After DNC/RNC, fight ICE and support immigrant rights struggle: a call to action
by primate against ICE
Saturday, Sep. 13, 2008 at 1:43 AM
please read, forward widely, discuss with others, and ACT!
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After DNC/RNC, fight ICE and support immigrant rights struggle: a call to action
please read, forward widely, discuss with others, and ACT!
AFTER DNC/RNC, FIGHT ICE
Recently I was talking with a friend about DNC/RNC and ICE’s (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) assault on undocumented workers. So credit for some of these ideas---and for inspiring this writing---goes to them.
There has been some amazing anarchist organizing around the DNC/RNC. There has been national networking, talking tours, workshops, and very strategic planning of protests. It even seems to me like we haven't seen this kind of energy and organizing effort among anarchist projects for a while. Anarchist activity in general is on the rise. It's pretty exciting. There was also an immigrant rights contingent at the RNC protest. Anarchists also haven’t seen this level of police repression recently. While cops attacked, brutalized, and arrested so many comrades, street medics, legal teams, arrestee supporters, media teams, folks in the streets, and others provided important services, looked out for one another, and kept the resistance going. Protesters had some important successes, as well. They blockaded the delegates and disrupted the convention to a degree. Regarding police brutality and government repression, anarchists obviously aren’t the only targets, and we don’t see the worst of it. This repression is part of a pattern, the pattern that is government, capitalism, racism, sexism—hierarchical organization. Other folks, people of color, women, children, and immigrants bear the brunt of government targeting and tyranny.
After the DNC/RNC, as we are rinsing pepper spray residue off our bodies and clothes, recovering from coughs caused by teargas, hugging our friends and loved ones, debriefing with comrades, analyzing what we witnessed, thinking about the marches and direct actions we took part in, and learning from our mistakes, strengths, and victories against the empire, let's sustain the momentum created. Let's take the energy, the friendships we've made, the networks we've expanded, the trust and solidarity we've built, the firsthand experience of facing a monster, fighting an oppressive system, and together let's fight one of the most important struggles of our time. Many of us are weary from confronting a faceless system, and in this struggle it is hard to see evidence of change. Let's continue to fight the system and at the same time have a tangible positive impact on the lives of individual people, changes we can see, lives improved. Let's work with immigrant communities, let's support them and help tear down the terrorist organization known as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
ICE'S FASCIST TACTICS
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement rips apart families, invades communities, and destroys lives. ICE is part of Department of Homeland Security. ICE's mission is to find undocumented residents ("illegal immigrants"), tear apart their families, hold them in secretive detention centers for indefinite periods and with little to no legal rights, and deport them to their land of origin. Some people detained were born here and/or are citizens. ICE detains first, and asks questions later.
Human rights groups and others have condemned the brutality of recent ICE raids against immigrant communities and workplaces as well as inhumane conditions and human rights violations at ICE detention centers.
ICE is careless in their detention process. In Tacoma, Washington, a man from nearby Lakewood, a citizen and army veteran, had been sent to jail for a crime and served his sentence. When his sentence was over, he was sent to the Northwest Detention Center, held for seven months, and almost deported to Belize, where he was born but left as a child. Then it was discovered that he was a citizen and had been held by “mistake” (http://tacomasds.org/node/817). Not only is ICE careless and negligent, ICE and the prison companies it contracts with are responsible for the deaths of dozens of people. More than 80 immigrant detainees have died in ICE custody from 2003 to 2008 (http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2008/08/268550.shtml, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement). At the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA there has been gross mistreatment of detainees. In 2007, 300 detainees got food poisoning (http://immigrantdetention.blogspot.com/2007/12/food-illnesses-at-geo-detention.html). In 2008, reports of mistreatment of pregnant women detainees surfaced (http://www.tahomaorganizer.org/pregnant-women-mistreated-at-the-northwest-detention-center/). In 2007, at a detention center in Los Angeles, authorities refused crucial medical attention to a transwoman with AIDS, allowing her to die, despite the pleas for help by her cellmates (http://la.indymedia.org/news/2007/08/205928.php).
ICE's repressive tactics have reached new levels of terror. ICE goes so far as to establish illegal traffic checkpoints, search grocery stores, raid worksites, invade schools and now even daycares (http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2008/08/268531.shtml), stops people they suspect to be undocumented workers (obvious racial profiling), and demands legal documentation proving citizenship---but who carries this with them? ICE then takes these people to detention centers and eventually deports them.
After a recent ICE raid (August 2008) on a Laurel, Mississippi manufacturing plant---the largest raid in US history---Bill Chandler, the executive director of the Mississippi Immigrants’ Rights Alliance (MIRA) told Reuters "People are very, very fearful. People in the Latino community are afraid to go out of their homes. In many cases they are afraid to go to work." Families have been separated, in some cases with both parents of a child held in custody, leaving children suddenly without care. Chandler continues, "If you have young children going to school, and they come home and find their parents gone, that is a major crisis" (http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2008/08/268550.shtml).
