Trump Attacks Middle Eastern and North African Immigrants... People Fight Back... TAKE IT HIGHER!
February 6, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This past week and a half has seen an extremely important and very inspiring outpouring of struggle against the Trump-Pence regime’s attempt to ban Muslim immigrants from seven countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Thousands poured out to airports as soon as news of this ban spread, and at least tens of thousands more have demonstrated all week long, from New York City to Starksville, Mississippi, from Utah to LA. Hundreds of lawyers volunteered their services. As we go to press, Trump’s order has been legally stayed for the time being; but what will happen is far from certain.
An Outrageous Ban
On Friday, January 27, Trump signed an executive order that imposed a selective ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Passengers in mid-flight or who arrived in the U.S. after the order was signed were “detained,” while authorities moved to send them back to their countries of origin. Permanent residents of the U.S. (green card holders) were among those barred from entry, as were refugee families who had been screened for years and finally admitted to the U.S. They had valid visas. Even a five-year-old separated from his mother, a stage 4 breast cancer patient, was barred from entering the U.S. Beyond those detained at U.S. airports, news media identified 90,000 people directly hit by the ban—stranded while visiting their home countries or sent back from airports around the world.
The ban specifically targeted Muslims. Trump’s close adviser, Rudy Giuliani, told FOX “News”: “I’ll tell you the whole history of it: When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban.’” And then, Giuliani said, Trump “called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’” The ban established preferential treatment for refugees seeking asylum who are identified with “minority religions” in their country of origin. As these are all majority-Muslim countries, that meant Christians. In case there was any doubt about the latter provision’s intent, Trump told Christian Broadcast News that it was intended to give priority to “Christians” seeking asylum over “Muslims.”
Trump's executive order also bars all refugees from around the world from entering the U.S. for 120 days, and bans those from Syria indefinitely. Many of those refugees are from the Middle East and Muslim-majority countries which have been subjected to horrendous U.S. military aggression that has gone on for decades and in fact is still going on as we write, with U.S. troops and allies routinely murdering whole families, and literally millions being forced to flee for their lives. Further, these countries have been bitterly exploited and their economies and societies devastated by U.S. imperialist capital. This in turn has given rise to a relatively numerically small but significant section of people who have taken up fundamentalist Islamic jihadism—a thoroughly reactionary ideology and a brutal movement—and now tens of millions find themselves caught between these two reactionary forces, making life even more unlivable.
Immigrants are deeply woven into the economy and fabric of U.S. society. One in every three people in New York City is an immigrant. Immigrants play a critical role in the U.S. economy, ranging from super-exploited workers in construction, agriculture, and service work to highly educated professionals in medicine (over 25 percent of all doctors in the U.S. are from other countries) and engineers in high-tech.
Part of what was expressed in the movement against the ban is that in many places—technology, academia, medicine and medical research, for example—companies and institutions that rely on people working for them from around the world see Trump’s policies as a real threat to their ability to compete and survive. They are trying to band together against Trump on these policies. There has also been outrage “from below,” among people who work in these professions and communities. Younger people, who have grown up with co-workers and friends from around the world, are furious at seeing them demonized and attacked this way. They are not willing to stand for that.
Sections of the ruling class—mainly but not just the Democrats—have profound fears about the social, political, and economic repercussions of Trump’s slash-and-burn assault on all immigrants and want to tone this down. And they insist that allowing (relatively tiny) numbers of refugees into the U.S. serves to project the U.S. as a global “defender of human rights.”
The Trump regime aims to radically transform the status quo in the world, and in the U.S., and to remake society as fascist. It demonizes and threatens all people of Muslim faith. It vows to drive women back into the position of being subservient appendages of men. It threatens to crush Black and Brown youth. It has declared it will tear apart millions and millions of immigrant families, from Mexico, Latin America, and the world over. It is already moving to forcibly silence all opposition, even from within the ruling class, and brutally crush any resistance from the masses. And it is ready to go to—and perhaps over—the brink of nuclear war and environmental destruction as part of that. Building a base for that requires playing on the fears and deep-seated racism and American chauvinism of sections of people. This immigration ban is one part of that.
As people rose up against this, and as lawyers fought in the courts, the courts in turn stayed the hand of the Trump-Pence regime. And as we post this article, the ban remains halted, temporarily.
