Cover Photo from @ArthurVandelayy
In the past week, President Trump referred to undocumented migrants from Central America as “animals,” protests continued to confront Georgia State Senator, Michael William’s “Deportation Bus,” and protests in New York denounced a racist lawyer who attempted to call ICE on a group of restaurant workers because they were speaking Spanish.
— Eric Mock (@EricMockTV) May 20, 2018
As It’s Going Down reported on May 16th, protests erupted against Georgian State Senator and former franchise restaurant owner, Michael Williams. Williams, who has long courted the far-Right and was one of the first Republicans in Georgia to promote Trumpism, hit the road with a converted bus that bore the words, “Deportation Bus,” and said that it would be filled “With Illegals,” while the back encouraged people to follow it “to Mexico.” Taking a page from Trump’s famous comments on migrant workers, it also referred to immigrants as “rapists, murderers, and child molestors.” In the following audio report, we hear in part an interview with a Georgia resident who discusses the first day of the protest.
#Protest in #DaltonGa against @williamsforga and his #DeportationBus. As expected, an unwelcome response from a city with such a large population of people who believe #nohumanisillegal. pic.twitter.com/dCKqmtVELR
— 𝕭𝖑𝖔𝖔 (@bloobarnes) May 17, 2018
Williams hit the road around the same time that Trump made waves for referring to migrants in an exchange with Sheriffs and law enforcement at a meeting earlier last week. Trump predictably said a variety of false claims, such as the San Diego residents were in favor of a wall (polls show more oppose), and that construction on the wall has already begun, (in fact it hasn’t however some construction to repair previous fencing has started). While the conservative press had tried to spin the comments in the context of the El Salvadorian gang, MS-13, in reality Trump was simply commenting about migrants in general. He stated in response to the Fresno Sheriff complaining about sanctuary cities:
SHERIFF MIMS: Thank you. There could be an MS-13 member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.
THE PRESIDENT: We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.
A key cornerstone of Trump’s career has been to play up fears of undocumented migrants in the US, referring to “shithole” countries and playing up fears that immigrants are rapists, murderers, and drug dealers. Like the Alt-Right, Trump also seized on specific cases, such as the tragic death of Kate Steinle, who was killed when an undocumented homeless man found a loaded gun under a park bench and dropped it, causing it to fire, hit a wall and then Steinle, as examples of a supposed rising trend. These narratives, of violent, sexual, “super” predators, has long been a baseline for American politics in both parities, and used as both justification for whole sale repression as well as structural white supremacy and patriarchy itself.
But of course a closer look at reality is that largely there is no correlation in rising amounts of immigrants in a given area and a rise in violent crime. Moreover, like the United States as a whole, the country has seen largely a drop in violent crime while incarceration rates have only gone up.
As the investigative Marshall Project wrote:
According to data from the study, a large majority of the areas have many more immigrants today than they did in 1980 and fewer violent crimes. The Marshall Project extended the study’s data up to 2016, showing that crime fell more often than it rose even as immigrant populations grew almost across the board.
In 136 metro areas, almost 70 percent of those studied, the immigrant population increased between 1980 and 2016 while crime stayed stable or fell. The number of areas where crime and immigration both increased was much lower — 54 areas, slightly more than a quarter of the total. The 10 places with the largest increases in immigrants all had lower levels of crime in 2016 than in 1980.
Despite this, battles continue to rage over Sanctuary Cities, especially in California, where in some counties, in theory police and Sheriffs are not supposed to work with ICE in the deportation of undocumented people:
This month, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against California in response to the state’s refusal to allow local police to assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants charged with crimes. On Tuesday, California’s Orange County signed on in support of that suit. But while the immigrant population in the county has more than doubled since 1980, overall violent crime has decreased by more than 50 percent.
Despite the facts that there is not a connection between the rising number of migrants and violent crime, the far-Right as well as many politicians have long played up fears of undocumented migrants and refugees, along with promoting economic conspiracy theories, such as that immigrants will steal jobs. The reason for this is clear: placing the blame at those at the bottom of the social, political, and economic totem pole distracts away from those at the top of it.
— Indivisible Lumpkin (@IndivisibleLum) May 19, 2018
Because in reality, automation, globalization, and outsourcing, many of the same factors which have in turned pushed many in the global south into the US, are killing more US jobs than in coming immigrants. Moreover, more immigrants in the US are actually leaving the country than they are entering it.
In response to all of this and more blowing up this week, a variety of actions have taken place across Georgia and New York. In Georgia, at a variety of Michael William’s campaign stops, people have confronted and protested the #DeportationBus, and in some cases, blocked it from moving. According to William’s staff, unknown individuals also poured water into the bus’ gas tank, causing it to break down. After It’s Going Down first reported on William’s bus, the story then was picked up by other outlets, leading Cracker Barrel and other companies to ban William’s from holding rallies in their parking lots. Currently, William’s is scheduled to continue his campaign up until the 21st.
Meanwhile in New York, attorney Aaron Schlossberg has been facing a wave of criticism and protest after he threatened to call ICE on a group of workers for speaking in Spanish with a customer. According to CBS News:
In the video, Schlossberg said he would be calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement to have the workers “kicked out of my country.” He complained to another restaurant employee that “it’s America” and that in a Manhattan eatery “staff should be speaking English.”
Schlossberg has since been kicked out of his office and on Friday a large crowd featuring a mariachi band showed up to perform and demonstrate outside of his apartment. Schlossberg has also been hounded on the street by various news agencies and his law office was also attacked on various social media review pages.
Mariachis killing it outside of Aaron Schlossberg’s building. pic.twitter.com/t5OeQaXq75
— Shay Horse (@HuntedHorse) May 18, 2018
While these are all great responses and also shows potential viral nature of antifascist and antiracist organizing, at the same time we shouldn’t lose sight of the structural and day to day policies which are deporting migrants and breaking lives apart, or the realities of industrial civilization and globalized capital which push people from their homes in the first place.
Just last week, Trump also pushed for housing migrant children inside military base warehouses if and when their parents are apprehended at the border. With this in mind, let’s envision a resistance movement against borders that includes both these viral, and spontaneous actions, as well as long term organizing projects and campaigns that sets our sights on the destruction of all borders.