By LISA LUINENBURG
Over the last few weeks, eyes across the world have been following the human drama of the caravan of migrants making its way through Mexico toward the U.S. border. The caravan is made up of mostly young people from Central America, the majority from Honduras, who are trying to escape the grinding poverty and gang violence in their home countries that are the result of brutal military and economic interventions perpetrated by the U.S. ruling class in the region for centuries.
According to some media sources in early November, there were four migrant caravans traveling through Mexico, that had swelled to contain 12,000 people as more migrants continued to cross into Mexico from Guatemala. While estimates of the caravan’s size varied, it is clear that the Mexican government has already processed thousands of asylum claims for the migrants passing through their country, which caused the numbers to dwindle.
While the U.S. has urged Mexico to stop the caravan before it reaches the border, the response of the Mexican state towards the caravan seems to have been mixed. Some towns have welcomed and tried to help the migrants while Mexican police and immigration agents have made some arrests, deportations, and repression.
In the United States, tensions rose greatly as President Trump continued to vilify and attack undocumented immigrants in his cross-country campaigning for the Republican Party in the lead-up to the November elections. According to The New York Times, “his [Trump’s] renewed emphasis on the issue reflects the belief by strategists in both parties that Republican candidates often benefit if they can link illegal immigration to crime, economic insecurity and terrorism—all resonant concerns with swing voters, especially women—and portray Democrats as too spineless to tackle the problem.”
Trump accused his Democratic Party opponents of funding the caravan in a bid to hurt the Republican election campaign. In a recent Tweet, the president wrote, “If the Democrats would stop being obstructionists and come together, we could write up and agree to new immigration laws in less than one hour. Look at the needless pain and suffering that they are causing. Look at the horrors taking place on the Border. Chuck & Nancy, call me!”
Yet, it is Trump himself who has been an obstructionist regarding the plight of undocumented immigrants. One cannot fail to notice the hypocrisy in his statement. While Trump’s housing monopoly undoubtedly profits off of the labor of undocumented workers here in the U.S., Trump continues to use reactionary language to describe the migrants winding their way towards the U.S. He has shouted since day one of his presidential campaign that migrants are all criminals, rapists, and gang members, coming to the U.S. to steal white people’s jobs and run amok in “our” country.
Trump has threatened to close the border to the approaching migrants and deny them the right to seek asylum, and has also threatened to deploy as many as 15,000 Army troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. These troops would reinforce the roughly 2000 National Guard troops that have been deployed at the border since April of this year. Trump has also proposed to abrogate the language of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in order to deny children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States their fundamental right to citizenship.
This strategy is meant to divide the working class over the questions of race and immigration. It denies the fact that migration has been taking place throughout human history, and the fact that it was the United States who created the various crises in Central America and Mexico that are pushing people to flee the horrific conditions in their own countries to seek a better life for their families in the so-called land of opportunity.
And let’s not forget that Obama has deported more immigrants than all former U.S. presidents combined. In 2014, his administration housed 7000 unaccompanied migrant children on U.S. military bases. From June 2006 to July 2008 and from June 2010 to September 2011, former Presidents George W. Bush and President Barak Obama dispatched National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, at a total cost of $1.35 billion.
What the working class needs now more than ever is solidarity with undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. and with the caravans working their way through Mexico. We must remember that migration is a human right, and it doesn’t matter if the Democrats or Republicans are in power—the ruling class will always find a way to profit from the super-exploitation of immigrant workers and to use fear-mongering among the U.S. population as a way to control public opinion and gain support for their xenophobic plans to further repress immigrants.
Immigrants are our neighbors, our co-workers; they are members of our unions, and their children play with ours at school. Immigrants have shown they have the power to rise up against reactionary policies, as we saw in 2006 when some of the largest demonstrations in U.S. history occurred against the Sensenbrenner laws. And we also saw earlier this year the power of the U.S. population to rise up in solidarity with undocumented immigrants when their children were literally being ripped from their arms.
We also need solidarity with and support to organizations in border areas that are planning for the arrival of the first migrant caravan in the coming weeks. Solidarity knows no borders.