Beyond “good immigrants,” with Aly Wane

The use of the “good immigrant vs. bad immigrant” narrative has led us to this point; we need to do better, says Aly Wane, an undocumented organizer with the Syracuse Peace Council, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and the Undocumented and Black Network. Trump’s obsessive focus on “criminal immigrants” belies the fact that almost any immigrant can be painted as a criminal, and ICE and border patrol have been loosed on everyone.

Democrats have kind of been terrible on this issue for a long time. As an undocumented organizer, I have always felt that there are the interests of the Republican Party, there are the interests of the Democratic Party, and then there are the interests of the undocumented community. There has been attention within the movement for years around migrants’ rights, with some folks collaborating a lot more with the Democratic Party, as far as the many compromises in terms of legislation. Those of us who have been at the grassroots for a long time have actually been the Cassandras, saying, “This is very worrying if you allow for the criminalization of some of our folks. If we feed the narrative of ‘the good immigrant vs the criminal alien’ eventually, someone is going to rise to power who is going to criminalize us all.”

The reality is that in order to get “compromises” going, the Democratic Party has really ramped up levels of enforcement for many, many years. I will give you one specific example. Chuck Schumer right now is painting himself as this champion of immigrants and saying “How could this possibly happen?” Well, Chuck Schumer, as part of the Gang of Eight, voted for a border wall that would be so militarized that John McCain actually said that it would put the Berlin Wall to shame. That was the Senate compromise. That was the “liberal” version of immigration reform.

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Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.

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