By David Martinez
Over a dozen Brown Berets and supporters from across Texas shut down a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recruitment fair last weekend.
The recruitment event was held at the Garret Community Center on the West Side of San Antonio, a historic working-class Chicano barrio. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was promoting recruitment of ICE agents and the Border Patrol. Chicanos and Spanish-speaking immigrants collectively refer to these law enforcement agents as “La Migra.”
Just prior to the arrival of the protesters, the Border Patrol agents were seen handing out stickers with their logo to neighborhood children. When it’s not terrorizing, beating, or killing oppressed nations youth, the US imperialist state targets them for recruitment to pull them away from revolutionary organizing and turn them against the interests of their own communities and fellow oppressed nations. Chicanos in particular are lured into the border patrol, making them traitors against the international working class.
Marz, a member of Autonomous Brown Berets de San Antonio, Tejatzlan, said the Berets called for the protest, “to call attention to ICE coming into our barrios and trying to recruit. They prey on our people that struggle and entice them with money and things. But sometimes our people, they don’t realize they’re going against their own kind.”
The Berets sought to bring special attention to the deaths at the hands of ICE agents, including Claudia Gomez, a 20-year-old Guatemalan woman gunned down at the border by a border patrol agent in May 2018.
In recent months, there have been an increasing number of deaths of children in immigration custody. Children arrive in poor health and are immediately incarcerated in poorly-kept holding cells and not provided adequate medical attention. These children and others are martyrs killed at the hands of US imperialism.
The Brown Berets boldly confronted the recruitment event in the memory of these victims, and quickly demonstrated that the immigration agents are nothing more than cowards and paper tigers. “As soon as [the ICE agents] saw us they got into their truck and drove off really fast, [down] a neighborhood street where there were kids playing,” a member of the San Marcos Brown Berets who attended in support told Incendiary.
“We wanted to drive them out and make them as uncomfortable as we can,” Marz said. “We don’t want to make their job easy for them because they are really torturing families and children.”
After the recruitment event was shut down, the group felt they should carry on the momentum of the successful action and take their message to the crowds gathered for the US Memorial Day holiday weekend.
The protest went downtown to demonstrate in front of the Alamo, San Antonio’s most well-known historical site, and a symbol of Texas settler-colonialism. San Antonio law enforcement immediately responded with an absurd amount of force, with 15 bike cops surrounding the group trying to wall them off from the interested and supportive masses. Department of Public Safety (DPS) state troopers also stood nearby to intimidate the group.
Protesters noticed one bike cop wearing a ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flag bandana on his head. The San Antonio police force is not shy about displaying symbols of US imperialist chauvinism, drawing attention in 2016 for wearing Donald Trump’s signature red ‘Make America Great Again’ hats when he visited the city as a candidate.
The Berets have carried out other actions against ICE. During the summer of 2018, they were part of an ‘Occupy ICE’ action, which held a month long, 24-hour vigil outside of the San Antonio ICE offices. This occupation drew an attack from Patriot Front, a Texas-based civilian fascist group, where occupiers bravely held their ground.
But sadly, one participant in ‘Occupy ICE’, an undocumented young man known as Mapache was apprehended for his involvement in the action and was forcibly deported.
The Berets cite Mapache’s deportation as one of their motivations for confronting ICE and their continued solidarity with immigrants from oppressed nations. Ultimately, all oppressed nations, especially the internal colonies of the US, the Chicano Nation and the Black Nation, require a people’s army led by the Communist Party to wage war against the dying imperialist state and defend their national interests.