This week, we saw SONG family showing up across the South to show, not just tell, that Black lives matter. Today we say thank you to everyone for making Wednesday’s work in Atlanta, in particular, possible! Several members of SONG’s leadership and membership, the #itsbiggerthanyou crew, and individuals belonging to different organizations led a civil disobedience that challenged our bravery and showed us what is possible when ordinary people answer the call to fight for our collective safety, dignity, and liberation. We experienced what is possible when Black leadership organizes across gender, sexuality, political lines, and class. Our actions answered a national call for a week of action put out by the network #Blacklivesmatter, whose leadership have exemplified organizing at the intersections to confront state violence. Their work is key in shifting the national conversation as it relates to black queer, trans, and women’s leadership in the fight against state violence.
September 15th 2014
After vowing in June that he would take executive action “before the end of the summer” to stop the senseless and inhumane rate of deportations under his administration, President Obama broke his promise this Saturday and delayed any slowing of the deportation machine until after the midterm elections in November. Joining innumerable immigrant and civil rights organizations, LGBTQ organizations denounce this cynical, political calculation, which at the current rate of 1,100 deportations per day will lead to 70,000 more deportations and a continuation of 34,000 people caged in immigration detention centers every single night. Among these numbers include countless LGBTQ immigrants.
The daily targeting of undocumented immigrants has not gone without resistance from our communities locally, regionally, and nationally. We have worked on individual deportation cases, shutdown Immigration and Custom Enforcements (ICE) detention centers, taken direct action on Congressional offices, and marched on Washington to stop the brutality of state control over our lives and the lives of our families. We’ve show President Obama and other elected officials that we will not stand for inaction on their parts.
President Obama and Democrats have run on progressive tickets promising our people a change in Washington, but we are sorely disappointed that once again our immigrant communities have become pawns in a political waiting game in the name of the upcoming November elections. The President’s recent announcement, created by pressure from the Democratic Party, to further delay immediate relief for immigrant families (including thousands of LGBTQ undocumented people) from policing, imprisonment, and deportation will only continue to mobilize white nationalist resentment and ensure that our region and our states remain hostile to immigrant communities and communities of color.
The White House’s political antics ignore what the uprising in Ferguson has affirmed these past few weeks; there is a deep white supremacist culture embedded in both local policing and national law enforcement agencies like ICE. We know all too well that this culture leads to biased policing and enforcement of communities of color, including LGBTQ people.
Our communities will continue to unite to bring the White House our demands to defend our people and to advocate for ourselves. We commend Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President, and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) for their decision to boycott meetings with President Obama until he meets directly with undocumented people and urge other advocates to follow this leadership. We know those of us that are directly impacted are best positioned to speak for the relief we need from the issues that affect our communities.
As Pablo Alvarado of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) said, we will not be deterred by a, “politics of fear.” We remain committed to our desire for liberation and will lead our continued fight in the name of the transformation of a South and a country that embraces immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people in the name of BeLoved community.
The criminalization of LGBTQ people comes in many forms. One form is the profiling, harassment, and arrests of undocumented immigrants. In places all around the South, if you go to the store for groceries and run a stop sign you can be profiled, stopped, and potentially deported, for minor violations. We know this impacts LGBTQ communities of color in a particular way, because we already have high rates of profiling and police harassment just for being LGBTQ and of color.
In Atlanta, GA, SONG has been working with our partners in the Georgia Not1More Coalition to combat this type of criminalization. For months we have been organizing to end the link between local police and the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This linkage allows ICE to use what are known as detainers, or holds, to enter any person profiled and picked up by local law enforcement, regardless of the charges, into deportation proceedings. A ruling by a federal court in Oregon found that these types of arrests lack probable cause and are in violation of the 4th Amendment and other courts have clearly shown that enforcement of detainers by local entities is voluntary.
On September 3rd, Atlanta’s Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted 6 to 0 to pass a resolution urging the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department to no longer enforce ICE detainers. Fulton County, GA, became the second county in the South to pass such a resolution, after Miami-Dade County in Florida. Before voting on the resolution, Futon County commissioners spoke with strong convictions about the underlying racial profiling and the unconstitutionality of ICE detainers. Commissioner Joan Garner, a SONG founder and one of the sponsors of the resolution, shared some of her reflections after making the decision.
“Sponsoring the resolution was the right thing to do. I am opposed to any form of discrimination against any person or group. The practice of holding individuals on an ICE detainer seemed to target a group of people and I had to speak up, and will always speak up, in order to oppose racial profiling and oppression. Fulton County opposes racial profiling. Fulton County is concerned when people are held for 48hrs or more and the impact it has on the individual, the community, and the taxpayer. I encourage the Sheriff to take the impact of ICE detainers into consideration by adhering to the newly passed resolution.”
This victory was made possible by our community and the work of the Georgia Not1More Coalition, co-anchored by SONG and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR). We must continue out dedication and unity in moving forward to ensure the implementation of this policy to its full extent, the accountability of Fulton County law enforcement, and fight to expand this win to other locales.
Policy wins can be rolled back but cultural change is undeniable. Our communities across the South and the country are fighting back against this type of enforcement because it undermines public safety and is intimately connected to the culture of hyper-policing and targeting of Black communities, LGBTQ communities and poor people. We need your support to continue this work. Please donate to SONG’s work today!
This work is hard. Even though we know our members and our people are the reason for the work and the solution to our problems, on a hard day the best of us can be discouraged. Not today. Today we get to tell you some good news. Most of you know that a few days ago we held a direct action with SONG family and our sister organization, Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, to demand that the 7 Congressional Equality Caucus Co-Chairs make a statement to President Obama regarding the needs of LGBTQ undocumented immigrants inside his upcoming Executive Order. We told them in our letter (http://