The Border is Everywhere: DHS in Portland & the Police-Immigration Nexus

Start: Thursday, July 30, 2020 7:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time (US & Canada) (GMT-04:00)

End: Thursday, July 30, 2020 8:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time (US & Canada) (GMT-04:00)

Host Contact Info: immigrant.justice@socialists.nyc

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Amidst continued Black Lives Matter protests, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun deploying federal police in Portland. Under the guise of defending white supremacist monuments, Border Patrol and other federal officers have marched in lock step with local police, grabbed people off the street, and thrown them into unmarked vehicles.

While Democratic politicians have been quick to decry DHS’ actions, they’ve suggested the incident is an anomaly from typical practices of police and immigrant enforcement. But for immigrants and immigrant rights advocates, DHS’ tactics in Portland are both an escalation and deeply representative of systemic practices: unidentified ICE and CBP officers acting without impunity to kidnap immigrants and throwing them into unmarked vans, DHS targeting outspoken activists in attempts to silence dissent; and DHS & ICE working together to criminalize, harass, detain and deport working class people of color.

NYC Democratic Socialists of America is hosting a panel discussion on the DHS presence in Portland, its connections to the ICE & CBP’s consistent practices, and what the growing federal police presence means for documented and undocumented people across the country.


The speakers will include:

Olivia Katbi Smith is the co-chair of the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and serves on the board of the Oregon chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Olivia is an Arab-American socialist organizer with experience ranging from the local, national and international levels in labor organizing, Palestine solidarity, anti-fascism, and many other facets of anti-capitalist, anti-racist struggle.

John Washington is an independent journalist and translator and the author of The Dispossessed, published this year by Verso Books. He is a frequent contributor to The Nation and The Intercept, where he writes about immigration, criminal justice, and literature. He is also an editor for El Faro's English language project and a longtime immigrant rights activist, having organized with No More Deaths, New Sanctuary Coalition, Los Angeles Dream Team, and many other organizations. He is a member of NYC DSA's Immigrant Justice Working Group. Find him at @jbwashing.

Úmi Vera is the Campaigns & Organizing Director at Familia Trans, Queer Liberation Movement (Familia TQLM) and an organizer in Portland. She current manages the #EndTransDetention campaign and co-facilitates the Trans Queer Migrant Freedom coalition - co-led by Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project (BLMP) and the Transgender Law Center (TLC). She was previously the executive director of the QCenter in Portland, OR and successfully led a state-wide coalition to pass the End Profiling state law through the Oregon legislature, while she was the policy director at Unite Oregon, a refugee/immigrants rights statewide organization in the state of Oregon.

Sami Disu is an Africana Studies professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice where he teaches African American History and other courses on race and justice. He has a background in journalism and nonprofit communications and is a well-known activist on criminal justice and immigrant rights in New York. He has contributed to the campaign to extend Temporary Protected Status for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, deportation moratoriums for Haitian nationals and the No New Jails campaign. Sami is a recent naturalized American citizen and arrived in America over 14 years ago as an international student. Within NYC-DSA, Sami is most active with the Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus.

Sophia Gurulé is a public defense immigration attorney and the Policy Counsel to the immigration practice at The Bronx Defenders. She is the lawyer for Ousman Darboe, a long-time Bronx community member and Gambian immigrant who has been incarcerated by ICE in the Bergen County Jail for the last three years, despite being pardoned by NY Governor Cuomo and having a stay of deportation from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Darboe, like many Black and brown immigrants, has been a target of the school-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline, detained by ICE following racist policing and criminalization in New York state. Sophia is a prison industrial complex abolitionist.