Fighting Back in 2017: A Road Map

A message from C2C's Maru Mora Villapando:

Nothing new, just hypocrisy thrown out the window

For a while now I have realized how liberals and progressives (western labels to define the left, if there is such a thing in the US) have always denied they are part of white supremacist empire. That label and their politeness, or should we say passive aggressiveness, has been used to draw a line between them and the right wing, nationalists, neo-Nazis that are easier to identify as such. These elections are the result of a long process built by both parties. And the losers are actively looking to blame the same people they have left down, oppressed and abused while smiling to them at the same time. Democrats don’t want to be questioned, they have used the right wing xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, etc. to force our communities to accept them as they are, and not be accountable to us. They have been too comfortable. But that is starting to change.

Neoliberalism for fascism

If neoliberalism is on its way out, that doesn’t mean free trade is gone. It probably will change a bit; under fascism there is a possibility of more protectionism to calm the base that elected Republicans again. But corporations will find an easier way to exploit people, resources and land. Standing Rock will be in even more danger. Forced migration will continue, and let’s remember that it has evolved from purely economic reasons (which progressives would like us to believe as the sole reason why migration continues) to more complicated elements created by the US and western international policies, such as wars, organized crime, land grabbing, and climate change. These will continue and expand under this new administration in a way we have never seen before.

Our experience with colonialism and fascism

Most of us immigrants that were forced to leave our hometowns, know first hand what this kind of government looks like, and we know how to survive it. We have seen the signs, we have seen the rise, and we have lived the process of implementation and consequences. That is why we are here. Based on that, I tell you, don’t panic, you may loose some privileges but that is what will be required for the larger community to be mobilized. We know this can be the new normal, and if that happens, then we will be forced to leave again and organizing will become more difficult.

We will see a quick implementation of “reforms” in the first two years, in parallel to immigration raids at some work places but not too many, to not anger the business community. Detention and deportations will increase and the machine will be expanded. Budget will increase for DHS and all its enforcement.

By the third year of this administration the electoral campaign will begin again.

Opportunistic groups

How can this become the new normal? When people and groups adapt, because in the first place they didn’t want to lose their privileges, they didn’t want to lose their comfort, they begin to fit in the system they claimed they were fighting against. We are already seeing the legal experts coming out and telling us, the poor victims, what to do and what not to do and how to do it. They say, “don’t panic” at the same time not allowing our leadership to decide what to do. One thing for sure is that they will have many clients during these next four years.

And the big non-profits will capitalize off people’s fears and will add them to their lists and call them “members”.

All these groups will focus on the “good immigrants,” aka Dreamers or DACA recipients, and yes, these groups won’t see their work permits renewed, and will loose their jobs and scholarships,  but most don’t have a criminal record.  The first community to be targeted for deportation proceedings under Trump will continue to be the people with criminal records, or those that will be in contact with the criminal system. There will be less refugee and asylum seekers coming to this country. We also might see those who have had their cases closed, re-opened if they fit in the “criminal” category.

And the “progressives” will continue claiming they fought for us and tried to defend us, but people didn’t vote for them so it is their own fault, when they get to congress there won’t be anything they can do, oh well…

We have survived

As in our home countries, as in this country, we have survived. We have learned how to live day by day, find ways to not be seen, find small support networks, then bigger ones. Heck, some of us even dared to live a real life without fear, and without safety net. I can’t find a job so I’ll set up a business.I can’t afford an apartment; I’ll rent with others. I’m sick and don’t have insurance, I’ll keep working and get some medicinas de la farmacia Mexicana. My relative was killed, I’ll contact mis paisanos and they will help me fundraise to send the body back to our country

We have resisted

And when we got tired of being afraid, tired of listening “wait, be patience”, “wait for an immigration reform”, we began the resistance. First in the form of rapid response teams (deploy legal observers to the sites of immigration raids, find legal support, do Know Your Rights workshops), then our own lobbying at national and state levels, then direct action based on community organizing strategies. We have been willing to risk whatever we have left to create real political, societal and cultural change.

We have won

We have tried different things, and as long as leadership is true to the cause, we have won! We are a sore to GEO, and a thorn in ICE’s side. Media and local communities recognize us as the experts; we can speak for ourselves and about ourselves. People in detention and their relatives rely on our work. Other POC grassroots movements also recognize our work and integrity. We have been able to bring together people of different backgrounds and experiences, and work together. And because this works, we must continue this formula.

My proposal is as follows:

·      Continue organizing as possible with people in detention

·      Continue using direct action as one of our main tools

·      Invite non-detained immigrants to organize house meetings, with our support, organize in their neighborhoods. We will supply the tools we have developed (ICE free zone flyers, Archivo, toll free numbers, organizing basics, meeting facilitation) so each group/family can decide how to protect and defend themselves.

·      We will bring an immigration lawyer under the premise that the law hasn’t been on our side and it wont be for the next four years. In fact it might get worse. That’s why we need to develop our own support systems.

·      Once we have enough groups organized in different regions, we will connect them to grow the network.

·      Parallel to this work, we will work with our trusted national partners for them to give us a heads up on federal policy coming down the pipe, with model local policy to counteract its impact.

·      Create deeper relationships with local POC grassroots led groups: abolitionist, climate justice, gender justice, reproductive justice, farmworkers, Native Indigenous, Black, API, LGBTQ, formerly incarcerated, etc.

·      Look for co-conspirators, reserve space for allies.

We don’t ask you to protect us, we ask you to work with us

We must be careful about good people with good intentions misunderstanding our ask. When protection and safety is what communities ask for and will need, we must refuse becoming victims, or allowing white fragility to take over.

As we develop collaborations we have to keep our integrity and be true to our work. We will need to work with many, and we can’t do this alone. But most importantly we need to create long lasting change and this can only come with leadership that comes from the base, for the base.

Law has not and won’t be on our side

The system has relied on criminalizing our communities and legal limitations to operate. It has been a challenge to unmask the non-profit/Dems system that has made people believe that the solutions are within policy and litigation alone. The “advocates” have again and again gambled with our communities and thrown us under the bus for them to move along the political ladder. We can’t trust them that in the next four years they will be enlightened to all of the sudden change. We can’t rely on the law to “help” us. Now more than ever we need real grassroots community organizing and law advocates that understand their role in a larger movement.

Do what we know how to do best: organize!

This new phase in our work and in the nation is not about this election alone. We knew that even if the Republican Party had lost, we would be facing a more difficult challenge: the illusion of progress, as what we have in this "blue" state. In this new order we are facing, there are new opportunities and new challenges. As a committed group of people we have shown we are here for the long haul and we are not afraid of taking on bigger challenges. To the trump presidency, the hurt Dems, the fascist system being implemented as we speak, I say: Bring it on! ‘cause we are not going anywhere. We’ll fight back, and even if we loose, our dignity will be intact.

¡Hasta la victoria siempre compañerxs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maru Mora Villalpando