Tag Archive | "USA: Muslim Ban"

The Seventh Exclusion and the “Muslim Ban”: Great Moments in American Racist Immigration History


NOVANEWS
 

Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – I had predicted after Trump’s announcement that he wanted to try to keep Muslims out of the United States that he might well have some success in that endeavor. Courts, as SCOTUS just showed once again, are reluctant to micro-manage the Executive on things like who can enter the country. Non-US citizens don’t have a constitutional right to visit the United States, so in principle the president can keep some persons out, especially if the State Department cooperates in declaring a security threat. In other words, Rudy Giuliani may be as loony as the Mad Hatter, but he knew exactly how to get Trump the racist Muslim ban he wanted and make it stick in the US system.

Ironically, the court decision came back the same days as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset win in the 114th Congressional district in New York. The 19th-century Protestant Know-Nothing conspiracy would have tried to exclude her from the US for being of Catholic heritage.

The travel ban upheld by a narrow majority on the Supreme Court causes untold heartache to Iranian-Americans, Yemeni-Americans, and other groups designated for exclusion. It also injures the First Amendment of the US constitution, which forbids the state to take a position on good and bad religion. It is a sad day that the full court did not agree with the Federal court in Hawaii, which made cogent arguments for the policy having originated in an intention to discriminate on the basis of religion, which is unconstitutional. It has nothing to do with security–the nationalities banned haven’t engaged in terrorism on US soil in this century. Most terrorism in the US is committed by white nationalists (many of whom support Trump).

US history is replete with racism as public policy. It has been more often our history than not, and the era since 1965 has been unusual inasmuch as there has been widespread public pushback against the use of race for policy purposes. Trump’s movement is an attempt to see whether that widespread US consensus of the past few decades can be reversed. Just as the Ku Klux Klan took over the Democratic Party in the 1920s, including the whole state of Indiana, so white nationalism has taken over the Republican Party today, including the GOP majority on SCOTUS.

As I have argued in the past, there have been at least 6 major times in American history when people were excluded on the basis of race or religion (religion is tied up with race in the racialist imaginary).

Here is my list, to which the Roberts court has just added our seventh:

1. Chinese Buddhists Both racism and religious bigotry built up toward Chinese-Americans brought in from 1849 to build the trans-American railroad. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first time a whole people was excluded from the United States. In the prejudiced language of the day, that Chinese were Buddhists, Confucianists or Taoists, i.e. “pagans” or “heathens” from an Evangelical point of view, was one of the reasons they should be kept out of the country. The total exclusion lasted until 1943, when 100 Chinese a year began being admitted, which was not much different from total exclusion. In 1965 the Immigration Act ended racial and religious exclusions based on racism and religious fanaticism, including of Chinese. Chinese-Americans have made enormous contributions to the United States, despite the long decades during which they were excluded or disrespected.

2. Japanese Buddhists. In 1907-08, the US and Japan concluded a “gentlemen’s agreement” whereby Japan would limit the number of passports it issued to Japanese wanting to come to the United States. In turn, the city of San Francisco agreed to end the legal segregation of Japanese-Americans in that city (yes, they had their very own Jim Crow). Not satisfied with the agreement, in 1924 racist Congressmen ended Japanese immigration completely. This action angered Japan and set the two countries on a path of enmity.

3. Indian Hindus & Sikhs and other Asians. Not satisfied with measures against Buddhists, white Christians next went after Hindus and Sikhs. The 1917 Asiatic Barred Zone Act excluded from immigration everyone from the continent of Asia– it especially aimed at Indians, including especially Sikhs, but also Koreans, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesians, etc. etc…mThe provision in the act barring “polygamists” was aimed at Muslims. Would-be Muslim immigrants were asked at their port of entry if they believed a man could have more than one wife, and if they said yes, were turned away.Japanese were not part of the act only because the Gentlemen’s Agreement already mostly excluded them. Filipinos were not excluded because the Philippines was then an American territory (i.e. colony).

