Immigrants Accuse SEIU Of Using Marshalls & Police Against Immigration Activists
Labor Union (SEIU) and Immigrant Rights Group (ICIRR) Accused of Having Activists Arrested at Chicago May Day
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) used marshals and police to assault participants in the Mayday March. Marshals obstructed groups of marchers, blocking them from being able to walk or to pass on either side of the street, and directed police to kettle specific groups of people whose messaging was not convenient. Eventually, marshals signaled out Ze (Jose Garcia), an undocumented organizer and outspoken critic of ICIRR. ICIRR and SEIU marshals physically restrained him and signaled the police to arrest him and Anne Wooton. Ze is also currently fighting his deportation proceedings. This is a politically motivated attack intended to suppress dissent and to control people’s autonomous participation in a public event.
Revolution News reports: “Activists from the Chicago branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, Moratorium on Deportations Campaign, as well as activists from Occupy Chicago, are publicly accusing SEIU (A US labor union) and ICIRR (an immigrant rights group), of having police arrest two people during the May Day parade. In this video, the incident starts around 2:30 mark.”
@icirr responded on twitter: “We actually negotiated to try & get release since he is undocumented. We had nothing to do w arrest & are sorry it happened.”
Moratorium on Deportations released a statement saying:
“The attack on Mr. Garcia is clearly politically motivated, as he is a member of the organization Moratorium on Deportations Campaign, an outspoken critic on ICIRR’s position on immigration reform. The actions perpetrated by this coalition are not a one-time occurrence. ICIRR has a record of calling the police on undocumented activists who disagree with them. In 2012, ICIRR staff signaled police to forcefully remove veteran DREAMer José Herrera from a public event because he was giving a radio interview that disagreed with the official ICIRR position. Mr. Herrera was also facing deportation proceedings at the time.”
There has been an ongoing political conflict between ICIRR and Moratorium on Deportations over the ICIRR over whether to support the proposed immigration reform legislation. Immigrant rights activists are realizing that President Obama has used them as political pawns with rhetoric like “comprehensive immigration reform” while never intending real reform and carrying out record numbers of deportations.
Moratorium on Deportations has been highlighting the mistaken position of ICIRR. Last June, they delivered “a special, custom-made giant poop trophy to the ICIRR in recognition of their deceptive propaganda campaign in support of the senate ‘Immigration Reform Bill.'” The action also drew attention “to the fact that large and politically-connected NGO’s like ICIRR are promoting this bill because they stand to benefit financially and politically from this legislation.” [Emphasis in original] For videos of the delivery of the poop and debates, here and also, before the police were called, here.
“ICIRR) has been promoting the bi-partisan bill “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act”, aka the Gang of 8 Immigration Reform Bill. In order to mobilize people in support of this bill, ICIRR has been misleading the public through false statements, such as “the bill includes a path to legalization for 11 million undocumented immigrants”, or the bill “provides for increased family unity” etc. ICIRR’s propaganda deliberately deceives people about the main provisions of the bill, which are:
- increasing militarization and deaths at the border
- increasing surveillance of immigrants and inventing new categories of “immigration crimes”, which escalate detention and deportations.
- excluding poor immigrants and those without stable employment from any chance for legal status
- undermining family unification efforts, by reducing family petitions and replacing them with a “merit-based” system that favors rich and highly educated immigrants
- expanding guest worker programs and E-Verify, which keep immigrants vulnerable to employer abuse and exploitation”
Conflicts between groups that work within the system and seek reform that is never a real solution to the problems people face are often in conflict with other organizations that are directly impacted and refuse to compromise their human necessities. Social justice movement writer Bill Moyer describes this as a conflict between “principled dissent organizations” and “professional opposition organizations (POO).” Moyer warns that in the current phase of the building of a movement for social and economic justice we must be very careful to avoid becoming a POO and regain the moral high ground by standing for what is actually necessary. This is a conflict we have seen in many of the sub-movements that make up the ‘movement of movements.’
More on the conflict between professional reform groups and the social movement:
More on the SEIU: