Today wall construction began, or more realistically: continued, along the US and Mexico border, (although several lawsuits seek to halt construction) as anger continues to grow in the wake of pictures of migrants in El Paso sleeping outside in what is being called “the Kennel,” going viral. In the last several months, Trump has pushed for new powers, namely the ability to intern migrants indefinitely, as well as cutting off of aid to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
As we wrote recently:
Just today, it was announced that yet another person has died under border patrol custody, the fourth person to die in the past several months while being processed by immigration officials, while 22 people have died in the last two years. Each week seems to bring a new devastating report of rampant sexual abuse and clandestine child detention facilities. The Supreme Court this week also ruled that the State can now hold migrants in detention indefinitely with criminal records. And, despite the fact that border crossings are at a record low, the amount of people being incarcerated in detention centers is at an all time high; upwards of 50,000, over 10,000 the amount that even Congress has authorized, and with ICE of course pushing for more. Behind this, is a booming industry of private prisons, border patrol and guards unions, and construction contractors all looking to make money in this growth industry.
Meanwhile, over the last week, the DHS has pushed for increased powers, more money, the construction of more facilities, and also the rolling back of rules against child separation. The DHS claims that the immigration system is currently in a crisis due the amount of Central American refugees entering into the the US and facing deportation. The ramping up of repression is coupled with continuous reports of skyrocketing amounts of molestation, abuse, deaths, and the spreading of disease.
But while the media has focused mainly on the Mueller investigation and its fallout, at the same time resistance to mass detention has been growing on the streets once again, after leaving the limelight following the rise and fall of the #AbolishICE movement. This return of resistance has been marked by everything from hunger strikes launched on the inside, sabotage actions against ICE agents’ homes, and also mass protests on the streets.
What follows is our roundup of everything that we know that is going down.
Mass Demonstrations Are Growing
- Hundreds mobilized in Tallahassee, Florida according to Daily Kos, against a proposed bill that would deputize police officers to act as defacto ICE agents. Over 300 people protested at the State capitol against:
“…Increased fear of deportation under an “apocalyptic” state proposal that would force local law enforcement to collaborate with federal immigration authorities, separate families, and devastate the local economy.”
- In Baltimore, Maryland at John Hopkins University, students have launched a sit-in over the past two days against a private “armed police force on campus and contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.” Large protests and marches have also been organized on the Homewood undergraduate campus.
— News Grim (@TheNewsGrim) April 4, 2019
Estimated 200 protestors marching across Homewood Campus to protest the Hopkins police force and University’s ICE contracts pic.twitter.com/sGIs3ikmZn
— Morgan Ome (@morganhikaru) April 3, 2019
- In Allen, Texas, people gathered outside of an ICE facility to protest a raid and roundup of nearly 300 people at a business that refurbishes cellphones and other technologies.
— LaVendrick Smith (@LaVendrickS) April 4, 2019
- In Phoenix, Arizona protests and marches have broken out in the wake of two students at the University of Arizona facing charges simply for protesting the Border Patrol being on campus. Video of the protests went viral on Right-wing media, leading to calls for the students to face charges. According to The Guardian:
[Two students] allegedly disrupted an appearance of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) representatives at the university on 19 March. Both students were issued misdemeanor citations for “interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution” and Melchor was also cited for “threats and intimidation”, a university spokesman said on Tuesday. The charges could carry up to six months of jail time.
“They’re making an example out of these students, and they are trying to ensure nobody will follow in their footsteps,” Arizona state senator Martín Quezada told the Guardian. “The students should have the ability to express their opinions about what the government is doing,” he added.
In solidarity with the two students and against the border patrol coming to the campus to recruit, students at the Arizona State University (ASU) today carried out a mass march around their campus against the charges and against the border patrol.
Border patrol agents invited to campus today for a job fair to recruit our students. Peaceful protest on campus going on right now to let them know they are not welcome here! Also in solidarity with the #TheArizona2 from the University of Arizona pic.twitter.com/9rd1uf4Xq8
— Stephen Santa-Ramirez (@StephenSanta) April 4, 2019
Dozens of ASU students marching in solidarity with UA students who protested Border Patrol presence on campus. pic.twitter.com/cEh3j85PBk
— Rachel Leingang (@rachelleingang) April 4, 2019
- On the Texas border, survivors of the Japanese concentration camps in the 1940s rallied against a family immigrant detention center alongside many others.
Coalition of WWII Japanese American internment camp survivors stage peaceful protest at immigrant detention facility on Texas border https://t.co/fJKRHqRODD
— Laurel McClure (@laurel009) April 4, 2019
- Protests are being organized in Florida outside of the so-called “Homestead” child detention facility. Some of the children imprisoned there were moved from the Tornillo, Texas facility that was shut down after protests brought attention to it following the #AbolishICE movement. The state is also currently pushing to increase the amount of children being imprisoned at the facility. According to the Miami-Herald:
The company that runs the Homestead center that’s holding more than 1,000 migrant teenagers canceled its plans to go public Tuesday after a growing outcry over the firm making money off the children.
The Virginia-based Caliburn International Corp. said in a letter Tuesday to the Securities and Exchange Commission that the company will no longer conduct a planned public offering. It had planned to sell up to $100 million in stock.
