Migrant Detention Facilities.
AOC: THE U.S. IS ‘HEADED FOR FASCISM’ Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called conditions at U.S. migrant detention facilities “horrifying,” and doubled down on her comparisons of the border squalor to World War II. “Are we headed to fascism? Yes. I don’t think there’s a question”, she said. [HuffPost]
AOC ‘IS RIGHT ABOUT CONCENTRATION CAMPS’ Writer Mary Catherine Ford, whose great-great uncle Clayton Triggs served as director of the Japanese American concentration camp Manzanar War Relocation Center during World War II, said Ocasio-Cortez is “right to call out what’s happening in our southern border camps.” [HuffPost]
DETENTION CENTER HORROR REPORT The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General found “dangerous overcrowding”, prolonged detention and health risks to migrants at multiple Border Patrol facilities in southern Texas. [HuffPost]
By Barry Grey in the USA:
Amid revelations of fascist network at Customs and Border Protection
Ocasio-Cortez, other Congress members threatened by border police
3 July 2019
A delegation of more than a dozen members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus reported feeling unsafe and facing taunts and ridicule from Border Patrol agents during a visit Monday to immigrant detention facilities in Texas.
The Democratic legislators included Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was specifically targeted in sexually obscene and violent posts on a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents’ secret Facebook page that was revealed in an exposé published Monday by ProPublica.
In the course of their tour of facilities, the lawmakers reported horrific conditions and abuse of women detainees at Border Patrol stations in El Paso and Clint, Texas. The provocative treatment the legislators received from Border Patrol agents at the facilities demonstrates that the fascistic sentiments of current and former CBP agents expressed in posts on the Facebook page are pervasive throughout the immigration agencies. President Trump … is cultivating and encouraging these forces as part of his drive to terrorize and persecute millions of immigrant workers.
This is being done in the face of broad popular sympathy for the immigrants and opposition to the erection of immigrant concentration camps. On Tuesday, thousands demonstrated across the country to demand the closure of the immigrant camps, a small reflection of the widespread hostility to Trump’s anti-immigrant and authoritarian measures. …
The episode at the border on Monday took place just days after the Democratic Party ensured passage of a bipartisan measure handing the Trump administration an additional $4.9 billion to fund his border war, claiming it was motivated by a “humanitarian” desire to improve conditions at immigrant detention facilities. …
The Democrats’ humanitarian pretext was exploded by the threatening behavior of the border agents on Monday as well as Trump’s statement, upon signing the funding bill, that he plans to proceed with military-style raids in major cities to arrest and deport thousands of immigrants following his July 4 celebration of militarism at the Lincoln Memorial.
PARK SERVICE REDIRECTS MILLIONS FOR 4TH The National Park Service will divert about $2.5 million in fees collected from parkgoers to help pay for the hefty costs of President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July celebration, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. [HuffPost]
Meanwhile, the toll on workers fleeing poverty and violence in Central America continues to grow. On Monday night, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that a 30-year-old Honduran man who was in ICE custody died on Sunday at a Houston-area hospital. Yimi Alexis Balderramos-Torres is the sixth person to die in ICE custody since October 1.
After leaving the Border Patrol station in El Paso Monday, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “Just left the 1st CBP facility. I see why CBP officers were being so physically & sexually threatening towards me. Officers were keeping women in cells w/ no water & had told them to drink out of the toilets. This was them on their GOOD behavior in front of members of Congress.”
She told reporters, “I was not safe from the officers in that facility.” Other members of the congressional delegation described CBP and Border Patrol agents laughing at the lawmakers and taking selfies with the Congress members in the background.
Trump refused to condemn either the fascistic Facebook posts or the provocative behavior of the border agents. White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox Business Network, “I don’t know what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is talking about.” He called CBP agents “some of the bravest men and women on the planet,” and added, “They provided three meals a day to people who are here illegally and unlawfully, two snacks in between.”
