We have received the following call to action from a network of anti-border activists. In the wake of Trump supporters’ invasion of the Capitol building, opponents of authoritarianism must maintain momentum against all the oppressive policies that the Biden administration aims to preserve—keeping the focus on social change, rather than simply shoring up the status quo against fascists. January 20 has a long history as a day of resistance to tyranny; this year, it makes sense to focus on the institutions of oppression that are spread around the country, rather than the ones concentrated in the nation’s capital.
Please circulate this call widely. To endorse this call or have the action you are organizing listed, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: You can read an overview of the actions that took place around the US on January 20 here.
J20: Close the Camps
From “Build the Wall” to the Muslim Ban, Donald Trump’s administration made history as the most anti-immigrant presidency in living memory. Though incoming President Joe Biden promised throughout his election campaign that he will roll back Trump’s immigration policies, it is unlikely that he will fulfill that promise unless we compel him to.
The Biden administration intends to continue running Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers, which are essentially concentration camps for the undocumented. On January 20, we call on everyone to gather outside these places—either to welcome children and families back into freedom or else to take steps to ensure that their detention concludes with the end of the Trump presidency.
Biden was a key member of the Obama administration’s deportation machinery, which deported more than 2.6 million people. Those numbers do not include all the migrants who died in the increasingly hostile desert terrain of the US-Mexico border, nor does it account for those affected by US investment in Mexico’s immigration program and attempts to strengthen Mexico’s southern border. For every migrant detained or deported, there is a story of the violence they experienced at the hands of ICE. This government agency is notorious for separating immigrant families, caging children, letting adults and children die from treatable medical conditions, and inflicting needless hysterectomies on detainees. Regardless of which administration oversees these detention centers, the elderly will continue to die of COVID-19 in cramped conditions, families will be torn apart, and those who stand up for themselves will face cruel repression until the centers are abolished.
The far right has made dramatic moves this month. Biden is already working to accommodate these racists and xenophobes, signaling that he will not interrupt ICE deportations and the family separation policy for fear of right-wing backlash if he honors his campaign promises.
The new presidential administration wants to play both sides. They are hoping that Inauguration Day passes without any further acknowledgement of the suffering inside ICE detention centers. It is instructive that Biden shouted down a Cosecha organizer who demanded that he answer for the Obama administration’s high deportation rate. Biden told the organizer to “Go vote for Trump!”—an indication of how meager the differences will be between Trump’s policies and those of the new administration.
Unless we act, the detainment, deportation, and dehumanization of immigrants will not end with the Trump administration. We must compel the Biden administration to free our immigrant neighbors back into our communities.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrants’ lives in ICE detention have become even more precarious, and the medical neglect they face even more deadly. Detained immigrants have courageously faced the horrors of COVID-19 inside prison walls for nearly a year, organizing unprecedented protests and hunger strikes in response.
Immigrant detainees are doing their part. We must do ours. Solidarity is our weapon.
If we do not come together to fight against the detainment, separation, deportation, and medical neglect of immigrants, the world will be no better off under the Biden administration than it was under Trump.
Join us on January 20, Inauguration Day, to let our undocumented brothers and sisters know that we will not stop fighting for their release.
This is a call to organize wherever you are, inviting anyone who dreams of a world without borders to come together and build it. We issue it in solidarity with the call made by the Brown Berets for January 20 to simultaneously turn back the “insurgency of Proud Boys” and “free our children in cages.” On January 20, show up at ICE detention centers, at ICE field offices, and at the police stations that cooperate with ICE.
We’ll welcome back children and families as they’re released, or else we’ll fight to see that their separation and detention comes to an end.
Invite your friends, families, and co-workers.
Wear a mask.
Make noise. Bring tents. Think ambitiously about how to free the detainees held near your community.
For our immigrant neighbors who are still in cages.
For our immigrant neighbors who live in fear.
For our immigrant neighbors yet to arrive.
Close the Camps!
If you are unable to participate in these protests but you can put financial resources towards supporting those targeted by the violence of the border regime, you could donate to El Comedor, an autonomous, migrant-run kitchen in Tijuana committed to greeting new caravans of migrants with hot meals.