U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 25 migrant workers in four Buffalo, N.Y., restaurants on Oct. 18. After police racially profiled, harassed and demanded identification from several families at a suburban playground, the cops then gave their information to ICE agents, who began spying on the families. This led to an investigation of the restaurants where they worked. (BuffaloNews.com, Oct. 18)
Two days later, several organizations and local activists brought a protest to the ICE field office, despite rain and high wind, chanting “Cops and borders, we don’t need ‘em! What we want is total freedom!” They demanded the release of the migrant workers who were arrested, as well as full legalization for all migrant workers.
The protest was organized by People United for Sustainable Housing and supported by the New York Civil Liberties Union, ICE Free NYC and Workers World Party. Demonstrators included youth who are active in Buffalo’s Black Lives Matter movement.
Speakers connected these arrests to the struggle of more than 11 million undocumented people throughout the U.S. and the national call for legalization and an end to deportations.
That same day, Buffalo faith and labor leaders held a protest in front of one of the raided restaurants. They denounced the arrests and advocated for the immigrant workers, who have already had wages stolen and now face deportation.
The local police profiled the families at that suburban playground specifically because they had come to a white neighborhood and were trying to live their lives. And ICE followed up by doing its real job: threatening migrant workers to prevent their organizing and dividing the working class.
These arrests are absolutely connected to the resurgence of open racism in the U.S., encouraged by presidential candidate Donald Trump. The racist media labeled these undocumented workers as villains, and pushed the lie that immigrants are to blame for the poverty of the working class. A recession is blamed on workers who have pitiful wages, no access to many government services, no legal say in the government that created the recession and no ownership of the businesses that benefit from it. This narrative is absurd in the extreme, and we don’t buy it!