The international media present a picture in which the policy of Joe Biden’s administration on the issue of immigrants would have made a complete turnaround over that implemented by Republican Donald Trump. The reality, however, is very different from this journalistic superficiality.
By Alejandro Iturbe
English Version by Corriente Obrera LIT-CI U.S.
As we have analyzed in other articles in this series, the Democratic and Republican parties express different sectors of the imperialist bourgeoisie and also differences in political style. But they have common objectives and interests and, therefore, political continuities beyond which party governs.
One of them is, precisely, the policy regarding the immigration issue. To understand this continuity and how it is expressed today, it seems necessary to make a brief historical review of some periods.
Since its independence, throughout the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, the United States was “a country of immigration”. Between 1836 and 1914, more than 30 million European migrants arrived in the country. It is important to consider that in 1910 the population of the country was 92 million. The expansive dynamics of American capitalism allowed them to be incorporated into the productive structure as workers and even to develop their own companies and, in the process, to obtain citizenship. It was a first version of the “American dream” and of “the land of a thousand opportunities”.
The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the French State, later transformed into a symbol of New York, also ended up being a kind of symbol of that immigration. Today, some of the words written on the bronze plaque at its base seem a cruel irony: “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she, with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….”.
However, it was not a paradise, since when these immigrant workers followed the path of class struggle, the U.S. bourgeoisie repressed them without consideration, as in the case of the Chicago Martyrs or Sacco and Vanzetti.
There was also a forced migration: that of the African peoples brought as slaves. Between 1626 and 1875, more than 300,000 people were forcibly brought first to the British colonies and then to the United States to be sold as slaves and forced into hard labor.
In this period, it is already necessary to consider Mexican immigration, following the annexation (theft) of all of northern Mexico after the war between the two countries (1846-1848) and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that was signed at the end of the U.S. invasion war. Mexico lost the territory that corresponds to the current States of Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. The truth is that 80,000 Mexicans who lived in those territories came to reside in what was now part of the United States, in a situation of difficult classification, since although the Treaty stipulated their rights under American rule, these stipulations were not complied with from the beginning. Furthermore, after these treaties, it is estimated that another 50,000 Mexicans entered the now U.S. territory as immigrants.
Following the occupation of California and the territories of the American West in the mid-19th century and the westward expansion of the railroads, some 300,000 Chinese migrants also arrived, either as contracted or free laborers. A wave of anti-Chinese xenophobia, embodied in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, closed the migratory flow from that country until 1965, leaving these communities marginalized in ghettos (disparagingly called Chinatowns).
A change of profile
The crisis of 1929 and its resulting large increase in unemployment in the country opened an impasse in this immigration dynamic, which continued during World War II. After the entry of the United States in this conflict (1941), and the recruitment of numerous young people to replace them in their jobs, there was a massive entry of American women into the labor market.
In 1942, the temporary importation of Mexican labor to work in agriculture began, under the so-called Bracero Program, which lasted until 1964, with an annual average of 200,000 migrants without the right to remain in the country after their contracts. Throughout the period of this program, the braceros were never a docile labor force, going on strike on several occasions, culminating with strikes in California’s Imperial Valley in the 1960s under the United Farm Workers.
After World War II, while there is a new immigration influx from Europe, it is much smaller than the one we have already described. At the same time, there is a change in the immigration profile. The economic and industrial expansion of the “post-war boom” period generated a great demand for workers that began to be covered, in large part, by immigrants from Mexico and, to a lesser extent, from Central American countries. Ibt can be seen that in the period between 1945 and 1970 there was a growth of this immigration – with its peak in 1965 – and a continuation in later decades, with lower intensities but with a permanent flow. Beyond the fluctuations, the Mexican working class became, in fact, part of the “industrial reserve army” of the U.S. bourgeoisie, which comprises 25% of the immigrant population in the U,S, (2017 census). At the same time, it was a relief valve to the limitations of the Mexican bourgeoisie and governments.
There have also been other significant immigration waves, although motivated by different reasons and with different characteristics. We refer in particular to immigration from India: between 2015 and 2019 there was a flow that exceeded two million immigrants annually, to the extent that “the United States is filling its current and future requirements of highly skilled workers”, as expressed in a specialized work on this subject. It is estimated that there are currently some ten million residents of this origin, or 6% of the immigrant population. The vast majority have entered the country legally, but there is a minority who do so undocumented. Chinese immigration, on the other hand, has remained constant from 1965 to the present, reaching 5.5% of the immigrant population (2017 census).
We think it is important to look at the meaning of some terms that are not always used in the same way in different countries and may cause confusion. Immigrant is a person born in a country who emigrates to another country to settle there; generally permanently, although there are temporary immigrants for study or work periods, who also identify themselves as “migrants”.
In the case of the United States, a part of these immigrants managed to obtain citizenship, another part remains with different categories of residency visas, among them the “permanent” (green card). And, finally, there are those that the bourgeois legislation qualifies as “illegal” (we will call them undocumented), that is, those who entered the country without an immigration permit or whose visas have expired.
