NEW YORK — Over the past few months the Donald Trump administration has carried out a series of moves that threaten the ability of a number of immigrant workers to live and work here. They began phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for some 800,000 young people and announced the ending of Temporary Protected Status for more than 200,000 Salvadorans, Haitians and Nicaraguans. On Jan. 10 immigration agents carried out coordinated raids at 98 7-Eleven stores, arresting 21 people and telling store owners they had to submit to immigration “audits.”
The raids were a follow-up to Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids under the Barack Obama administration that ended up with charges filed against a number of store owners for employing workers without papers.
Over the last few weeks ICE detained three immigrants associated with the sanctuary movement, including Trinidadian Ravi Ragbir, a leader of the New Sanctuary Coalition here; Haitian Jean Montrevil, also an activist in the coalition; and Eliseo Jurado, the companion of Ingrid Encalada Latorre, a Peruvian immigrant who has taken refuge in a church in Boulder, Colorado, that offered her sanctuary to fight her deportation. Hundreds protested Ragbir’s detention outside an ICE jail here Jan. 10.
At the same time, President Trump has explained he thought it was possible to reach a broader bipartisan deal on immigration “reform” that would reverse some of the above measures. The “deal” he floated was to exchange new steps to open the door to DACA youth, some TPS participants and legalization of other immigrants in exchange for stronger controls on the border, restrictions on visa “lotteries” and visas for family members, and, of course, funds for a wall.
When his administration announced the moves to cancel the DACA program and TPS, Trump said explicitly his goal was to force Congress to come up with a replacement immigration plan.
“If we do this properly, DACA, you’re not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform,” Trump told Democrat Richard Durbin, senator from Illinois in a Jan. 11 meeting with members of Congress. “And if you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat, I don’t care.”
Some liberals urged the Democrats to make the deal. “Take a Deal for the Dreamers,” headlined the Washington Post editorial Jan. 10. “Build the Wall.”
A number of conservative anti-immigrant groups and individuals were outraged at Trump’s negotiations. “It’s shaping up to be a disaster, a calamity,” complained Steve King, an infamous anti-immigrant congressman from Iowa.
Then, after a second closed-door meeting the next day, things blew up. Democrats claimed Trump called Haiti and African nations “s–thole countries.” Durbin said Trump’s comments were “hate-filled, vile and racist.” Some Republicans who attended the meeting say Trump never said the phrase attributed to him.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough,” he tweeted. “But this was not the language used.”
“Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country,” he also tweeted. “Probably should record future meetings — unfortunately, no trust!”
The dispute was grabbed by most liberals, the middle-class left and Democrats in the self-proclaimed Resistance, who claim Trump is somehow qualitatively different than other Democratic and Republican spokespeople for the capitalist ruling families.
Despite their feigned indignation, every wing of the capitalist political spectrum bears similar sentiments toward the peoples of the colonial and semicolonial world, and, for that matter, toward the working class in the U.S.
For the ruling class, immigration “reform” means increased control over the flow of immigrants to ensure a sufficient pool of cheap labor. The rulers all want greater flexibility to turn immigration on and off as the hiring needs of the employing class shift.
This includes a steady supply of workers without papers, who they expect to be able to exploit more cheaply and intimidate from fighting back against exploitation and dangerous working conditions.
And they seek to scapegoat these workers in an effort to divide the working class and lower the wages and conditions for all.
‘Guest’ worker visas rise
With a decreasing number of newly arrived immigrants, agribusiness has sought to increase the number of so-called guest workers, who receive temporary work permits.
According to the Miami Herald, the use of workers with temporary guest worker visas has increased sevenfold in California since 2011. Many landscaping, construction, cleaning and other business also came to rely on Salvadoran, Haitian and other workers who had Temporary Protected Status.
Mark Drury, an executive with Shapiro & Duncan, a plumbing, heating and cooling firm in Rockville, Maryland, told Inc. magazine that workers with TPS “are the best as far as immigrants, because they’ve had to stay crystal clean in order to renew their status.”
The question for the working class and others who are in solidarity with immigrants is how to unite the working class and end the deportations of all workers in the U.S. today. Demand amnesty for all immigrants now!