South Texas: Federal and State Fascists Step Up Campaign of Ethnic Cleansing of Latino People

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Two dangerous developments attacking and isolating immigrants and people of Mexican descent, especially (for now) those who live near the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas, became public last week.

“Fascism, Pure and Simple”

The U.S. State Department is withdrawing and denying passports from people whose birth records indicate they were born in the U.S. The Washington Post reported, “The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown.” The government is using the pretext of a scattering of cases of midwives falsifying birth documents in order to threaten the citizenship of potentially tens of thousands of Latinos whose births were overseen by midwives—even though the regime does not even pretend to have evidence showing the individuals they are challenging have falsified documents.

People with official Texas birth certificates are now jailed in immigration detention centers. Deportation proceedings have begun against some of them. Others are unable to leave Mexico, because U.S. passports they have long held were revoked when they tried to reenter the U.S. In some cases, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have arrived without notice at people’s homes and taken away their passports.

Denial of passports to people whose births were tended by a midwife actually began during the George W. Bush administration, and continued under Obama. It ended in 2009, after a lawsuit litigated by the American Civil Liberties Union. But denying and revoking passports—and the overall persecution of people of Mexican descent along the Texas border with Mexico, which means the overwhelming majority of people there—has surged during the Trump/Pence years. Cases of revoking passports “are skyrocketing,” a lawyer defending dozens of these people said.

As an article in Esquire stated, “This is fascism, pure and simple.”

Denying Schooling to Children

Also in South Texas, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) ruled last week that state funding will not be used to “provide teachers and other resources to school-aged children housed in migrant shelters” (in other words, concentration camps). The Trump/Pence regime’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating families arrested at the border supposedly ended in June. But nearly 500 children remain in federal detention centers, with little or no contact with family members. Many of these are along the border. School teachers from Harlingen and San Benito who had been sent to these centers will no longer be allowed to hold classes in them.

These children have been repeatedly traumatized by their experience of migration, violence in their homeland, family separation, and imprisonment. Now they are being confined in frigid rooms they call “ice boxes.” They are separated from anyone who cares for them. Before Texas denied funds for these children’s education, Michael Olivas, who teaches immigration and education law at the University of Houston, said, “It is a detestable lie that they’re being educated.” Now even the pretense of education is being removed.

TEA makes the viciously hypocritical claim that schools could voluntarily provide help to these children. But school districts across the state have been devastated by drastic cuts in funding, and struggle to provide minimum services to students already enrolled. Districts along the border have always been among the most impoverished in the state. The TEA is leaving the door open to the possibility of private entities providing “education” to these children, which would almost certainly mean turning them over to Christian fundamentalist indoctrination.

In the Crosshairs of Fascist Attacks on Immigrants

These attacks are abominable and must be stopped!

They also are a dangerous leap on the road to consolidated fascism. The Trump/Pence regime and fascists in Texas and other state governments are tearing apart long-standing rights and laws, and targeting people for harsh and relentless repression based on where they were born, their accent, their names, their skin color. Vicious, bloody attacks on immigrants along the border and oppression of people of Mexican descent have been defining features of U.S. capitalism-imperialism for over a century. The Trump/Pence regime is taking these to horrific new levels, and rewriting the laws to justify their repression.

In the case of the denial of education to detainees, ICE regulations mandate that school-age children in shelters must receive six hours of structured instruction on weekdays and special education services if needed. Texas law requires children from six to 18 (or until they have a high school diploma) to attend school in some form. But the state government, which is completely dominated by Christian fascists, declared that it is “not obligated” to provide education to children in federally run centers.

And as regards the denial of passports from U.S. citizens, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States ... are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” This amendment was passed after the U.S. Civil War, and granted citizenship to former slaves and their descendants. Now the Trump/Pence regime is denying it to people of Mexican descent based on outrageous and unsubstantiated claims that they used false birth certificates to establish citizenship.

These moves to tear up existing law, and ending even the most basic Constitutional rights people supposedly have, are part of a systematic fascist drive towards “making America white again” and English-only. While these attacks are concentrated in South Texas, there is absolutely no reason to think they will stop there, or not be used against anyone the fascist state considers “suspect.” They must be opposed as part of a fierce struggle to drive the fascist Trump/Pence regime from power.

More fundamentally, a system that torments and imprisons children and deprives them of basic needs, a system that abruptly denies the most fundamental rights to thousands of people because of their ethnicity, and threatens untold thousands more, has no legitimacy. It must be overthrown through an actual revolution.



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