4. Syrians-Lebanese. In the early 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan reappeared on the national stage and agitated against immigrants, Catholics, and Jews. The Klan infiltrated the Democratic Party and took it over, and won the whole state of Indiana. The racist 1924 Immigration act set country quotas based on the percentage of Americans from that country already present in 1890 . . . One consequence of basing the quotas on 1890 rather than, as was originally proposed, 1910, was that populations that came in big numbers during the Great Migration of 1880-1924 were often given low quotas. Populations that came in the eighteenth century or the mid-19th (e.g. in the latter case, Germans) had relatively large quotas. Syria-Lebanon (which were not separated until the French conquest of 1920) were given a quota of 100, even though tens of thousands of Lebanese came to the United States, 10% of them Muslim during the Great Migration. That community produced the great Lebanese-American writer and artist, Kahlil Gibran.

5. Other Middle Easterners, including Armenians. The 1924 Nazi-style quotas based on “race,” which mostly lasted until 1965, excluded most of the Middle East. The quota for Egypt? 100. Palestine? 100. Turkey? 100. Even the persecuted Armenians were given only 100 spaces annually. The racial hierarchies visible in the 1924 act fed into an increasing concern with eugenics, with fears of decadent races and a determination to strengthen the master race by forbidding intermarriage and even by experimenting on live human beings.

6. Jews. In the 1930s when it would have mattered, the US government excluded Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany from coming to America. I wrote elsewhere, “the US in the 1930s did betray its ideals as a refuge for people yearning to be free. The episode of the SS St Louis, a ship full of 900 Jewish refugees that got close enough to Miami to see its lights before being turned back to Europe, epitomized this failure. A third of the passengers were later murdered by the Nazis. One Jewish refugee the US did take in was Albert Einstein. How would we not have been better off if we’d had more like him?” Racists of that time argued that German Jews shouldn’t be admitted because Nazi agents might covertly exist among them . . .

The only way to undo Trump’s Muslim ban, and to begin to undo the untold damage he’s done to the country, is to organize and canvass and publish and elect the opposition in 2018 and 2020. The courts are not going to save us from Trumpism. The GOP Congress is not going to save us from Trumpism. Civility is not going to save us from Trumpism. We’re on our own, friends. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has shown the way.

Posted in USAComments Off on The Seventh Exclusion and the “Muslim Ban”: Great Moments in American Racist Immigration History

The immigrant proletariat, the Muslim ban, and the capitalist class


NOVANEWS

The Trump administration has dug in its heels, declaring that the 90-day (for now) Muslim ban on refugees, from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia), enshrined in a January 27th executive order, is just “extreme vetting” and that the media is engaging in “false reporting.” In contrast, hundreds of diplomats have criticized the travel ban, top Democrats have criticized the ban while Republicans like Paul Ryan have said it necessary to protect the “homeland.” Also Jewish groups, over six thousand academics, varying UN agencies, and pro-refugee groups have criticized Trump’s action, along with protests in airports across the country, while immigrants have suffered with more crackdowns to come.

Numerous companies and CEOs have put out critical statements about Trump’s order. This included the top executives of Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Airbnb, Box, GE, Lyft, Uber (later on), Koch Industries, TripAdvisor, SpaceX/Tesla Motors, JPMorganCase, and Goldman Sachs, most of whom pledged to help their own employees directly affected. [1] Others that spoke out on the ban included the head of the Internet Association, an industry trade group for the Internet industry, with some investors, like Chris Sacca, sending thousands of dollars to the ACLU, just like Lyft, Tim Cook of Apple declaring that “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do” and Twitter mirroring this by saying “Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always.” [2] Some exploited the misery of the order by trying to help their bottom line: Airbnb said that it would “provide free housing to detainees and travelers” affected and Starbucks is planning to hire 10,000 refugees “over five years in the 75 countries where it does business,” starting with those people who “have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel.” [3] What seems clear is that the actions of Trump may have crossed a “red line” as Hunter Walk, a partner at the San Francisco-based venture capital firm Homebrew VC, told the Washington Post, indicating possible anti-Trump action by Silicon Valley in the future, as more companies realize it is a “bigger risk to their investors and bottom line to stay quiet than it is to protest Trump’s ban on refugees and travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, betting vocal opposition to the executive order scores them a moral and fiscal victory.” [4]

