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Vol. 81/No. 7      February 20, 2017

(lead article)

Protests continue against gov’t attack on immigrants

SWP: Join protests, demand amnesty!

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
High school student Yacine Fall, originally from Senegal, speaks at rally of hundreds of students in New York Feb. 7, opposing ban on travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.
NEW YORK — Protests continue across the country against President Donald Trump’s series of anti-working-class executive orders targeting undocumented workers, refugees and citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries.

Several hundred high school and college students demonstrated here Feb. 7. “Daily life cannot just continue as is, when others are suffering,” Beacon High School student Selam Murphy, one of many high school students who walked out of class to join the protest, told the press. Students carried handmade signs with slogans written on school notebooks, poster board and skateboards.

The day before, some 20 rabbis affiliated with T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights were arrested for blocking a street near the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Manhattan. “Some of the language that’s being used now to stop Muslims from coming in is the same language that was used to stop Jewish refugees from coming” under Franklin Delano Roosevelt prior to World War II, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, told the New York Times.

At the same time, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California heard arguments Feb. 7 on whether an injunction issued by a federal district court in Washington state against the travel ban should be lifted.

The first immigration-related executive order signed by Trump Jan. 25 mandated the extension of the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, hiring 5,000 more immigration cops, and promising to step up deportations. This hasn’t been challenged in court.

“Working people need to take to the streets to protest the administration’s moves against undocumented workers,” Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of New York, told the Militant. “The propertied rulers and both their two parties — the Democrats and Republicans — seek to keep workers without papers in a pariah status, to divide and weaken the labor movement. We demand amnesty for all those in the U.S.”

The Jan. 27 decree imposed a three-month ban on travelers from seven mostly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — a four-month moratorium on admitting refugees from any country, and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

Some 60,000 visas of all types were revoked after Trump signed these executive orders. At the same time immigration officials detained more than 100 permanent U.S. residents at airports inside the country. After widespread protests, and a number of court injunctions, the visas were reinstated and many of those detained were admitted into the country.

The Trump administration asked the Court of Appeals to lift or limit the injunction. There should be no “second guessing” of presidential decisions on national security, U.S. Justice Department lawyer August Flentje told the judges.

Washington state Solicitor General Noah Purcell argued for maintaining the injunction until courts rule on the legality of the order as a whole, saying the state’s challenge will likely prevail.

Trump order follows Obama

In a White House statement Feb. 5, Trump said, “My policy is similar to what President Barack Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.” The Obama administration did stop processing Iraqi refugees at that time, allowing only those already processed to enter. Former President Jimmy Carter barred all Iranians from entering the U.S. after the revolution there in 1979.

“This is not about religion,” Trump claimed, referring to the seven countries singled out in the order. “There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.” But his advisers have said if the ban is upheld, more countries could be added to the list.

Despite a lot of demagogy from both the administration and its liberal opponents, the Jan. 25 order targeting undocumented workers does not represent any significant departure from the policies of previous presidents. The goal of the U.S. rulers is not to eliminate undocumented workers, but to regulate their numbers as the economy expands or contracts and to maintain their status as a superexploited layer of the working class the bosses can use to push down all wages.

Since the passage of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 during the George W. Bush administration, more than 650 miles of fencing at the border has been built. In a May 10, 2011, speech in El Paso, Texas, Obama bragged, “We have gone above and beyond what was requested,” saying the border fence is “now basically complete.”

The highest number of deportations in U.S. history took place during President Bill Clinton’s last year in office, when more than 1,800,000 immigrants were deported. The Obama administration holds the record for the criminalization of immigrants — putting more workers charged with immigration “crimes” behind bars than any other president in U.S. history.
Related articles:
Join the protests! Demand amnesty!
Yemeni bodega owners close shops, rally against travel ban
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