Syracuse Activists Issue Ice Eviction Orders
Ten activists were arrested after engaging in direct action to block an entrance to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in downtown Syracuse on July 31. The arrests occurred after a rally at the Federal Building and march to ICE headquarters, which are located in a privately owned building.
The rally and march called for abolishing ICE and were sponsored and organized by the Workers’ Center of Central New York, Immigrant and Refugee Defense Project, International Socialist Organization (ISO) and Democratic Socialists of America, among other endorsers.
The dairy industry in rural upstate New York widely employs immigrant workers, who live under constant fear of discovery and deportation.
Though immigrant workers are denied basic rights such as the right to drive a car, they work grueling hours for very little pay under unsafe conditions. Further complicating the workers’ predicament, ICE is constantly on the prowl — not to reprimand the employers who take advantage of undocumented workers, but to arrest, detain and deport the workers themselves.
Several speakers addressed the crowd about the need to escalate action against ICE in order to bring greater awareness to the issues surrounding the kidnapping and deportation of immigrants across the U.S.
A Workers’ Center activist discussed the campaign to win driver’s licenses for immigrant workers, and an ISO speaker addressed how Democratic Party politicians support the free movement of capital across borders but not the free movement of workers. After the speeches, the group marched several blocks to the ICE building.
At a previous demonstration on June 30, activists hung a banner over the entrance to the building reading, “ICE kidnaps immigrants here: Abolish ICE!” Activists decorated the back gate used by ICE vans with posters, flowers and butterflies, which symbolize migration because of their own migratory patterns.
On this day, activists sought to press their challenge to ICE even further. The rally gathered in the lobby of the multiuse building, which contains restaurants and apartments as well as ICE offices. After chants of “Abolish ICE!” and “Evict Ice!” Workers’ Center leader Rebecca Fuentes and the author of this article together read an “Eviction Notice” in English and Spanish:
This is a notice of eviction. We have found your office and its counterparts in violation of a series of basic human rights. In Syracuse, you have intimidated the entire immigrant community by establishing checkpoints in public places and on public transportation, by invading or threatening to invade the homes of residents, and through the aggressive interrogations of our community members.
You have kidnapped dozens Syracuse residents. You have traumatized the family members and children of abductees by leaving them to fend for themselves with already scarce resources while dealing with the abduction of their relatives and the fear of being abducted themselves…
Your organization represents the worst of racist white nationalism, xenophobia, the prison industrial complex, state militarism and the capitalist ruling class that benefits from those ills. For these reasons, we hereby demand that you leave our city.