Updated: Apr 8, 2020
New Mexican resident Ken Erdedy who we published (https://thegroundupnm.wordpress.com/2019/05/23/police-state/) in our now retired former site offers a call of action in response to the border and immigration struggle
Immigrants are getting arrested now and thrown into cages but who is next? Imagine it’s you.
You rose early to get to work, came home, spent time with the wife and kids, helped with cooking and cleaning — all the tedious things we do in the common space of a home. Then comes the bewildering task of getting the kids ready for bed. After that you stay up for a while with your wife watching a favorite TV show and then you slip into bed, taking everything for granted. Contented. Then high beams, knocking, people in vests and guns pointed at your door telling you to answer. What do you do?
We cannot allow anyone to tell us it’s their job to do something immoral/unethical/heartless.
They have almost forced the door down now. Now they are in your house. Your kids are screaming and afraid and you and your partner are on your knees with zip ties around your wrists. You see the evil people yell at your crying children to get on their knees so they can be zip-tied as well. Your oldest son is looking to you for help, reassurance, anything — all you can do is say sorry.
Now you are locked in a cell with many others, the smell makes you nauseous. You can’t see your wife or your kids and the guards don’t tell you anything other than to shut up.
After five days you speak with a lawyer. You answer their questions and they tell you that you may be deported and that you need to fill out Child Care Power of Attorney paperwork to ensure that your kids go with a relative in a nearby state. You ask about them and the lawyer just says that they are safe. No words of their real circumstances are provided. After the lawyer leaves you ask ice personnel for help, a shower or any way to wash up. They tell you to wait. The crowded room is practically boiling and the smell of every other man in the room is starting to choke leaving nothing more than agitation, tears, pain and hopelessness.
This is happening as you read. Someone is desperate to know their fate and we are doing what? We know the people who work for u.s. customs and border protection, we know the people that work as part of ice. Some say they are just normal people with a job trying to do as they are told. This is the problem. We cannot allow anyone to tell us it’s their job to do something immoral/unethical/heartless.
People whose profession it is to intimidate, arrest, imprison, take freedom, take lives are not good, normal people who are just trying to get by. They are oppressors. At the bare minimum, we have to stop encouraging anyone to apply to these professions. Then we have to stop socializing with people who are the oppressors. We have to make it known to our communities that they are the arm of the state that harms the most innocent of people. We have to stop providing them loans, selling them services, working with or for them, we have to stop providing them with the comfort an ethical, compassionate human would receive. This is not someone you want as a friend and not someone you want as a neighbor. We must take action and make them live an uncomfortable life because they are making other lives miserable and taking everything from us. We must stop hoping and praying. Further, we must take action, anything other than remaining passive with just a small outcry. The time is now for action and we look to the good people to make that happen.
Action, of course, does not simply entail violence against the state. There are organizations to join across the u.s. like New Sanctuary Coalition NY, Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (AVID) in the Chihuahuan Desert and CO Rapid Response. The first organization helps immigrants in circumstances of legal, political and financial hazard by providing the resources, support and security to navigate the oppressive immigration court process and the oppressive or cold immigration laws that define those rulings. This organization even provides help for people after release. AVID provides support to imprisoned immigrants via regular face to face meetings and letter writing. Not only is emotional support provided but relationships that develop enable the outside participants in AVID to check with the imprisoned person on matters pertaining to safety and health inside the detention center. CO Rapid Response intervenes during ice raids and is a network designed to mitigate racist policing. This network combines know-your-rights training and information conveyance to immigrants in jeopardy of ice oppression and it also utilizes physical but civilly disobedient intervention and de-escalation strategies to prevent ice from taking immigrants.
Less squeaky-clean actions that can be taken are for example the smuggling of immigrants or becoming an ethical coyote (pollero). Escalated rapid response potentially involving the utilization of violence against ice and the usage of a network of safe houses for protecting immigrants who are snuck out of their homes to escape ice capture exists as another method of potential strategies to be employed for the sake of community defense.
The reality is that the police state has never been more powerful. But as Cornell West said in his “There Is Joy in Struggle” speech “Hold on to your subversive piety. What is that? Remembrance. Don’t let this market-driven, commodified culture somehow sever you from the best of your past. Hold on to the relation between the present and the best of the past as you try to authorize an alternative future, a radically different, qualitatively different future than the catastrophic one in which we find ourselves.”
Throughout history, there have always been revolutionaries operating in the capacity that they are able. New Sanctuary Coalition NY is primarily liberal and they have a strict policy of obedience to the state’s system of law and order even though they are outraged at the system and want to help the people oppressed by it. This path and others like it are important and they are helpful. CO Rapid Response does more Martin Luther King Jr. style civil disobedience in relation to immigration struggle and that is important and helpful. They would never as a network agree that killing an ice agent is acceptable. It is acceptable for some to kill an ice agent. But this state abuses people of color and immigrants endlessly. Sometimes firing a bullet into your abuser is the only way to survive.
It is acceptable to kill an ice agent for whoever decides to do it for good. The degree and severity of consequences are extreme for such a course of action. Prison. Death. Serious, long-lasting or total life change — ultimately, as noted, the loss of one’s life. Violence is not the only answer but it is an answer and in the spirit of pursuing an alternative future this answer remains extremely unexplored in american history. Oskar Schindler employed Polish-Jewish refugees during the holocaust. He had courage and saved the lives of many Jews. As far as historians know he killed no nazis. That is fine. But Freddie and Truus Oversteegen killed nazi officers in the Netherlands as teenagers. They lured slightly older men to them and from their bicycles murdered the nazis. The sisters learned that if you have to help refugees you might have to explore an alternative future.