Outrage has been sweeping the U.S. with mass protests erupting from coast to coast since April 6 when the Trump administration announced a racist “zero-tolerance policy” for all migrants entering the country through the Mexican border. That meant all im/migrants, including asylum seekers, would be taken into custody and deported. The vicious anti-immigrant program has resulted in the arrests and imprisonment of thousands of adults. Law enforcement agents have forcibly removed children from their parents’ arms.
Children, including young babies, have been placed in detention facilities, tent cities, so-called “tender-age centers” and foster care, against their parents’ will, in at least 17 states. Journalists, political officials and even medical personnel have been denied entry to these facilities. Those who have gotten access to some centers report “militarized” and “prison-like conditions,” with buildings surrounded by razor wire. Some tell of seeing young children lying on concrete floors alone and in cages.
Eyewitness reports, videos and photographs of children screaming for their parents have enraged people worldwide. Protests have steadily increased in size, with tens of thousands in the streets in the U.S. Spontaneous demonstrations have broken out in McAllen and other border towns in Texas and in many U.S. cities, demanding the reuniting of children with their parents.
Feeling the heat, the Trump administration issued an executive order on June 20, saying that parents and children would no longer be separated. However, the order did not require the reuniting of over 2,300 with their parents, nor did it specify how that would happen. Records of the children’s locations seem to be missing, or the government is deliberately withholding this information.
Under this decree, parents and children would be incarcerated together in family detention. The Trump administration is trying to overturn the 1997 Flores court decision mandating that children not be held in immigration detention for more than 20 days, and instead extend that period indefinitely.
The White House bigot in chief and his lackeys now seeking to deny undocumented im/migrants and asylum seekers due process and equal protection under the law, depriving them of the right to an attorney and a court hearing before a judge, in violation of federal laws. Their aim is the immediate deportation of undocumented individuals.
On June 30, nationally coordinated demonstrations will protest the abusive treatment of migrant adults and children by the Trump administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Only strong public pressure can push back these reactionaries. Workers World Party will join these actions.
Here are some of the protests in which WWP members participated in recent days.
Over 150 migrant rights activists, organizers and allies gathered in Jamaica Plain, Boston, on June 24 to demand an end to family separation at the border and the criminalization of migrants. Movimiento Cosecha, a grassroots Latinx organization which fights for undocumented migrants’ rights, organized the action. Siham Byah, a Boston activist who was deported to Morocco last year, spoke over the phone about the emotional trauma she and her 8-year-old son suffered after being separated.
Demonstrators also heard several Salvadoran families describe conditions in their home country and their experience as im/migrants in the U.S. Other speakers included Black Lives Matter and Workers World Party representatives who explained the twin legacies of settler colonialism and slavery — and how the destruction and separation of families have a long history in the U.S. They agreed that people’s power is needed to confront these crimes.
— Sam Ordóñez
An anonymous tip on June 19 revealed that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had placed over 300 migrant children in foster care in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio claims he was unaware of the program, and the agencies that placed the children have refused to release any information about them. The following evening, news rapidly spread through social media that detained migrant children separated from their families were flying into LaGuardia Airport from Houston.
Hundreds of people responded to the call, including a WWP delegation, flocking to the airport on short notice. They witnessed the arrival of one group of children, who were quickly whisked away. The crowd waited for another flight from Houston, but no children were seen deplaning. A small group of activists waited until 5 a.m., but no more children appeared. An additional flight from Houston, possibly carrying children, was diverted to Newark Airport, away from the crowds and publicity.
— Nate Peters
There was a “stroller rally” in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 24. A multinational group of a few hundred people, mostly families with toddlers or infants, met in Sunset Park on behalf of im/migrant families and opposing Trump’s vicious policies. The group marched a few blocks to a planned rally outside the entrance of the Department of Justice’s Federal Bureau of Prisons building. Im/migrants awaiting deportation are held there.
When speakers started talking, prisoners were heard making noise in support. Later, some of the demonstrators initiated chants of “No deportations!” “No borders!” and “Free them all!” while facing the incarcerated. Many other people joined in and chanted along.
— Anne Pruden
A crowd of several hundred anti-ICE protesters greeted Vice President Mike Pence when he visited Philadelphia on June 19. The demonstrators lined up empty children’s shoes throughout Rittenhouse Square, symbolizing the children who have been stolen from their families and sent to U.S. im/migrant concentration camps. WWP, along with Juntos, the Philly Coalition for REAL Justice, and the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative, led an offshoot of the protest with chants pointing out the enemy.
One demonstrator, arrested when a Secret Service vehicle attempted to drive through the crowd, was released quickly after getting a disorderly conduct citation and was greeted warmly by over two dozen demonstrators at the precinct building.
— Ted Kelly
At an anti-ICE protest called by members of the Baltimore Teachers Union, WWP members encouraged the crowd of over 100 to shut down the street in front of the ICE building in downtown Baltimore. Outnumbered and knowing they could not stop the crowd, the Baltimore Police Department barricaded the street and directed traffic around the block. Protesters blocked the street for over two hours and demanded the abolition of ICE and that ICE employees quit their jobs.
— Andrew Mayton
The Trump administration’s racist, xenophobic and classist rhetoric is emboldening local law enforcement and ICE to increase raids, surveillance, arrests, detentions, family separations and deportations. In response, im/migrant groups and their allies are fighting back. Grassroots groups are teaching communities how to defend themselves and protect their families after arrests. Hundreds have attended trainings to defend migrants across North Carolina.
