Broad Resistance to Trump’s Wholesale Attack on Human Rights of Refugees and Immigrants
Across the United States numerous demonstrations, petitions, and meetings are taking place rejecting President Trump’s wholesale attack on the human rights of immigrants and refugees. A national Day of Action is planned for June 30, with actions at the White House and in dozens of cities and towns across the country.
The breadth of resistance can be seen in the fact that nurses, youth, women, workers for the Office of Refugee Resettlement which is responsible for the families and children, mayors and clergy, as well as people from all walks of life, are taking their stand. The issue is one of rights and many see that by defending the rights of all problems can be solved.
Both in separating children from their parents and now in calling for indefinite detention of families, Trump is acting to eliminate human rights law, especially as it concerns refugees. The large majority of those being detained are refugees from countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where U.S. political and military interference has created conditions of anarchy, violence and terror for many. Refugees have the right to enter the country, turn themselves over to Border Patrol Agents and ask for asylum as most families are doing. Trump is instead criminalizing and terrorizing them. He is using his police powers to ensure no discretion is used in terms of dealing with each case — the legitimacy of the asylum cases, the conditions the families have faced, the traumas they have already endured, and so forth. That is what is actually required by law and what the executive actions are eliminating. There is to be only the dictate of the executive, not the upholding of rights and laws concerning them.
This is further evidenced by the actions of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who proclaimed that the U.S. will reject asylum claims based on gang violence or domestic abuse. The gangs, many of them instigated and armed by the U.S., are inflicting violence against trade unionists, human rights organizers and many families. Yet now the U.S. is arbitrarily deciding, again with no concern for the facts, that such claims are not valid. It is interesting that Trump is using the excuse of the gang-violence of MS-13 to target young people in the U.S. for deportation, yet people in El Salvador cannot use the violence of this same gang as a basis for asylum.
The police powers being imposed by the executive are arbitrary and a means for the government to broadly and openly act with impunity, all in the name of upholding the law. As well, Trump had no need to issue an executive order, as whether and how to deal with immigrants and refugees is at the discretion of the executive, in accordance with human rights and refugee law. He did so in part to target Congress, and quell resistance by giving the appearance that he is taking action.
The executive order serves primarily to try to impose and justify indefinite detention of families and to do so on the basis of a misdemeanour infraction. This sets the stage for targeting and detaining far more people, such as striking teachers or demonstrators, also using misdemeanour infractions.
Civil War Scenario
One of the serious issues being ignored with the Trump actions is the need for the federal government to control all military and policing agencies. Trump is using the current situation in part to test the loyalty to the president, of Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the military, especially the National Guard. A key problem is resistance among the states and their striving for control, as conflicts within and between the military, president and state forces increase. This is evident, for example, in New York Governor Cuomo filing a lawsuit against the federal government concerning due process for the refugee children. As well, many states are withdrawing or refusing to send their National Guard troops to the border as Trump is requesting.
The National Guard is state-based and can only be federalized by the executive with the consent of the state governor. Trump is in part testing the loyalty of the governors, as their control of large numbers of troops is a serious concern. This is particularly true given that fear is growing among all these contending factions that the festering civil war — which always exists behind the scenes based on their contending for power — will break out into open violence.
The intensifying clashes within the governing factions of the ruling elite were not sorted out by Trump’s victory in the presidential election. And Trump’s efforts to use immigration to unite the various forces have so far failed. Instead we continue to witness conflicts within the presidency and between the executive and the intelligence agencies, military and various state officials all becoming sharper with increasing tempo and instability. The refusal of states like New York to send the National Guard and their withdrawal by many states, are examples of this. So too is resistance by mayors. Many, like New York City’s and Los Angeles’, control huge, highly armed police forces.
Trump is trying to secure federal control of all military and policing agencies, including those at the state and local level — so far, with only limited success. Texas and Arizona are providing large numbers of troops, but many other states are not. Mayors are sending a delegation to Texas rejecting Trump’s executive order as not solving the problems at hand.
Striving to Impose Acceptance of Military and Inhuman Actions
Both in law and tradition, the U.S. military cannot be used for law enforcement inside the country. Yet by organizing to send 4,000 National Guard troops to the southern border, Trump is setting up conditions for just that. At the very least it is a means to get people in the border areas used to having military forces in their towns and communities. At the moment, the troops are not to be armed, but just as Trump arbitrarily changed the policy concerning family separation, he can also order the military to be armed. Already there has been an increase in the number of Border Patrol Agents and the militarization of the border using drones, fencing and spy towers with cameras directed at both sides of the border.
In addition, Trump’s actions are a means to train border agents and the military to conduct inhuman activity, like tearing children from the arms of their parents and putting them in concentration camps. Or overseeing arbitrary actions against refugees who they easily know have already suffered tremendously. As one border agent put it, these families “have risked rape, robbery, assault, murder, have spent their life savings and given it to a criminal cartel to get them to the United States.” Nothing in Trump’s actions or executive order are directed at these cartels. Rather, the agents, including those with refugee resettlement, are being trained to take inhuman actions against their fellow human beings, treating them as if they have no rights.
Nurses in El Paso are showing the way, refusing to submit. They say, “Not in Our Name,” and stand with the refugees and immigrants, refusing to treat them as criminals.
The Organized People Can Defeat the Civil War Scenario by
Demanding a New Direction
These efforts to condition people to accept and even implement what is unacceptable are an indication that all the warring factions of the ruling elite are greatly worried about what could be described as the largest and potentially most powerful faction, which is the people and their drive for a new direction for the country.
In this respect, the broad and persistent resistance is showing that this greatest of factions demands its rights and stands for the rights of all. The claims of all on society, including women, children and refugees, must be respected and recognized as inviolable. Given this is also an election year where people are supposed to line up behind one or the other of these ruling factions, the issue of changing the electoral setup so as to empower the people is also on the minds of many. The U.S. has a long history of separating children from their families, as occurred with Indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans. The demand today is for all such brutality here and abroad to stop. The rights of all are being defended. Developing a system of governing that is of, by and for the people in the modern conditions, where the people decide, in opposition to the present unrepresentative governments of the warring factions of the ruling elite, is being taken up for solution.
As the many collectives of the people — youth, women, immigrants, workers — strengthen their organized resistance and many others come forward to defend rights, this battle to win political power for the people is advancing. The necessity now is to stand with the peoples in opposition to the ruling elite, and to look at the social and political conditions from the people’s own vantage point, one that favours their interests and the finding of a new direction. Political power belongs in the hands of the people themselves to govern and decide. By addressing this problem of political power and working to obtain it, the faction of the large majority, the people, will prevail.
Days of Action
The U.S. National Domestic Workers Alliance is holding a Day of Action on June 30 to demand that the Trump administration stop caging children and jailing their families and reunite children in immigration custody with their families at once. They state, “Our demand is clear and not negotiable: Trump’s policies of caging children and jailing their parents must be stopped immediately — and families must be reunited!”