Trump’s war on immigrants

The New York Times reports: For eight years, Guadalupe García de Rayos had checked in at the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement office here, a requirement since she was caught using a fake Social Security number during a raid in 2008 at a water park where she worked.

Every year since then, she has walked in and out of the meetings after a brief review of her case and some questions.

But not this year.

On Wednesday, immigration agents arrested Ms. Rayos, 35, and began procedures to send her back to Mexico, a country she has not seen since she left it 21 years ago.

As a van carrying Ms. Rayos left the ICE building, protesters were waiting. They surrounded it, chanting, “Liberation, not deportation.” Her daughter, Jacqueline, joined in, holding a sign that read, “Not one more deportation.” One man, Manuel Saldana, tied himself to one of the van’s front wheels and said, “I’m going to stay here as long as it takes.”

Soon, police officers in helmets had surrounded Mr. Saldana. They cut off the ties holding him to the tire and rounded up at least six others who were blocking the front and back of the van, arresting them all. The driver quickly put the van in reverse and rolled back into the building.

Ms. Rayos was one of several detainees inside the van. It was unclear whether officials planned to take them to Mexico or to detention.

By midnight on Thursday, her husband said he was not sure where she was. A vehicle had just left the building under police escort, and he said he suspected she may have been inside.

Ms. Rayos was arrested just days after the Trump administration broadened the definition of “criminal alien,” a move that immigrants’ rights advocates say could easily apply to a majority of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

“We’re living in a new era now, an era of war on immigrants,” Ms. Rayos’s lawyer, Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, said Wednesday after leaving the building here that houses the federal immigration agency, known by its acronym, ICE.

The Obama administration made a priority of deporting people who were deemed a threat to public or national safety, had ties to criminal gangs, or had committed serious felony offenses or a series of misdemeanor crimes. Ms. Rayos did not fit any of these criteria, which is why she was allowed to stay in the United States even after a judge issued a deportation order against her in 2013.

That all changed under Mr. Trump. [Continue reading…]

In his recent phone conversation with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump is reported to have said: “I don’t need Mexicans.”

Last summer, Trump said: “I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent.”

Clearly, Trump was lying both times: he is no friend of Mexicans but he does need them.

Trump’s xenophobic denigration of immigrants is shared by millions of Americans whose deeply ingrained sense of racial superiority makes them deny the extent to which this country operates in profound dependence on the service of its immigrant population.

In the growing movement of opposition to Trump, there have been calls for a general strike but I am skeptical about the tactical wisdom of this proposition. If such a strike was called but it didn’t gain sufficient support it could easily end up looking like a vindication for Trump’s claim of broad-based national support.

On the other hand, the time may be approaching when through collective action the voices of immigrants can make themselves more widely heard — for instance through a strike of hospitality workers targeting Trump International, or even a nationwide strike calling on immigrants across all service, agricultural, and manufacturing sectors.

It’s time to demonstrate to those who otherwise stubbornly refuse to acknowledge this, that America cannot function without the labor of the millions of people who currently suffer the indignities of being labeled as insufficiently “American.”

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