Such statements mean that the one group that remains constant in opposition to the racist executive order is a sect of the capitalist class. While the recent lawsuits filed in Darweesh v. Trump, Aziz v. Trump, Doe v. Trump, Sarsour v. Trump, San Francisco v. Trump, Louhghalam et al v. Trump, have mainly made constitutional arguments against the racist immigration ban, one suit revealed more about the interests of the capitalist class, especially those in the tech industry. This lawsuit, filed by the Attorney General of the State of Washington, Bob Ferguson, and joined by Expedia and Amazon, among other companies, declared the following, showing how this industry depends on immigrants:

Immigration is an important economic driver in Washington. Many workers in Washington’s technology industry are immigrants, and many of those immigrant workers are from Muslim-majority countries. Immigrant and refugee-owned businesses employ 140,000 people in Washington. Many companies in Washington are dependent on foreign workers to operate and grow their businesses. The technology industry relies heavily on the H-1B visa program through which highly skilled workers like software engineers are permitted to work in the United States. Washington ranks ninth in the U.S. by number of applications for high-tech visas. Microsoft, a corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, is the State’s top employer of high-tech—or H-1B visa holders and employs nearly 5,000 people through the program. Other Washington-based companies, including Amazon, Expedia, and Starbucks, employ thousands of H-1B visa holders. The market for highly skilled workers and leaders in the technology industry is extremely competitive. Changes to U.S. immigration policy that restrict the flow of people may inhibit these companies’ ability to adequately staff their research and development efforts and recruit talent from overseas. If recruiting efforts are less successful, these companies’ abilities to develop and deliver successful products and services may be adversely affected Microsoft’s U.S. workforce is heavily dependent on immigrants and guest workers. At least 76 employees at Microsoft are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen and hold U.S. temporary work visas. There may be other employees with permanent-resident status or green cards. These employees may be banned from re-entering the U.S. if they travel overseas or to the company’s offices in Vancouver, British Columbia. Seattle-based company Amazon also employs workers from every corner of the world. Amazon’s employees, dependents of employees, and candidates for employment with Amazon have been impacted by the Executive Order that is the subject of this Complaint. Amazon has advised such employees currently in the United States to refrain from travel outside the United States. Bellevue-based company Expedia operates a domestic and foreign travel business. At the time of this filing, Expedia has approximately 1,000 customers with existing flight reservations in or out of the United. States who hold passports from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen. The Executive Order will restrict business, increase business costs, and impact current employees and customers.

Such a section comprises six paragraphs of Washington State’s argument against the immigration order, a section that the lawsuit depends on to be successful. Immigrants are clearly vital to the tech industry. Of the 250,000 Muslims living in the San Francisco Bay Area, who are mostly of Arab or South Asian descent, many of them work at “companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft.” [5] These immigrants are seen as “essential” to the growth of Silicon Valley, with 37 percent of workers in the area being foreign-born, with immigrants creating “some of America’s biggest tech companies,” like Yahoo, Apple, or Google, and allowing them to survive (and “boom”), since they rely on “talent from abroad to fill positions and to meet their global ambitions.” [6] After all, the “superstars of the high-tech industry are all immigrants” as one article points out.

