La ColectiVA Calls on Virginia Politicians to Check Your Complicity on Migrant Abuse
In Virginia we're all too familiar with elected officials who make bold claims about supporting immigrants in public, only to still aid ICE, CBP, and the network of companies involved in deportation, detention, and dehumanization of migrants. At all levels, politicians have failed to prevent collaboration between law enforcement and ICE, profited from detention centers, and taken contributions from corporations that contract with ICE and lobby to keep it that way. This happened during the Obama administration and continues under the current one, even as the same politicians publicly state how much they oppose Trump.
This is where La ColectiVA's Check Your Complicity campaign comes in.
La ColectiVA is a Latinx-led collaborative in Northern Virginia dedicated to defending social justice and equity. Metro DC DSA has worked with them frequently in the past year, including in the fight against Amazon's HQ2 as part of the For Us Not Amazon coalition, and in other direct actions against ICE. We also endorsed Irma Corado, co-founder of La ColectiVA, during the primary election for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Check Your Complicity is one of their most active current campaigns.
The Check Your Complicity campaign calls out elected officials who continue to benefit from violence against migrants, largely thanks to generous contributions from ICE contractors, while making a show of being on our side. For years, companies like MVM Inc. (most notorious for providing ICE with buses used to detain and transport children, among other equipment and facilities used for family separation) and its founder Dario Marquez Jr. have been longtime contributors to Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA11), both Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA), and the Democratic Party of Virginia. General Dynamics and Amazon, who also have extensive contracts with ICE, have donated thousands to local establishment politicians. Worse, given Amazon's over $1 million spend in Seattle's elections and their position as the "technological backbone" of ICE, we expect their attempts to buy the complicity of Virginia's legislators to only increase in the coming years.
Incidentally, last year the Metro DC DSA Migrant Justice Working Group held an action at the residence of Kevin Marquez, the current CEO of MVM Inc., who also conveniently lives in Connolly's district. We called out their abuses of migrant children, their lobbying in support of a brutal immigration system, and their practice of donating to whichever party is in power as a way to keep elected officials complicit in that abuse.
La ColectiVA and allied organizations for the last two months have been calling on Rep. Connolly, Sen. Kaine, and Sen. Warner, to check their complicity, with the following demands:
The campaign has focused primarily on Rep. Connolly, also calling on him to hold an open and publicly accessible town hall on immigration issues and migrant justice. He sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and thus has the ability to launch an investigation into abuses by ICE contractors, yet he's also a longtime recipient of donations from MVM Inc. and has shown no signs of going against them. During this time, Connolly's office has not acknowledged any of the demands and insisted on discussing them during office hours.
So, last Wednesday, November 20, a group of us from La ColectiVA, SURJ, Congregation Action Network, Sanctuary DMV, Justice for Muslims Collective, and Metro DC DSA, visited Rep. Connolly's office in Annandale to deliver petitions with over 300 signatures from the community, and discuss our demands in person. We were treated to more of the same contradictions: examples of individual cases where the representative has helped constituents, but no acknowledgment of the systematic harm caused by his connection and deference to ICE contractors like MVM Inc. We asked why he makes time for meeting with major donors, but has yet to hold a town hall during more accessible hours so that our communities can attend. We remained there for two hours, refusing to leave until we made progress.
While we were able to deliver our demands in person to one office, there is more to be done. La ColectiVA is asking people to help by: