Mon May 27, 2024
May 27, 2024

Biden Makes Concessions to Right Wing on Immigration Policy

By Jose Monterojo

At the end of January, Biden presented a concession to the far right of the Republican Party on the issue of immigration policy. In his proposal, Biden asked Congress to grant him the authority to close the border when the amount of incidents of people trying to cross into the United States exceeds an average of 5000 a day. The measure would also toughen the standards that refugees have to meet in order to request asylum.

Such repressive policies around the border are not new for Biden, who has followed the Trumpist policy of repressing, detaining, and deporting immigrants. Biden had already sent 1500 troops to the border in May, when the Trump-era Title 42 expired.

The so-called “immigration reform” bill has been embroiled in negotiations with congressional Republicans for several months. Biden and most Democrats had projected hopes that Congress would pass a financial aid package to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan in exchange for shifting immigration policy even further to the right. However, although leading Republicans had originally demanded that legislation on the border issue be linked to legislation for the foreign appropriations, they later insisted that the bills be divided. Now, swift passage of the immigration bill has stalled in the Senate, and it will no doubt encounter even stiffer opposition if it goes before the Republican-dominated House.

After Trump won the New Hampshire primary, he demanded that Republicans block Biden’s border proposal so that passage of the measure wouldn’t help Biden in his re-election campaign. For months, the Republican right, following the lead of Trump, has been blaming Biden for facilitating an “invasion” by tens of thousands of migrants.

Border crossings rose toward the end of last year to a 20-year high, several times surpassing 10,000 immigrants a day, while arrests for “illegal crossings” topped 2 million for the last two years in a row. At one crossing—Eagle Pass, Texas—agents have sometimes processed over 4000 people a day in recent months. Thousands of immigrant families who are awaiting processing have been forced to endure cold and hunger while sleeping outside in a holding area supervised by the Border Patrol.

Texas Republicans have been able to highly politicize their border. Although the Supreme Court gave the Border Patrol, a federal entity, the right to cut the razor wire that Governor Abbott had approved at several popular crossings in southern Texas, Texas state forces disobeyed and put up more. And when federal agents arrived at the Texas border to remove obstacles to the crossing of migrants, the state agents denied them access, in a tense confrontation that was celebrated by Trump, who added that the other Republican-dominated states should help the Texas state forces with their own national guards.

Greg Abbott has become a real nightmare for the federal government. Abbott uses a Texas constitutional resource that allows him to deploy the National Guard in case of “foreign invasion” and insists that particular states have that right in the event that the federal government does not do its job. Abbott’s aggressive stance includes sending more than 100,000 migrants in buses to Northeastern cities controlled by Democrats under false promises of employment so that Democrats can deal with the issue that Republicans blame them for creating.

Trump’s rhetoric of ethnic cleansing against migrants and his call for an armed confrontation between state officials and the federal government reflects a militant and aggressive strategy on the part of the extreme right. The reactionaries in the Republican Party hope that their rhetoric will help to encourage and solidify their base—centered on white, nationalist, and largely petty bourgeois sectors of the population.

North American imperialism refuses to recognize its own responsibility in the flight of millions of people from Latin America and other semi-colonial regions to the United States. While the U.S. implements greater obstacles to the crossing and permanence of immigrants, North American economic capital enjoys great advantages and privileges throughout Latin America, where its factories, mines, and plantations displace entire communities, exploit its workers, and destroy the ecosystems of Indigenous and other Latin American peoples.

In the case of Venezuela, where a large portion of those seeking asylum in the United States come from, the economic sanctions imposed by Yankee imperialism on the Venezuelan economy have increased the poverty and desperation of its population. The sanctions policy of the United States is not, as its media says, a legitimate strategy to wear down authoritarian regimes. It is rather an anti-worker policy that, rather than damaging the governments in power, intensifies inflation and deterioration in the living conditions of the working classes of the targeted countries.

Upon hearing about Biden’s proposal, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, like the previous Mexican puppet governments, submitted to the policy imposed by the White House. AMLO accepted the “stay in Mexico” policy imposed by Trump in which thousands of migrants were forced to remain on the Mexican side of the border, ostensibly to prevent them from bringing coronavirus into the U.S. Since then, AMLO has agreed with Biden to accept thousands of immigrants deported from the United States, many of whom are not Mexican and have no connections in that country.

The United States tries to use the southern Mexican border and the Mexican state to repress immigration from Central and South America, the Caribbean, and elsewhere before it reaches the United States, and the Mexican president gives in as the junior partner of Yankee imperialism.

While the extreme right exerts its influence, its state power, and its ranks mobilize against immigrants, immigrant rights advocates in the U.S. have expressed their concerns at Biden’s acquiescence to the Republicans’ demands for more repressive border policies. Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign promised to halt deportations, to reunite families, and to create a sensible pathway towards legalization. But his regime has instead provided Republicans with very same proposals that they’ve been clamoring for.

Unfortunately, the major immigrant rights leadership in the U.S. retains its reformist character, depending on Democratic politicians to grant immigrants piecemeal reforms—such as the DREAM Act or DACA—that give temporary reprieve to a minority of immigrants while incarcerating and deporting millions of others.

Biden’s shift to the right in border politics is an opportunity for the immigrant rights movement to build an independent pole that can mobilize the entire labor movement, in alliance with the movements fighting national oppression, in defense of workers without papers. With a strong united effort, we can confront repression at the border, the mass incarceration and abuse of migrants in detention centers, state and local laws that criminalize immigrants, and the lack of political rights—while waging a long-term struggle for a world that ends discrimination against workers who are forced by capital to cross national borders to survive.

Article first published on Workers’ Voice

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