No aid or comfort for literal fascists
In the fantasy world of the hard right, all undocumented immigrants are violent criminals ready to take any opportunity that presents itself to slake their thirst for American blood and treasure. So, from that perspective, it’s perfectly fine to support efforts by the federal government to violate the 10th Amendment and “commandeer” local and state police and courts to help ICE and members of BORTAC—the Border Patrol’s version of a SWAT team—enforce federal immigration law.
Which in this case involves hunting down said immigrants for the civil (not criminal) offense of staying in the country without green cards or active visas. Or to put it more bluntly, behaving like literal fascists. Sending heavily armed snatch squads into immigrant neighborhoods to harass and intimidate their denizens, then kidnapping a few families, and eventually deporting them as an example to the rest. The message is clear: “Get out now or this is going to happen to you, too.”
Even though the vast, vast majority of immigrants do nothing more nefarious than work really hard at low-paying jobs that most Americans no longer want to do, raise families, and pay taxes well in excess of the diminishing array of public services that are available to them.
The raids are happening nationwide as of this writing because cities like Boston and states like Massachusetts—with the support of many police leaders—are increasingly refusing to cooperate with Trump administration demands that they assist with immigrant deportations and declaring themselves “sanctuaries.” Localities that “limit the extent to which they will volunteer resources in support of federal immigration enforcement agents’ responsibility to enforce federal immigration law,” according to Naomi Tsu, an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Especially when they know that many of the deportees—including their children—will end up in the concentration camps the Trump administration has set up on the US border with Mexico. Whose very existence is a crime against humanity that must be stopped forthwith by concerted popular political action.
Meanwhile, the feds have lost key court battles they’ve initiated against state and local governments on this matter—mainly on 10th Amendment grounds. The thus-far successful suit by Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan against ICE—resulting in a temporary injunction barring agents from making civil arrests in or around district courthouses in Massachusetts, according to CommonWealth magazine—being the best local example. This at a time when the American government can’t find it within itself to to pass rational immigration reform with a clear path to citizenship for millions of people whose nations have been the victims of our ruthless and extractive foreign policy since the foundation of our republic.
According to a statement by Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, “This is transparent retaliation against local governments for refusing to do the Trump administration’s bidding. Local governments should not face reprisals for focusing on community needs and using taxpayer money responsibly instead of helping to deport and detain community members. Cities and towns across Massachusetts have already rejected these fear-mongering tactics and will continue to do so. SWAT-like teams have no place arresting immigrants in the city of Boston or beyond, and the ACLU of Massachusetts will remain vigilant for any abuses.”
Sadly, appeals to reason don’t stop reactionary media outlets like the Boston Herald from telegraphing the falsehoods being spread by ICE and pals. Who claim that the reason for completely terrorizing huge numbers of immigrant families around Boston and Massachusetts is to run precisely five hardened criminals to ground. Criminals who can already be arrested, detained, prosecuted, and imprisoned at any time by any police and court jurisdiction in the land. Because sanctuary laws absolutely do not obstruct the justice system at any level of government.
So, shame on the Herald for running a piece slavishly parroting Trump administration propaganda to the point of actually running mug shots of the five criminals being used as the excuse for the latest in a series of Boston raids. Complete with misleading passages like this one: “ICE’s Boston office Friday also put out the names of five people they say are illegal immigrants who are wanted on serious charges, including rape, assault with a dangerous weapon and child pornography. ICE says all five were released by local authorities who ignored detainer requests from ICE.”
An assertion by Herald hacks that ignores the fact that ICE detainer requests are generally for the same civil immigration infractions that the federal government charges all undocumented immigrants with. Yet the alleged criminal violations by the accused immigrants in question are usually separate from the immigration violations. So being “released by local authorities” in these and similar cases just means that the criminal justice system did its job. Meaning the suspects were released on bail. Or were found guilty, served their time, and were released. Or were acquitted and released. Just like any other people that commit crimes.
But, even if these latest raids were restricted to undocumented immigrants who are also accused of violent crimes, alleged criminals will almost certainly not be the only people arrested when captured. According to the New York Times, “ICE agents typically seek out people with criminal convictions or multiple immigration violations as their primary targets for deportation, but family members and friends are often swept up in the enforcement net in what are known as ‘collateral’ arrests, and many such people could now be caught up in any enhanced operations.”
Collective punishment—punishing entire families and communities for the alleged crimes of individuals—is supposed to be something that the US doesn’t do, but here the Trump administration is doing it. And a government that can commit such grievous human rights violations against undocumented immigrants with no criminal records can do it to anyone.
As such, DigBoston now calls for all people of good conscience in Boston and Massachusetts to resist the invasion of our neighborhoods by ICE and Border Patrol thugs.
If you see federal immigration enforcement operatives of any stripe in your neighborhood or workplace, we recommend that you assess the situation and take appropriate action to assist undocumented immigrants under threat in the following ways:
2) Reach out to your city or town elected officials and let them know what’s happening.
3) Alert local news media with a history of being fair to immigrants, including DigBoston, CommonWealth magazine (specifically Sarah Betancourt), Cambridge Day, Cambridge Chronicle, Somerville Journal, Dorchester Reporter, Jamaica Plain News, Jamaica Plain Gazette, Universal Hub, WBUR, and the Boston Globe.
4) Contact major pro-immigrant organizations, including ACLU Mass, National Lawyers Guild Mass Chapter, and Mass Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, apprise them of the situation, and ask them for advice about what you can do to help.
5) If you’re a citizen or have legal immigration status, you see ICE and Border Patrol operatives attempting to detain undocumented immigrants, and you have enough like-minded friends, family, coworkers, and bystanders with you, then you can decide collectively if you are all willing to risk arrest by engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience to attempt to prevent the detention from taking place. People in other parts of the country have had some success with tactics like physically surrounding threatened immigrants and refusing to move until ICE and the Border Patrol back off.
Further, the publishers of DigBoston—Chris Faraone, John Loftus, and I—hereby commit this publication to supporting the growing movement to defend and expand the rights of undocumented immigrants in the United States by increasing our critical reporting on federal assaults on their human rights. We call upon all our colleagues in the American news media to do the same in the service of democracy.
As for news outlets that use their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press to uncritically support Trump administration edicts, we have nothing but contempt. We recommend that they reconsider what kind of country they believe they are defending with such quisling-like deference to unjust authority. And if they decide it is American democracy that they serve, they should join us in supporting the millions of undocumented immigrants that want nothing so much as to have a chance to enjoy its freedoms. Or they risk destroying the very journalistic traditions that make democracy possible.
Undocumented immigrants under threat of detention should consider downloading the notifica.us app (iPhone and Android) in case they get caught in a raid by ICE and the Border Patrol.
News organizations interested in running similar editorials in opposition to raids against undocumented immigrants by ICE and the Border Patrol (and news outlets that enable them) should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Pramas is executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston.
Executive editor and associate publisher, DigBoston. Executive director of Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. Former founder and editor/publisher of Open Media Boston. 2018 & 2019 Association of Alternative Newsmedia Political Column Award Winner.