On July 12, members of ANSWER Coalition and the Party for Socialism and Liberation joined thousands of people for a vigil outside the Metropolitan Detention Center in Downtown Los Angeles. The vigil at Los Angeles’s primary ICE processing center — one of numerous “Lights for Liberty” events happening across the United States — was a powerful display of grassroots solidarity for the countless immigrants and asylum-seekers who continue to endure state-sanctioned violence at the hands of ICE, Border Patrol and DHS agents. Speakers included immigrant labor organizers, child psychologists, Jewish faith leaders, and an unaccompanied minor who was housed in a “hierla,” one of the freezing-cold, cramped holding cells used in immigration detention facilities.
Speaker after speaker outlined the conditions of these “detention centers” as the stuff of nightmares: hundreds of people crammed into cages like factory-farmed animals; unsupervised babies forced to sleep on cold concrete floors; frightened children crying for their parents; human beings routinely denied access to food, water, showers, and medical care. Solitary confinement, sexual abuse, and other forms of physical and psychological violence have been widely reported by detainees. Thousands of migrants have been quarantined after outbreaks of measles and mumps.
The Trump administration continues to insist that there are no problems with the detention centers — and to some extent, that’s true. Immigration laws are drafted and enforced to restrict access to labor and resources, instill terror, and create scapegoats out of asylum-seekers. Like all efforts to protect the interests of the ruling class, U.S. border “protection” is necessarily violent, so the detention centers are serving their function perfectly.
ICE, family separation, deportation, and all forms of violent border supremacy existed long before the Trump administration and will continue to exist in some form regardless of who is in office precisely because they are useful tools for protecting bourgeois interests. U.S. imperialism and “regime change” continues to destabilize the Global South, creating poverty and violence so intolerable that people continue to seek asylum in the “Land of the Free.”
This is why the working class must organize across borders and build international solidarity. We cannot let the reactionary rhetoric of politicians further divide the working class — nor can we settle for anemic liberal immigration reforms that only serve to hide the violence from public view without addressing the imperialist root of the issue. We must fight for an end to deportation, imperialism and capitalist excess at the expense of the working poor until all are free.