January 28th was marked by two incredible actions: on one side, Trump’s administration brutally implemented the Executive Order to ban the entrance of citizens from 7 “Muslim” countries (Libya, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) to the U.S. – a measure now known as the “Muslim Ban”; and on the other, the tremendous show of resistance and solidarity from growing multi-ethnic crowds flooding the airports.
By Workers’ Voice – U.S.
The Drastic Impact of the “Muslim Ban” and Popular Resistance
The ban targets both legal immigrants (with valid Visas and Green Cards) for whom entrance is suspended for 90 days, and refugees with a longer 120 days ban. The result is that today dozens and dozens of individuals and families are being detained in U.S. airports while awaiting deportation since Friday, January 27th.
This ban will have a major repercussion in the life of hundreds of thousands migrants and citizens coming or intending to return to the U.S. The 90 days ban for legal immigrants will affect “about 25,000 citizens from the seven countries specified in Trump’s ban [and ones that] have been issued student or employment visas in the past three years,” and the “almost 500,000 people from the seven countries [that] have received green cards in the past decade, allowing them to live and work in the United States indefinitely” (half of them are Iraqis and Iranians).
Furthermore, the 120 days ban for refugees will cause “the total number of refugees resettled in the US [to] fall from 110,000 in 2016 to 50,000 in 2017.” And the situation is worse for Syrians, given that “not a single Syrian refugee will be admitted to the US until Trump himself, in royal fashion, determines that the Refugee Admissions Program is in “alignment with our national interest”.” as the Guardian reports.
Yet the response of U.S. workers and communities to the vicious Islamophobic attacks from the government has been exemplary: as soon as people heard these detentions were happening, thousands flooded the airports, the most high-security spaces in our country, to protests these outrageous actions. It started with New York’s JFK airport, which saw more than 3,000 protesters initially, and then it spread to San Francisco, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston, Orlando and many others. Protests continued on January 29th until the authorities freed all detainees and let them enter the U.S.. They are scheduled to start again if any other refugees or immigrants are detained again. Protesters were singing: “No Hate, No Fear, Refugees Are Welcome Here!,” “No Ban, No Wall, Sanctuary for All!”
There is a growing sector of U.S. society that has decided to stand in solidarity with Muslim, Mexican and all immigrant communities under attack. We need to expand it and have a plan to defeat the government.
The Exemplary Strike of the New York Taxi Alliance
On January 28th , the 19,000 New York Taxi Workers Alliance union issued the following immediate statement and declaration of action: “Our 19,000-member-strong union stands firmly opposed to Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. As an organization whose membership is largely Muslim, a workforce that’s almost universally immigrant, and a working-class movement that is rooted in the defense of the oppressed, we say no to this inhumane and unconstitutional ban. (…) Today, drivers are joining the protest at JFK Airport in support of all those who are currently being detained at the airport because of Trump’s unconstitutional executive order. Drivers stand in solidarity with refugees coming to America in search of peace and safety and with those who are simply trying to return to their homes here in America after traveling abroad. We stand in solidarity with all of our peace-loving neighbors against this inhumane, cruel, and unconstitutional act of pure bigotry.” The NYTWA went on strike and hundreds of taxis refused to work in solidarity with the detainees and joined the actions of the protesters.
The labor action of the NYTWA is a beautiful example of working class solidarity that must be replicated all over the labor movement. Even though Uber attempted to bust their strike, it was unsuccessful, and now thousands of Uber users are canceling their accounts with the scab company that wanted to benefit from the NYTWA strike to make more money. Lyft, another ride-share contracting company, has instead given $1 million to the ACLU for fear that their clients will too leave their services and use instead the unionized taxi sector. Both Lyft and Uber have been trying to defeat unionization efforts among their workforce and de-regularize prices and working conditions for private transportation. Thus, the action of the NYTWA is a perfect example of how a labor union can both defend civil rights and at the same time build and expand its union base to win more “bread and butter issues.”
The Mobilization of of Progressive Lawyers Against the Muslim Ban
Another sector that immediately jumped in to support the migrants and refugees being detained, showing real solidarity in action, was the legal community. Dozens of lawyers flooded the airports to work pro-bono for the detainees and to issue Habeas Corpus petitions. They were sitting on the floor, working against the clock on their laptops, until very late at night. Many other lawyers and legal observers joined the protests to make sure no one was illegally detailed during the protests.
Yet that was not all, all civil rights and legal organizations are deeply shocked and furious at what they consider a blatant violation of the American constitution and fundamental rights. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) filed on Saturday a lawsuit against the Trump administration on behalf of two detainees and many are campaigning against this ban on the basis that it is unconstitutional.
Furthermore, in less than 2 days more than 10,000 university professors, scientists, Nobel prizes winners and other education and research related constituents signed a public petition opposing the Executive Order.
The Trump Administration Spinning Into Chaos
The legal pressure exerted by the ACLU and others got a federal judge in New York, Judge Ann Donnelly, to issue a court order to prevent the expulsion. The word of the day inside the legal system is that of confusion and appallment. Most legal authorities at the airports are not respecting the court order issued by Donelly, which is creating even more animosity between the legal community and law enforcement authorities in the airports. Now different airports are enforcing slightly different policies.
Mr. Priebus, Trump’s Chief of Staff, had to respond to the public pressure on Sunday and he made very clear that the government is not going to back down yet: “We apologize for nothing here!.” And while some White House officials are scaling back now the extend of Trump’s ban (arguing that Green Card holders will not be prevented from returning to the U.S.), Priebus reinforced the directive to give border agents “discretionary authority” in this matter. The total situation of chaos and anger provoked by Trump’s E.O. is raising major concerns worldwide too, and the crisis is far from being closed despite the fact that all of the detainees were released by Sunday night after 48 hours of constant and growing mobilization.
Next Steps: Let’s Unite Our Struggles Against Trump’s Attacks
Now many voices of world governments officials and even U.S. corporations are rising to criticize Trump’s ban, yet this public outrage and concern around the Islamophobic measures of Trump is the direct result of an unexpected and unprecedented popular mobilization to defend the very “underdog” communities in our country. The U.S. government labeled since Bush and Obama our Muslim and Arab brothers and sisters as potential “terrorists.” This weekend many of us rejected that racist and Islamophobic framework. Today more than ever we say: collective action gets the goods! Mass direct action works!
We must build an independent movement, independent from the government institutions and both the Republican and Democratic Party, to fight back against all of these attacks together: the Muslim Ban, the “wall” with Mexico and increase deportations (ICE has started again terrorizing communities), the KXL and DAPL pipelines which violate indigenous rights and are a threat to the environment, and also the new restriction on abortion. We know there are many other attacks to come, but we need to stand together to defend each other, and we need to appeal to the labor movement to join us and refuse to follow the AFL-CIO leadership which has chosen to “collaborate” with Trump.
No Ban, No Wall, Sanctuary for All!
No to Islamophobia and Racism!
Open the Borders, Papers for All!