A grassroots history from #Not1More to #AbolishICE

Histories of social movements show time and again that powerful organizing makes the impossible possible. As the demand to Abolish ICE begins to catch fire, we must not forget that it was profoundly criminalized working class and poor undocumented people who first had the courage to challenge assimilationist demands in favor of aspirational ones. It was them and their accomplices who dared to dream up a campaign that could fight to win the end of their own incarcerations and deportations. A motley crew of undocumented people, women of color, queers, and grassroots organizers first pushed forward the demand for “not one more deportation”, prefiguring the current moment. As the words of Assata Shakur remind us, it’s those who “have nothing to lose but our chains” who have made the most daring demands in times of conformity. When we forget this we lose lessons about how movements are born, pivot, grow, and win. To be clear, the organizations who were part of the #Not1More campaign are not the only ones or the first ones who have named the need to Abolish ICE, but their tremendous work — the risks and sacrifices they made to bring us to this moment — is what has made this both a national demand and a real possibility. As late as 2016, many mainstream immigration organizations remained insistent that the only way forward for the immigrant rights movement was holding out for Congress to introduce and pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Meanwhile, grassroots immigrant-led groups facing the worst versions of the deportation violence of the Obama years were fighting on multiple fronts: combating racist state and local agencies who were doing everything possible to hand our people over to ICE, confronting ICE raids, detentions, and record deportations. They were fighting in local sites all over the country, but many were based in border states, where the crimmigration police state is in plain view for all to see. When the #Not1More deportation campaign emerged in 2014, it was a direct challenge to the strategy, even then, to continue to focus on lobbying Congress and not anger the President with our demands. #Not1More was, at its heart, an abolitionist call to action.

Tania Unzueta, Maru Mora Villalpando, and Angélica Cházaro in We Fell in Love in a Hopeless Place: A Grassroots History from #Not1More to Abolish ICE (Medium)