Legal Aid Attorneys Demand ICE out of NY Courts
Friday, December 22, 2017 at 9:18AM

BROOKLYN—More than 500 workers rallied on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall to demand that federal immigration storm troopers be banned from state courthouses. The demonstrators represented dozens of unions and immigrant rights and community groups, including the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys-UAW Local 2325. Members of Progressive Labor Party are active in a number of these organizations, where they have sharpened the political struggle against the capitalist injustice system and its escalating persecution of undocumented workers.
Nine days earlier, hundreds of Legal Aid and Brooklyn Defender attorneys walked out after a client at a scheduled court appearance was seized and detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. They marched to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and demanded that the Office of Court Administration and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore prohibit ICE from entering court property.  As one speaker at today’s protest said, “We have seen first-hand the effects of ICE’s presence in and around the courts, and we refuse to see the lives of the people that we love continue to be destroyed by it.”
Beyond terrorizing immigrant defendants, ICE’s presence discourages immigrant victims and witnesses from appearing in court. This exposes the sham of the rulers’  “due process” and adds to the devastating effects of Trump’s racist policies.
Bipartisan Racism
Under capitalism, the so-called legal system functions like every other part of the capitalist state apparatus—as the bosses’ weapon to attack, intimidate, and control the working class. While racist-in-chief Donald Trump has intensified anti-immigrant rhetoric and unleashed the mad dogs of ICE to escalate worksite raids, Democrats and Republicans alike share a despicable history for scapegoating immigrants for the failings of the profit system.
In the 1990s, the Bill Clinton administration deported a record 12.3 million immigrants, most of them “voluntary” returns. It also pushed for laws that established “new grounds for deportation, penalties for the crimes of illegal entry and re-entry, mandates for detention of deportable noncitizens, and a framework for cooperative arrangements on immigration enforcement between the federal government and state and local law enforcement agencies” (Migration Policy Institute, 1/26/17).
Returns decreased significantly under Barack Obama, due primarily to a drop in net migration from Mexico into negative numbers. But Obama also systematically implemented a George W. Bush-era deterrent strategy to remove a record 3.1 million undocumented immigrants through formal deportation proceedings. As a result, a much higher percentage was subjected to criminal charges; re-entry became a felony offense. By 2013, the Obama administration had weaponized another Bush program, “Secure Communities,” to allow the fingerprints of all those arrested by local cops to be matched against FBI and Department of Homeland Security databases (MPI, 1/26/17). The recent courthouse, workplace, and neighborhood sweeps under Trump are a direct extension of the racist, anti-immigrant policies of the Clinton-Bush-Obama era.
End Anti-Immigrant Terror by Smashing Capitalism
The rulers need to demonize immigrants to make super-profits through super-exploitation—and to keep documented and undocumented workers from uniting to fight for communism and smash the capitalist system. The job of the liberal bosses, and the Democratic Party in particular, is to keep a lid on any struggle and steer it back into electoral politics. Our job as communists is to help workers see through the Democrats’ misleadership. When New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke at today’s rally, a number of demonstrators heckled her.
Anti-immigrant racism and terror are hallmarks of periods of accelerating inter-imperialist rivalry. Attacks on immigrants and refugees are growing as the bosses inch closer to yet another world war. PLP is organizing to smash all borders by building an international revolutionary communist movement. One way we advance is to be active in struggles like this one, and by showing our coworkers that the only way to end racist terror is by ending the system that created it.

Article originally appeared on The Revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party (
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