Since immigrants account for a “significant part of the workforce in the tech industry,” the industry has advocated for looser laws to “increase the flow of skilled immigrants into the U.S.” and is heavily reliant on the H-1B visa program. The program, which started in 2000 with bipartisan support, “allows software engineers and other skilled workers to work in the U.S.,” resulting in their active role in the political arena to push for looser immigration restrictions. [7] Hence, Silicon Valley is afraid of the upcoming immigration restrictions during the Trump administration. This is especially the case since Trump has reportedly drafted an executive order to overhaul the H-1B visa program, which companies depend on so they can “hire tens of thousands of employees each year,” the “talent” they need to thrive, with their support of Trump basically non-existent in the recent presidential campaign. [8]

By the mid-1990s, those who live in the Valley divided “along racial and economic lines” with older and wealthier whites “concentrated in the west Valley,” Latinos have fanned across the floor of the valley, with many of the immigrants poor, bringing with them “crowding and new welfare burdens,” a division that angers many Latinos. [9] In recent years, the immigrant community which undergirds Silicon Valley has been in trouble. [10] With immigrant youth comprising a major portion of “both the population and the workforce in the Silicon Valley,” the Valley had “deep disparities when it comes to the lives of undocumented immigrants,” with such youth facing barriers in accessing education, concentrated in low-wage jobs, and serving as a diverse and “core part of the Silicon Valley community.” Immigrants from the Asian continent, whether Chinese, Filipino, or otherwise, form, as of April 2015, the “largest racial block in Santa Clara County, exceeding the proportion of non-Hispanic white residents for the first time.”

Despite such dependence on immigrants, the tech industry does not treat these employees fairly or justly. One academic report in 2012 says that the stated reasons of the tech industry (lack of study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), rapid technological change, and needing to hire best and brightest workers for “innovations” to occur) cannot be confirmed upon close inspection, leaving cheap labor as “the remaining explanatory factor.” The report goes on to say that legal loopholes allow for foreign workers to be unpaid drastically compared to American-born workers, with many of the workers coming from India, China, and the Philippines, along with other Asian immigrants, comprising from 50-80% of the workforce of top technology companies, with the tech industry claiming a “labor shortage” and lack of talent, although this cannot be supported by existing data. Interestingly, even the conservative media scoffs at the claims of the tech industry, with arch-conservative National Review declaring that work permits “are basically de facto green cards and give the foreign national complete flexibility in the job market” and that the visa program will hurt the middle class (not sure if that’s true) while the similarly aligned FrontPage Magazine questioned the shortage of “high-skilled American labor,” saying that the visa program provides “a supply of lower-wage guest workers.” [11] Of course, they oppose the claims for anti-immigrant reasons and don’t really care about the well-being of immigrant workers in the United States.

Mistreatment of immigrants in Silicon Valley is nothing new. There is no doubt that high-skilled immigrant workers “are being exploited by employers,” with the H1-B visa program benefiting the corporate bottom line, especially providing protection against unions and labor strikes, but hurting the workers. The program itself gives employers great power over workers, allowing them to “hire and fire workers…grant legal immigration status…[or] deport the worker” if they don’t do what they like. In 2014 Wired magazine reported on a study showing that major tech companies (ex: Cisco, Apple, Verizon, Microsoft, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and Google) have pocketed wages and benefits from workers, especially among new Indian immigrants to the Valley, leading to an “ecosystem of fear” in the area among the workforce. The tech companies collectively withheld at least $29.7 million from such workers, forcing them to pay fees they shouldn’t have to pay, creating a form of indentured servitude, as some called it, where there exists an “underground system of financial bondage by stealing wages and benefits, even suing workers who quit,” making “business and profit by having cheap labor” as one worker put it. [12] This shows that the tech companies are, in their own way, engaging in a form of organized crime against the immigrant proletariat. Such crimes are only part of their business model which includes top Silicon Valley CEOs conspiring in wage-fixing to drive down the wages of 100,000 engineers, ultimately involving one million employees in all.