Although undocumented workers are just that---workers---in some cases there has been not only a lack of solidarity from non-immigrant union bosses and members, but there has been blatant racist behavior. When ICE was detaining workers at the recent raid in Laurel, Mississippi, some union workers reportedly applauded. It's possible that a union worker tipped off ICE in the first place. Yet some union workers have criticized their racist counterparts, nationalist union bureaucracies, the complicity of the two corporate political parties, and the divide-and-rule policies of the government and made calls for solidarity with immigrant workers. (http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2008/08/268550.shtml, http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2008/08/268539.shtml)
ICE DETENTION CENTERS
ICE has regional detention centers around the country (and in Cuba) and contracts the maintenance of the detention facilities with prison and detention corporations. The largest of such corporations are GEO Group (http://www.thegeogroupinc.com/) and Corrections Corporation of America (http://www.correctionscorp.com/). GEO Group runs the infamous Guantanamo Bay. Wells Fargo is one of GEO Group's largest shareholders. Kellogg Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Cheney's Halliburton, also has ties to GEO Group. These for-profit companies, with dozens of facilities around the world, benefit from tearing apart families and locking up people. The more individuals in a detention center, the more profits for the corporation.
Under ICE, the Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) is executing Operation Endgame, a plan to round up and deport all undocumented people (12 million people) by 2012 (http://notinmycounty.org/?p=202). See the plan at http://www.aclum.org/pdf/endgame.pdf. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts asserts that "Endgame uses tactics similar to the ethnic cleansing we saw in the Balkans during the 1990s -- lightning raids, mass arrests, packed detention centers, and mass deportations" (http://www.aclum.org/issues/ice_doc_gallery.php).
In 2004, KBR business skyrocketed after the passing of "Operation Endgame" with their profits jumping about twenty percent. With Operation Endgame, the plan is to ensure the "departure from the United States all removable aliens..." Companies like GEO Group and Kellogg Brown and Root will continue to make money off of the despair and suffering of those taken in the middle of the night by people with guns. Taken screaming from their families to private Lagers*, called detention centers, hidden far away from the public eye.
(*Lager was the German word for prison camps, which held both German criminals and those who had committed no specific crimes, but were considered undesirable and a threat to the state by Nazi authorities (i.e. Jews, Roma, homosexuals, and radicals) (http://www.myspace.com/tacomasmashice). This article discusses ICE's plans for massive concentration camps, compared to similar fascist camps of the 20th century: http://www.yuricareport.com/Civil%20Rights/TheCampsOfICE.html.)
DETENTION CENTERS FOR US ALL
Ultimately, as in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, these detention centers are intended for all people who threaten the authority of the State. The US already holds over 2 million people in jails and prisons, and Operation Endgame wants detention centers to hold millions of immigrants. This goes along with an increase in police and government surveillance; discussion of a National ID; long-term murder and brutalization of communities of color; harassment, intimidation, and unprovoked arrests of eco-activists, anarchists, and other activists, the most recent examples being the police raid on Berkeley's Long Haul Infoshop and police raids, arrests, repression of free speech, and brutal treatment of activists at the DNC and RNC. It may not be long before the government is putting activists and everyone who questions authority in detention centers. In addition to organizing to shut down detention centers and stop ICE in the struggle to keep immigrant communities safe, we must also fight against detention centers because they are intended for us all.
EXAMPLES OF ANTI-ICE ORGANIZING
There have been actions, events, alliance building, and other forms of organizing against ICE and detention centers around the country. I am only aware of a few among many examples, and I will mention these here.
On May Day 2006 and 2007, millions (mainly immigrants) marched in massive immigrant rights demonstrations, some cities witnessing the largest demonstrations in their history (http://www.mayday2007.org/, http://www.maydaymovement.blogspot.com/)
The entrance and exit to an ICE processing center in Houston, Texas was shut down for several hours in 2007 by activists who chained themselves to the gate (http://houston.indymedia.org/news/2007/06/58635.php). There has been community resistance and human rights organizations' condemnation of the T. Don Hutto Detention Center (for children and families) in Taylor, Texas (http://houston.indymedia.org/news/2007/08/60555.php, http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tdonhutto/, http://closehuttonow.blogspot.com/).
In November 2007, there was a No Borders Camp on both sides of the US-Mexico border between Calexico, California, and Mexicali, Baja California (http://www.noborderscamp.org).
