Recommendations from Sunsara Taylor |
It is critical that Trump’s Fascist Border Wall be stopped, but it is just as crucial to understand why it cannot be stopped by relying on the Democrats – and how the Democrats themselves have played a criminal role in the heartless and murderous militarization of the border, mass deportation, and terror against immigrants.
For this reason, I want to strongly recommend two articles recently published at RevCom.us. The first needs no description beyond its title:
The second article documents – through direct quotes, past policy, and current proposals – exactly what the Democrats are referring to when they speak about “Border Security” and what this has and will mean for our immigrant sisters and brothers:
Coming from RevCom.us, these articles are from the perspective that the whole system of capitalism-imperialism that both the Democrats and Republicans are part of is completely un-reformable and needs to be overthrown and replaced. All the more reason to read them!
That said, one does not need to be a revolutionary – and many in RefuseFascism.org are not – to gain a tremendous amount from the hard-hitting, fact-based exposure contained in these pieces. Then let’s keep talking as we stand together to drive out this fascist regime.
Sunsaray Taylor is a writer for RevCom.us, a proponent of the New Communism forged by Bob Avakian, and a co-initiator of RefuseFascism.org
Trump’s Wall Is a Fascist Monstrosity and Must NOT Go Up…
But the “Border Security” of the Democrats Is ALSO a Machinery of Heartless Persecution, Demonization, and Deportation
| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump has shut down the government to get his wall on the border. This fascist wall must not be built, period. If this wall gets funded, in whatever form and with whatever concessions, it will represent a major escalation in the attack on immigrants. Even if it is seen as “symbolic”—and that will be what the Democrats tell you when and if they cut a deal with Trump—what it will symbolize will be that the tens and hundreds of millions of people seeking refuge from conditions created by this imperialist system are subhumans who must and will be kept out of the “gated community” of the very countries at fault for the disasters. Symbols are symbols because they mean something. After all, forcing Jews in Nazi Germany to wear “yellow stars” could be seen as “symbolic”—but what did they symbolize? A program of genocide.
The imperialist system oppresses the vast majority of the world’s peoples and nations. That system grinds up the labor and lives of billions of people daily into their machinery of capital. That system wages wars that create havoc and tears apart the social fabric in those countries. That system destroys the environment in those countries, turning whole areas of the world into deserts through global warming. That system has no answers for the crisis it has created.
Trump, and the whole fascist tide around the world, is one reaction to this. But how do the Democrats—who, yes, are like the Republicans, a political institution serving this imperialist system—oppose this? By proposing their own program for “border security”—that is, for keeping out and holding down immigrants—with high tech sensors and drones in what they say is the “21st-century way” of doing this.
In other words, the Democrats are united with Trump on using tools of repression and intimidation to prevent people fleeing U.S.-created oppression in their home countries from seeking asylum here. The accompanying article—on what these Democrats have actually done when they have been in power and what they actually propose to do now—shows that they have, if anything, been even more bloody than Trump (while being more discreet about it). Where they differ now is on two main points:
One, the demonization of immigrants is at the very core of the fascist program of Trump, part of a whole thrust to “make America white again.” Trump wants the wall as a high-profile, easy-to-understand way to dramatize his highly repressive assault on immigrants more generally. We should not forget that even as now the Democrats and even many anti-immigrant groups downplay the importance of the wall, it is a fact that border walls are one part of brutally enforcing apartheid and separation and that the existing U.S.-Mexican border wall, much of which was constructed by Democratic president Bill Clinton, has been a site of brutality and terror against immigrants. Trump is using the controversy over the wall to mobilize and stoke the fascist base.
The Democrats go at this differently. They aim to maintain the support of those who are either victimized by or revolted by this program of ethnic cleansing, and keep them thinking and acting within the bounds or horizons of the current system. So while they too carry out highly repressive and even murderous policies on the border, they want to as much as possible keep their repressive policies out of the public eye. At the same time, they also want to promote a globalist multiculturalism, opening up immigration to those they regard as necessary to their economy and the projection of the U.S. role internationally. Thus, when they say that the wall is immoral—which is how those whom they see as their base feel about it—what they really mean is that it is “bad optics.” As the accompanying chart makes clear, it was the plan proposed by Bill Clinton that has ended up trapping and killing some 8,000 immigrant human beings in the desert over the past 20-plus years.
Two, the Democrats actually argue that their form of keeping immigrants out (sensors, drones, informant networks) is more effective than the wall.
So, yes, the wall—and behind that the whole program and mentality being promoted by the Trump/Pence regime—must be thoroughly rejected and stopped. But it won’t be stopped by the Democratic representatives of a system that created 65 million refugees in the world—or a party that agrees with Trump on the need for “border security” while regularly trampling on the sovereignty of the very countries that the U.S. dominates and oppresses through wars and proxy wars for the dominance of the U.S. over the planet.