With the exploitation of the immigrant proletariat, mainly those that are “high-skilled,” by the tech industry, this explains the harsh opposition from Silicon Valley to Trump’s executive order. Without the visa program, the industry would likely collapse or at least be weakened. As for other industries, immigrants are employed in jobs across the US economy, even as they face similar constraints to the native-born poor along with restrictions related to their citizenship status, especially in cities like New York. As a result, it can be said that immigrants ultimately benefit the US economy, even those that are undocumented, and are not a drag on the “native-born” section of the working class, making the country a better place for all, as even free-marketeers and libertarians would admit. [13] This is important to point out with nativists getting a new lease on life under the Trump administration.

As we stand now, the authoritarianism of the Obama administration has increased under Trump’s nightmarish state in regards to immigrants, Muslims killed by drone bombing, and violence supported by the murderous empire across the world, among much more. While we should undoubtedly be critical of bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives who claim to have the “answers” and solution to fighting Trump, rejecting their pleas to move the capitalist Democratic Party “more left” to fight the “bad Republicans,” there is no reason to sit idly by. We must get involved in pushing for revolutionary politics by at minimum engaging in actions that show solidarity with the immigrant proletariat, whether documented or undocumented, in the United States. In the end, perhaps we should heed what Homer Simpson declared about immigrants all those years ago:

Most of here were born in America. We take this country for granted. Not immigrants like Apu [who immigrated from India and on a green card], while the rest of are drinking ourselves stupid, they’re driving the cabs that get us home safely. They’re writing the operas that entertain us everyday. They’re training out tigers and kicking our extra points. These people are the glue that holds together the gears of our society. [14]

 

Notes

[1] Nathan Bomey, “Elon Musk to seek CEO consensus on changes to Trump immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 29, 2017; Fredreka Schouten, “Koch network slams Trump immigrant ban,” USA Today, Jan. 29, 2017; Jill Disis, “Starbucks pledges to hire 10,000 refugees,” CNNMoney, Jan. 29, 2017; David Pierson, “Facing Trump’s immigration ban, corporations can’t risk keeping silent,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2017. As Elon Musk (of Tesla Motors and SpaceX) tried to “seek a consensus” among fellow business CEOs who were affected with the order and trying to work with Trump, Uber changed course from crossing a picket line and profiting from the misery, to condemning Trump’s action as impacting “many innocent people” and the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, declaring “I’ve…never shied away…from fighting for what’s right,” even as they continue their horrid practices with exploitation of their workforce.

[2] Jessica Guynn and Laura Mandaro, “Microsoft, Uber, Apple, Google: How the tech world responded to Trump’s immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 28, 2017.

[3] Jill Disis, “Starbucks pledges to hire 10,000 refugees,” CNNMoney, Jan. 29, 2017

[4] Brian Fung and Tracy Jan, “Tech firms recall employees to U.S., denounce Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim countries,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017; David Pierson, “Facing Trump’s immigration ban, corporations can’t risk keeping silent,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2017; John Ribeiro, “US tech industry says immigration order affects their operations,” CIO, Jan. 29, 2017; Anthony Cuthbertson, “How Silicon Valley Is Fighting Back Against Trump’s Immigration Ban,” Newsweek, Jan. 30, 2017;

Eric Newcomer, “Silicon Valley Finds Its Voice as Immigration Ban Fuels Outrage,” Bloomberg Technology, Jan. 30, 2017; PCMag staff, “Here’s What Silicon Valley Is Saying About Trump’s Immigration Ban,” PC magazine, Jan. 29, 2017; Matt Richtel, “Tech Recruiting Clashes With Immigration Rules,” New York Times, Apr. 11, 2009. On the subject of US-Mexico migration some companies have tried to get on the game as well: an Israeli company said they will help build the “great wall” on the US-Mexico border.

[5] Brian Fung and Tracy Jan, “Tech firms recall employees to U.S., denounce Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim countries,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017.

