“National Security” and Immigrants: the Hype and the Reality

Revolution #042, April 9, 2006, posted at revcom.us

Democratic and Republican politicians alike claim that the borders of this country are “broken” and that this threatens U.S. “national security.” The liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy's immigration bill was officially titled the “Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act.” At the more extreme end of things, fanatic leader of the anti-immigrant movement and Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo tries to fan fear with statements like “[Undocumented immigrants] need to be found before it is too late. They're coming here to kill you, and you, and me, and my grandchildren.” (Quoted in the Boston Globe, 6/12/05)

In post-9/11 America, fascist measures like unrestricted government wiretapping and detention without charges have grown by leaps and bounds, justified in the name of protecting the “our safety” and “our security.” And the same justifications are being used to further intensify the militarization of the border and repressive steps against immigrants. This militarization and repression has real consequences in human lives. As immigrants have been forced to cross through increasingly remote and dangerous areas of the southern border in the past decade, thousands have perished in the deserts, mountains, and rivers.

There are sharp divisions at the top levels of the power structure over how best to protect “national security.” Those who are fucked over by this system—and all those who stand against injustice—can not get pulled into the terms and framework of “protecting national security.” To understand why, you have to first look at what those at the top—from Kennedy to Tancredo—mean when they say “national security.” They don't mean the safety of masses of people in this country. The U.S. imperialist ruling class has a global empire that exploits and oppresses people all over the world, including within the borders of the U.S. And when these oppressors talk of “our national security,” that is nothing more nor less than the military force that is used to fortify and expand this worldwide system of murder and plunder.

These imperialists dominate, exploit, and ruin whole countries—making it impossible for millions of peasant farmers in Mexico and Central America, for example, to live off the land. When these dispossessed make it into the U.S., they are shunted into the most back-breaking and low-paying jobs. The bloodsuckers who profit off of this human misery then turn around and use these very same immigrants as scapegoats, blaming the immigrants for problems created by the capitalist system itself and trying to sow divisions between immigrants and native-born people.

But at the same time, as Bob Avakian points out, “The imperialists see in such immigrants a source of instability and upheaval, a force weakening the internal cohesion of the home base and potentially undermining the power of the U.S. as an international overlord.” In this sense, for the imperialist rulers these immigrants are a potential threat to their “national security”—because they need a stable “homeland” as they defend and expand their global empire. And as part of the overall fascist moves in this country, the rulers are ramping up repressive measures against immigrants—and trying to get native-born people to go along with this by fanning fear about “broken borders” (as well as whipping up racist vigilante movements by openly and aggressively promoting the white, European, English-speaking identity of the American Nation). The masses of people in this country—immigrant and non-immigrant, of all nationalities—have no interest in defending this “national security.”

From the perspective of the proletariat, the immigrants and their inspiring struggle are a great source of strength—and potentially a vital force in the revolutionary struggle to overthrow U.S. imperialism and get this bloody monster off the backs of the people of the world.

Send us your comments.