The nightmare reality for immigrants across US in 2018

By Eric London
12 February 2018

As Democrats and Republicans celebrate last week’s budget deal that funds the federal government through March 23 without providing any protections for 800,000 DACA recipients, a nightmare is playing out across America for 12 million undocumented people.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported 143,470 arrests in the 2017 fiscal year, a 30 percent increase from 2016. Though ICE raids increased dramatically in all regions, the figure is half the total number arrested in 2009, Obama’s first full year in office. The areas with the largest increases in ICE arrests from 2016 to 2017 are Florida (76 percent), Dallas (71 percent), St. Paul, Minnesota (67 percent), followed by New Orleans, Atlanta, Boston, and Detroit (over 50 percent each).

The Democratic Party has explicitly sought to direct attention away from these raids and arrests for fear that demonstrations or protests will spread and cut across their efforts to pressure the Trump administration to carry out a more aggressive foreign policy, primarily against Russia. Last week, the Democrats provided Trump with the votes required to pass a budget bill that puts 800,000 DACA recipients at risk of deportation but which provides the military with $1.4 trillion over two years.

The two parties are now preparing to take up DACA on Capitol Hill this week. All those involved have made clear that the immigration debate will take place on the most right-wing basis, with both Democrats and Republicans already agreeing to massive funding for the building of a militarized border wall, tighter restrictions on family migration, and increased funds for the ICE and Border Patrol. Any agreement will have to win approval from Trump, who has called for reducing the immigrant population of the US by 22 million in the coming decades.

Along these lines the Trump administration has drafted a new plan to block immigrants from achieving legal residency if they use food stamps, healthcare subsidies, or other public programs, which will pave the way for a crackdown on the millions who are properly documented. “Non-citizens who receive public benefits are not self-sufficient … An alien’s receipt of public benefits comes at taxpayer expense and availability of public benefits may provide an incentive for aliens to immigrate to the United States,” a draft of the proposal reads.

Whatever deal emerges from Washington will set the political framework for mass raids and deportations in the weeks and months to come. Opposing the Gestapo-like round-up of immigrants is a fight to defend the democratic rights of all workers, immigrant and non-immigrant alike. It requires a break from both parties and must be based on mobilizing the working class, the world’s chief progressive social force, to ensure the right of all people to travel across the world without fear of harassment or deportation.

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