Queens community members rallied in Corona Plaza on Aug. 11 against ICE raids and to build the movement for immigrant rights. The rally demanded an end to mass raids and called for “Liberation, not deportation!”
Organizers were responding to U.S. immigration raids on numerous Mississippi food processing plants Aug. 7, arresting 680 mostly Latino workers in the largest workplace sting in at least a decade.
“We are here to come together and defend one another– we are here to fight. If ICE comes to Queens we’re going to make sure everyone has the information necessary to defend themselves, the information that can help make sure they don’t take you away, because this is a community of immigrants and we are staying here!” said organizer and Queens native Cathy Rojas. Half of the 2.4 million people in Queens were born in another country.
Organizers gave out leaflets breaking down these rights, such as the requirement that in order to legally enter your apartment ICE agents must have a warrant signed by a judge.
The rally organizers are shifting conversations on immigration to highlight the U.S. government’s training of dictators and paramilitary death squads across Latin America, causing widespread violence through coups, such as the 2009 coup in Honduras, and causing people to flee. Speakers also pointed to the damage caused by NAFTA , for example, devastating Mexico’s rural economy by flooding markets there with U.S. products.
“Immigrants work in some of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in this country. Immigrants pay taxes, but are barred from social services. And why are they here? Because of American imperialism, which has caused massive destruction all so capitalists can get even richer. As socialists, we stand with the working class across borders and are committed to defending our communities from these raids and, ultimately, to building a new system where the wealth of society belongs to those who produce it—the workers,” said the organizers’ statement.
Called by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the rally sought to amplify mass peoples’ movement, building on a legacy of immigration organizing successes from the fight for amnesty by DACAs (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival), and drawing inspiration from the major mobilizations in 2006 against racist anti-immigrant bills.
The speakout and outreach are part of a wave of organizing in Queens and throughout the country in response to the spike in mass deportations, waged under Democrat and Republican presidents alike that became even more inhumane under President Trump. As atrocities including children dying and being trafficked continue, many activists call not just to abolish ICE and racist immigration policies, but to address the fundamental issue of U.S. empire driving displacement in the first place.