Today, members of OCAD took part in the Families Belong Together march in the Chicago loop. We did so not as an endorsement, but as an intervention in an event whose messaging concerned us because it does not reflect the concerns and demands of the families and community members we work with as they fight their deportations and community members who are currently facing raids in our city and state.
We must say loudly and firmly together in this moment that migrant families don’t merely belong together, they belong free.
The criminalization and indefinite detention of entire families is not a victory we can celebrate, and clarity around this issue matters.
Well-intentioned and inadequate messaging is in part how we arrived at this moment. The dominance of the DREAMer narrative–the poisonous notion that undocumented children don’t deserve to be punished, but their caretakers and loved ones do–has laid the legal precedent for separating youth from their families. Superficial rhetoric will lead to more superficial reforms, doing nothing to stop border violence and keep families safe.
As the communities directly affected by these racist policies, we want to make our demands clear:
- Decriminalize all migration: Crossing borders is not a crime. What we are seeing today at the border is the heightening of criminalization of anyone crossing the border. Seeking refuge from war, violence, and economic exploitation is a right, not an act of aggression. No form of migration is worthy of separation, detention, nor deportation.
- Shut Down Sessions by any means necessary: The immediate violence of this moment demands immediate intervention. Attorney General Jeff Session is using his power to push policies (zero-tolerance) that aim to incarcerate thousands of immigrants crossing the border. This crisis was fabricated by the Trump Administration and the Department of Justice. The interruption of racist violence requires using every tactic in our toolkit to permanently stop separation, detention, and deportation, through whatever methods are called for by impacted communities.
- Abolish ICE, and divest from all forms of policing and incarceration: ICE and Border Patrol, like the larger policing and prison systems that birthed them, are designed to terrorize our communities, consuming the resources that should be used to protect them. None of us are free until all of us are free. Abolish ICE permanently, and divest from all forms of policing and incarceration that punish Black and Brown communities instead of investing in them.
To quote the powerful leaders of the disability justice movement, “Nothing about us without us is for us.” There can be no immigrant justice without the voices of immigrants, and immigrants do not want to be detained indefinitely together. We want abolition. We want freedom.
Check out this powerful speech from the march by Irene Romulo, OCAD organizer, who took the stage to remind us that the call to “end to family separation must also be tied to a call to abolish all jails, prisons, policing, and ICE. ICE was created 17 years ago out of the same Islamophobia and anti-arab sentiments that are behind today’s Muslim Ban. The violence that is inherent within this institution cannot be reformed, it cannot be made more humane, it must be abolished.”
#AbolishICE #ShutDownSessions #DecriminalizeMigration