28 July 2017

Bay Area Unionists Detained by I.C.E.

Free Mejía and Nuñez! Stop the Deportations!

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

The following article appeared under the Partisan Defense Committee's Class-Struggle Defense Notes masthead in the print version of this issue of Workers Vanguard. The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defense organization which champions cases and causes in the interest of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League.

We print below a June 19 letter by the Partisan Defense Committee to the San Francisco field office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.). The letter defends Hugo Mejía and Rodrigo Nuñez, two Bay Area union construction workers jailed by I.C.E. and threatened with deportation. They are currently awaiting decisions on their asylum cases from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mejía’s union, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), has actively organized protests in the workers’ defense. On June 20, about 70 people joined a rally outside San Francisco I.C.E. offices. Among the protesters were IUPAT officials and members, representatives of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC—Nuñez’s union), immigrant rights groups and others, including the PDC. In a July 10 statement, IUPAT general president Kenneth Rigmaiden wrote: “We will continue to stand by our union brothers Hugo and Rodrigo, the same way we have stood by other union members before them; be it when they have been exploited by an employer on the job or while experiencing extreme hardship of any kind.” It is vital that unions mobilize labor actions in defense of immigrant rights. In so doing, they will be fighting for the unity and integrity of the working class and in defense of the rights of black people and all the oppressed.

Responding to the outpouring of support for Mejía and Nuñez, eleven California members of Congress wrote to I.C.E. on June 22 asking the agency to “seriously consider any available alternatives to deportation.” Union officials have pushed appeals to such Democratic Party “friends.” However, the capitalist Democratic Party, like the Republican Party, is the class enemy of workers and the oppressed. As the emcee at the June 20 rally pointed out, Trump’s deportations are the continuation of “the Obama deportation policy.” It is by mobilizing labor’s power independently of all agencies of the ruling class that real blows can be struck on behalf of Mejía, Nuñez and all immigrants.

*   *   *

The Partisan Defense Committee condemns the detention and threatened fast-track deportation of painters union member Hugo Mejía (IUPAT Local 83) and drywall construction union member Rodrigo Nuñez (UBC Local 68) who both were detained on their way to work in northern California on May 3. The two union members showed up to work on a construction job at a hospital on Travis Air Force base. After presenting their California driver’s license and individual taxpayer number (ITIN) they were apprehended and transferred to two separate ICE facilities, Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center and Yuba County, CA. Mejía and Nuñez are both long-time union workers and family men with young children and have now been held for more than a month. Mejía has had a pending asylum case for the past decade.

The persecution of these union brothers comes amid an anti-immigrant blitzkrieg ordered by the Trump administration, which has arrested hundreds from coast to coast in highly publicized, armed ICE raids. The intent of these anti-immigrant raids is to inculcate fear and poison the working class with the lie that foreign-born workers are stealing jobs. We of the PDC understand that mobilizing the unions in defense of immigrants is of vital importance to all working people.

We join many others in demanding, free Hugo Mejía and Rodrigo Nuñez immediately! No Deportations! Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!

* * *

(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1115, 28 July 2017 )

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.