Defend International Students!
Defeat Attacks Against Immigrants!
Statement of the Revolutionary Internationalist Youth
On Monday, July 6, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) launched a vicious attack against international students. Students pursuing high-school, higher education and vocational studies through F-1 and M-1 visas now “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.” So decreed the U.S. immigration Gestapo. For these students, the options are limited: 1) if schools and programs have not adopted either an in-person or hybrid method of instruction, they must transfer to a college or university that meets federal regulations; or 2) leave the U.S. or be deported.
This is the latest in the chain of xenophobic attacks, targeting over one million of our brothers and sisters who are international students . It comes as hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest racist oppression and the police murder of George Floyd and so many others. The Revolutionary Internationalist Youth (youth section of the Internationalist Group) says: an attack against one is an attack against us all. We call for labor/black/immigrant action against racist police and anti-immigrant terror, and to stop this vile attack on international students.
More than 350,000 international students come from China. Over 200,000 from India. And tens of thousands more, respectively, from South Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Mexico and Brazil, among many other countries. We all know that the purpose of measures such as this outright purge against international students is not to “curtail” or “defeat” the coronavirus, whatever the bigots in Washington may claim. The profit-driven, racist capitalist system in the U.S. is incapable of even basic effective measures amid the pandemic. It has continued spreading the virus while seeking to hold off a complete collapse of the medical system by sending sick people back to their homes to infect their families. Putting into effect Trump’s ravings against the “foreign invader,” the new I.C.E. measure means further exportation of the virus even as it surges through one region after another within the U.S.
At the City University of New York (CUNY), there are about 9,000 international students. There are over 40,000 at the University of California. These are our fellow students and classmates and we will not stand by and watch them be dragged away. The Revolutionary Internationalist Youth demands: Let them stay! Students, faculty and staff must fight to bring out the power of organized labor to stop the deportations and xenophobic attacks on immigrant students .
This latest display of sadistic bigotry comes after:
- Hundreds of asylum-seeking migrant children and adolescents were summarily deported to Guatemala and Honduras at the start of the pandemic without being able to plead their case or, in many cases, even speak to social workers. Now over 2,000 unaccompanied children have been sent back, and the Supreme Court has ruled that the U.S. government can deport asylum seekers without formal court proceedings.
- Additionally, faulty coronavirus testing methods, like inconclusive temperature checks, have meant that thousands of coronavirus-positive migrants have been deported, with 351 flights to Latin America and the Caribbean since February (“Exporting the Virus,” The Intercept, 26 June 2020). Countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have been forced to take in tens of thousands of deported immigrants a month.
- Moreover, a 60-day freeze on employment-based visas targeting health-care, education and tech professions, issued in April, has been extended to the end of the year to “reserve 525,000 jobs for American citizens” because, according to the Trump White House proclamation (June 22), immigrant workers supposedly pose “an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”
- Meanwhile, the Education Department’s $6 billion emergency relief to students under the CARES Act was granted to citizens and legal residents only, as per Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s orders.
- This came on top of the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from receiving stimulus checks or filing for unemployment. Immigrants are facing a dire situation as their savings (if they have any) are quickly used up on everyday essentials. While living under what amounts to a police state, the threat of deportation looms.
- Now the end of moratoriums on evictions in New York and other states is set to cause a deluge of evictions, in which immigrants will be among those hit first and hardest.
This horrendous situation is a bipartisan-orchestrated affair. As Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats push for a Senate vote on the HEROES act, best believe there will again be no relief for the over 11 million undocumented immigrants (and their families), many of whom are deemed “essential workers.”
Break with the Democrats – For Socialist Revolution!
CUNY Internationalists initiated protests bringing out hundreds of students, immigrant workers, teachers and community activists to stop “war purge” of undocumented students after 9/11.
After 11 September 2001, the CUNY administration attempted a university-wide “war purge” of undocumented immigrants. As “illegal aliens” they were declared a threat to “national security” by both Republicans and Democrats. How was this purge to be accomplished? By hiking the tuition of immigrant students, thus forcing large numbers out. The Internationalist Group initiated protests bringing together hundreds of students, immigrant workers, teachers and community activists to stop this attack and demand “Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!” and defeated this despicable act of “patriotism” by the administration.1
Then when the first iteration of the racist “Muslim ban” was signed in January 2017, the CUNY Internationalist Clubs organized protests outside of Hunter College denouncing the xenophobic targeting of immigrants from majority-Muslim countries. As a result, the CUNY Internationalist Clubs formed the Committee to Defend Immigrants and Muslims. We wrote then, “It is the responsibility of students, faculty and workers to help defend our brothers and sisters who are being targeted by this racist onslaught” and not look to the administration or Board of Trustees. This holds true today. We must be prepared to shut the campuses down in the event I.C.E. tries to enter the schools or deport any student or employee.
The capitalist ruling class every day attempts to convince us that the enemy resides within a foreign camp. But the enemy is here at home – Wall Street, Washington, Democrats and Republicans alike, the bourgeois parties of the foremost imperialist country in the world. The Democrats pretend to be friends of immigrants, while stabbing them in the back and using them as political pawns. And the Trump administration is seizing on the pandemic to ram through anti-immigrant policies to rival the record of ex-Deporter-in-Chief Barack Obama.
To put an end, once and for all, to raids and deportations, students and workers must break from all illusions in the Democratic Party, and all capitalist parties. Defending immigrants requires real power capable of coming up against the capitalist state – the power of the working class organized in a revolutionary workers party to fight for socialist revolution, the only way to uphold the rights of all the oppressed. ■
- 1. See the Internationalist pamphlet, Defend Immigrant Students – Defeat CUNY’s “War Purge” (December 2001)