Im/migrants and the repressive state

WW Editorial

A grassroots movement has been growing across the U.S. to counter the government’s brutal campaign targeting im/migrants. As more people of all ages die horrible deaths in the desert north of the border, in the border rivers and in detention camps — including the hellholes set up to warehouse small children and even babies cruelly separated from their parents — protests are continuing, as well as solidarity actions to provide asylum for those who cross the border to escape repression and hunger.

At the same time, the racists and neofascists who applaud the Trump administration’s “America first” brand of vicious nationalism are pushing back against this progressive movement. Not able to summon sufficient forces in the streets to do so openly, they resort to vigilante attacks on migrants and online posts that reveal their racist and misogynist nature, like those calling for sexual assault against Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx, N.Y.

“America first” conceals the class character of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. ruling class is thoroughly internationalist when it comes to how they have made their vast fortunes. 

They have been global exploiters since the late 1800s, when U.S. gunboats violently broke down the resistance of countries around the world. From Korea and the Philippines to Cuba and Puerto Rico, U.S. bankers and industrialists expanded their area of exploitation through war and conquest.

It is the imperialists’ success in sucking out the wealth of the countries of Central America, pauperizing the population and backing brutally repressive regimes, that has driven so many families to risk their lives and leave their poverty-stricken lands in hope of finding work in the U.S.

This “internationalist” ruling class at the same time promotes reactionary nationalism to the masses of people here, particularly to those whose ancestors immigrated from Europe. 

Racist white nationalism is the essence of Trumpism, even as it is a cover for a ruling class that respects no national boundaries in its drive for profits.

The border crisis is now so severe that even some employees of the state have begun to complain about the conditions they are working under. Whether this comes from genuine empathy with the suffering migrants of all ages, or exasperation at being tasked with handling an impossible situation, it should not cloud an understanding of their role.

Whether they are border police or jailers at the concentration camps set up to warehouse migrants, they are part of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state. 

The organizations that represent police and jailers may be called unions, but they do not function as defenders of the working class against the bosses. In fact, these employees of the state will break strikes and lock up workers if they are ordered to do so.

Those whose function it is to jail and warehouse immigrants don’t belong in the union movement. Border guards and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are members of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal workers union. For AFGE to kick them out would be a great act of solidarity with im/migrant workers and would strengthen the international working class as a whole.

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