Donald Trump has now declared the caravan of refugees from Honduras and other Central American countries making their way on foot to the U.S. border an “invasion of our country” that has created a “national emergency.” “We have no choice,” he bellowed from the White House on November 1. “We will defend our borders. We will defend our country.” And on November 3, at a rally in Montana, he said of the people on the caravan, “These people are vicious,” calling them “very tough, young people” and claiming they were “criminals in some cases. In many cases.”
On the basis of this pack of lies, Trump has called out the army, and the Department of Defense immediately responded with the deployment of 5,200 active duty military troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump has now upped that to 15,000 troops. Military officials have made clear that some of these soldiers will be armed. Still not enough for Trump, he told the soldiers they can open fire if a refugee throws a rock, then backed off when the military refused to do it.
These troops are in addition to the 2,100 National Guard troops already there as “backup” to the nearly 20,000 Border Patrol agents with all of their high-tech border security already in operation. The deployment of active-duty military forces is unprecedented, although both Obama and Bush mobilized thousands of National Guard troops to the border when they were in office.
Not satisfied with mobilizing “troops on the ground,” Trump is expanding the list of “emergency measures” he’s considering to further threaten and intimidate these refugees who have every right—including the clear legal right under U.S. law—to come to the border and request asylum:
- Shutting down the border completely.
- Prohibiting all immigrants from the countries represented from entering the U.S.—including refugees requesting asylum—similar to his successful banning of Muslims from selected predominantly Muslim countries.
- Threatening to imprison refugees indefinitely while awaiting their asylum hearing—potentially for years—outdoors in tent city detention centers in the sweltering heat. These are refugees who’ve already shown a “credible fear” of facing repression if forced to return. Until recently, most refugees were released eventually while awaiting their asylum hearing in immigration court.
- Now Trump has proposed eliminating birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants—and claims he can bypass Congress, and violate the Constitution’s 14th Amendment—by simply issuing an executive order. This proposal has triggered controversy and opposition within the ruling class, even among Republicans.
Trump’s unrelenting anti-immigrant tirade is being portrayed by the mainstream media as just an election maneuver—putting the blame at the feet of the Democrats for their supposed “open borders” policy. But what the Trump/Pence regime is accomplishing is far more. They’re further mobilizing fascist forces behind the intensifying attacks on immigrants and their call for ethnic cleansing, as part of consolidating their whole fascist program.
In America, “I’m a nationalist!” = “I’m a white supremacist!”The Trump/Pence regime has brought forward a fascist program in the face of the serious crises U.S. imperialism is facing internationally and within this country. They have set out to consolidate this country around the open restoration of white supremacy, male supremacy, and anti-immigrant xenophobia, along with USA #1 chauvinism, with the rallying cry: “Make America White Again!”
In the middle of his xenophobic horror show, Trump declared “I’m a nationalist!” In a country founded on slavery and genocide—with white supremacy sewn into its fabric from the very start—this means “I’m a white supremacist.” The ethnic cleansing of dark-skinned, poor immigrants from “shithole countries” has become a crucial part of galvanizing their core white supremacist supporters and consolidating their fascist program as a whole. And that includes slamming, and threatening to criminalize, opposition from Democrats representing other sections of the ruling class, as they’ve done in going after “sanctuary cities,” threatening to arrest the mayor of Oakland and bring charges against the governor of California.
The Trump/Pence regime is exaggerating and playing on the fears in this country of the massive numbers of immigrants coming to the border.
What is the larger context? The U.S.’s open backing of right-wing death squads and reactionary regimes in these countries (see accompanying article “Hell in Honduras—American Made”) is coupled with continued economic domination and devastation of countries south of the U.S. border—a border that is itself a result of wars of conquest by the U.S. The workings of this capitalist-imperialist system have led to a great lopsidedness between the imperialist countries of the world, the “First World,” and the vast number of oppressed nations, the “Third World.” This generates massive flows of migrants from the Third World, looking for refuge and livelihood, now further exacerbated around the world by devastating wars and global warming. They—the rulers and enforcers of this system—have NO ANSWER. Faced with this, the rulers rely on more and more militarization of borders and deportation of immigrants in response to what they perceive as “the problem.”
What Is the Response of the Democrats?This is why, even before the Trump/Pence regime escalated the assault on immigrants to new, fascist levels of brutality, the same program was carried out by Obama, Bush, Clinton, and by previous presidents.
It was the Democrat Obama who earned the title “deporter-in-chief” by the pro-immigrant community for setting the record with more than two million deportations while he was president. And his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, responded to the arrival of large numbers of unaccompanied migrant children in 2014 this way: “We have to send a clear message: just because your child gets across the border doesn’t mean your child gets to stay.” Note she didn’t distinguish asylum seekers who would be, and at times were, killed because she saw to it the child didn’t “get to stay.”
Where have the Democratic Party leaders been while Trump has been issuing a call to arms to “real” Americans to take action against immigrants? In large part they’ve stood aside and told people to stay focused on health care, and let this attack go unchallenged. They’ve agonized at the sight of poor and exhausted refugees coming to seek asylum—because it helps rally anti-immigrant Republicans in the elections! The reality is that the Democrats have no other program to bring forward, because it is the very workings of the system of capitalism-imperialism that they, too, represent that created this immigration crisis.
This, even as the fascist sections of the ruling class of this system, such as Trump, Pence, and Jeff Sessions, further promote extreme forms of demonization of immigrants, relying on and reinforcing the white supremacy which pervades this society, as most of the immigrants are Central and South Americans.
The demonization, criminalization, and deportation of immigrants is rooted deeply in and flows from the system—the system of capitalism-imperialism. The Democratic Party, as demonstrated by Obama, is not the answer, because they represent and enforce the very same system—and relying on them is worse than useless: it contributes to shoring up this whole oppressive setup. To actually move fundamentally beyond this intolerable situation—and get to a far better society and world—this system must be OVERTHROWN by an actual revolution—to be replaced by a radically different society and system, aiming to end all of the social divisions worldwide, the oppression and exploitation of this system, that give rise to this problem in the first place. And from this perspective, it is even more crucial that we wage fierce resistance against these escalated attacks on immigrants, uniting with the tens of millions whose consciences are shocked by the scope and nature of these acts of the Trump/Pence regime.
We urge readers to watch the new talk by Bob Avakian (available at revcom.us)—Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution—where the source and solution to the immigration crisis is addressed. And in particular, watch the Q&A: “Bob Avakian’s Answer to People Who Complain About Immigrants Crossing Borders.”
STOP: The Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!
This article was first published on countercurrents.org