Why should we let ourselves be bound, and bounced around, between the choices that they and their system give you—between the contending forces of a capitalist-imperialist dictatorship, competing over who can better carry out that dictatorship? Where has this gotten us? And where has this gotten the desperate people now suffering in unbearably crowded shelters in Tijuana or “icebox” detention centers in Texas or trapped in the U.S.-created and maintained killing fields of Honduras or El Salvador—after all these years?
No human being is illegal. What we need—and what we need to openly proclaim and fight for—is a world without borders, which means a world beyond all forms of exploitation, oppression and the violent antagonistic conflicts between people. What we need is REVOLUTION!
Q&A: Bob Avakian’s Answer to People Who Complain about Immigrants Crossing Borders
Watch it, spread it, fund it
The Imperialist System Has Created 65 Million Refugees Through Economic Plunder and Disruption, Ecological Catastrophe, and War.
This System Cannot Be Reformed—It MUST Be Overthrown!
Questions and Answers on the Democratic Policy on Immigration
How the Democratic Party Has Persecuted and Deported Millions—and Murdered Thousands—with Their “Moral” Immigration Policy
| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
What do the Democrats really think—and what do they DO—about immigration? The research below takes on two topics: first, the Democrats’ border proposal in the current “budget fight” with Trump; and second, their actual record on the border and immigrants. As shown below in their own words and deeds, and in what they refuse to rule out, while the differences are real, the unity—keeping people who are fleeing U.S.-created oppression OUT while maintaining the right of the U.S. to trample on everyone else’s borders—is more fundamental. They—and most fundamentally, the imperialist system they represent—have no answers.
First: What is the Democrats’ plan for “improving border security”?
Hakeem Jeffries, new chair of the House Democratic Caucus and four-term New York congressman, on the bill that the Democrats were putting on the floor on January 3: “[W]e’re going to allocate $1.3 billion in additional funding to allow for enhanced technology, cellphone towers, satellites, drones, enhanced fencing, increased communication capability, the things that the experts have said are necessary to improve border security.”1 (January 2, 2019)
What is “enhanced fencing”?
“There are areas along the border where there are currently fences that are put up or barriers that need to be enhanced, and consistent with what the policy experts have said are helping to improve our security along the border.” (Hakeem Jeffries, January 2, 2019) The Democrats are not ruling out additional enhanced fencing along the 2,000-mile border if they deem it’s justified.
Second: What has been the actual policy of the Democrats when they have held power?
Military Deployment at the Border
- From 2010 to 2016, under Obama’s “Operation Phalanx,” 1,200 National Guard soldiers and airmen were deployed to support the Border Patrol in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. This provided time for the Border Patrol to hire, train, and equip the additional Border Patrol agents that had been funded by an emergency supplemental appropriations act.2
- In February 2012, under “Operation Nimbus,” Obama deployed active-duty soldiers from Fort Hood and Fort Bliss in Texas to the southern New Mexico and southern Arizona borders to support Customs and Border Protection agency with border security. The soldiers conducted 24-hour reconnaissance and ground surveillance using advanced optics and sensor equipment during a high-traffic season for human and narcotics smuggling.3
Holding Refugee Families in Detention at the U.S. Border
- When the surge of refugee families from Central America began arriving at the U.S. border in 2014, Obama responded to this “humanitarian crisis” by holding families applying for asylum in detention for indefinite periods of time. This didn’t end until the courts stepped in and stopped Obama from doing it. The court said that in addition to holding the families for far too long, federal officials had “failed to meet even [the] minimal standard” of “safe and sanitary” holding cells.4
- When a surge of unaccompanied minors arrived at the border began in 2014 as well, the Border Patrol began holding children beyond the 72 hours that was legally allowed, and the government began putting children in holding shelters that looked like jails.
