Lives of Millions of Immigrants Hang in the Balance with Federal Judge’s Order

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On the night of February 16, the lives of millions of immigrants in this country were thrown into a swirl of uncertainty, anxiety, anger, and foreboding by a federal court ruling.

In November last year, President Obama issued an executive order (called Deferred Action for Parents—DAP) that would have temporarily put off the threat of potential deportation for millions of undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permitted residents, who are overwhelmingly from Mexico and Central America. As we wrote at the time, “Estimates are that this measure will apply to roughly one-third of the undocumented in the country now, or about 4 or 5 million people. Parents of the ‘Dreamers’—undocumented people who came to this country as children—are not included among those eligible for the deferment of deportation unless they also have one or more children born in this country.” (See “Obama’s Immigration Moves—and the Need for Increased Resistance” for more on the executive order and what’s behind it.)

Applications for deportation deferment under DAP were scheduled to open on Wednesday, February 18. But on Monday evening, a federal judge in Texas ordered a halt to DAP, after a suit brought by 26 states demanding a permanent end to Obama’s executive order was presented to him.

After Obama’s executive order last November, countless people had held out hope that years of hard work, living under the endless threat of deportation, and pervasive repression and discrimination would come to an end for them with DAP. Now a rug has been pulled from under their feet. Many people had publicly announced they are in the country without papers and were going to apply for DAP—meaning they have bravely declared themselves to be “illegal” and put themselves in the glare of a public spotlight expecting a temporary reprieve. But now that hope has been snatched away.

The Obama administration says it will appeal the judge’s ruling, which was based on a technical procedural error he claimed was made by Obama’s lawyers. But the judge said he had to act now because if DAP went into effect and were later overturned, states with large numbers of immigrants would “suffer irreparable harm” and the “genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle”—meaning that the millions of immigrants who came forward would not accept being put back into a position of imminent deportation. A prominent immigration lawyer said the judge’s ruling could delay DAP’s implementation for “a minimum of six to eight months, and potentially much longer.”

Meanwhile, the capitalist-imperialist system’s vicious assaults upon immigrants—the deportations, the militarization of the border, the jailing even of children, and the horrendous conditions in the immigration prisons, the police murders such as that of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, Washington—will continue. There will also surely be further bitter contention within the ruling class over how they can best control, repress, and exploit immigrants. But for right now, the judge’s order is in place; the lives and futures of millions of people hang in the balance. will be covering further developments on this important question in future issues. Meanwhile, some points of orientation:

  1. The courageous struggle immigrants have waged for many years to be treated and respected as full human beings with rights—and support for this struggle by many others—must continue and deepen. Waiting for the “courts and politicians to work things out” would be a deadly mistake. The sit-ins, the marches and rallies, the cultural expressions, the hunger strikes, and other forms demanding an end to deportations, repression, and brutal assaults on the border must become more widespread and determined.
  2. All attacks on immigrants—from ICE and Border Patrol officials, from police and the National Guard, from heavily armed vigilantes prowling the border to mobs of frenzied racists—must be vigorously opposed, wherever they occur, by all sections of the people.
  3. Revolutionary communists and others building the movement for revolution should take on the attacks on immigrants as a crucial component of STOPPING all the crimes of this capitalist-imperialist system—police murder and brutality, patriarchal degradation of women, wars of empire, and destruction of the planet.

STOP the Demonization, Criminalization, and Deportation of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!

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