Welcome the Immigrants
Tear Down That Wall!
Revolution #043, April 16, 2006, posted at revcom.us
The unprecedented upsurge of protest for immigrant rights sweeping across the U.S. is a great and tremendous thing! From New York to L.A., from Chicago to Houston, millions of people in cities throughout the country have taken to the streets, demanding justice and basic rights.
These immigrants face the daily terror of living as “illegals,” subject to being suddenly snatched away, locked up, and deported across the border, or being targeted by vicious anti-immigrant vigilantes. But instead of being paralyzed by fear and driven deeper into the shadows, people are raising their heads, asking why things are the way they are and what can be done about them—and they are taking action!
The basic demands of the people are clear, just, and reasonable—and they must be met. These include:
- No discrimination against immigrants
- No to the Minutemen and other anti-immigrant vigilantes
- Stop and reverse the militarization of the border
- Full rights and access to decent education, health care, and other social services
- No deportations
- No round-ups
- No detention centers/concentration camps
- No criminalization of those giving aid to immigrants
Various demonstrations are being planned for the coming weeks that in the main express these demands. People should come out to these demonstrations, and the demands listed above should be brought to these protests, supported, and fought for. People especially need to come to the support of the youth who have been defiantly walking out of school in their tens of thousands. It's b.s. for anyone to preach to these youth to “stay in school”—when they are contributing, and learning, and teaching others so much by fighting for what is right.
Right now, various representatives of the capitalist-imperialist ruling class are feverishly trying to hammer together a bill that would create a new repressive order around immigration. As our article “Update on the Immigration Bills: They're All No Good” on this page points out, while there's infighting among the rulers over different elements of their immigration set-up (and they haven't been able to agree on a Senate bill as we go to press), none of these bills in the Congress will satisfy the just demands of the people. In fact, all of them, in different ways, will make things worse for the masses of immigrants.
We can't let the terms of debate among the ruling elite constrain and channel the direction of this great upsurge. Any concession to the idea that "the border must be defended" will end up accepting these reactionary terms. We can't accept the best of bad alternatives. Instead, we must persevere in fighting for what people actually want and need—and not get caught up in the deadly trap of choosing one or another “lesser evil.”
Why the Capitalists Need and Fear Immigrants
The capitalist-imperialist class that runs this country slander the immigrants as “parasites” and “criminals.” But let's look at the reality. For the ruling class, the immigrants are essential to their system of exploitation. Many of these immigrants come from countries whose economies have been plundered by the U.S. imperialists—places like Mexico and the Central American nations, China, Nigeria, and Egypt. In the world today, two hundred million people have been driven from their homelands because they can no longer make a living to support themselves and their families in these countries ruined by imperialist exploitation, and they come to the imperialist countries in desperate search for work.
The imperialists then take advantage a second time, shunting these immigrants into the lowest-paid and most back-breaking jobs and superexploiting these workers. Then yet a third time, as the money that these workers send home to their families makes up a big part of the income of these oppressed nations, which helps the imperialists to keep these countries “stable” and to maintain control over them. And the imperialists take advantage a fourth time, as they demonize the immigrants and make them scapegoats for the problems created by their own system. There are huge social and economic changes in American society that are driving the imperialists' moves toward a fascist order. And as part of this, media figures like Lou Dobbs and politicians like Tom Tancredo are trying to whip up a fascist, nativist frenzy among middle class and working class people around the idea that America should be a white, Christian, highly militarized country—and that somehow this is an answer to the fears, desperation, and insecurity that are rocking their lives. And there is a particular effort directed at Black people—to mislead them into blaming their oppressive conditions (which arise from the capitalist-imperialist system) on immigrants, with whom Black people actually have much in common.
But even as they ruthlesslessly take advantage of immigrants, these exploiters and oppressors also fear those they mess over. These immigrants are crucial to their economy, but the rulers also see these immigrants as a potential source of instability and upheaval for their system. Many of the immigrants have bitter experience with and hatred for Yankee domination and plunder—like the one and a half million peasants in Mexico who lost their means of livelihood after the Mexican government signed the NAFTA “free trade” agreement with the U.S., opening the door to massive imports of cheap agricultural products into their country. The rulers are afraid that such immigrants will strain the fabric of “national unity” within their imperialist home base that they rely on to get people to go along with their wars and aggression around the world.
So the imperialists are compelled to keep intensifying the repression against immigrants. They want to prevent immigrants from joining together with the oppressed masses and workers born in this country and bringing their understanding and experiences with imperialism and struggle against it to bear. This is a big part of what's behind all these bills, which are all designed to tighten things up against immigrants. And while George Bush is portrayed as being "in the middle" in the immigration debate among the ruling elite (because as the representative of the strategic interests of his class, he is not at this point pushing the most draconian anti-immigrant measures), the overall Bush agenda—a concentrated expression of this system of naked imperialist aggression globally and quickening steps toward fascism at home—has set the stage and created the climate for shameless liars and demagogues like Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly, Tom Tancredo and the rest, who spread virulent anti-immigrant hatred and aggressively promote the “white, European, English-speaking” identity of the American nation.
