For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Posting
January 21, 2017
Past as Prologue: The fight against the next Deporter-in-Chief must take place from the bottom up
Los Angeles, CA – As President Donald J. Trump is sworn into office, immigrant rights activists and people all over the country are gathering this weekend to protest the inauguration and send a message that “we will not comply with hate.” Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network issued the following statement:
“Our disappointment with the triumph of bigotry in the last election sits alongside our disappointment in President Obama’s failure on immigrant rights. But discouragement, fear, and uncertainty must now be motivation for action. As Dr. Cornel West advises, despair must not have the last word. The lessons from the past must guide our work going forward, and we must organize among - and draw courage and strength from - those who are exposed to heightened suffering in the days to come.
“Eight years ago, many of us were enthusiastic about the possibility of having an actual advocate for progressive issues in the White House, specifically around immigrant and worker rights. Long were the days, we thought, where we had to fight conservative and anti-immigrant administrations that would not listen to the concerns of the most vulnerable immigrants.
“Instead, we spent nearly a decade fighting the policies of a president that would come to be known as the ‘Deporter in Chief.’ We must not forget that President Barack Obama deported more people than any other president in the history of this country.
“President Obama, expanded deportation practices in ways few of us could have imagined, he conflated criminal and immigration law enforcement, and he helped build a deportation machine unprecedented in modern history. And President Obama was enabled by a top-down approach to immigrant rights where our hopes for change were invested in the hands of others, lobbyists, politicians, media pundits.
“Before the last presidential election took place, we said that ‘regardless of who is president, immigrants and day laborers need to organize,’ and since day one, that is exactly what we have been doing. Immigrants must defend themselves.
“Immediately after the election of Donald Trump, we called on communities across the country to strengthen local lines of defense – to convene popular assemblies, organize new committees, and advance stronger local policies to ensure cities, counties and states do not become an extended arm of the Trump Administration.
“Across the country—from Seattle, WA to Hightstown, NJ—worker centers and grassroots groups have taken proactive steps to organize locally, build neighborhood defense committees and reinforce grassroots efforts that can respond to the any attacks directed at our people. We have convened “Defend Your Rights” trainings, MigraWatch, and developed a series of rapid response strategies. In Los Angeles, over 800 people have participated in three Popular Assemblies, creating opportunities for new activists and setting the tone for local organizing, neighborhood by neighborhood.
“While we face uncertainty and major difficulties in the coming months, we must remember that adversity is nothing new to those who have faced oppression. Poor and marginalized communities have been here before, and we must continue organizing and doing what is necessary to defend ourselves. At NDLON, our job is to advance the rights of day laborers and all immigrants, and that is exactly what will do. The resistance is already underway.”