People were held in extremely cold detention facilities—called “iceboxes” by the refugees—and given only Mylar (aluminum) blankets, inadequate to keep them warm. According to the court, “deplorable” conditions also included the issue of overcrowding: “Children and their mothers were held for one to three days in rooms with 100 or more unrelated adults and children, which forced children to sleep standing up or not at all.”5
Using the Lives (and Deaths) of Immigrants to “Deliver a Message”
Jeh Johnson, Barack Obama’s secretary of Homeland Security, admitted the Obama administration began detaining immigrants at the border to send a message:
[T]here are adults who brought their children with them. Again, our message to this group is simple: we will send you back. We are building additional space to detain these groups and hold them until their expedited removal orders are effectuated. Last week we opened a detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico for this purpose, and we are building more detention space quickly.” (Johnson, in an official statement before the Senate Committee on Appropriations in 2014)6
The Democrats have never repudiated this practice. Refugees fleeing persecution were being arrested at the border, and forced to return to their countries unless they could prove they had a “credible fear” of persecution if forced to return. After the first year, a “Guardian investigation into consequences of Obama’s migration crackdown reveals US deportees have been murdered shortly after return to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, with study saying as many as 83 killed since 2014.”7
Nevertheless, on June 17, 2018, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on CNN, justifying this practice: “We have to send a clear message, just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.”8
Actual building of a border wall, and the most draconian immigration bill in our lifetime
It was under Bill Clinton that the construction of barriers and walls began:
- In 1993 “Operation Safeguard” and “Operation Hold the Line” authorized the construction of fences along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and Texas respectively.9
- In 1994 “Operation Gatekeeper” authorized construction on a 13-mile “border wall” along a line in the sand between San Diego and Tijuana.10
- In 1996 Clinton signed the draconian Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which essentially put into motion the immigration enforcement seen today where deportation is a constant and real threat for millions of immigrants. It was a bundle of provisions with a single goal: to increase penalties on immigrants who had violated U.S. law in some way (whether they were undocumented immigrants who’d violated immigration law or legal immigrants who’d committed other crimes).
IIRIRA greatly expanded the types of crimes that could result in the deportation of a non-citizen, including lawful permanent residents. And the Clinton bill made those changes retroactive, thereby boosting the number of possible deportations. The law also made many immigrants subject to mandatory detention while their immigration cases were being decided. This pretrial hammer was used to make frustrated imprisoned immigrants give up their effort to fight deportation and simply return to their countries of origin. Immigrants convicted of certain crimes or those caught within 100 miles of the border were given summary deportation orders without ever having the chance to see an immigration judge.11
- In 1994 the Border Patrol, for the first time, issued a national strategy to control illegal border crossing: “Prevention through Deterrence,” a plan for greatly stepped-up patrol deployment and barrier construction on the most frequently crossed stretches of the border. According to the new strategy, many more agents would be deployed at the border, along with installing electronic surveillance at the border, and erecting border things like fences and stadium lighting, to deter illegal entry. A major factor behind this aggressive policy was the anticipated impact of the 1994 ratification of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was expected to greatly increase the number of people trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.12
Deaths and disappearances skyrocket
Together, Clinton’s immigration policies greatly increased the danger of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border, causing deaths and disappearances to skyrocket. According to a report by the groups No More Deaths and Coalición de Derechos Humanos, “Extreme heat and bitter cold, scarce and polluted water sources, treacherous topography, and near-total isolation from possible rescue are used as weapons of border enforcement.” The estimate of the numbers killed crossing the border is 8,600. In addition, because of this terrain, within weeks someone can be reduced to bone fragments, or completely disappear. “The region has been transformed into a vast graveyard of the missing.”13
Clinton spoke with pride in his 1995 State of the Union speech about his immigration policy
Our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens. In the budget I will present to you, we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace as recommended by the commission headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.14
The Secure Fence Act of 2006 was signed into law by Bush II in October of 2006. It “called for construction of 700 miles of fencing and enhanced surveillance technology, such as unmanned drones, ground-based sensors, satellites, radar coverage and cameras.” The bipartisan majority that voted for the act included Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton—all top Democratic Party leaders.15
1. Jeffries Decries Trump’s Wall Funding Request but Touts Plans for ‘Enhanced Fencing,’ ‘Border Security,’ Washington Free Beacon, January 2, 2019 [back]
2. Trump says he’ll send the military to the border. Bush and Obama did, too, CNN.com, April 4, 2018 [back]
4. Obama to Immigrant Children: Detention, Deportations, Ripping Apart Families WELCOME TO THE USA, revcom.us, June 30, 2014 [back]
5. Judge rules U.S. government should not hold immigrant children, Reuters, July 27, 2015 [back]
6. Statement by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson Before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, DHS.gov, July 10, 2014 [back]
7. US government deporting Central American migrants to their deaths, The Guardian, October 2, 2015. [back]
10. The Racism and Immorality of the Operation Gatekeeper Death Trap, Bill Ong Hing, April 13, 2015 [back]
11. The disastrous, forgotten 1996 law that created today’s immigration problem, Vox.com, April 28, 2016 [back]
12. US Border Patrol uses desert as ‘weapon’ to kill thousands of migrants, report says, The Guardian, December 7, 2016 [back]
13. Report Exposes the Strategy and Practice of the U.S. Border Patrol That Has “Disappeared” Thousands of Immigrants, revcom.us, April 16, 2018 [back]