United States: Trump Accelerates Attacks on Immigrants – Especially on those from “Shithole” countries

, by SHEPPARD Barry

In his now infamous statement on immigration, Trump expressed his views clearly. He doesn’t want immigrants from countries in Africa, Haiti and El Salvador - Black and Latina — to be let into the U.S.

He called them “Shithole” countries.

He then said he wants immigrants from countries like Norway - white people.

This on top of his blocking of immigrants from six Muslim nations, his reference to immigrants from Mexico as rapists and drug smugglers, his attacks on Black Lives Matter protestors as thugs out to kill police, etc., etc.

His Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is stepping up deportations of immigration rights activists and undocumented individuals.

His singling out of El Salvador and Haiti were not only to restrict immigration from those countries, but also to buttress his recent decisions to revoke refugee status of immigrants from them already in the U.S.

These immigrants were given refugee status under a program called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) signed into law by the first President Bush in 1990.

Nearly 200,000 people from El Salvador were allowed to live and work in the U.S. under TPS after a pair of devastating earthquakes struck their country in 2001. Now Trump has left them in legal limbo, and subject to deportation.

Trump has done the same to nearly 60,000 people from Haiti, allowed into the country under TPS, after the 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands. When he made his “shithole” remarks, he added, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out!”

Having lived and worked in the U.S. for all these years, these refugees from El Salvador and Haiti have sent much needed money back to relatives in their home countries. This is true of most immigrants with or without papers living in the U.S. from poor countries exploited for centuries by Western imperialist states, now including the U.S.

Among the immigration rights activists recently rounded up by ICE are Jean Montrevil and Ravi Ragbir, originally from Haiti and Trinidad, respectively. Jean had lived in the U.S. for over 30 years, Ravi for over 25. Both had “green cards” that allowed them to live and work in the U.S. Ravi is the executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, and Jean an activist in the group. Both have been targeted by Trump.

They were grabbed by ICE agents and were not allowed to even say goodbye to their spouses, and were physically abused while being held. Montrevil was quickly deported. Ragbir was saved from immediate deportation by a judge after supporters succeeded in bringing his case before her.

District Judge Katherine Forrest called Ravi’s detention “unnecessarily cruel,” and said he had “the freedom to say goodbye,” and compared his treatment to that of “regimes we revile as unjust, regimes where those who have long lived in a country may be taken without notice from streets, home, and work. And sent away. We are not that country [yes we are, at least regarding these cases - BS] and woe be the day that we become that country under a fiction of laws that allow it.”

But Ragbir still faces deportation, since Forrest did say that ICE has the legal authority to deport him under current law.

That law was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996. It broadly increased penalties on immigrants who violate U.S. law in some way and made it harder for undocumented immigrants to obtain legal status. One particularly harsh measure allowed for green card holders to be deported for “crimes” committed before 1996. The drive against the undocumented has long been a bipartisan one. Trump is accelerating it.

This law amounts to double jeopardy. Both Montrevil and Ragbir were convicted of minor offenses long before 1996, and served their sentences, but are now being penalized again for the same offenses. Ragbir is in the process of seeking to overturn his conviction, which was based on false evidence. He was due in court in early February when ICE decided to act to have him deported before his hearing.

People deported to Haiti are typically arrested by the corrupt pro-imperialist government and jailed until they can raise a bribe to get out. But supporters of Montrevil in Haiti, who is known for his activity for immigrants, mobilized to greet him as he arrived. This prevented the Haitian police from arresting him. However, he now has to fight his deportation while residing outside the U.S.

Immigration activists are being targeted across the country. Sandra Lopez is a Mexican mother of three who has been living in the U.S. for 20 years. She was forced to seek sanctuary in a Unitarian church in Colorado last October. Ingrid Latorre sought sanctuary in October in Colorado also. On the day Ravi was detained, Ingrid’s husband, Eliseo Jurado, was arrested by ICE. In Seattle, ICE sent a “notice to appear” to Maru Villalpando, who has been in the country for 25 years and leads the organization Northwest Detention Center [where arrested immigrants are held] Resistance.

“ICE is really sending us a message to stop our political activity,” said Villalpeando.

One thing Obama did in his final years in office was to grant temporary reprieve from deportation of undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children by their parents, and allowed them to work and attend school legally. This gave hope to some 800,000 who signed up for this program.

But the program had to be renewed every two years. Trump refused to do so when the time was up last year, creating legal turmoil for these people, known as “dreamers” for their desire to stay in the U.S. Since then many have been deported.

Trump now has proposed to Congress to reinstate the program and even provide a multi-year path for citizenship for the dreamers. Sounds great! But he linked doing so to Congress also providing the multi-billion dollars in funds to build his Wall all along the U.S.-Mexican border, and to severely reduce legal immigration. The proposal was drawn up by fiercely anti-immigration Trump senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, on the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, which gives the game away.

The proposal is going nowhere, as many Democrats do not want to be seen as supporting sharply blocking legal immigration or the Wall. On the far right are Republican white supremacists egged on by Breitbart News, who denounce the proposal concerning the dreamers ever being granted citizenship.

The whole proposal is a cynical ploy, not to be taken seriously. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi, denounced Trump as trying “to make America white again” - a reference to Trump’s slogan “make America great again.”

But the U.S. is already “white” today and always has been, in the sense that Blacks, Latinos and other people of color are and always have been racially oppressed by “white America” with the overwhelmingly white ruling class at the top. It’s not a question of numbers - many of the slave states of the Confederacy had more African slaves than white free people. It’s question of power.

Trump wants to further beat back gains made by Blacks and others in the radicalization of “The Sixties” — a goal the ruling class has been pursuing since the 1970s.

Barry Sheppard

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