Revolution #97, July 29, 2007
From the People’s Viewpoint—
There Is Not an “Immigration Problem”…There Is a Capitalism Problem
Imperialism drives people from their lands, persecutes and even murders them as they cross the border, and then super-exploits and demonizes them once they are in the imperialist countries. Millions of immigrants are driven to the U.S. from their home countries to be horribly exploited in restaurants, sweatshops, landscaping, and construction. They provide what is almost slave labor for the U.S. economy, which cannot function without the super-exploitation of immigrants. And the ways in which the fears of millions of native-born people are being manipulated; the divisions that are fanned and enforced between nationalities, even among the oppressed nationalities—all of these are products of capitalism.
Now every capitalist would say that they are not being greedy or malicious, but that they have no choice—and, in a perverted sense, they would be right. Each is driven by the fear of being wiped out by some other capitalist who is working people at still lower wages for still higher profit.
From the point of view of the people on the bottom, there is not an immigration problem, there is a capitalism problem.
There are some acute ways in which the situation where 12 to 20 million people are living "in the shadows" within the U.S. borders has come in conflict with some other strategic interests of the imperialists. It is a big problem from their class standpoint that there are millions within the "homeland" who, by necessity, have become adept at living "outside the law," avoiding the eyes and reach of the authorities. This includes those who come to the aid of immigrants—doctors and nurses who treat immigrants without asking for IDs, churches that give sanctuary to people threatened with deportation, etc.
Then there is the question of Mexico. Just last year Mexico went through a major legitimacy crisis around the presidential elections; Mexican society remains extremely volatile and polarized. The U.S. fears the potential for things to “get out of hand” in Mexico, including the possibility of forces who oppose U.S. imperialism—even perhaps genuinely revolutionary forces—coming to power. They fear the possible social chaos and they also fear the possible political contagion between both sides of the border in the event of a revolutionary situation. This is part of the reason for the extreme militarization of the border being carried out by the U.S. At the same time, they need to keep the Southwest border clamped down but “moving smoothly,” because the economies and people on two sides of the border are so very intertwined.
The very presence of the large and growing immigrant population brings a diversity of political and cultural experiences into American society. This is an overwhelmingly positive development from the viewpoint of the proletariat, whose strategic interests lie in breaking down national divisions among the people. But the rulers of this country insist that U.S. culture and politics be founded on white American chauvinism—even more so in a time of global war and aggression being carried out by the U.S. In their view, the inflow of immigrants undermines the uniformity and "cohesiveness" of American culture and politics.
The capitalists need the immigrants—both to keep the U.S. economy profitable and because the money they send home helps to maintain stability within Mexico. They are trying to hammer out a way to maintain the immigrants in this suppressed condition while containing the contradictions it brings. In this context, there is a fascistic crackdown on immigrants going on: widespread raids by armed government agents, detentions, deportations and breaking up of families, attacks by fascist vigilantes, local laws targeting immigrants. This is aimed at spreading fear and terror in the immigrant communities.
But this fascist clampdown is stirring up much anger and protest, among immigrants as well as those born here. In the face of the massive raids and roundups of immigrants this spring, hundreds of thousands marched across the U.S. on May 1—including in L.A., where people went up against a brutal attack by the LAPD. This intensifying and vicious offensive is part of the rulers’ efforts to “keep it all together” and put a lid on the politically volatile immigration situation, even if Bush and Congress are unable to hammer together a new immigration law at this point. All this underscores the urgency for immigrants and those who stand with them to resist this fascist offensive.
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