Statement from FIRE: Fight for refugees and im/migrants everywhere!

By a guest author
June 26, 2018

Resistance is rising to fight U.S. atrocities against im/migrants and refugees, with massive marches set for June 30. Taking part in those protests, including at the U.S./Mexico border in McAllen, Texas, is the new group, FIRE, which issued the following call:

The news from the border has been impossible to ignore, even for those who tend to overlook the war on im/migrants. Parents weep as their children are ripped from their arms to be taken to concentration camps and placed in cages. The Border Patrol shoots an unarmed indigenous Guatemalan woman in the head. A trans woman fleeing patriarchal violence is left to die in a so-called “ice box.”

But is this inhumanity and destruction of families new to this country? How many families were destroyed in the genocide and forced displacement of the Indigenous Nations of this land? During slavery, African people were auctioned off after being torn from their families and put in chains. In the 1940s the U.S. forced Japanese immigrants and their descendants into internment camps. In recent times, the prison system, for-profit or government-run, has separated millions from their families and communities.

FIRE — Fight for Im/migrants and Refugees Everywhere — is a newly formed, multinational, multigender, grassroots movement comprised of migrant rights advocates, students, teachers, unionists, socialists, Black Lives Matter, anti-imperialists and other activists. We believe that not just the Republican Party, but the Democratic Party as well, is to blame for this crisis. Migrants have been forced into the U.S. and Europe because of policies hatched in Washington and Wall Street. People fighting on their own behalf is the only solution.

The aim of FIRE is to melt ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Not to reform it, or change its management, or any other half-measure. To fight for im/migrants, we must get rid of ICE entirely. It means dismantling concentration camps for immigrants and tearing down any racist border wall that Trump tries to build. Fighting for refugees means understanding that many im/migrants are fleeing conditions at home created by the U.S. And we must understand the global character of this crisis.

The root cause of migration in this age is imperialism, the highest stage of capitalist development. Whether through wars and military strikes in the Middle East, far-right coups in Honduras in 2009 and Brazil in 2016, or draining countries’ wealth so they are unable to respond to natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti, imperialism creates the conditions that im/migrants and refugees are fleeing.

The ruling class also creates refugees through its blatant disregard for the environment, even as floods, storms and/or expanding deserts displace millions. Climate change and capitalist austerity have devastated Puerto Rico, leaving almost 5,000 dead and displacing tens of thousands more.

This criminal treatment is not unique to the U.S. While trying to pass refugees onto neighboring countries, many European states confiscate their valuables before placing them in camps. The imperialist countries vie for cheap labor and natural resources while cooperating to deny the most basic humanity to their victims.

This country’s working class has not sat idly by. There have been demonstrations in cities across the country, including occupations of ICE centers, with countless more planned for the coming weeks.

In the face of working-class power, the Trump administration has hastily issued an executive order, hoping to pacify the growing people’s resistance. But facts are stubborn, and this so-called “retreat” does not begin to end the policy of family separation.

Trump hopes to resolve the crisis by replacing child concentration camps with family ones, as if the problem were not the concentration camps themselves! At the same time, he ramped up the status of “illegal” border crossings from a civil offense to a criminal one. Once parents have a criminal conviction, the state again has free rein to take their children! The executive order also allows migrants to be detained indefinitely and asks the Pentagon to open camps on military bases.

The Democratic Party and the corporate media loyal to it seem content with this “solution,” as long as it is followed up with an electoral victory in November. The Democrats are desperate to portray themselves as defenders of migrant families when in truth they were enthusiastic participants in creating this horror. Even beyond the record of “deporter in chief,” Obama, whose administration built many of these detention centers in the first place, or the Clinton-era law that drastically lowered the threshold for deportation, the Democrats have always been complicit in the crimes of U.S. imperialism.

It falls upon the workers and the oppressed of this country to fight to end these crimes and for liberation from the system that fosters them. We won’t be fooled by partial retreats and a kinder face to concentration camps. We call on the multinational, multigender working class to join with us to dismantle ICE and the racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic imperialist system that created it.

We ask you to help us do something simple, though not easy: Fight for Im/migrants and Refugees Everywhere — FIRE!

To contact FIRE: Website, email, postal address FIRE, c/o Solidarity Center, 147 West 24th Street, New York, NY, 10011, or call 212-633-6646.