America Steps Up Barbarity at the Border:

12,800 Minors Detained, Migrant Families to Be Locked Up Indefinitely

| Revolution Newspaper |


Update, September 30—According to news reports, hundreds of immigrant children labeled by the government as “unaccompanied minors” have been moved in the middle of the night from where they were being held across the country to the detention camp at Tornillo-Guadalupe, near El Paso, Texas, and the border with Mexico. This camp is a tent city in the sweltering desert, which the government has quickly expanded from the original capacity of 400 detainees in June to 3,800 now. These children had already gone through the severe trauma of having to leave their families and everything else behind in their home countries, making a dangerous trek through Mexico and across the U.S. border, and then getting treated as criminals here and held in detention facilities. Now hundreds of these youths are being yanked out of where they are with little notice, separated from any friends they have made, and put on buses at night to be sent to a mass detention camp. These kids had been receiving at least some schooling and regular visits from legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases—but at Tornillo, the youths are deprived of any schooling, and access to legal help is limited. This is yet another intolerable crime by this system of capitalism-imperialism that is the cause of so much human suffering around the world.

In late June there was international outrage at the horrific sight of America's Border Patrol agents tearing immigrant children from the arms of their parents—and then the emotional damage to these young children being used by the U.S. to deliver a message to other immigrants and refugees: “Stop coming here.” Of those 2,500 children separated and detained, 300 have still not been reunited with their parents who were deported without their children.

But there are in fact another 12,800 children still in custody—those who came to this country alone, without a parent or guardian. This is the highest number of “unaccompanied minors” ever detained at one time—and a five-fold increase since May 2017! These migrant youth—overwhelmingly children from Central America’s Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—left their families and everything else behind, risked the dangers of the weeks-long trek across Mexico, only to be treated as criminals for seeking asylum in the U.S.

At the same time, border arrests of immigrant families coming from the countries of the Northern Triangle increased 38 percent in August, making it the greatest number of family arrivals in August on record.

What Drove These People to Come to the U.S.?

The truth is that the conditions in these countries are so intolerable that they are driving huge sections of their populations to flee. And why did the conditions get that way? The violence, turmoil, and poverty that have made these countries unlivable for so many are the consequences of decades of plunder and military and political domination by the U.S. in this region the imperialist rulers so arrogantly consider “America's backyard.”

Direct U.S. support for vicious tyrants and their murderous armies and death squads in the 1980s led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people in the Northern Triangle countries. This reactionary violence was aimed at suppressing resistance movements backed by the U.S.’s main global rival at the time, the Soviet Union (which had become a capitalist-imperialist power following the overthrow of socialism in the mid-1950s). The expansion of economic plunder by U.S. corporations in the decades that followed—aided by the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), this region's version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that devastated the life of tens of millions in Mexico—made it impossible for huge numbers of people to support themselves on the land. And the widespread violence by gangs (often working with the police) that is gripping whole sections of these countries today and has created world-record murder rates, is the result of decisions made by the U.S. in the 1990s to deport thousands of youth back to Central America, in the name of the “war on gangs.”

The consequences in those countries have been catastrophic, and that has led to the huge flow of refugees and immigrants to the U.S.-Mexico border. In relation to this, there is a section of the U.S. ruling class that views immigration in the context not only of U.S. economic necessity (the super-exploitation of Mexican and Central American labor has always been the cornerstone of the capitalist economy in the southwest and western U.S.), but as a part of maintaining domination over Mexico and Central/Latin America through “soft power” (that is, economic, political and cultural domination in conjunction with the brute force and bullying). They think the best way to protect and pursue U.S. imperialist interests is to forge an arrangement where immigration can continue but under greater U.S. control. 

This was the program that Obama was carrying out. And its consequences were horrific, including trying to stop the flow of Central American refugees through more intense militarization of the border and sending the overwhelming majority back to their homelands. At one point Obama said on ABC News, "That is our direct message to the families in Central America. Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they'll be sent back. More importantly, they may not make it."

Obama’s expansion and unleashing of the Border Patrol drove more and more border-crosssers into the most dangerous parts of the Arizona desert, where hundreds lost their lives each year. The bones and other remains of these migrants, ravaged by desert animals, have Obama's name on them. Obama earned the title “Deporter-in-Chief” because under his regime a record-breaking two million immigrants were deported. He promoted the program Secure Communities, under which local police forces worked hand in hand with ICE agents in cities around the country to target immigrants, until it was pulled back; used indefinite detention to discourage others from coming here; and directed tens of millions of dollars, as Trump is doing right now, to the Mexican government to fund the arrest and deportation of Central American immigrants and refugees before they can get to the U.S. border.

