Socialist Worker

Protesters across the US defy Trump’s federal shutdown blackmail

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2637

Part of one of the weekends demonstrations

Part of one of the weekend's demonstrations (Pic: Migrant and Refugee Solidarity Coalition)


Protesters across the US have defied the racist US president Donald Trump’s attempt to force politicians to push through £5 billion in funding for his infamous border wall. He is refusing to sign off on the federal budget until the money is agreed on by Democrats.

Trump has claimed that there is a “crisis” at the border which amounts to a national emergency. By declaring a national emergency he could use money reserved for such situations to construct the wall, bypassing a vote in congress.

At the border with Mexico hundreds of people have protested to demand migrants be allowed to come to the US safely. Right wing groups—including fascists and others on the far right—have also protested at the border.

Brendan Cassidy has been attending pro-migrant protests at the US-Mexico border near to where he lives in San Diego over the past month. He spoke to Socialist Worker before attending the latest protest on Saturday. “There were 200 people at the protest yesterday and we’re expecting a similar number today,” he said.

Affected

“The community of people who live here have long been affected by the oppression of the border, but in the last couple of months things have reached boiling point. Even folks who don’t want to take a political role have been affected.”

He said the border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego has been shut down twice “while US border agents threw tear gas over the wall.”

In towns and cities across the US people protested outside government buildings in solidarity with those stuck at the border.

The partial shutdown of the federal government has meant that 800,000 federal workers have not been paid for four weeks. It is now the longest such shutdown in US history.

Workers are taking desperate measures to avoid destitution. In Washington DC alone some 4,500 federal workers have signed on for unemployment benefit. Others have been forced to take out pay day loans because their pay cheques have stopped and bills are piling up.

Across the country there have been protests and other action by the workers affected and their supporters. On Thursday some 250 people marched from the headquarters of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization's office in Washington DC to the White House.

The Democratic Party is racist to its core. It doesn’t care about migrants stuck at the border.

Brendan from San Diego said that messages of support have been coming from “across the country. Donations have been driven here from everywhere as well.”

He added that there was “untapped potential in reaching out to the trade union movement”, but that the SEIU services union and different socialist organisations had provided solidarity.

On Wednesday Trump stormed out of a meeting with senior Democrats supposedly designed to bring an end to the manufactured border crisis. It followed his racist rant in the first 2019 Oval Office address of his presidency. In it he attacked migrants for bringing in “vast quantities of illegal drugs” to the US and for causing “thousands of deaths”.

Trump continued by saying, “The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only—because Democrats will not fund border security.”

But the Democratic Party is racist to its core. It doesn’t care about migrants stuck at the border. It has already said it will vote through funding for the usual cocktail of razor wire, guns and guard dogs for the border.

On top of this, senior Democrats have even argued for beefed-up border security, just not the wall that Trump is demanding.

The status quo at the US border which the Democrats are defending means a regime of “no accountability”, said Brendan. “It won’t say who has been arrested or if those detained have been charged with crimes.”

He said that “we can’t change Trump’s heart,” arguing that the main challenge for activists is to challenge those “who hear Trump’s message and don’t see any problem with it".


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