“Day of Action for Immigrant and Refugee Rights”

March in Austin Condemns Attack on Sanctuary Cities

March 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Video: Twitter/@AntonioArellano

Students and many others came to Austin from all over Texas on Tuesday, February 28, to stand up for immigrants and condemn Senate Bill 4 (SB4). This is a vicious and dangerous bill, soon to become law, that will basically outlaw sanctuary cities and universities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities in going after undocumented immigrants. Hundreds and hundreds marched from City Hall to the Capitol, where they rallied to express their concern and anger. This Day of Action for Immigrants and Refugees was organized by RITA (Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance) and many other groups.

SB4 has passed the State Senate; once it passes the House, the governor is poised to sign it right away. The law would threaten withdrawal of state funds from cities and state colleges and universities. It would allow officials of sanctuary cities to be sued by victims of a crime allegedly committed by an immigrant with a criminal record who was not turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. And even more teeth were added to the bill at the last minute. Now, top elected officials who violate SB4 can be charged with a criminal misdemeanor, creating a mechanism to have them removed from office.

Much of the following account about the February 28 protest is drawn from the Daily Texan, campus newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin.

A high school senior, whose father had been deported two weeks earlier, told the large crowd, “I’m here to show people to not give up and to keep on fighting, because I don’t want any other families to go through what I am going through.” 

A woman from Arlington drove three hours to fight for her husband, who is undocumented. “He doesn’t drive any more. It’s scary to think that if he goes to the store or picks up one of our kids from school, that he will be taken away.”

For days in advance, newspapers in San Antonio, Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley, and North Texas reported that students and immigrant rights groups were organizing buses to bring them to the demonstration. A hundred college students came from a group in Houston. One student held a sign that read: “Campus police are supposed to protect students not deport them.” She said, “We don’t want this bill to cause these students to be in fear of going to school... It isn’t right for campus police to be basically ICE agents.”

The ACLU of Greater Austin took up the Day of Action, organizing an event that evening “to teach the community about immigrants’ rights...”

On the Facebook page for “We Are All Texas,” one of the groups that organized for the day, they wrote: “Trump has created an immense sense of fear and uncertainty in our immigrant and refugee communities... Texas has been and will continue to be ground zero for anti-immigrant, xenophobic rhetoric that is evident in the 2017 legislative priorities of State leaders...” They go on to list a long series of legislative acts that attack undocumented immigrants in a multitude of ways.

The attack on sanctuary cites and schools in Texas is part of an overall assault led by the fascist Trump/Pence regime. As we said in “High Stakes on Trump’s War on Sanctuary Jurisdictions“:

Attacks on immigrants and sanctuary jurisdictions specifically must be resisted! Sanctuary protections need to be defended and extended. The resistance to attacks on immigrants needs to become more widespread and determined and draw in millions and tens of millions. But the attacks will continue to escalate, to become more terrible and violent, until Trump is driven from office. The battle to defend immigrant rights can, and to have a real lasting impact must, be intensified, and joined in a torrent of struggle to drive out the fascist regime.


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