Communities of color must work together in resisting Trump's agenda
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Now is the time for a lasting coalition of people of color. 

The coalition must be between politicians, activists, and other community workers and organizations.

In the age of Trump, everything that was being fought for over the last several years by immigration activists and advocates for police reform is in major jeopardy. Now, we see that the issues overlap, and it will take Civil Rights-era steadfastness and vigilance to protect our human rights.

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Many of us were disheartened by the death of Tamir Rice, a young Cleveland boy who was gunned down by police officers. Despite the efforts to portray the desire to reform police as being anti-police, around the nation we found police executives who wanted to find ways to restore trust between officers and the public they serve and better their profession.

 

The Justice Department investigated cities like Baltimore and Ferguson which lead to consent decrees to initiate cultural and institutional changes in policing. 

However, with the new administration, there will be little focus on making those much needed changes. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRhode Island announces plan to pay DACA renewal fee for every 'Dreamer' in state Mich. Senate candidate opts for House run instead NAACP sues Trump for ending DACA MORE, who many argue has been an opponent of Civil Rights for much of his career, has stated that consent decrees “undermine the respect for officers.” 

He uses the “bad apple” argument that wrongdoing is the result of a few individuals.  The Department of Justice reports in Baltimore showed patterns of civil rights violations. Most importantly, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis made clear that he felt the Department of Justice report “serve to solidify our roadmap” to improve policing in the city. 

While the media has focused on the issue of policing affecting African American communities, urban Latinos have dealt with many of the same problems.

The death of 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca by a border patrol agent should be viewed much in the same way as Tamir Rice, who was killed in 2014. The agent was on the US side of the border, while Hernandez Guereca was on the Mexican side. While cellphone footage doesn’t always provide context, it appears that Hernandez Guereca was running away unarmed when he was gunned down in one video of the incident from a witness.

Instead of trying to put in place measures that could prevent tragedies like the death of Hernandez Guereca from happening, the Trump administration has simply ramped up the efforts of Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement by providing them unfettered discretion. 

They are targeting undocumented people who are guilty of minor offenses, much like what happened to the largely African American residents of Ferguson. The Trump administration has referred to the search for undocumented people as a “military operation.” One of the biggest concerns of Black Lives Matter was the militarization of police.

While African American academics, politicians, artists, and activists have been actively resisting mass incarceration and private prisons, President Trump has increased the quota for daily immigrant detention to 80,000. New facilities are under construction in Georgia and Texas.

Just as largely African American inmates are being coerced into working for private companies in prison and economically exploited due to a loophole in the 13th amendment to the Constitution, undocumented immigrants, largely Latino (though many non-Latino Blacks as well) are being exploited in similar ways.  

Under President Obama, a class action lawsuit was filed against the GEO Group, which is contracted by ICE to run immigrant detention centers. The suit claims that people housed in the facility for forced to work without pay or for $1 per day. 

The Obama administration tried to end the relationship between the federal government and private prison entities. Trump’s desire to deport 2 to 3 million undocumented people will likely keep the market for private prisons open. Their stock has been strong since Trump’s election.

The interests of African Americans and Latinos are too closely tied together to work in isolation. The Congressional Black Caucus should not work without the support of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Members of the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, and even League of United Latin American Citizens need to establish firm communication and work together. They need to establish a firm joint agenda that goes far beyond simple opposition to the Trump regime. 

The need to work hard to galvanize voters for both 2018 and 2020, and help whoever the opponent to Trump is establish a clear coherent message, something that the Clinton campaign failed to do. 

African American media needs to include more Latino voices, and Spanish language media needs to include African Americans (yes, some of us speak Spanish, including me). 

This will be a major step in breaking down cultural barriers that keep us separated. If there is a lesson we all should learn for 2016, a house divided gets trumped.

Jason Nichols is a full time faculty member in the African American Studies Department at the University of Maryland College Park. His writing has appeared in the Baltimore Sun.


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