To: Detroit/Seattle Workers' Voice mailing list
Sept. 10, 2017
RE: Detroit Workers' Voice #124, Sept. 9, 2017
Donald Trump set off another big round of protests by cancelling the DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] program on Sept. 5th. Trump’s decision amounts to a stepped-up attack on immigrants and will intensify the horrible pressure on them. Should they stay? Should they leave? Go underground? Try to live and work under the radar, accepting miserable living and working conditions? Or should they insist on coming forward to assert their rights as human beings, confident that the public will support them? Some eight hundred thousand Dreamers have grown up in the U.S., working and going to school while speaking English and enjoying the sympathy and support of the vast majority of Americans.
Already many thousands of Dreamers have taken the path of protest, going to the streets to demand that the government continue the promises it made in the DACA program. Protests erupted immediately in cities across the country, first of all in Washington, D.C., right outside the White House, but spreading immediately to New York, Chicago, and especially to cities around California, where over one-fourth of the Dreamers reside. In Detroit there were at least two such protests, one of them at Clark Park in southwest Detroit. At this protest Mayor Duggan sent a PR man to show the mayor's sympathy with immigrants, but he was heckled with questions like, "Why doesn’t the mayor declare Detroit a sanctuary city?" Good question: ICE agents are roaming all over southwest Detroit, hungry to deport poor working people. Meanwhile protests continue to spread, including inside Trump’s luxury hotel in Washington, D.C.
Under Obama the government promised that if the Dreamers – those who came to the U.S. at less than sixteen years of age, brought by their parents or other caregivers – registered as resident aliens and stayed out of trouble, the government would not deport them. Officially they were eligible to be deported, but this was "deferred", as long as they paid hundreds of dollars, stayed out of trouble with the law, stayed in school or employed, put up with all the necessary paperwork and filings, paid all their taxes, paid Social Security – but without ever collecting any government benefits. In other words, if they were model citizens way beyond what is expected of ordinary Americans, the government promised to leave them alone, let them live here and pay taxes without giving them anything in return.
This program was set up by Obama in 2011 after the Dream Act was defeated in Congress. When first running for president, Obama had promised to do something for the undocumented, to bring about some way they could become citizens. But after being elected he forgot this promise and left immigrants in the same no-man's land they had been in for years. As a last-minute concession to public presssure, after deporting tens of thousands, Obama agreed to the DACA program. Now Republican spokesmen, acting on cue, are uniformly blaming Obama for the whole mess, saying it's his fault for not doing anything when he had a majority in Congress to work with. It’s true that Obama reneged on his promises to immigrants and that he caved in to right-wing pressure. But why does that excuse licking the boots of the Minutemen and America Firsters today? If Obama was lazy and deceitful yesterday, Trump is nothing but out-and-out reactionary today.
Trump has based his presidency on racism, and his spokespeople, like Attorney General Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, are claiming that canceling DACA is justified because immigrants cause crime and take away jobs from native-born Americans. They are seeking to make the working class fight among itself, and they hide that the source of job losses, union-busting, and cutting of social benefits is the profit-taking of the bourgeoisie. Immigrants' crime rate is actually lower than among native Americans, and when native-born and immigrant workers unite, it scares the exploiters and endangers the market fundamentalist drive. However, Sessions is trying to hide his racism behind a legalistic argument, that the DACA program was established by Obama's executive order, or memorandum, whereas it should have been left up to the prerogative of Congress to establish it in law. But in fact, Sessions himself led the fight to defeat the Dream Act in Congress when he was a Senator, so it's the height of hypocrisy for him to pretend he looks forward to a legislative solution. Session isn't interested in legalizing the undocumented; he would much rather promote the lies of the far right, harass the children of poor immigrants and drive them into subminimum jobs; this is the way to satisfy Trump's alt-right supporters.
Trump began his presidency with the Muslim ban; he continued with stepping up arrests of immigrants including some DACA recipients; and now he has cancelled DACA altogether, albeit with a phase-out period. This is a major challenge to the solidarity of the working people. Meanwhile the bourgeoisie and the establishment politicians are split over DACA and immigration reform. Some capitalists know that a lot of the American economy depends on immigrant labor, while others think that it is more important to foster racist hysteria throughout the country. A number of state Attorneys General have filed a lawsuit against Trump's decision, while Democrats and Republicans are split on what to do. But it is only the mass protest movement and the support of immigrants from the working masses as a whole that will protect the immigrants. We need real rights for the immigrants, not a deal that leaves them as underprivileged workers always subject to the threat of deportation. Many DACA recipients are bravely standing up to protest in defiance of the cancellation of DACA; they are declaring that they will not go back into the shadows. The cancellation of DACA is leading to a deepening of the struggle against the Trump agenda.
(From Detroit Workers' Voice #124, including the ending accidentally omitted from the first leaflet version) <>
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Posted on September 12,