After DACA: Winning Liberation for All Migrants

A Statement by Black Rose/Rosa Negra – Los Angeles,

Written by Los Angeles, Portland, and Austin comrades

We are together in the fight to legalize all migration, to empty the deportation centers, to demilitarize and decolonize the borders, and to disband ICE. This is the same fight that existed before Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was enacted in 2012. This is the same fight that we were in during DACA, and that we’ll be in after DACA. DACA has benefited hundreds of thousands of young people, but DACA has always been only a band-aid on a lifetime of wounds. In certain ways, DACA helps, but it does not heal. Though we would never turn down a band-aid when when it will improve the lives of some, and though we will continue to resist like hell against anyone cruel enough to try to strip away a hard-earned social gain such as DACA, we know that DACA is not enough. These temporary reforms are not what we fight for, then or now. We’re fighting for freedom, nothing less.

This is a time for the growth of our movement, and to go on the offensive. To really express what we as working class people need right now; to bring us closer to knowing and feeling our own liberated power. What we think we need now is full legalization for all. Not one more deportation. An end to the militarized border and occupation of indigenous lands. The disbanding of ICE. Not to mention a fundamental change in this country’s imperialist economic and foreign policy that drives displacement, poverty, and migration. Ultimately, we recognize that it will take revolution to achieve all of our demands and satisfy our needs.

Band-Aids and Divisions

In the next six months, maybe more band-aids that continue some form of DACA will be the most that we will get. But we are building a movement that has its eyes fixed on freedom. A movement that won’t disappear if a DACA-like program is brought back, if Trump is impeached, if a Bernie Sanders becomes president, or if a non-profit’s funding gets cut. Because when DACA came, it helped a whole lot of people who needed it, but it also left behind so many people who we love and care about, and who deserved its protections as much as anyone else: so many parents and elders, so many who were too broke to pay the application fee, so many high school dropouts, so many prisoners and folks with records, so many people who just fell through the cracks. Reforms like DACA have the effect of defining a split between the “good” immigrant and the “bad” immigrant; between the immigrant who “contributes” and is “productive”, and the immigrant who is “a welfare abuser” and “lazy”; between student “dreamers” and their parents who were the ones who dreamed of a better life for their families in the first place. But nobody needs to prove their basic worth as a human being through their service to an exploitative economic system and a racist state – or through enlisting in an imperialist military like DACA encouraged immigrants to do. Equal rights and access to the fruits of our shared society are deserved by all.

Demands for “immigration reform” that pick some as worthy and some as not divide and leave many behind. And for the most part, the immigrant rights movement hasn’t been there for those left behind. The big non-profits focused for years on the DREAM Act, putting their energy into compromising with the Democratic Party instead of building a united and militant movement that could force change from both Obama and Trump. Now a movement is coming back to life, and it’s up to us to make sure that it’s a movement that fights for the liberation of all, and not a movement that negotiates for partial reforms from the Democrats.

Trump Versus Liberation

It is clear that Trump’s order fits with his white supremacist vision for the future of this country and the world. Black and brown undocumented immigrants are targeted, while the tens of thousands of undocumented Irish immigrants and 100,000 Canadians who overstay their visas every year can live a relatively calm life without fear and paranoia. It is very scary that a government with a white supremacist agenda has the addresses, finger prints, and pictures of hundreds of thousands of DACA migrants.

Yet the millions excluded by Trump’s vision are together with us in this fight, resisting for liberation, and now is the time to build a movement that won’t settle, that won’t compromise, that won’t divide, and that will keep marching forward no matter what band-aid reforms or cruel repressions are thrown our way. Because we know that love will not fix this situation – it will take direct action, mutual aid, and solidarity.

We’ve won before and we will win again. We know our victories are often temporary – like with DACA or Arpaio – but that is precisely why we can never rest or settle. Now is the time to focus on what we really need to win our freedom, and keep fighting.

If you enjoyed this piece we recommend “Koreatown, LA Fights Back on 7-Eleven ICE Raids” which gives a great example of how neighborhood based popular power can beat back ICE.