Donald Trump’s assault on migrants stepped up a gear last week with intensified round-ups and evidence of forced labour for people awaiting deportation.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are recruiting police to join in rounding up migrants.
They have also begun to check people disembarking from internal flights.
Amy Grunder from the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy coalition (Mira) spoke to Socialist Worker.
“Trump’s executive order effectively targets all immigrants and refugees, especially undocumented immigrants,” she said.
“It relies on the aggressive conscription of state and local police to participate in civil immigration enforcement.”
In Massachusetts community and faith groups are getting behind a Safe Communities Act.
It will make it illegal for cops to operate “under 287g status, which gives sheriff’s deputies the same authority as ICE agents,” explained Laura Wagner.
Wagner, who is from the Unitarian Universalist Mass Action Network, spoke to Socialist Worker about how they are “establishing sanctuary houses of worship”.
“They will provide physical sanctuary to those at risk of deportation and establish a rapid response network to respond to an increased ICE presence,” she said.
“Here in Massachusetts, ICE is now using mobile biometric equipment and using this to run their finger prints wherever the person is stopped.
“People in the immigrant community are scared here. People are scared to go out in public at all. These reports are the same all over the country.”
Meanwhile, a collective class action lawsuit was filed last week. It alleges tens of thousands of migrants awaiting deportation were forced to work in prison.
They were threatened with solitary confinement if they refused. The lawsuit focuses on the Denver Correction Facility in Colorado, run by the private GEO Group under a contract with ICE.
Shares in private security firms rocketed last week after Trump reversed Barack Obama’s move to scrap private prisons.
He also announced that he will propose a £43 trillion increase in military spending, which will also further militarise the police.
Trump’s approval ratings are already the lowest on record for this stage of a presidency. If they continue to plummet, it is increasingly likely he’ll look to desperate solutions in an attempt to boost them.
Actions were planned across the US on Wednesday by International Women’s Strike and by the organisers of the Women’s Marches in January.
Fight new Muslim ban
The bigot-in-chief Donald Trump signed a new executive order denying citizens from six Muslim-majority countries entry to the US on Monday.
The ban is a replacement for the one introduced last month that sparked protests at airports across the US.
One difference is that it does not include Iraqi citizens. It comes into effect on 16 March.
The ban targets Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen over “heightened concerns about terrorism”. It says nothing about the crimes of the US’s allies.
The previous ban had left out religious minorities from the seven targeted countries.
The new one is a blanket ban on all religious groups from the six targeted countries. This is an effort to avoid the legal challenges that had undermined the initial travel ban.
The new order needs to be fought with the same militancy as the first one.
Unions step up a gear
Workers at a Nissan car plant marched in Canton, Mississippi, last Saturday. They are demanding trade union recognition, an end to poverty pay and management bullying.
Nissan has received £2.4 million in subsidies, yet some workers get as little as £10 an hour.
Senator Bernie Sanders, who attended the protest, said, “In this case, we have a company with 45 factories and 42 of them are already unionised”.
Some 80 percent of the 5,000 workers at the site are black. That has led to the slogan of “workers’ rights are civil rights”.
“All labour has dignity,” said protester Morris Mock. “We’re tired of getting hurt on the job, we’re tired of women getting sexually harassed on the job.
“We believe that the workers deserve better.”