Sanctuary Now Campaign

 

San Francisco Press Conference Suppporting AB 450

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – 24MARCH17 – San Francisco janitors and other workers supporting AB 450, a bill introduced by Assembly Member David Chiu, to protect workers during immigration raids and enforcement actions. David Huerta, President of United Service Workers West, SEIU. Copyright David Bacon

As democratic socialists, we stand in solidarity with all undocumented immigrants in the struggle against capitalist exploitation.

Our ultimate demand is for full equality and legalization of all undocumented workers in the United States. Only full legalization will end the super-exploitation of immigrant workers, which will in turn improve the conditions and bargaining position of all workers.

The current system of borders is profoundly unfair – capital is allowed to move freely while human beings are policed, harassed, and detained.

Donald Trump won the presidency in large part by promising to crack down on immigrants, with a special emphasis toward undocumented workers. This scapegoating of an entire segment of the working class is a debacle for all sectors of the progressive movement in this nation.

The common liberal position on “immigration reform” leaves out much to be desired; we do not crave guest worker programs that benefit big businesses; we do not believe that the main reason to defend the rights of undocumented immigrants is because no one else will do “those jobs”. We think that someone’s worth as a person is not tied with how much economic growth that they will generate. As democratic socialists and internationalists, we are uniquely positioned to take a stand on this issue in ways that other groups will not.

Sadly, under the bigoted and nativist presidency of Donald Trump, undocumented people in the U.S. are facing a climate of fear and repression with little relief in sight.

Progressive immigration reform at the federal level seems like a fairly remote possibility in the current period. But on a local level the situation is different. We believe that fighting for sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants is the best way to oppose the current wave of anti-immigrant repression. At virtually every level of society – from school campus, to neighborhood, to city, to state – we can push policies that will blunt the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies from targeting, harassing, kidnapping, detaining, and deporting the undocumented members of our communities. Concrete examples of such policies include:

 

  • Shutting off all information sharing between ICE and local authorities;
  • Forbidding local authorities from questioning people about their immigration status, and from acting as enforcers of immigration laws; much like HIPAA protects medical personal information;
  • Halting any cooperation between ICE and local law enforcement;
  • Demanding that undocumented immigrants have legal representation and financial support in deportation proceedings, with priority given to those currently inside detention;
  • Demanding due process for all, regardless of citizenship status;
  • Fighting back against every policy that criminalizes undocumented immigrants.

 

These reforms will not in and of themselves end the repression of undocumented immigrants, but they will be a step towards liberation, and can serve as a basis with organizing and alliance-development.

Why should this proposal be a priority for DSA, given that we cannot effectively work on every important issue that exists?

As socialists we stand in solidarity with the workers of all countries. This includes workers from other countries who have migrated to the U.S. to escape war, repression, or to seek a better life. The current system of borders is profoundly unfair – capital is allowed to move freely while human beings are policed, harassed, and detained.

Furthermore, many migrants arrived to the United States because of how U.S. imperialism forced their home countries to serve the economic and political interests of the United States ruling class. This international servitude has historically been enforced through coups, trade deals, and proxy warfare, impoverishing the home countries as their wealth is largely siphoned to the United States and other Western nations.

Imperialism creates conditions of “super-exploitation” for workers in oppressed nations, where workers toil under harsher conditions and with fewer rights in order to maximize profits for the foreign capitalists pulling the strings. These conditions of super-exploitation persist when workers migrate to the U.S. without official documentation: they lack legal protections and live under the constant threat of deportation, making it near impossible to demand better working conditions.

The common liberal position on “immigration reform” leaves out much to be desired; we do not crave guest worker programs that benefit big businesses; we do not believe that the main reason to defend the rights of undocumented immigrants is because no one else will do “those jobs”. We think that someone’s worth as a person is not tied with how much economic growth that they will generate. As democratic socialists and internationalists, we are uniquely positioned to take a stand on this issue in ways that other groups will not.

Finally, through making this campaign a key area of work in the next few years, DSA will distinguish itself as an organization on the left that is honestly committed with transforming U.S. society. By genuinely demonstrating our solidarity, we will increase trust and build bridges toward communities of color to construct a cohesively diverse and inclusive democratic socialist organization.

How exactly will we apply direct pressure to the campaign target, and how/why is DSA specifically well-positioned to do so?

DSA is a growing, radical, multi-issue and multi-identity organization with chapters all over the U.S. All of these factors make DSA especially well-suited to launching a locality-based sanctuary campaign.

Tactics of this campaign would include both applying political pressure to elected officials (shaming political leaders – especially progressive ones – do stand up for what they say they believe in) as well as conducting non-violent direct actions designed to slow or block the government’s machinery of detention and deportation. Actions of the latter sort always need to be carefully planned and discussed with members of the immigrant rights community, even if no individuals from those groups will directly participate.

One more point should be made about direct actions. Many community-based immigrant rights organizations are (rightfully) apprehensive about carrying out visible protest actions right now, because members of these groups or their friends, families, and neighbors could be targeted for detention and deportation in response. DSA chapters can mobilize people in solidarity with undocumented immigrants who will not themselves be faced with these threats. This kind of solidarity activism has a long history in the United States, going back to the 1960s Freedom Riders, white college students who stood with the Black liberation movements knowing they would not face the same level of racist violence from police and white supremacists.

Who is the organized opposition/who are potential allies?

The most crucial allies for this campaign are grassroots and non-profit immigrant rights organizations who are already fighting this fight. DSA should reach out to these groups and take direction from them, create platforms for their members to speak, and develop action plans in close collaboration with community members.

 

A version of this resolution has been submitted to the resolution’s committee of the DSA convention. It has been integrated into Resolution 41 for consideration.  The document was collectively written by the Sanctuary City Working Group of DSA-LA with major contributions from Femi Taiwo, Noah Goldman, Jack Linares, and Eric Gardner.

 

 

 

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