Why the Proletariat Welcomes the Immigrants
The proletariat approaches this question in a totally different way. The proletariat is the class that owns nothing—that has nothing to lose but its chains and a world to win. It's a class made up of people around the world whose labor, collectively, is the foundation of society and produces tremendous wealth, which is stolen by a small number of capitalist exploiters who turn that product of collective labor into “private wealth” and a means for further exploitation.
The proletariat has every interest in digging into and uncovering the truth, and acting to transform the world on that basis. And the truth is that the millions of immigrants in this country, “legal” or “illegal,” are victims of the imperialist system. And they are totally justified in demanding full rights and to live and work without being hunted down like animals or labeled as "criminals" and "aliens."
The proletariat wholeheartedly embraces the immigrant brothers and sisters and says, "Bienvenidos! Welcome!"
There is a multinational proletariat in the U.S., numbering in the tens of millions and including Black, white, Latino, and other oppressed peoples. The revolutionary proletariat as a class does not identify itself with any particular nation. The proletariat renounces the chauvinistic identity of the American nation—that serves imperialism. Its identity is that of the international proletariat, and from that standpoint the proletariat insists on the equality of nations, including equality of culture and language.
The capitalist rulers fear the immigrants as a threat to their "national unity," but the proletariat welcomes the diversity brought by immigrants from around the world—and especially the wealth of knowledge among them of the brutal reality of U.S. imperialism and their experience in fighting against it. We welcome these immigrants as a great and vital source of strength in the revolutionary struggle against this monstrous system. And we value the diversity of languages, music, literature, art, cuisines, and so on that greatly enrich people's culture as a whole.
And we are looking forward to and working to bring about a future revolutionary situation—when the objective conditions have sharpened through huge shocks and changes in society overall, when tens of millions throughout society have come to view this system as worthless, when there is a class conscious section of the masses willing and determined to put everything on the line for revolution, and when the struggle to overthrow the rule of the capitalist-imperialists would then be on the order of the day. At such a time, the battering down of the southern border would surely be a big part of the revolutionary struggle for power.
Upon seizing power through revolution, the proletariat would immediately end the many abuses and discrimination that immigrants now suffer under U.S. imperialist rule—as part of the revolutionary transformation of the society as a whole. At the same time, the contribution of immigrants from around the world would continue to lend great strength to the proletariat as it leads all aspects of the socialist revolution and the advance of the world revolution toward the final aim of communism.
Imagine a new society where immigrants are invited into classrooms to teach new generations of youth about the countless horrendous crimes that the U.S. and other imperialists have committed. Imagine a society where instead of being put down for not speaking English or not understanding “American culture,” immigrants play an active role in helping others learn about diverse histories, cultures and languages, as part of the exciting flowering of a new socialist culture and education.
And, as the Draft Programme of the RCP,USA says, “In the communist future, the idea of borders that divide and rank people will be as absurd as the idea of 'racial divisions,' and the word 'immigrant' itself will lose its meaning.”
There Is Nothing Sacred About the Border
What is now the official U.S.-Mexico border was drawn up after an unprovoked U.S. war against Mexico in the 1840s that was waged to rob huge expanses of territory, in order to extend the slave system of the U.S. South as well as to expand U.S. capitalism overall. And just in the last ten years, over 4,000 people have died trying to cross this border through the remote desert and mountain terrain in an attempt to avoid the walls and concentrated militarization of the border near urban areas. It's an outrage that some in the ruling class want to build more walls along the border. But just as deadly is the "virtual wall" called for by others among the rulers—consisting of more high-tech military and police equipment, along with greatly increased Border Patrol forces deployed against immigrants. Physical or "virtual," the border wall is part of the U.S. government's militarization of the border, and it has real costs in human lives.
There is nothing sacred or permanent, and nothing worth respecting, about the present border between the U.S. and Mexico!
During the Cold War of the 1980s, U.S. President Ronald Reagan went to the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the intense contention (including threat of nuclear war) in that period between the rival blocs of imperialist gangsters headed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union. As a representative of the U.S. rulers, Reagan threw out a challenge to the head of the Soviets: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." A few years later, the U.S. imperialists ended up victorious in that clash between two imperialist superpowers.
From a diametrically opposite class standpoint and with a completely different historical mission, the revolutionary proletariat declares in the face of the deadly anti-immigrant offensive of Bush and his class: "Tear Down That Wall!"
The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism.
What the US spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.