In this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we talk with two long time organizers who have worked both with migrants who have traveled with caravans as well as those stuck in limbo at the border in places like Tijuana. We discuss not only the current situation facing refugees and migrants fleeing political repression, poverty, and climate change, but also the imperial foreign policies pushed by the United States that have helped manifest the current situation; from US backed regime change, to the drug war, and the so-called “War on Terror.”
As we speak, the Trump administration is claiming that the immigration system is in a state of crisis and unable to deal with the increasing influx of asylum seekers. In response, in an attempt at dissuading migrants from coming to the US, it has instead of expediting the asylum process, simply allocated more money to expanding the existing network of draconian detention centers, which Trump recently said were like “Disneyland.” Back in reality, CNN distributed photos this week of the situation at the border camp based in McAllen, Texas, where migrants, including children, have been forced to sleep outside with just metal Mylar blankets.
Meanwhile, the drumbeat of repression continues to grow louder. Just in the last few weeks, Trump met with the far-Right and anti-Semitic Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, saying that they had some, “similar approaches,” when it came to dealing with migrants. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has recently redirected $2.5 billion in funds towards financing Trump’s border wall since March at a time when disaster survivors in Puerto Rico and Florida are desperately still fighting for assistance. Holding up relief funds is the Trump administration, who is refusing to send more aid to Puerto Rico. To add salt in the wound, Trump at a recent rally in Florida made light of calls from the audience to “shoot” migrants coming into the US.
Moreover, recently the Washington Post also published plans from the Trump administration to carry out “a nationwide militarized sweep to arrest 10,000 immigrants.” As one report wrote:
Citing seven current and former administration officials, the Post calls it “a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major US cities,” including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. The Post says the remaining target cities are “the other largest destinations for Central America migrants,” which likely includes Washington DC; the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area in California; Houston, Texas, and Miami, Florida.
The plan would not only constitute the largest immigration raid in US history, it would serve as a dry run for the mass round-up of strikers, protesters and other dissidents. Those planning such a massive operation doubtless conceive of it in this way.
Since several of the targeted cities are “sanctuary cities,” where police are not allowed to participate in immigration raids, it is possible that the implementation of the plan would require the deployment of soldiers in working class neighborhoods. Last year, Trump deployed over 5,000 active-duty troops to the US-Mexico border in a clear violation of the principle of posse comitatus, which bars the military from conducting domestic police operations.
According to the Post, the plan was temporarily tabled several weeks ago by then-Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and then-acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) head Ron Vitiello. However, it is still being actively planned and discussed, according to the newspaper.
Last Thursday, former ICE Director Tom Homan said on Fox News that ICE should “do operationally what Congress has failed to do legislatively,” i.e., carry out paramilitary, illegal operations on behalf of the executive branch. “ICE needs to do a nationwide operation,” he said.
As we discuss in the podcast, the current situation we find ourselves in is the direct result of the coming together of US imperial policy in so-called Central and South America, which in the case of Honduras, has meant regime change and an escalation of attacks on the poor and social movements fighting for change.
In both the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, the US has funneled money to various repression governments and far-Right factions, all for the purpose of putting down indigenous, anti-capitalist, and left-wing movements. Currently, climate change is also adding another dimension to the drive of people in the global south to migrant from their homes, a reality which climate scientists only expect to become much more dire.