Student Boldly Calls Out Obama for Spearheading Anti-Immigrant Attacks

December 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Ju Hong is a 24-year-old student of Korean ancestry. On November 25, Ju disrupted a speech by President Obama in a community center in San Francisco's Chinatown. Obama was well into his presentation and was talking about immigrants and native-born people having a "shared responsibility to leave this country more generous, more hopeful than we found it," when Ju Hong, who was one of the human photo props on the stage behind Obama, began shouting over him.

"Mr. Obama," he said, "my family has been separated for 19 months now. I've not seen my family. Our families are separated. I need your help. There are thousands of people torn apart every single day. Mr. President, please use your executive order to halt deportations for all 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in this country right now. Do you agree that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform at the same time we... you have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country."

Several people in the audience of 300 began chanting "Stop deportations! Yes we can! Stop deportations!" Others chanted in support of Obama.

Security personnel moved to force Ju Hong and others out of the room, but Obama told them to stop. He then concluded his speech with a condescending lecture to the young protesters. He completely ignored the fact that record levels of people have been deported in the years of his presidency, claimed his hands were tied from stopping further deportations, and accused Ju and other protesters of "taking the easy way out. What I'm proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal you want to achieve. But it won't be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying and getting it done."

Books could be written exposing what a load of bullshit is contained in those three-and-a- half sentences. What has the capitalist system's democratic process meant for immigrants during the years of Obama's presidency? It has meant that the vicious, systematic, relentless attacks upon immigrants underway for decades in this country have greatly intensified in the Obama years.

Deportations are at an all-time high, far outstripping—in fact basically doubling—the numbers of people ripped away from their lives, their families and friends, their schools and jobs, during the Bush years. A federal system of immigration prisons has become "the largest immigration detention infrastructure in the world," according to the Global Detention Project, and many thousands more immigrants are imprisoned in city and county jails across the country. Government officials, including Obama, claim U.S. laws are focused on deporting "criminal aliens"; in fact most of the people imprisoned have been charged with only the most minor of crimes and many with none at all. Special prisons have been used to hold immigrant children, and immigrant children have also been placed in prisons and other forms of confinement for adults. Hundreds of immigrants have been tortured with prolonged solitary confinement.

The U.S.-Mexico border decades ago was turned into a war zone against oppressed people seeking to earn a living, and has become far more militarized during the Obama years: a $600 million bill Obama signed in October 2010 led to more Border Patrol, police forces of all types, and military personnel scouring the border; double and triple fences of razor wire, drones overhead and sensor monitors in the ground; multiple barriers and checkpoints on every road leading north from the border—and more of all the above to come. Just this week, officials in Texas announced that "continual surges" of a "beefed up presence of boots on the ground and patrols in the air and water" were being unleashed upon the Rio Grande Valley.

A hateful anti-immigrant atmosphere has spread like a malignant virus from state to state while Obama has been president, and at least 164 anti-immigrant laws were enacted in 2010 and 2011. Federal "landmark legislation" that Obama has worked for and was promoting in his recent trip to California has, as its essence—and as agreed to by Democrats and Republicans alike—"an interlocking web of repression: enforced registration with the government, mandatory electronic identification, and heightened militarization and control of the U.S./Mexico border. This would represent an ominous, fascistic leap in repression of immigrants in this country, and would lay the basis for truly monstrous crimes on a large scale in times of severe crisis and shock to the system." (From the Revolution article, "An Ominous Leap in Repression and the Need for Resistance")

Intense repression and exploitation of immigrants is cemented deeply into the very functioning of the capitalist-imperialist system. This system relies on brutal exploitation of immigrants for its continued existence; yet it fears the crumbling of a social coherence that has white supremacy and "English Only" as two of its pillars.

Ju Hong boldly called out Obama's hypocrisy and responsibility for his part in spearheading and promoting the attacks on immigrants, in a setting Obama undoubtedly regarded as part of his "home court." Ju spoke of the predicament millions of people in this country are trapped in by cruel government attacks. Especially as Obama and Congressional leaders again seem to be maneuvering to come to terms on the new law or laws mentioned above, and as protest demanding that the attacks stop continues, it is crucial that resistance go to much wider, deeper, and fiercer levels, among all sections of people.

Revolution will continue to report on these developments in the weeks and months ahead.

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