Resist Anti-Immigrant Bigotry in North Carolina

Donald Trump won the presidency by stoking and exploiting racist and xenophobic fears, and Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is promising to help Trump spread that fear in the Triangle.

Harrison told ABC11 that his department will willingly share information on Triangle residents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Though Harrison, like Trump, is claiming that he will focus on supposed criminals, he made clear that he will use ICE to target residents when he wants to remove them from the area, but doesn’t have evidence that they committed any crimes.

“Hey, we don’t have enough to charge him, but you [ICE] might want to look into him, he’s undocumented, or she’s undocumented, and let’s just get him out of our neighborhood,” he told ABC11.

By circumventing due process, Harrison is playing to stereotypes of immigrants—and our Latinx neighbors more generally—as criminals, treating them as inferior citizens who are not worthy of constitutional protections. Harrison’s comments make clear that immigrants’ rights are secondary to the comfort of others—others who we know to be wealthy, white citizens.

This kind of oppression is not new in North Carolina. The same sentiment lies behind House Bill 318, which Governor Pat McCrory signed last year. At a press conference, McCrory and Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes both justified the bill as a way to preserve law and order. In reality, it’s just a way to ensure undocumented immigrants—and anyone assumed to be an undocumented immigrant—have onerous bureaucratic hoops to jump through to prove their right to take part in our local communities.

We must fight back against Trump, Harrison, Barnes, and McCrory’s bigotry. We must ensure that our friends, family, and neighbors who are immigrants are safe in North Carolina, regardless of their immigration status.

To help resist anti-immigrant policies in the Triangle, we urge you to:

  1. Attend the public ICE 287(g) program steering committee meeting that will take place at 1 p.m. on December 12 at the Wake County Detention Center. The 287(g) program allows ICE to deport undocumented immigrants, and the meeting allows public comment so you can speak against the way it is used to oppress Triangle residents.

  2. Support efforts to create sanctuaries for immigrants the Triangle. Though Governor McCrory signed a bill last year outlawing sanctuary cities, movements have started at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and elsewhere to create protections for undocumented immigrants at those institutions. Join the protests, petitions, and other actions in your area.

  3. Volunteer with refugee and immigrant groups in the Triangle, including El Centro HispanoEl PuebloChurch World Service.

  4. Donate to organizations who are on the frontlines of these battles, including the ACLUNational Immigration Law Center, and American Immigration Council.

What now? Socialism!

On Tuesday, over 47 percent of voters chose a racist, billionaire demagogue to lead the country. It was a victory for nativism, bigotry, regressive economic theories, anti-LGBTQ identity politics, and antichoice policies. But it was not a repudiation of radical progressive programs.

In fact, the time is ripe for common-sense socialism to make concrete gains across the country–and it’s needed now more than ever.

It’s impossible to understand Donald Trump’s victory without recognizing a stunning shift in the Democratic Party’s voters. Writing in Jacobin, Jedediah Purdy showed that Hillary Clinton fared much worse with voters who make under $50,000 a year than Barack Obama did, while doing much better with those who make over $100,000. In other words, the Democratic Party’s base has shifted from the working class to the elites.

Trump saw that shift, and he took advantage of it. He repeatedly criticized Clinton for being out of touch with common people, tapping into the widespread disdain the public has for politicians. And it worked. His rightwing populism resonated with many voters.

With secretive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the growing influence of dark money after Citizens United, and the pervasive use of gerrymandering to limit public influence, it didn’t take much to turn these voters away from the Democrats.

Of course, Trump’s populism is a clearly sham. He’s just the kind of elite he claimed to oppose, as his list of potential cabinet members proves. But more importantly, his politics thrives on a hateful approach that turns people against each other, ensuring that those who have power stay in power and that those who are oppressed will only be more oppressed.

Certainly, that hateful rhetoric appeals to dedicated racists, who in turn helped fuel Trump’s rise. But it’s a mistake to write off all of Trump’s voters as unrepentant racists who can’t be convinced to see his bigotry for what it is: a moral failure and a political dead-end. It’s also a mistake to forget about the 45 percent of eligible voters who did not vote at all, many of whom did so because they don’t believe anyone in Washington will work for them, whatever their party. If we present those two groups another political program, one that addresses their justified disillusionment with politics while fostering solidarity among all peoples, we can start building a world based on justice and equality.

That political program is socialism.

Bernie Sanders’s primary campaign showed that there is a widespread interest in a working-class politics, especially among young people. Building from that, we must show those who are disillusioned by the status quo that there is a better way. But we also must stand explicitly against Trump’s bigotry, ensuring that antiracism, antisexism, LBGTQ rights, and immigrant rights are central tenets to our movement.

We can only do those things by uniting all working people into one political party. But that’s exactly what a socialist politics does. With it, we can fight back against both the Democratic Party’s elitism and the Republican Party’s regressive nativism.