In 2007 and 2008, protests/marches and a week of actions including benefits, workshops, teach-ins, media outreach, and lectures have been organized against the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, WA (http://www.myspace.com/tacomasmashice). In addition, monthly vigils to lend support to visitors have been held at the detention center (http://www.notinmycounty.org), as well as speaking at city council meetings.
An April 2008 Workers' Assembly on Immigration was held in Tacoma, WA (http://laborcenter.evergreen.edu/Workers%27%20Assembly%20on%20Immigration.htm). In May, Bridges Not Walls organized an Immigration and Border Dialogues Conference in Olympia, WA (http://oly-wa.us/bridges/).
In July 2008, anarchists made a call for a day of immigrant solidarity actions> They provided possible ideas for actions (http://illvox.org/2008/07/16/anarchist-call-for-immigrant-solidarity/).
IMPORTANT WORK BEING DONE; LET'S TAKE IT FURTHER AND DESTROY ICE
There is great work being done against ICE and in support of immigrant communities, mostly by those directly affected by ICE. But how much support and solidarity work have anarchists been doing? This is not to marginalize the organizing that anarchists have been doing against ICE and in solidarity with immigrants, or to deny that there any anarchist immigrants. There has indeed been lots of hard work. But we can do more. We have done great work for DNC/RNC. Imagine what we can do—-with the networks, friendships, and contacts we've made—to fight the fascist, neo-colonial aggression of ICE.
SOME JUMPING OFF POINTS
Here are some ideas for organizing against ICE and in support of immigrant communities. A couple I have witnessed or participated in and the other ideas I've heard of from comrades or found online or was inspired by others' organizing to come up with an idea. Of course, I trust that folks who get involved with this work will organize in ways that are suitable for their communities, so I'm not trying to tell anyone how to organize. But I have provided some ideas, like I said, so feel free to try them out, use what suits you, and forget what doesn't. And share the ideas that are successful.
It's important to keep in mind that the goal of organizing (in my opinion) is to stop and dismantle ICE and its detention centers and to support immigrant communities' struggles for livelihood, safety, dignity, and autonomy. To this end, we must be very strategic and tactical in our organizing. We should do whatever it takes to stop ICE. The means for this may be legal, illegal, direct action, fundraising, or perhaps even through legislative means. I don't know what will work best, and the best tactics may depend on each situation, but we should be open-minded to a diversity of tactics in order to stop ICE and support immigrant communities.
It is also crucial that we respect the work of immigrant communities, find out what they need from those of us who aren’t from these communities, how we can plug in, and what we can do work in solidarity with them, rather than working on their behalf as some kind of savior. Whenever possible, we should try to follow the lead of immigrants, people of color, and women. We don't want to fall into the same old patterns---though often unconscious---of white men assuming leadership roles and marginalizing folks of color and people of other genders.
So here are some ideas I've come across or come up with:
* Learn how ICE operates (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement)
* Locate immigrant detention centers, jails, and ICE offices near you, and work to shut them down (http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/dwnmap, http://www.thegeogroupinc.com/northamerica.asp?fid=73, http://www.correctionscorp.com/facilities, http://www.ice.gov/pi/dro/facilities.htm, http://www.bordc.org/threats/detention.php)
* Find ICE officials, administrators of GEO Group, CCA, Wells Fargo and other shareholders. Boycott these companies, harass employees and investors, wage direct action and other campaigns against them. For some direct action tactics, visit http://www.animalethics.org.uk/i-ch3-4-directaction.html. Some CCA investor information: http://investor.shareholder.com/cxw/. Some GEO Group investor info: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=91331&p=irol-irhome
* Find immigrant rights and related groups in the area or start one. Places you can look include MEChA, Brown Berets, campus diversity centers, cultural community centers, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and immigrant rights projects
* Organize benefits to raise funds for bail money for folks in detention centers and for visitors’ costs. If you can't find someone to give money directly to, check out National Immigrant Bond Fund (http://www.immigrantbondfund.org)
* Protest city governments that allow detention centers on city land
* Wage campaigns to make your city a sanctuary city, which makes undocumented folks safe from ICE. Olympia, WA and Modesto, CA have waged so-far unsuccessful campaigns, while Watsonville, CA, San Francisco, Oakland, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Denver claim immigrant sanctuary status (http://modestobrownberets.com/cms/content/view/28/2/)
* Fight local and state initiatives and legislation that broaden the scope of law enforcement, allow detention centers to be built and expanded, and/or limit rights and movement of undocumented people
* Talk to people in your community about ICE. If you live in a city with a detention center, expose its presence. In the case of Tacoma, most people didn't know there was a detention center and were appalled to find out. Host events, speakers, tabling, film showings, go door-to-door, and talk to people about what's going on in our communities and across the country (the authors of this book may be willing to speak: http://thepoliticsofimmigration.org/)