[6] John Blackstone, “Tech industry, fueled by immigrants, protesting Trump’s travel ban,” CBS News, Jan. 31, 2017; Kerry Flynn, “Immigrants have built America’s tech industry,” Mashable, Jan. 31, 2017; Carmel Lobello, “The tech industry’s case for immigration reform,” The Week, June 2, 2013; Sarah McBride, “One quarter of U.S. tech start-ups founded by an immigrant: study,” Reuters, Oct. 2, 2012. Even a Forbes contributor, David Shaywitz,” said that immigrants are an “inextricable part of the valley’s cultural fabric and a vital element of its innovative potential.”

[7] Jessica Guynn and Laura Mandaro, “Microsoft, Uber, Apple, Google: How the tech world responded to Trump’s immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 28, 2017; Katie Benner, “Obama, Immigration and Silicon Valley,” BloombergView, Jan. 22, 2015; Gregory Ferenstein, “No Exceptions For Tech Industry: High Skilled Visas Now Tied To Comprehensive Reform,” TechCrunch, Dec. 1, 2012; Stephen Moore, “Immigration Reform Means More High-Tech Jobs,” CATO Institute, Sept. 24, 1998; Jessica Leber, “Silicon Valley Fights for Immigrant Talent,” MIT Technology Review, July 26, 2013; Amit Paka, “How Legal Immigration Failed Silicon Valley,” TechCrunch, Sept. 7, 2015.

[8] Peter Elstrom and Saritha Rai, “Trump’s Next Immigration Move to Hit Closer to Home for Tech,” Bloomberg News, Jan. 30, 2017; Gretel Kauffman, “How Trump’s immigration stances could affect the tech industry,” Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 20, 2016; David Z. Morris, “Tech Industry Could be “First to Suffer” From Trump’s Immigration Stances,” Fortune, Nov 19, 2016; Salvador Rodriguez, “Why Tech Companies Need Immigrants to Function,” Inc, Jan. 30, 2017; Paresh Dave and Tracey Lien, “Trump’s shocking victory could squeeze Silicon Valley on immigration and trade,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 9, 2016; David Jones, “Silicon Valley Up in Arms Over Proposed H-1B Overhaul,” E-Commerce Times, Jan. 31, 2017; Marisa Kendall, “Trump poised to overhaul H-1B visas relied on by Silicon Valley tech,” Mercury News, Jan. 31, 2017; Hansi Lo Wang, “In Silicon Valley, Immigrants Toast Their Way To The Top,” NPR News, Apr. 19, 2014; Marie-Astrid Langer, “Silicon Valley Wants High-Skilled Immigration on Campaign Agenda,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 18, 2015.

[9] Andrew Murr, “Immigrants In The Valley,” Newsweek, Dec. 25, 1994.

[10] Some immigrants are doing well however. Even by 1998, one study found that “Chinese and Indian immigrants were running a quarter of the high-tech businesses in Silicon Valley, collectively accounting for more than $16.8 billion in sales and over 58,000 jobs.”

[11] Ian Smith, “Obama Games the Visa System to Lower Wages and Please the Tech Industry,” National Review, September 30, 2015; Arnold Ahlert, “The Tech Industry’s Immigration Lies,” FrontPage Magazine, April 2, 2014.

[12] The report shows that most of those who are the “well educated, highly skilled and specialized foreign workers” accepted under the H1-B Visa program are from China, India, the Philippines, and South Korea, with thousands of other petitions accepted from the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, France, Pakistan, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Nepal, Venezuela, Colombia, Italy, Russia, and Spain, among other countries.

