We are in a very dangerous moment in American history.
Last month, as you'll recall, Trump had peaceful protestors outside of the White House in Washington, D.C. viciously attacked by federal agents who wore no identification.
As we speak, in Portland, Oregon, federal agents in combat gear and unmarked vehicles are pulling protesters off the streets and jailing them without charges, despite opposition from local and state officials.
What Trump and his allies are now doing is "normalizing" the use of federal troops to patrol and make arrests of American citizens in communities throughout the country. Today it is Portland, Oregon. Tomorrow, Trump is suggesting it could be New York City, Chicago or Philadelphia. Next, your hometown.
This is what a police state is all about.
Make no mistake about it: Donald Trump does not believe in democracy, our Constitution or the rule of law.
He is working aggressively to suppress the vote and, in the midst of this terrible pandemic, is vigorously opposing the right of citizens to vote by mail. He has ignored decisions of Congress, which is why he was impeached. He has contempt for a free press and has called the media "an enemy of the people." He has used his office for blatant personal and political gain, running the most corrupt administration in modern American history. He has ruptured our relationships with long-time democratic allies around the world while he embraces right-wing authoritarian leaders in Russia, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, the Philippines and elsewhere.
Yes. We must all come together to defeat Trump in November, but we must also act right NOW to stop the movement toward authoritarianism and a police state.
That is why I am introducing legislation with Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon which would greatly curtail the activities of federal military forces in our communities. This bill would limit their ability to conduct crowd control to properties immediately surrounding federal buildings without the invitation of the Governor and Mayor, require federal agents to wear visible IDs, and ban them from making arrests or detentions in unmarked vehicles.
Now we need you to make your voice heard — to send a message to Congress that you are paying attention to this issue and will do everything possible to defend our Constitution, the separation of powers and the right of Americans to peacefully demonstrate.
Please add your name as a citizen co-sponsor of legislation that would force federal agents to wear visible IDs, ban them from making arrests and detentions from unmarked vehicles, and limit their ability to conduct crowd control without invitation from the Governor or Mayor.
Too many Americans fought and died to defend American democracy to let President Trump move us even further in an authoritarian direction.
And that is why I am asking you to join Senator Jeff Merkley and me in making your voice heard.
Trump's strategy of hateful rhetoric and using a crisis to seize more power is nothing new. It has been used by authoritarian leaders throughout history.
Our job NOW is to stand together, fight back, and stop the movement toward authoritarianism and a police state.
David Bacon, July 2, 2020.
On June 24, new COVID-19 cases passed 200 in one day in rural Yakima County in central Washington state for the third time this June. That brought the total number of people infected to 6,940, and the number of the dead to 132. The infection toll for Seattle’s King County, with a population ten times larger than Yakima’s, was 9,453.
COVID numbers are spiking in farmworker communities all over the United States. On June 26, the Imperial Valley, on the California-Mexican border, the source of winter vegetables worth over $1.8 billion per year, registered 5,549 cases and 70 deaths. In California’s huge San Joaquin Valley, Fresno County had 3,892 infections and 71 deaths, and Kern County had 4,108 cases and 63 deaths. Collier County in Florida, center of the U.S. tomato crop and headquarters of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, had 3,778 cases and 70 deaths. Cumberland County, New Jersey’s agricultural heartland, had 2,876 cases and 124 deaths, and nearby Chester County, Pennsylvania, where workers labor in Kennett Square’s mushroom sheds, had 3,437 cases and 313 deaths. In Arizona’s Yuma County, an irrigated desert along the Colorado River, there were 5,323 cases and 76 deaths.
This raging rural infection rate, which tracks those of urban counties many times their size, is not due to a refusal by farmworkers to wear facemasks. It is a function of structural racism—the way immigrants in general, and farmworkers in particular, are treated as disposable labor. People in the fields are viewed as machines, whose ability to work is the only aspect of their human value worth considering.
There is no clearer demonstration of this fact than the immigration order issued by the Trump administration on June 23. President Trump boasted that he would “preserve jobs for American citizens” by stopping the recruitment of guest workers in four visa categories. He failed to mention, however, that he was leaving untouched the country’s main guest worker program, under which growers bring farm laborers to the U.S.—the H-2A visa program.
Faced with the need to please agribusiness, Trump made clear that no rhetoric about family values applies to farmworkers. H-2A migrants cannot bring a wife or a child with them (the program notoriously discriminates against hiring women), so they live the lives of lonely men in barracks. And in its most significant impact on families, Trump’s order would close down the country’s historic path for keeping families together—the family preference system for granting residence visas, or “green cards.”
There’s nothing new about streamlining the labor supply for growers, making it cheaper and more vulnerable, under the cover of anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Trump’s order ostensibly stops the issuance of visas for four much smaller guest worker programs, including H-1B for workers in health care and high tech; H-2B for non-agricultural workers, mostly in landscaping, forestry, and food processing; L-1 for corporate executives; and J-1, the visa for students in cultural exchange programs, au pairs, and university researchers.
Nativist anti-immigrant organizations duly praised the order, which a senior administration official claimed to Vox “would open up 525,000 jobs.” The anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies declared, “Now there is a new sheriff in town. For the first time, a president has stood up for the American people.” According to Tom Homan, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under Trump, “With record unemployment crushing millions of Americans ... importing more foreign labor ... is simply unacceptable.”
Read the entire piece.
The opinions expressed here are those of members and allies of DSA North Star Caucus meant to educate, inspire discussion and encourage comradely debate.