Stop The Deportations: How To

“First [The Nazis] came for the socialists, and I did not speak out– for I’m not a socialist,” was often the first line of a speech Martin Niemöller, a WWII priest, used to make. The Trump Administration first came for the undocumented immigrants and refugees on Jan 27. The administration signed Executive Orders (EOs) expanding the number of undocumented immigrants eligible for deportation and blocking the entrance of refugees, and green card holders from a list of Middle Eastern countries, that the USA is bombing, from entering the USA. The American public is fighting, but they’ll need be persistent to win.

Photo Provided By ICE. Texas, Feb. 14.

The Administration has used its expansive executive powers to open a lot of battlefields for direct action and protest on all fronts. Trump has signed 12 EOs and 11 Memoranda since taking office three weeks ago. We’ve seen aggressions against immigrant and refugee rights, protest rights, sanctuary cities, Iran, environmental and financial regulations and protections, China, the government-hosted data associated with Climate Change and LGBT issues, the Congressional Ethics Committee, Nordstrom, SNL, the ACA, and National Park Service Twitter handles. Everything in the above list was attacked through either executive or congressional actions.

One advantage that people who oppose Trump’s agenda have over the Trump White House is that we have a good idea of what their targets are. We need to be coordinated and prepared for ever-worsening executive attacks on civil rights, freedom of the press, access to Planned Parenthood’s services, protections from discrimination, and access to the political process, among many issues. Unfortunately, there is no timeline to help us anticipate these attacks but there are action playbooks and targets to consider.

The Trump Campaign promised a Muslim ban, it promised to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it, it threatened to loosen laws protecting journalists from writing about public figures, it promised to move the American Embassy in Israel to the disputed holy land of Jerusalem, it showed its support for police involved in shooting unarmed black men, it promised to make abortion illegal, it incited violence toward counter protesters, and it promised to oppose trade policies that Trump thought were a bad deal.

An EO signed on Friday, Jan 27 made immigration and refugee policy one of their first public battles. The American public responded spontaneously and creatively by converging on airports across the country where refugees and immigrants arrive, holding rallies, and trying to offer moral support to refugees and green card holders who were trapped inside. These protests continued throughout the 13 days of the ban.

Protest of the refugee ban at Reagan National Airport, Washington, D.C., Feb. 2017

The Taxi Driver’s Union in NYC refused service to JFK International Airport to protest the ban. Thousands of Yemeni-owned bodega general stores closed in opposition to the ban. An Obama appointed Attorney General lost her job for publicly stating that she would not enforce the order. After legal challenges, the constitutionality of the bill was finally undermined by judicial rule on Thursday, Feb 9, although Trump will continue to fight for it.

Another type of pro-immigrant action happened on Feb 8 in Phoenix, Arizona. An undocumented woman was detained after a regular check-in with ICE. Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos immigrated to America at 14, over 20 years ago. She now has two American-born children. When she was detained, her children were present at the blockade in front of her immigration enforcement vehicle. Unfortunately, she was deported to Mexico on Feb 9. We can expect to encounter more situations where a blockade strategy would benefit refugees and immigrants in America.

A protester chaining himself to the ICE vehicle holding Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos. Feb. 9.

John Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced on Monday, Feb. 13 that 680 undocumented immigrants had been detained in the previous week. The Trump Administration has loosened the definition of high-priority targets for deportation and his Orders target as many as 8 million people in America, these numbers were calculated by the LA Times. Obama’s annual deportations topped-out at 409,849 in Financial Year 2012, that is 7,881 removals a week. If the White House and ICE want to remove 8 million undocumented immigrants in 8 years, that means removing an average of (8 mil. % (52*8)) 38,462 people a week.

The initiative of the protesters to engage in a blockade, lock-down strategy on the ICE facility can be repeated and improved across the country. What are the actions, strategies, targets, and recruitment methods that will be effective in facing down the agenda of the Trump Administration?

As always with direct action it depends on who is involved, who the target is, what resources they have available, and what risks they are willing to take. Blockades and lockdowns work when something needs to be physically stopped, such as a destructive industrial process or an ICE bus, or as a symbol of resistance and occupying a space. Both literal and soft-blockades can get participants arrested and hurt.

The physical risk of storming onto a mining site to lock-down to their equipment, and soft-blockading potentially violent groups is too much for a lot of people. Knowing one’s personal limits for violent and legal risk and being informed on the level of  risk in any action are the responsibility of the person taking part in the action, and of the affinity group to fully-inform all the participants and make sure the group is comfortable before initiating action. This avoids situations where an action participant has a mid-action panic attack.

The next four years will probably see a flourishing street art scene with catchy phrases and smart graphics from the Left, the Dems, and the collaboration between the Right’s army of White Supremacists and internet trolls. Street art, culture jamming, organizing, and performing support roles in direct actions are all other avenues of resistance. This previous post of mine indexes the roles that a protester can fill in certain actions. The attacks of billionaires, religious zealots, and smaller industrialists on American government can be stopped with public pressure, direct action, and a revitalized Left.

Undocumented immigrants are feeling insecure about their safety and stability. They are the first victims of the Trump Administration. It is within the grasp of a well-coordinated, broad coalition to stop the deportations and support refugees and undocumented immigrants. That defense will then need to face attacks on Roe vs. Wade, Black Lives, LGBTQ Lives, Native Lives, public schools, labor rights, public lands, and renewable energy.

It is only after winning the first victories that we can claim to be the people worthy of the line, “First they came for the undocumented immigrants and refugees — and I stood with millions, and stopped their oppressive agenda”.


For more information please learn more about Sanctuary Cities and how to become one, visit the #not1more website, and look into local organizations that provide services to immigrants and refugees. And please, add to the conversation.

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