[13] H.A. Goodman, “Illegal immigrants benefit the U.S. economy,” The Hill, Apr. 23, 2014; Rowena Lindsay, “How immigration helps the US economy: Report,” Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 24, 2016; Ted Hesson, “Why American Cities Are Fighting to Attract Immigrants,” The Atlantic, Jul. 21, 2015; Daniel Griswold, “Immigrants Have Enriched American Culture and Enhanced Our Influence in the World,” Insight (CATO Institute publication), Feb. 18, 2002; Rohit Arora, “Three Reasons Why Immigrants Help the U.S. Economy,” Inc, Feb. 24, 2015; Timothy Kaine, “The Economic Effect Of Immigration,” Hoover Institution, Feb. 17, 2015; Sean Hackbarth, “Immigrants are Good for the Economy,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Dec. 5, 2014; A. Barton Hinkle, “Immigration Is Good for the U.S. Economy,” Reason, Jul. 21, 2014; Minyoung Park, “The vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the US are here working: BAML,” Yahoo! News, Jul. 21, 2016.

[14] This speech is made by Homer near the end of the Simpsons episode, Much Apu About Nothing (Season 7, episode 23, May 1996) when Homer has the realization that the measure that would deport immigrants from Springfield, proposition 24, proposed by the loyal mayor, Joe Quimby, to distract from the “bear tax” to pay for the worthless “Bear Patrol” is wrong. Regardless, the measure passes anyway, with 95% approval, and Homer declares that democracy “doesn’t work” while all of the immigrants have gained citizenship (after passing the citizenship test), except for Groundskeeper Willie, who goes on a ship back to Scotland.

Posted in USAComments Off on The immigrant proletariat, the Muslim ban, and the capitalist class

Mayors and Activists Revolt Against Trump’s “Muslim Ban” Executive Order


NOVANEWS

By John Knefel

Linda Sarsour, left, and Afaf Nasher, of CAIR-NY, address the crowd at Washington Square Park. (Photo: John Knefel)

Linda Sarsour, left, and Afaf Nasher, of CAIR-NY, address the crowd at Washington Square Park. (Photo: John Knefel).

Ever since November 8, 2016, when Donald Trump was elected, Thania Hussain has gone to nearly every protest organized in New York City. Wednesday night in Washington Square Park was no different. Hussain, an undergraduate student at Fordham University, was one of thousands of people who came to take part in a protest organized by Muslim groups in response to President Donald Trump’s proposed de facto ban on Muslims entering the United States.

“Every time I come out [to protests] I see the same sentiments,” Hussain told me in an interview following the event. “Everyone wants social justice and equality for all. People don’t care if you have a headscarf. It’s wonderful.” She’s not part of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the lead organization that called for the evening’s demonstration. “But I want to be, that’s why I’m here tonight,” she says. “Right now I’m just an undergrad fighting for justice.”

Hussain and the friends who joined her are exactly the kinds of people CAIR, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the more than a half dozen other organizations that cosponsored the rally are trying to engage. “If you are in a movement and you aren’t following a woman of color, you’re in the wrong movement,” Linda Sarsour, one of the organizers behind the Women’s March in Washington, DC, last Saturday, told the assembled crowd. She also warned elected Democrats that if they collaborate with Trump, they will face primaries in 2018. “Keep your eyes on the prize,” she said. “We’re gonna Tea Party them.”

Thania Hussain holds a candle as speakers address the crowd assembled in Washington Square Park. (Photo: John Knefel)

Thania Hussain holds a candle as speakers address the crowd assembled in Washington Square Park. (Photo: John Knefel)

The rally was organized following the news that Donald Trump was imminently preparing to sign an executive order to implement a travel ban that would prevent citizens of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Somalia and Yemen from entering the United States for at least 30 days. The order also seeks to bar all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and indefinitely bar Syrian refugees. Trump disingenuously denied his order was a Muslim ban in an ABC interview Wednesday night, though he confirmed that he would sign the order shortly.

In addition to expressing fears that Muslims will be targeted, many at the demonstration criticized two executive orders Trump signed Wednesday afternoon that lay the legal foundation for his immigration policy, which promises to be the most explicitly anti-immigrant in recent memory. One order begins the process of expanding a southern border wall, and the other paves the way for a possible ban on federal funds going to sanctuary cities — that is, cities and counties that refuse to comply with federal immigration laws to varying degrees. The order also empowers federal law enforcement to deputize local and state cops to serve as immigration enforcement under a program known as 287(g), which appeared on a wish list circulated by a police advocacy group before Trump’s inauguration. Across the country, mayors of sanctuary cities denied that Trump had the constitutional powers he was attempting to exercise and vowed to oppose him.

