Time for ICE to show us its papers

Steve Leigh reports from Seattle on a protest called as part of a nationwide day of action to shine a spotlight on the Trump administration's plans for more ICE raids.

Immigrant rights activists protest Trump's deportation plans in Washington state (WA Immigrant Solidarity Network | Facebook)Immigrant rights activists protest Trump's deportation plans in Washington state (WA Immigrant Solidarity Network | Facebook)

IMMIGRANT JUSTICE organizations turned out at federal field offices across the country on September 12 to demand that ICE "show us your papers."

Participants in the actions brought Freedom of Information Act requests to Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices "demanding details regarding the planning and execution of enforcement activities, as well as the procedures for targeting and capturing individuals who agents encounter," according to a press release jointly issued in Seattle by the Northwest Detention Center Resistance (NWDCR) and Community to Community.

The September 12 action was prompted by news of Operation Mega, ICE's plan for five days of nationwide raids to begin on September 16 that would target and detain up to 10,000 people.

ICE officials said the operation had been canceled because of the damage caused by Hurricanes Harvery and Irma, but activists were taking no chances and held their "show us your papers" protests anyway.

"ICE has a strong incentive to track down and arrest our community members, because they want to keep the NWDC full of our people," said Maru Mora Villalpando, referring to the Northwestern Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, the largest such facility on the West Coast. "We have to stop ICE in their tracks."

Under the Trump administration, said Tania Unzueta, legal and policy director for the Latinx organization Mijente, "ICE has been acting with impunity. As they prepare to raid our communities, we're preparing to force its corruption into public view and to protect and defend our loved ones."

In Seattle, over 75 people gathered at the ICE field office on September 12, responding to the national call. Chants of "Up, up with education, down, down with deportation" and "ICE, show us your papers!" rang out as the rally was addressed by organizations including NWDCR, Detention Watch Network and Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network. Elected officials were represented, including socialist Seattle Council member Kshama Sawant and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, through a staff member.

Sawant and other speakers called for "Not one more deportation." The representative from Smith's office opposed Trump's raids and supported the extension of the DACA program protecting immigrant youth, but didn't speak to other more radical demands spoken to at the rally.

This is in keeping with the position of Democratic leaders nationally, who oppose Trump's more extreme attacks on immigrants, but didn't protest when Barack Obama carried out the greatest number of deportations in history--and today support "comprehensive immigration reform" proposals that would heavily penalize the undocumented.

No matter what they say now, history has shown that the movement for immigrant right can't rely on the Democratic Party. But this day of action at ICE is another sign that defenders of immigrant rights are organizing in the wake of the Trump administration announcement that DACA will be dismantled.