Thousands of people protested last weekend across the US in defiance of Donald Trump’s horrific treatment of migrants and refugees.
They were mobilising against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) raids scheduled for this week.
The raids began on Sunday evening and were set to continue through the week, targeting 2,000 households in ten cities across the US.
Yet there are signs that the level of popular anger against the Ice raids has delayed or limited them. Trump first floated the idea of widespread raids to take place in June, but widespread anger forced him back.
Trump’s acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli said the crackdown was “about keeping the community safer”.
He said, “Just the expectations impose such a deterrent effect—what we call the ‘Trump Effect’.”
The “Trump Effect” has been to push racism even further into US society, and give even more confidence to those with the most reactionary ideas. Two reports last week showed the extent of this.
A secret immigration officers’ Facebook page revealed the deep racism among the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency.
Members make racist and violent jokes against immigrants.
And a further report by The Intercept news website found that the head of the US Border Patrol Carla Provost was a member of the group.
It gives the lie to claims by Trump’s vice president Mike Pence’s that migrants are being looked after by “compassionate” individuals.
Pence was showing reporters around immigration detention centres last Friday in an effort to paint the administration as humane. The move backfired spectacularly. Reporters tweeted the shocking conditions they witnessed, which contradicted the CBP’s account.
Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post tweeted, “VP saw 384 men sleeping inside fences, on concrete with no pillows or mats.
“They said they hadn’t showered in weeks, wanted toothbrushes, food. Stench was overwhelming.”
CBP “said they were fed regularly, could brush daily, recently got access to shower (many hadn’t for 10-20 days).”
The Democratic Party’s response to Trump’s assault on migrants has been to suggest practical ways to implement it.
One such measure is to establish asylum processing centres throughout Central America for people wishing to enter the US.
People would have to present themselves and wait to have their asylum claims considered, leaving them vulnerable to the forces they are trying to escape.
And just two weeks ago the party voted through a funding package that gives cash to Trump’s migrant prisons.
The protests and solidarity action are a way to make Trump back down.
There should be no illusions in the Democrats when it comes to the fight for migrant rights.
Trump’s racist outburst ramps up the rhetoric
Trump turned his racist rhetoric up to maximum over the weekend.
He tweeted that four Democratic politicians should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.
“Then come back and show us how it is done.”
Three of the four were born in the US.
The third came to the US from Somalia as a child.
Many commentators have seized on the event as conclusive proof of Trump’s racism. Yet Trump has been a vocal racist for decades.
Senior Democratic politician Nancy Pelosi attacked Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again” as really being “about making America white again”.
Yet Pelosi has consistently given ground to Trump’s attacks on migrants, and has backed funding for more border security.