The worldwide pandemic of the COVID-19 virus has revealed to many that a global system that prioritizes profits and market-based solutions to crises fails to meet the basic needs of the working class. In the U.S. the COVID-19 virus has reached over 53,000 cases with over 700 deaths. Rather than increasing access to healthcare and economic relief for the general population, Trump continues to increase imperialist sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, is trying to bail out corporate elites, and pushes the U.S. workforce to face further infection. Under these conditions, migrants and refugees are most at risk. In this moment of social distancing, the International Migrant Alliance - IMA USA uplifts the ongoing need for grassroots organizing and international solidarity. When governments place profits over people, we must rely on ourselves to meet our needs, advocate for our rights, and organize our power beyond this crisis.
As this virus rages on, ICE continues to raid working class communities, detaining migrants and separating families even in and around hospitals. ICE recently requested 45,000 N95 masks as “protective equipment” for its agents while healthcare workers on the frontlines of treating the growing outbreak are in short supply. Despite their claim of slowing immigration enforcement focusing only on “public safety risks,” we know that the only public safety threat to us and our communities are ICE agents and the lack of concern for this new public health crisis. In this moment, the last thing our communities need is a clandestine force terrorizing them. Raids must stop now!
Grassroots organizations such as La Resistencia have demanded that migrants and refugees in detention centers be released to prevent exposure to COVID-19. Given the documented lack of adequate healthcare and sanitary conditions in detention centers, the demands of freedom for the detained are that much more urgent. As of today, one detainee has already tested positive for COVID-19, and there are 3 active hunger strikes in Essex County, Hudson County, and Elizabeth detention centers in New Jersey. This will only get worse. Migrants and refugees in detention centers have long been suffering and exposed to inadequate health conditions while detained by ICE. Since October 2019, 10 people have died in their custody. People must be released now!
ICE continues to deport migrants, and CBP has paused refugee admissions, leaving many in precarious conditions at the U.S.-Mexico border. Although asylum has been essentially gutted by the Trump administration, this pause will further increase the number of refugees stranded in camps across the border with the “Migrant Protection Protocol,” also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) has been on the ground serving African and Black refugees at the border and have witnessed firsthand the dire conditions they face. Instead of addressing these conditions, Trump recently tweeted “THIS IS WHY WE NEED BORDERS,” only further fueling the racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric that harms our communities. The pandemic is not a result of migrants and refugees. It is a result of capitalist exploitation and imperialist plunder of natural resources. Government resources are needed for healthcare, and countries should be cooperating and sharing health technologies, tests, and cures, not border expansions or deportations. Deportations must end now!
Social distancing is important to stop the spread of the virus, but this does not mean our grassroots organizing must end. Now more than ever, we must engage in new and creative forms of building community and international solidarity. Grassroots organizations have been fundraising, sharing resources, and providing mutual aid, especially for uninsured, undocumented, and informal workers. The Filipino Migrant Center in Southern California and the Filipino Community Center in Northern California have partnered with other progressive organizations to deliver resources and services urgently needed by impacted communities through the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns’ Bayanihan Community Response to COVID-19. The Human Rights Alliance for Child Refugees and Families (HRA) has released the film Eternos Indocumentados for online streaming to provide an important analysis of the root causes of forced migration from Central America. We must continue to agitate, organize, and mobilize our communities through grassroots efforts. The COVID-19 is a pandemic, but the root cause of this crisis is the ongoing imperialist crisis. The people, including migrant workers and refugees from around the world, organizing together in struggle will overcome it!
Stop ICE raids!
Free them all!
Stop all deportations and end the MPP!
Agitate, Organize, and Mobilize!