The Fascist Solution

The Trump/Pence regime represents another section of the rulers who are convinced that the fascist program of extreme repression, openly racist “Make America White Again” demonization of people of color, and anti-immigrant ethnic cleansing can succeed in resolving what is in fact an intractable contradiction for this system. Their fascist “solution” includes:

  • Create more detention space to hold more children, for even longer periods of time
  • The record number of immigrant youth being held today is not a result of an upsurge in their numbers arriving at the border. It is a direct result of changes aimed at raising the risks for anyone who would step forward to take responsibility for the children. In the past, “unaccompanied minors” were released to sponsors, such as parents already in the U.S., extended family members, or family friends, as soon as the relationship was verified. But in June, the Homeland Security Department announced that potential sponsors and other adult members living with them would have to submit fingerprints, and that the data would be shared with immigration authorities. This can threaten families of those stepping forward to be sponsors with deportation if anyone is undocumented. As a result, far fewer are stepping forward, leaving the minors in custody for almost twice as long as under the previous policy.
  • The government's focus is now on expanding the detention space so that they can imprison even more children, for even longer periods of time. On September 11 plans were announced to triple the number of beds from 1,200 to 3,800 at the immigrant detention camp at Tornillo-Guadalupe, a tent city in the sweltering desert near El Paso, Texas. They have also called for the Pentagon to make arrangements to hold immigrant children on military bases around the country.
  • Detain immigrant parents and children together—indefinitely
  • The Trump/Pence regime is moving to eliminate obstacles in the way of holding parents and children together in custody—indefinitely. The reason this fascist regime was tearing parents and children apart in June is because they have been prevented from holding children in detention facilities for more than 20 days as a result of a 1997 settlement agreement of a class-action lawsuit known as Flores. That has meant that families in custody had to be released from detention after 20 days. The regime argues that the policy of releasing families from detention to await their immigration hearings—crudely labeled “catch and release”—leads to immigrants failing to appear in court. In fact, over three-quarters of these immigrants do show up for court.
  • On September 7, the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services issued a proposed federal regulation that would replace the Flores agreement and allow for the indefinite detention of families.

These crimes against immigrants are just a part of the intolerable outrages this system carries out continually, and that cause so much unnecessary human suffering for the masses of people of the world. STOP the demonization, criminalization and deportations of immigrants and the militarization of the border.   

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This detention facility in Dilly, Texas houses over 1,500 women and children who have been detained, August 2018. Photo: AP

Immigrants and the New Socialist Republic in North America

The following is from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which was authored by Bob Avakian and adopted by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

H. Immigrants, Citizenship and Asylum.

3. The orientation of the New Socialist Republic in North America is to welcome immigrants from all over the world who have a sincere desire to contribute to the goals and objectives of this Republic, as set forth in this Constitution and in laws and policies which are established and enacted in accordance with this Constitution. From the time of the establishment of the New Socialist Republic in North America, anyone residing outside of the territory of this Republic who wishes to enter its territory, and any such person wishing to become a citizen, or a permanent resident, of this Republic, must follow the relevant laws and procedures which have been established on the basis of this Constitution. Anyone who applies for asylum in this Republic and, through the relevant procedures that have been established for this purpose, is found to have been persecuted, or to have a well-founded fear of persecution, on account of having taken part in just struggles against imperialist and reactionary states or other reactionary forces, or on account of scientific, artistic, or other pursuits which have brought them into conflict with reactionary powers and institutions, shall be afforded asylum in the New Socialist Republic in North America, so long as they pledge to act in compliance with the Constitution of this Republic, and do act accordingly. Provided that they do not engage in any serious violation of the laws of this Republic, people granted asylum have the right to remain within the territory of this Republic for as long as they choose to do so, and shall be accorded the same rights as citizens, with the exception that, so long as they have not become citizens, they may not vote in elections or be elected or appointed to public office. They shall have the right, after a certain period, determined by law, to become citizens of this Republic, with the same rights and responsibilities as all other citizens. The citizenship process, as well as review of the asylum status of all those granted asylum, shall be carried out in accordance with the laws and procedures established for these purposes.


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