In Graham, in Alamance County, home to a Klu Klux Klan post office box and racist Sheriff Terry Johnson, the community is protesting 287(g), the federal program that sponsors collaboration between municipal law enforcement and ICE. Over 100 people gathered outside the Alamance County courthouse on June 13, at the second stop of the Mijente’s Chinga La Migra Tour, to protest Johnson and the collaboration of the local sheriff’s office with ICE. Everyone chanted against local police repression and shared testimonials.
— Workers World Durham bureau
Hundreds of residents attended educational forums in Iowa to protect communities and fight against ICE’s reign of terror there. Due to the ICE raid on Mt. Pleasant and the 10th anniversary of the raid in Postville, residents gathered in Marshalltown on June 19, Iowa City on June 20 and Des Moines on June 21 for forums titled “Keeping ICE Out of Iowa: Deportation Defense Discussion.” These teach-ins discussed how to confront federal officials in the midst of anti-immigration crackdowns.
The American Friends Service Committee, Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement were the main hosts of the forums. Madeline Cano, ICCI community organizer, wrote in a public statement, “Stand up to ICE and tell them ‘not in our town!’”
The CWJ statement promoting the Iowa City event read: “Come hear from two high-profile immigration organizers who have worked to stop deportations, collaborated to develop local policies that welcome immigrants, and fought against laws like SF 481.” Gov. Kim Reynolds signed this legislation, which demands that local law enforcement officers act as ICE accomplices, must adhere to detainer requests and “allow a sheriff to hold a suspected ‘illegal’ immigrant for 48 hours after a scheduled release.” (WHO TV, June 19)
Marshalltown resident Mike Fitz told WHO TV that SF 481 was “disgusting. … If I wanted to live in Nazi Germany, I would go back 75 years and live there.”
The forums’ main speakers were Priscila Martinez, Texas immigration coalition coordinator for the Workers Defense Action Fund, and Salvador Cervantes, midwest regional coordinator for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement. Cervantes said there must be an end to the “brutality that is happening to our immigrant communities under this administration.” (Times-Republican, June 25) Speakers advised individuals not to talk to law enforcement without a lawyer, sign any documents or answer the door if a stranger approaches. Instead they suggested organizing a plan with family and friends in case ICE comes knocking.
— Mike Kuhlenbeck
Activists held a press conference outside the soon-to-open migrant detention center in downtown Houston on June 20. They stressed that no one — children, unaccompanied minors or families — should be imprisoned on Emancipation Avenue, where the Southwest Key company intends to open the center. (It took a long struggle to win the name change of the street from that of a so-called Confederate “hero.”)
The following day, the newly formed Free Los Niños Coalition demonstrated outside Southwest Key, which operates several detention centers and is now remodeling a homeless shelter into a detention facility for unaccompanied minors. Armed guards and barbed wire encircle the Houston building.
About 400 people demonstrated in front of the Southwest Key construction site on June 23. Led by Immigrant Families and Students in Struggle, they took off on a spontaneous march through the downtown area, chanting loudly.
— Gloria Rubac
San Diego’s downtown streets were impassable for much of the morning of June 23 as tens of thousands of people demonstrated at the ICE field office in the federal building to express their outrage at the Trump/ICE attacks on im/migrant families. A Muslim family sent a message of solidarity in Spanish, English and Arabic: “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.”
At the same time, several thousand people demonstrated at the U.S./Mexico border, targeting the Otay Mesa ICE office. As of June 25, a sit-in was still blocking traffic in front of the building.
— Bob McCubbin
Hundreds of people rallied in blazing heat at Chelsea Manning Plaza on the Embarcadero in San Francisco on June 23 to proclaim that “families belong together.” They demanded an end to #45’s zero tolerance policy and insisted that migrant families not be detained or imprisoned. WW’s banner read, “Abolish ICE! Open the borders!” Slogans on signs had similar themes.
— Terri Kay
By June 17, outrage had built to a boiling point over the mistreatment of undocumented families, and a spontaneous demonstration began outside the Portland, Ore., ICE facility. Members of the surrounding community and organizations, including WWP, joined to show solidarity. What started as a trickle of protesters and a few people camping out mushroomed into a 50-tent village with a wall of anti-ICE placards and daily protests.
Department of Homeland Security agents dressed in riot gear had to escort over 20 employees out of the building and through the crowds. On June 20, @OccupyICEPDX had a victory when the ICE facility had to shut down for “safety reasons” until “security concerns” were addressed.
Mayor Ted Wheeler said the ICE agency was “on the wrong track” and stated that the city would not interfere with the peaceful protesters or clear the occupation encampment.
Many groups have coordinated to support the sophisticated commune with mounds of donated food, water and funds. Makeshift protective barricades line the corner of the building where a busy highway turns into the camp. Canopies are tagged “Free food and water,” “Medical,” “Engineering,” “Kids” and “Quiet Space.” Translators and volunteer lawyers assist im/migrants who have arrived at the ICE office. Donated funds are given to im/migrants to cover transportation costs to appointments.
Over 1,000 demonstrators, including city officials, packed the streets around the empty ICE facility on June 24. They denounced Trump’s policies of separating children from their parents and sending asylum seekers to detention camps. Occupiers vow to stay until ICE is abolished, immigrant families are reunited and all asylum seekers are freed.
Occupations and demonstrations are spreading to towns and cities all over Oregon, with similar demands.
— Joshua Hanks and Lyn Neeley