To all our familia who are now reflecting on the Trump regime’s cruel rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, we are in solidarity with you. Whatever the future may hold, know that there are individuals and organizations, including our own, who will stand unconditionally in support of your right to live a life free from the confines of capitalist borders and fear. Now is a time to reflect on why we are here and what will be needed to strengthen our comunidad for the struggles to come. As the saying goes, la lucha sigue!
DACA was a temporary executive order signed by the Obama administration in 2012. It granted some legal rights, mainly work permits and traveling rights, to hundreds of thousands of young people. The requirement was that these youth had to have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday and prior to 2007. They had to have a “clean” record, which meant that they could not have been convicted of misdemeanors or felonies. Commonly, these amazing youth were referred to as “Dreamers.” Almost 2 million people were eligible for the program. It meant access to a university education with an opportunity to take out loans and apply for grants and scholarships. It meant traveling to their place of birth for the first time in recent memory. The benefits were real and so, to see it end, means that the pain is real too.
The Obama administration and the Democrats were forced to finally offer some crumbs to the mass and militant movement of immigrants, the immigrant rights groups, jóvenes, due to the fear that no concessions would mean a growing independence from the establishment. Our movement for immigrant justice had waited too long. In 2006, the sleeping giant, awoke. It showed its power in millions of people in the streets from Chicago to Milwaukee, from New York to Los Angeles to Houston. The racist Sensenbrenner bill which sought to criminalize immigrants and anyone who hired them was shut down instantly. That movement, not yet fully organized, was co-opted by the Democrats and played a significant factor in guaranteeing a historic election for their party. In 2008, not only was there the historic election of the first Black president, Barack Obama, but the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate for the first time in decades. Anything was possible, until they claimed it was impossible.
In 2010, the Democrats lost the majorities to the Republicans and so began their excuses. No longer were the demands of the movement realistic. The community had to wait for the elections of 2012. In the meantime, the racist right wing continued to gain headway. In 2011, with the fascistic SB 1070 of Arizona and the equally horrible Georgia HB 87, the Democrats begged us to wait and be “pragmatic” as the laws we heard about in history books were becoming reality once more. But the youth, who are the necessary life-force of any revolutionary movement, became characteristically impatient. The “Dreamers” arose and occupied the offices of politicians. They took to the media with their courageous stories and won over the public. For better or for worse, their narrative of being the ideal candidates for acceptance by and the betterment of the system moved the country to support immigration reform. DACA became the easy way out. The three-year temporary status made it an even better deal given that it would be a bargaining chip in the 2016 elections.
What the liberal establishment did not expect was for the movement they thought they had successfully “co-opted” to keep fighting for more. A left wing of the “Dreamer” movement correctly pointed out that the Obama administration continued to deport hundreds of thousands of people. Becoming the aptly labeled “Deporter-in-Chief,” the Obama administration was the presidency with the most deportations in history, with almost 2 million deportations. Knowing that many would not get rights unless action was taken, the #Not1More organized militant actions across the country, igniting the creativity of a new generation in 2013-2014. From shutting down ICE buses to closing freeways and ICE offices, the youth made it clear they had #NoPapersNoFear.
New and important voices emerged with powerful luchadoras y luchadores like Jennicet Gutiérrez Gutiérrez, who boldly interrupted Obama during his LGBTQ pride reception speech in the White House to highlight the inhumane detention of translatinas and all undocumented people. After the crises in Mexico around the disappeared students of Ayotzinapa and the rise of refugees from Central America due to political instability and poverty forced upon the region by U.S. foreign policy, these youth connected the dots between U.S. imperialism and the struggle for justice here at home.
Once again, the Democrats desperately tried to rally the Movement behind its Party regime. The chosen candidate of the officialdom, the capitalist elite of the liberals, was Hillary Clinton. Clinton, the icon of the establishment, sounded like more of the same. She promised another “reform,” no different than that claimed in 2008. It was as if eight years of struggle had never happened. Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist, inspired millions, and many in the Movement were attracted to his program that promised a more just immigration policy more aligned to its demands. But, the Democrats didn’t plan on changing, it was only the way that they sold the lies that changed.
So after the rise of the Trump regime and emerging white supremacists, we are legally left with what we had in 2008. But our Movement is not the same. Yesterday, thousands of people took to the streets to protest #45’s decision to rescind DACA. Their energy is that which participates in every protest of this time period. From the Movement for Black Lives to the Women’s March, our community connects the dots of our struggle and sees that capitalism is at the center of our common oppression. It is with these people that we must build.
The history here is presented as a tension between movements and bourgeois elections. There is no equivalency between the two. Social movements are the most powerful force of revolutionary change. But the lesson should be that unless the social movements are organized in a revolutionary direction, bourgeois elections, and all those organizations and individuals who funnel that movement into this farce, will dictate the course of our future. We must discuss and present the history of this movement to the new generation that yesterday took to the streets. These jóvenes have the fire of Occupy, the Black Lives Matter Movement, the Resistance Movement and to some extent the enthusiasm of the Bernie movement. They are the future and we cannot waste more of their lives in a hopeless and demoralizing cycle of Democrats and Republicans, all the while white supremacists take hold of this country and the rich opportunistically cheer them on to continue reaping profits from super economic exploitation and war.
On Sept. 15-17, an opportunity will be had to build an alternative. The Peoples’ Congress of Resistance will bring together people from all over the country and from many struggles to develop a genuine political program worth fighting for. Point 3 of the Manifesto talks about the need for “Peace and Solidarity: ending militarism, colonialism and imperialism.” It reads “No more deportations. No more occupations, walls, sanctions and regime changes. … The People’s Congress of Resistance stands for a foreign policy based on friendship, peace and international solidarity.” From this Congress, we can push back against the Republicans and the Democrats and win over the public to a future where we no longer play their game. Follow the Congress and continue building the Movement. The present is struggle, the future is ours.