Protestan contra el centro de detención para niños inmigrantes en #Homestead #Florida. El gobierno quiere expandirlo para detener a 3,200 niños y niñas. Pedimos más hogares y menos prisiones para los niños y las familias inmigrantes #EndChildDetention #FamiliesBelongTogether pic.twitter.com/vlbeAI3XP1
— Latina Comunica (@LatinaComunica) April 4, 2019
- In Central Falls, Rhode Island, large protests are being organized outside of a detention facility. According to the Providence Journal:
As 150 or so protesters marched past the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility on High Street Saturday afternoon, prisoners on the inside began to shout out. While their shouts were unintelligible, Rudy Whelan’s hushed reaction spoke volumes.
“Wow,” the Providence resident said. “To hear that really makes them human.”
Protestors called for the facility to be closed following news that the prison began housing detainees from Immigration and Customs Enforcement on March 10, a move that city officials said they were not informed of in advance.
Some snapshots from the Central Falls protest today. pic.twitter.com/q5frAeXdsu
— Christopher Sanacore (@SanacoreChris) March 30, 2019
- Finally, in Dwight, Illinois, people protested the construction of a proposed immigrant detention center. According to the Herald and Review:
More than 100 protesters marched across town before attending a village board meeting at the township high school where the board approved a request by Immigration Centers of America to build the $20 million facility.
Hunger Strikes on the Inside
While lots of action is brewing on the outside, on the inside, hunger strikes are also popping off. In Ferriday, Louisiana, the end of March saw over 100 migrants go on hunger strike over being denied bond and attention to their cases. As The Hill wrote:
A group of 24 migrants who were protesting their detainment in the U.S. ended their hunger strike on Sunday.
A spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement told The Hill on Sunday that the group had all eaten.
One hundred and fifty people at the River Correctional Center in Ferriday, La., began a hunger strike last week, but according to government officials only two dozen of them consistently denied food.
The strikers told the Associated Press last week that they are upset over being denied bond and the lack of attention they say their asylum claims get.
Another hunger strike is also taking place in El Paso, Texas. The Nation wrote about the strike in-depth, including the state’s attempt to force feed the person on strike.
Sabotage Actions in the US and Canada are Hitting Back
Sabotage is part of the constant stream of self-activity and resistance to racialized capital and class society. In the past month or so, there has been a string of high profile sabotage actions that have take place against the police, mass detention, and prisons.
For instance, outside of Pittsburgh:
The Monroeville office for Patrick Thomassey, the lawyer for former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld, was shot up overnight after Rosefeld was found not guilty in the shooting death of Antwon Rose on Friday.
Not to be outdone in Milwaukee:
Vandals targeted a Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility sign Monday night in protest of a recent death.
Someone emailed a picture to WISN 12 News of someone throwing red paint on the sign. In an email the person wrote, “We heard this morning that the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility has claimed another life, so tonight we covered the sign out front with red paint. (expletive) MSDF prison kills.”
The person was referring to an inmate death on Sunday afternoon. According to police, an inmate told security guards his cellmate passed out. First responders could not revive the 51-year-old man. Officials performed an autopsy on Monday.
Things in Philadelphia got even spicier, as vandals targeted the home and car of an ICE agent. According to a post from an anonymous communique on Philly Anti-Capitalist:
Early this morning, the home and car of leading ICE/HSI agent [name removed] at [address removed] appears to have been targeted. His house was spray painted with the words “Resist ICE,” and more importantly, his vehicle was disabled and thousands of dollars in damage done. This act of political vandalism follows after the names and addresses of several ICE agents in PA were released on the Internet last summer. At the time of this writing it is unclear whether this is an isolated incident, or whether other officers have been targeted.
But ICE agents in Philly haven’t been the only people to get an uninvited home visit. In so-called Canada:
In the early morning of March 29th, the president of Sodexo Canada was visited at her home in Brossard. All the tires of the two cars in her driveway were slashed, their windshields were smashed in, and FUCK SODEXO and (A) were written on their hoods.
Sodexo profits from imprisonment around the world. They offer among other things management services for private prisons and migrant detention centers, and cafeteria services for prisons.
In Canada more specifically, they profit from the extractive economy by offering security and cafeteria services for extraction sites.
This action is in solidarity with anarchist prisoners everywhere.
Prison profiteers must not sleep peacefully. The companies considering taking contracts for the construction of the new migrant prison in Laval should think twice.
Lastly, in Laval, Quebec, people busted out windows and spray painted graffiti against condos belonging to an architecture firm who are helping to build a new migrant prison. An anonymous communique posted to Montreal Counter-Info stated:
On the night of March 19th, the sales office of Humaniti had its windows smashed and two Lowney towers were redecorated using paint-filled fire extinguishers. What do these condo developments have in common? They were both designed by the Lemay architecture firm, which is helping to build a new migrant prison in Laval, Quebec.
Why not disturb the peace and quiet of the citizens occupying these luxury condos, whose wealth and comfort are founded upon the dispossession, exploitation, and imprisonment of those who have been here since before the colonization of this continent, those newcomers seeking a better life, survival, or pushed here by empire, and everyone who resists the prevailing order?
Lemay, we hope you enjoy informing your future potential clients that their projects will be sabotaged if they hire you. Should you choose not to inform them, we will enjoy giving them a costly surprise.
To all those struggling against borders in so-called Quebec and Canada: let us relentlessly attack the companies and agencies involved in any way in the construction of this migrant prison, so that it can’t be built!
Fire to the prisons! Sabotage borders, their enforcers, and collaborators!
Despite a media blackout, anger and action against mass detention is growing. With a call from #BlocktheWall to organize benefits and actions leading up to May 1st, the recent round of resistance may only be the start of a new wave of anti-detention action.