On Thursday, November 20, Obama announced his executive action on immigration which will provide relief to about 4.3 million out of the 11 million immigrants who currently live in the United States without papers. The action will protect from deportation those who came to the United States under the age of 16, and those who have children who are citizens or legal residents. This executive action comes with other provisions, however. One of these being funds for an increased militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, and a new enforcing mechanism to replace the nefarious Secure Communities.
Obama made his announcement two weeks after the elections on which the Republicans took control of Congress. Obama had initially said that he would announce his relief plan by the end of the summer, but he delayed it until after the elections for he was afraid of a strong conservative backlash. Some Republicans threatened to challenge this new measure legally claiming Obama does not have authority to grant immigration relief to immigrants; however, legal experts say these accusations lack grounds. On the other side of the bourgeois isle, some Democrats urged Obama to delay his action even further because they were afraid the action would prevent Congress to pass the omnibus bill they need every year to finance the capitalist, imperialist, white supremacist machinery of the United States government.
If this action has done anything to truly help immigrants, it is making us realize that we cannot trust the U.S. government to provide a meaningful solution to our problems. Hundreds of thousands of immigrant families will not qualify for the measure for none of their children are citizens or a permanent residents. The same is true for the thousands of agricultural workers who have to endure harsh work conditions for minimal pay, as well as sexual violence from their supervisors. What will relief do for the more than two million immigrants deported under Obama or those locked inside for profit detentions facilities? What will relief do for the thousands of immigrants who die at the border as they try to escape the conditions of poverty and violence caused by U.S. intervention in the Third World?
Protection from deportations and work permits only do one thing. They allow immigrants to work and contribute to this country without obtaining the benefits and rights they deserve. As an economic system, capitalism benefits from having a mass of workers who sell their own labor to the rich ruling class for low wages while the ruling class benefits in massive profits from this exploitation. Over four million undocumented immigrants will be allowed to work and in return receive further militarization of the border and increased enforcement which does not address the fundamental issue of immigration at all. Those undocumented immigrants who are not protected by the executive order will be working continuously for very low wages, poor working conditions (e.g. not having the right to unionize), lack access to college education among many other things and in return run the risk that any encounter with the police might trigger criminal charges, which is likely considering the over-policed state of working class communities. The measure does not do anything but keep the status quo, capitalist exploitation of immigrants and the working class as a whole, intact.
Even if you are a citizen, you are not safe from the brutality of U.S. state apparatus. When Mike Brown was killed, his killer Darren Wilson was able to walk free like nothing had happened, and when people rightfully reveled, they faced gruesome brutality at the hands of the state. Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian woman who had being a U.S. citizen for 10 years, was forcefully removed from her home because of a confession she had signed under torture in a Israeli prison. Her only crime was being an outspoken activist for the liberation of her people. No one is safe when the capitalist, imperialist, and white supremacist U.S. state deems you as an undesirable.
If we are to look at immigration critically, we come to realize that the problem with immigration does not stem from a broken immigration system like the bourgeois activists and politicians want us to think. The current immigration system is the result of a set of policies which prevent a large amount of the immigrant working class from regularizing their status; thus becoming a cheap source of labor for the service economy of the U.S. This system is not broken. It was built this way. It was built with the intention to create a large highly exploitable working class that neither has rights nor a path to improve their conditions. Taking this into consideration will help us understand that it is not in the interest of the U.S. or its economy to fully grant this cheap labor force real rights and benefits.
The system does not need to be fixed. It must be destroyed. It is due to imperialist U.S. foreign policy such as NAFTA and other neoliberal measures that many immigrants are forced to leave their countries in the first place. It is due to a racist immigration system that millions of immigrants cannot use the regular channels to obtain a visa. It is due to border militarization that thousands die trying to cross through one of the most inhospitable deserts on earth. It is due to brutal enforcement of immigration laws by the Obama administration, – which deports 400,000 people every year – immigrant communities now live in constant fear of deportation.
No human is born illegal. Humans are made illegal due to the same laws and mechanism that maintain the bourgeois state together and protect the capitalist ruling class. If we are to truly challenge the U.S. state that keeps immigrants oppressed and families apart, we need to organize around the interest of our people, and not the interest of this country and its bourgeois class. We must demand unapologetic amnesty for the 11 million immigrants living in this country. We must demand the democratic right to citizenship in reparations for the years of oppression and imperialist domination of our countries. Immigrants are not Americans-to-be, but like the Black Nation and the First Nations of this continent, they are an oppressed nationality that must strive for national liberation.
We’ve been exploited enough. Our people have suffered enough. It is time to fight for a future where no immigration police will divide our family, no border will separate our people, and the capitalist class will no longer benefit from our labor. It is time to take our future in our hands. The oppressors will never grant us our freedom. We must take it from them by force.
Education and Legalization for all!
Stop separating working families!
Stop capitalist exploitation of immigrants!
Undocumented and unafraid!
Revolution is the way!