* Join campaign to Hold DHS Accountable & Night of 1000 Conversations (http://www.nightof1000conversations.org/dhs-accountable/, 202-296-2300 x 130)
* Distribute fliers and posters around town
* Get unions and worker organizations to support undocumented workers and stand up against ICE raids and intimidation
* Some churches offer sanctuary to immigrants; maybe work with them
* Work with college groups to support immigrants both on and off campus
* Create support networks for detainees, families, and immigrant communities
* Try to find out about raids and traffic checkpoints in advance and warn people to avoid them. Maybe even directly stop the raids if possible
* ICE works closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so organize against them also
* Protest ICE and CBP recruitment efforts (deface billboards, expose and confront them at college and career fairs). ICE recruitment calendar: http://www.ice.gov/careers/0709recruitmentcalendar.htm; CBP upcoming recruiting events: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/careers/recruiting_events/rcruit_evts_near.xml; CBP virtual job fair: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/careers/
* Protest recent federal plan to give local police power to arrest undocumented immigrants (http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/11459100/detail.html)
* Protest Minutemen and similar racist groups; a list of anti-immigrant groups and reports of anti-immigrant events:
- Immigrant Solidarity Network (http://www.immigrantsolidarity.org/)
- National immigrant justice center (http://www.immigrantjustice.org/)
- Video about ICE, Operation Endgame, Northwest Detention Center and northwest resistance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTrR1s7du6s)
- Video about ICE threat to legal residents (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4-6w16WjTY)
- No Lager - Nowhere, film about global detention center resistance (http://www.noborder.org/nolager/more/video.html)
- Tacoma Smash ICE (http://www.myspace.com/tacomasmashice)
- National Immigration Law Center (http://www.nilc.org)
- Article: “Responding to ICE worksite raids” (http://www.nilc.org/immsemplymnt/wkplce_enfrcmnt/wkplcenfrc025.htm)
- National Capital Immigrant Coalition (http://wordpress.com/tag/national-capital-immigrant-coalition/)
- Union de Trabajadores Inmigrantes (http://www.uniondetrabajadores.org)
- Mexicanos Sin Fronteras (http://www.mexicanossinfronteras.org/)
- Portland Sin Fronteras May Day statement (http://www.ainfos.ca/en/ainfos19412.html)
- Portland Olin Study Group (http://www.myspace.com/sinfronteras_olin)
- Malkriad@s Media Distribution for analysis and literature (http://www.myspace.com/malkriadas)
- Children of Men is a futuristic, dystopian book that deals in part with the government's response to immigrants (http://www.amazon.com/Children-Men-P-D-James/dp/0307279901/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1220421750&sr=8-2). The movie doesn't deal with immigrants as much but is good (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0206634/)
- Al otro lado: film about stories of the lives of immigrants (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0419424/)
- Letters from the Other Side: documentary film featuring video letters between families in Mexico the US (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0495137/)
- Detention Watch Network (http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org)
- Delete the Border (http://deletetheborder.org)
- Houston Sin Fronteras (http://www.myspace.com/houstonsinfronteras)
- Article: International Anarchist Conspiracy Communiqué #6: Regarding The Manifold Ways In Which ICE Can Be Fought (http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20070929203036713)
- Video: Know your rights when dealing with ICE (La Migra) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKw6dYNNNB8)
- Video: Know your rights (http://www.immigrantrights.org/knowrights.asp)
- Video: Dealing with traffic checkpoints (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6uw7506xMw)
- Funny spoof website pretending that Lou Dobbs is running for governor of New Jersey (http://www.dobbsforgovernor.com/)
- A group in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is resisting traffic checkpoints (http://seattle.indymedia.org/en/2008/09/268768.shtml)
- Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children (http://www.womenscommission.org/projects/detention/index.php)
- Drawings from children in Hutto detention center (http://www.aclu.org/immigrants/detention/hutto.html)
- Mexica Movement: uniting indigenous people of “North America” (http://mexica-movement.org)
- Rights Working Group (http://www.rightsworkinggroup.org)
- Hold DHS Accountable and Night of 1000 Conversations (http://www.nightof1000conversations.org/dhs-accountable/, http://www.nightof1000conversations.org)
http://www.geocities.com/insurrectionary_anarchists2/immi.html (immigration struggle/solidarity in Canada)
SEE YOU AROUND
Friends, dear ones, and comrades: I'll see you out there somewhere, sometime, someplace, fighting the terror that is ICE, shutting down detention centers, standing up in support of our communities, and working in solidarity with other communities. Let's fight hard and plan strategically to defeat the empire, the system, and to create communities based on equality, love, autonomy, and solidarity. What other choice do we have? I'll see you around.
Be safe, be effective, and take care of each other.
in love and struggle,
a primate against ICE