Needed—An UNCOMPROMISING Movement Against the Whole Program
From the early days of the movement there has been a contradiction between the anger of the people in the streets and the attempts of the Democratic politicians to jump to the head of this and lead this back into the confines of the system. This is in two senses. First, the Democrats’ political program is to direct people to strengthen the “checks and balances” of the system. They want to keep these demonstrations very moderate—that is why there is such a disconnect between the temper of the crowd and what is projected by these politicians—and they want to direct people’s efforts toward supporting local mayors, pressuring the judiciary, etc.
Second, the Democrats promote the notion of the “true America” as being a haven for immigrants. In fact, as the accompanying article makes clear, America (that is, U.S. capitalism-imperialism) has always exploited and used immigrants, often plunging them into truly horrendous conditions, to build up their system. They hope for, at most, some kind of compromise in which the essential program of the Trump regime will go through, but with some loopholes and softening of some elements of it. (See “A Nation of Immigrants? Give Us A Break! America: “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses, Yearning to Be Free”... So We Can Exploit the Shit Out of Them”)
Meanwhile, the Trump-Pence fascists do not intend to back off of anything. They are attempting to intimidate the judiciary and hammer wavering Republicans into line, and they are threatening mayors of the major cities, even as the so-called sanctuary cities actually do NOT provide anything like sanctuary.
Through talk radio, Breitbart News, FOX News, and other media, they are whipping up their loyal and bigoted minions to support all this. And that’s not to mention Trump’s direct agitation on Twitter. Should they get away with this, the next step could very well be registration of all Muslims and other extraordinary forms of surveillance. Anyone who doubts the real possibility of concentration camps should remember Trump’s remarks during his campaign, when he was asked about policies implemented in World War 2 that registered and then interned first- and second-generation Japanese-Americans in concentration camps for nearly four years. When asked specifically by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, about proclamations that led to the camps, Trump said: “I don’t want to bring it back, George, at all. I don’t like doing it at all. It’s a temporary measure until our representatives—many of whom are grossly incompetent—our representatives can figure out what’s going on.”
What is needed are two things: first, in the immediate struggle, people should continue to intensify what has been and is an extremely important struggle and fight to win. The many different kinds of demonstrations and actions should continue, growing in size, and ranging from the teach-ins and vigils, to defending individuals from illegitimate attempts by law enforcement to round them up and exile them, to forceful mass expressions of anger. Should the courts reverse themselves and find in favor of Trump-Pence, people need to pour into the streets in 10 times the numbers at least, and refuse to leave, shutting down business as usual and challenging the operation of the whole system, and resistance needs to spread into every office and factory and school in this country.
But what we face right now is larger than a series of terrible attacks on different fronts. After all, in just the past two weeks the Trump-Pence regime has launched attacks against a whole spectrum of people and issues—against Mexico and Mexican immigrants, against environmental regulations and struggles to maintain the environment, against Native American peoples, against the public school system, against women and LGBT people (through nominating a reactionary to the Supreme Court)... the list goes on and on. THIS IS A PACKAGE—an attempt, through relentless moves one after the other, to radically re-order society into fascism. If we fight these one at a time, there may be some victories here or there, but the overall trajectory is into horror. Think about it—this regime is not only bolting into place an openly white supremacist America in which those who are not white will have virtually NO rights and many will be confined in prisons or camps, one way or another... this regime is also threatening other countries. After all, the perverted leader of the regime is known to have asked the CIA at briefings “if we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them?” The greatest danger before us right now is to underestimate the danger that this regime poses across the board, not only in the U.S. but to the entire world and, indeed, to the fate of humanity and the environment.
This leads to the second and even greater need—a movement that says NO! to the whole thing, that demands the immediate OUSTER of this vicious and extraordinarily dangerous fascist regime. The stance embodied in the slogan “In the name of humanity, we REFUSE to accept a fascist America” must spread. The simple demand embodied in the posters and stickers that say “NO!” must be seen everywhere. Word and understanding must be spread of what this regime really embodies and intends. Determination to oust it as soon as possible, in the next months before it has fully dug itself in and eliminated opposition, must grow exponentially. Discussion within this movement over how to do this and, going even deeper, where this regime came from and what must be done to really get past the kind of society in which this is always a threat and in which, even in the “best of times” people are exploited and ground down and oppressed, and the few rights they do have occur in the context in which a) those rights are weak and subject to and conditioned by the real dictatorship of those who rule society, and b) we can find ourselves in a situation in which even those rights can be snatched away.
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