It is not unusual for a new administration to issue executive orders — Obama barred torture and called for the closure of Guantánamo in his first days in office — and Trump’s willingness to follow through on his promises suggests his presidency will be every bit as extreme, discriminatory and bigoted as his campaign.

Following the attacks in Paris in 2015, virtually every Republican running in the primary voiced support for some sort of Muslim ban. Trump never let the issue go, though he did morph it into an anodyne-sounding policy called “extreme vetting.” Obfuscatory language aside, the policy will be a Muslim ban in all but name, and could presumably be extended indefinitely — or at least until blocked by a court.

The seven Muslim-majority countries are not named explicitly in the order. Rather, the list is derived from State Department-designated state sponsors of terror and areas the Department of Homeland Security lists as countries of concern. The list could grow, too. The order calls for the Department of Homeland Security, in cooperation with State and the Director of National Intelligence, to review visa requirements for nationals from non-NATO countries. After that study is complete, countries would have 60 days to provide additional information about their visa applicants or risk being denied entry to the United States.

A waiver included in the order provides further evidence that Trump is targeting Muslims, rather than all people from designated areas. Once the refugee program is resumed after the 120-day period, the Department of Homeland Security is directed to “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.” Being a member of a minority — due to religion, ethnicity, sexual identity, or gender expression — is often a factor in determining asylum priority, but in this case, the language is a thinly veiled acknowledgement that Christians from the Middle East will be given preferred refugee status.

Protesters rally in lower Manhattan against Trump’s proposed Muslim ban on Januray 25, 2017. (Photo: John Knefel)

Protesters rally in lower Manhattan against Trump’s proposed Muslim ban on Januray 25, 2017. (Photo: John Knefel)

In a reflection both of the diversity of New York City and the current emphasis on intersectionality in organizing, all of the speakers at Wednesday’s rally emphasized how their struggles, and their emancipation, are inextricably interconnected. Rama Issa-Ibrahim, from the NYC Commission on Human Rights, told the crowd how Trump’s orders will have an immediate impact on her life. “I am Syrian. I am an American. I am an immigrant,” she said. “My father is still in Syria, and I have friends all across Europe. This issue is deeply personal to me.”

In addition to the Muslim and immigration groups who spoke, several members of the New York City council addressed the crowd, promising to keep New York City a sanctuary city even if that means operating without federal funding. “We will not pass a budget that includes federal money if it will kick immigrants out,” said NYC council member Helen Rosenthal. “We are prepared to run this city without federal dollars if that’s what it takes.”

Letitia James, a public advocate for New York City, called on the crowd to stand in opposition to Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim policies. “When you see a government that is lawless, you have an obligation to resist,” James told the crowd. “We have to protect those they are coming after.”

Beyond the 2018 primaries and public agitation, the courts are one of the clearest venues through which to oppose Trump. Tarek Ismail, a lawyer with the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) Project at CUNY, provides legal representation for Muslims, Arabs and South Asians who have been spied on or arrested, particularly in a national security or counterterrorism investigation. “We know all too well what it means to be watched,” Ismail told the crowd. “We’ve only been around since 2009, which means we’ve only been here for the Obama administration, and we’ve been busy.” His remark was met with silence. “That might not be popular, but it’s true,” he said.

To close the evening, Afaf Nasher from CAIR-NY, who had been emceeing the event, gave the crowd a final thought. “You are an activist today,” she said. “You are an activist tomorrow when you call your representatives. You can go home tonight and say, ‘Today, I was part of something great’.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Mayors and Activists Revolt Against Trump’s “Muslim Ban” Executive Order


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