A Fox News report accused the congresswoman of “screaming” at border agents in a “threatening manner”.
On Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez responded by tweeting: “To these CBP officers saying they felt ‘threatened’ by me—They were literally discussing making a GoFundMe for an officer who attacked me on my tour.”
The ProPublica exposé reported that the CBP Facebook group, called “I’m 10-15” after the law enforcement code for “aliens in custody”, had some 9,500 members, identifying at least one supervisor. The page featured sadistic and racist jokes about immigrant deaths and sexually explicit photos, including one showing Ocasio-Cortez’s face being forced down to the crotch of a smiling Trump. Other posts called female Democratic lawmakers “hoes” and urged agents to throw burritos at visiting Hispanic Caucus legislators.
This 3 July 2019 video from the USA is called Border Agents Caught Posting Racist, Sexist Messages About Migrants & AOC in Secret Facebook Group.
During Monday’s tour of border stations, Rep. Joaquin Castro, the chairman of the Hispanic Caucus, tweeted a video of several women under custody sitting on the floor at a station in El Paso, one of whom said she had been denied medicine. He described women being held in cramped cells for up to 50 days without access to showers or running water for weeks.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the women in one cell “all began sobbing—out of fear of being punished, out of sickness, out of desperation, lack of sleep, trauma, despair.” Representative Madeleine Dean described 15 women in their 50s and 60s sleeping in a small concrete cell, all of whom had been separated from their families.
Female inmates told congressmembers the guards woke them up at all hours and called them “whores”.
These conditions are just the tip of the iceberg. The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of both CBP and ICE, released a report Monday on a May 7 tour of a border station in the El Paso sector that found there were only four showers for 756 immigrants. Half of the detained immigrants were being held outside in the Texas heat, while those inside were in cells with more than five times their capacity.
Inmates were forced to wear soiled clothing for weeks and the facility was infested with lice and had outbreaks of flu, chickenpox and scabies. It warned that border agents were arming themselves against possible riots.
The report made clear that the horrific conditions are being imposed deliberately to deter immigrants. It said: “[Border Patrol] recognizes they have a humanitarian issue with detaining single adults for so long, but believe if they do not have a consequence delivery system, either prosecution or ICE detention, the flow will increase.”
An updated inspector general’s report released Tuesday included photographs of hundreds of migrants crammed behind chain-link fences at CBP facilities. It called the situation a “ticking time bomb.”
The promotion of fascist elements in the immigration agencies is being directed from the White House. Trump’s chief immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, is purging officials deemed insufficiently aggressive and replacing them with others who advocate mass arrests and deportations and a crackdown on legal immigration.
Mark Morgan, named last week to replace acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders after the latter’s resignation under pressure from above, had authored the plan for mass raids in US cities while he was acting head of ICE. He has defended vigilante militia groups that illegally detain immigrants on the border and boasted of being able to look into the eyes of detained immigrant children and detecting “soon-to-be MS-13 gang members.”
Morgan embodies the bipartisan character of the anti-immigrant policy, having served as assistant CBP commissioner under Barack Obama, whose administration deported 3 million people, the largest number in US history.
Last month Politico reported that Miller ally John Zadrozny was expected to be named deputy chief of staff at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which oversees legal immigration, including asylum policy. He will join the team of newly installed USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli.
As Virginia attorney general earlier in this decade, Cuccinelli supported ending birthright citizenship and denying unemployment benefits to workers who did not speak English.
Zadrozny is an official at the State Department who previously worked for Trump’s Domestic Policy Council. In 2009 he worked as legislative counsel for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated FAIR as a hate group because of “virulent and false attacks on non-white immigrants.”
These developments must serve as a sharp warning to the entire working class. The war on immigrants is part of a broader attack on democratic rights, including the preparation of state violence against workers who strike or protest against sweatshop conditions and a deliberate drive to establish a presidential dictatorship.