Revolution #49, June 4, 2006
Deaths on the Border
Every year, hundreds of immigrants are dying horrible deaths along the U.S. border. They battle against dehydration, intense heat of Arizona deserts, and the dangerous desert roads, and many lose the fight to stay alive and die from heat stroke. Last year, the U.S. Border Patrol found 463 dead bodies of those trying to get across the border—a 42.5 percent jump from 2004.
Berta Alicia de la Rosa, an official for a Mexican agency working to cut migrant deaths, described these kinds of deaths as “like slowly cooking your body and your brain.”
“When we find them their skin is like cardboard—often they have torn off their clothes or buried themselves in the sand to escape the heat,” she said.
When the U.S. government implemented its heartless “Operation Gatekeeper” in 1994, it made it almost impossible for migrants to get across major crossing points in California and Texas.
The militarization of the border: fences, cameras, helicopters and a large increase in border patrol agents and vigilante groups like the Minutemen have forced people to seek the most remote, dangerous and treacherous ways into El Norte, forcing many to go up against the intense heat of the Arizona deserts.
“Supposedly, that’s the reason why they are coming through this area, because they shut down San Diego and El Paso,” said Bruce Parks, head of the medical examiner’s office in Tucson, Arizona.
Anticipating more deaths as immigrants are pushed to the more remote areas in the desert, Parks has rented a trailer to accommodate the dead bodies and remains. A trailer normally used to chill and transport food is being used to store bodies from the overflowing morgue. The morgue is also building a new cool room so they can double their capacity to 300 corpses.
The system we live under, U.S. imperialism, uproots people from their homelands with programs like NAFTA and forces them across the border to look for survival. At the same time it purposely makes it harder for immigrants to get into this country, adding more fences and agents every year, politically encouraging the Minutemen, all the while knowing what horror it will mean for immigrants.
The Basic Demands of the People
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
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!"
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