On Friday Oct. 20, community members rallied to oppose the policies of Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his visit to Austin. The rally also elevated the Austin community’s priorities to protect U.S.-born and immigrant communities of color, transgender people, and “Sanctuary Cities” against Sessions’ agenda.
The policies of the Department of Justice (DOJ) under Sessions are already extreme and attack various communities. The DOJ agenda under Sessions already includes reviving the War on Drugs, increasing migrant prosecutions, removing workplace protections for LGBT people, and a fixation on so-called “Black identity extremists” in the FBI.
Sessions planned to speak at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas on the Trump administration’s immigration priorities.
In his testimony before Congress on Oct. 18, Sessions threatened to take away federal funding from Sanctuary Cities that limit local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. As the legal battle over the racial profiling bill SB 4 continues in Texas, the community stands unified against threats from local, state, and federal officials who fail to protect their constituents.
“We know that the real reason Sessions is coming is to defy the Austin community as we are fighting to ensure that Austin is a Sanctuary City for all,” said Claudia Muñoz, immigration programs director at Grassroots Leadership, before the visit. “Even as we continue to be attacked by Paxton, Abbott, and the Trump administration, we will show Sessions that he will not break us and we will resist any and all steps he takes against us. He is not welcome in our city.”
Trump’s deportation force has become unchained and acting with impunity under the direction of Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice. The agency’s termination of the DACA program, massive raids under “Operation Safe City,” planned restrictions on asylum cases including imposing numeric quotas for immigration judges, and recently announced solicitations for more private detention centers represent the greatest threats to safety for the immigrant community.
A memo released in April called for crackdowns on immigrant communities in a system that is already at historically high levels of migrant prosecutions. Sessions has also eliminated workplace protections for transgender people in the workplace, endorsed seizure of people’s property by police, revived the failed War on Drugs, and endorsed law-and-order policing despite evidence that more policing does not decrease crime.
The rally outside the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Congress Ave. presented the community’s priorities for justice, including accountability and transparency for law and immigration enforcement.
Jorge Renaud, Texas Advocate for Justice organizer at Grassroots Leadership, explains, “Under Sessions, the Department of Justice has taken liberty to attack not only the immigrant community but also expand the disastrous war on drugs that has purposely devastated the Black and Brown communities, as well as boosting the for profit incarcerations while maintaining folks in cages. We rally to defy Sessions, defend our rights, and expand Sanctuary for all persons who this administration has targeted. We will not let his white supremacist agenda prevent us from upholding dignity and justice in Austin.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was confirmed in February despite serious concerns over allegations that he is a white supremacist.
Dream warriors, immigrant youth and allies all over the country will lead Operation Dream Act Now on Thursday, Nov. 9, leading school walkouts and mobilizing thousands of people across the country to demand that Congress pass a clean Dream Act by December.
November 9 marks over two months since Trump ended DACA, and one year since he was elected as president. The public is invited to join hundreds of Dream Defenders: immigrant youth, allies, business leaders, and people of faith.
For more information contact Julieta@unitedwedream.org