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The Internationalist
March 2021

For Workers Action to Shut Down I.C.E. Concentration Camps

Stop Biden’s Deportations, Let the Kids Go!

Democrats, No Friends of Immigrants – Build a Revolutionary Workers Party

The Biden administration is holding child refugees in horrendous conditions. Above: the Donna, Texas Border Patrol processing center where as of March 30, some 4,100 unaccompanied minors are crammed into a facility designed to hold 250 people. Like deporter-in-chief Barack Obama, the Democrats talk immigration reform while holding tens of thousands in concentration camps, and deporting record numbers. The Internationalist Group calls for full citizenship rights for all immigrants and asylum for refugees from imperialist-devastated Central America. 
(Pool photo by Dario Lopez-Mills)

Joe Biden is facing his first immigration crisis, the product of the glaring disconnect between the Democratic Party’s “immigrant-friendly” rhetoric and its running of the brutal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) deportation machine. In its first month in office, the new administration deported just under 29,000 people, according to statistics on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) site. That figure doesn’t even include tens of thousands of immigrants picked up in the border area and simply “returned” to Mexico. And then, after February 23, the daily count suddenly stopped being reported.

Meanwhile, there has been an explosion of the number of unaccompanied children and teenagers from Central America arriving at the border: 9,400 in February alone, triple the number in 2020. Under the Democrats, the Border Patrol is expelling any adults or families that they encounter, not even allowing refugees to apply for asylum, using a pandemic emergency rule instituted by the immigrant-bashing Republican Donald Trump. When unaccompanied minors are detained, under court orders they are supposed to be released from detention facilities within 72 hours. Instead, many young immigrants are being held in jails run by the Border Patrol. Some are penned up in an open-air “processing center” under a Texas highway bridge.

Others are being stashed in tents in a holding facility for young refugees and immigrants in Donna, Texas built for 250 people but now holding 1,000 [Editor's note: as of March 30, the number has risen to 4,100], many under age 10. As was the case under Trump, Biden’s DHS is denying public access to its jails, holding pens and concentration camps. However, according to the 1997 Flores settlement agreement allowing some inspection of government facilities holding children, two lawyers spoke with 20 children at Donna. They are being housed 40 to a room, partitioned only by plastic sheets, in the giant tents. Some had not been allowed to leave the tent for the entire time they had been there, and had gone for days without a shower.

When Trump issued his vindictive order to separate children from their parents in May 2018, there was a huge outcry. Tens of thousands went into the streets to denounce the Border Patrol child snatchers holding kids hostage. Photos of children being held in cages and sleeping on mats with only foil sheets to cover them provoked outrage. Yet, as we pointed out then, the facilities with cages for kids were built by the Democratic administration of Barack Obama, which first instituted family separation. Obama also deported more people than any other president (over 5 million, plus another 3 million just dumped across the border), at a rate 50% higher than Trump. Now Biden is holding kids in tents, sleeping on gym mats with foil “blankets,” as it plans to set up more camps for immigrants, at a convention center, an oil workers camp and an airfield.

So where is the outrage? Rather than massively protesting in the streets, liberals and the reformist left have largely limited themselves to lobbying the Biden administration for a change in policy. Meanwhile, the Democrats’ “immigration reform” supposedly offering a “path to citizenship” is set to be acted on by the House of Representatives. However, its chances of passing the Senate are nil, and not just because of Republican threats to filibuster. A number of “moderate” Democrats are now resisting calls for immigration reforms. Even bills to provide permanent residency to “Dreamers” who arrived in the U.S. when they were children and to farm workers are running into resistance. The reform plans are mainly political theater, appealing to immigrants and “progressives” to blame Republicans.

Internationalists at March 13 demo against deportations by the Biden administration at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York.  (Internationalist photo)

The Internationalist Group. Revolutionary Internationalist Youth and Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas (Class-Struggle Immigrant Workers) have attended some of the very few immigrants’ rights protests that have been held since Biden’s inauguration, in Los Angeles on February 26 and New York City on March 13, with our banners and signs calling “For Workers Action to Stop Deportations,” for “Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants,” “Smash the I.C.E. Gestapo with Workers Revolution,” and declaring “Biden: No Friend of Workers, Immigrants – Build a Workers Party!”  ■