Over 10 years ago today, we saw a historic turning point in Latinx politics, especially for Latinx immigrants who bravely stood together to build political power for our shared future.
Culminating on May Day 2006, millions of people marched in protests in more than 140 cities in 39 states across the country in response to the “Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act” — a draconian piece of legislation passed in 2005 by the House of Representatives, but not by the Senate, that sought to raise penalties for unauthorized immigration and classified undocumented immigrants and anyone who helped them enter or remain in the U.S. as felons. The introduction of this anti-immigrant legislation resulted in a wave of Latinx voters at the polls and the beginning of the “undocumented, unafraid” movement.
Now, more than a decade later, the current administration has escalated the assault against Latinx communities to a new extreme, aggressively undercutting our communities’ ability to organize against its dangerous policies and practices.
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With the help of big data and the leading technology companies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has the means to commit egregious government overreach. ICE is creating a police state of wide-scale surveillance, and the technology providers that we use every day are helping it. The administration has the help of many large technology companies, including Amazon, Microsoft and Palantir, which are selling out customers by collecting their data and profiting off the targeting and harassment of our communities.
With big tech behind it, Trump’s ICE is leading countless manipulative, frightening attacks on immigrants, many of whom have become activists fighting back against ICE abuses. Just this April, ICE targeted Jose Montelongo from Flagstaff, Arizona, after he sued a local sheriff over a 48-hour detainer policy that turns over undocumented people to ICE after they have been ordered released on all state and local charges. When ICE found out that Montelongo had been released by the sheriff due to pressure from the lawsuit, ICE agents swarmed Flagstaff and Sedona communities, threatening Montelongo’s family and friends — even placing Montelongo’s father in the Eloy Detention Center when he refused to reveal Montelongo’s location.
Recently we also saw ICE target Nicole Garcia Aguilar, a trans woman who fled Honduras after surviving a violent attack and death threats before she was granted asylum in the U.S. ICE detained her unlawfully and placed her in solitary confinement for months. After being released from ICE’s unlawful detention, she went to the ICE office to get her paperwork, only to be re-detained a second time this April.
Trump and his allies have faked a national crisis that scapegoats immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and communities have been in overdrive while actively trying to defend ourselves. But the attacks and threats also demand that we fortify the organizing infrastructure needed to halt the Trump administration’s destructive agenda by expanding our targets and going after the corporate enablers behind ICE.
For activists and supporters of immigrant rights, a focus on big tech companies might seem like a detour. But when we work across sectors and move coordinated strategies against the infrastructure and technology that is enabling ICE’s targeted attacks against our community, we expand the possibilities for organizing in arguably the most toxic political climate of our generation.