Next, we must consider the concept of ” community of immigrant origin” which includes not only those born in another country but also the second and third generations. Since in the United States there is jus soli (those born in the country have the right to citizenship), these new generations are no longer considered immigrants. The exception is situations of high levels of crime or social problems, so even Americans of immigrant origin are accused of “not having adapted” and “being a problem in the country”. In several cases, they have been stripped of their citizenship and deported, as was the case with young people from several Central American countries.
In this concept of “community”, factors such as the preservation of the mother tongue (either as the main language or bilingual) and other cultural aspects come into play. These linguistic and cultural elements are very strong in communities of Latin American, East Asian and Indian origin. When this is being lost, sociology considers that a process of “assimilation” is taking place.
As a general datum, in 2019 the UN reported that in the US there were about fifty-one million immigrants, the largest number in the world and, at the same time, representing almost 15% of the country’s population. Within this total, the number of undocumented immigrants is less precise, with estimates varying between 10.5 and 12 million. Beyond that, the number has been declining since a peak of 12.6 million, estimated in 2016.
The U.S. government defines “Hispanic or Latino” as a “person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South American, Central American or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race”. This is a deeply discriminatory definition and, in censuses, it is considered separately from the concept of “white” (there are also other categories such as “Asian”, African-American”, etc.). As a consequence, communities often defend this classification because so-called “affirmative action laws” allow them to obtain “racial quotas” in schools, university scholarships and jobs.
According to this criterion, in 2006 the Census Bureau reported 31.7 million “Hispanic” immigrants, of which 11.5 million were Mexican. If we consider the concept of “community”, the number multiplies, since with the second and third generations, families of Mexican origin totaled close to 30 million people. The cities with the largest number of Latinos are, in that order, Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Riverside/San Bernardino, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Phoenix, San Antonio and San Francisco.
Although the category “Latino” is used in a general way, it is necessary to point out that, within this group, there are important differences. In states such as California, Texas and Arizona, Mexicans clearly predominate as a central component of the region’s proletariat. We must also consider a number of temporary immigrants who come to work seasonally. Also, although a minority, bourgeois and petty bourgeois sectors have emerged. In general, they are aligned with the Democratic Party. At the same time, the Mexicans are a dynamic element of the class struggle: they commemorate May Day as a day of struggle of the workers (in the United States this date has been undermined and replaced with Labor Day, on another date and with a totally different festive content), they have promoted the “day without immigrants”, they are active participants in the struggles for the $15 an hour wage, they permanently confront the policy of deportation of undocumented immigrants, etcetera.
In the strip that goes from New York to Chicago, the Puerto Rican presence is very notorious (in 2018, it was estimated that there are close to six million in the country), even with their own neighborhoods, such as East Harlem in New York (also called Spanish Harlem). Since they come from a “Commonwealth” (a special form of colony), they have the advantage of automatically obtaining U.S. citizenship upon emigrating to the mainland. There is also a presence of Dominicans, estimated at about two million, in the northern borough of Manhattan and in the Bronx. The tendency of both sectors is to align themselves with the Democrats.
Finally, in Florida, especially in Miami, the majority community is Cuban. We can speak of two different waves. The first are the bourgeois and petty bourgeois sectors (the “gusanos”) who fled after the 1959 revolution (many of them already had businesses and properties). They formed a bourgeois sector which is integrated into the republican coalition. The second is that of the “Marielitos” (so called because they came from the port of Mariel). These are workers and popular sectors that fled the poverty generated by the so-called “special period” in Cuba in the 1980s and 1990s. For the same reason, there was a tendency to accompany the political positions of the “gusanos”. Here we must refer to the “wet feet, dry feet” policy, in force between 1995 and 2017, by which Cubans who, after the journey on rafts, managed to set foot on U.S. soil, had the right to remain in the country. It was repealed by Obama towards the end of his mandate.
More recently, there has been a Venezuelan immigration, estimated in 2020 at more than 350,000, as part of a much broader emigration from that country to different destinations. In the US it presents mostly bourgeois and petty bourgeois characteristics. Recently, Biden has just granted them a “temporary protected status” (TPS) which, while in force, protects them from deportation and allows them to work legally. TPS is, as the name implies, temporary; in addition to having to pay the state both at the beginning and with its annual renewal. However, it shows the character with which the Democrats handle this issue, discriminating against immigrants according to the political context of the country of origin and how the U.S. is placed in that context.
Discriminatory and persecutory immigration policies are increasingly focused on Latin Americans and especially Mexicans. Not only because of a numerical issue but also because of what we can call “porosity” in a very extensive border. Finally, as we have seen, because they are often the driving forces and “spark” of the class struggle.
Imperialist capitalism and immigrants
Mass migrations have always existed in the history of mankind. Among other causes, because of the need of peoples or sectors of them to ensure their survival. But imperialist capitalism has increased and accelerated these processes and, if the term is valid, has internationalized them.
As a central factor, as we have already mentioned, it uses the immigration of proletariat from other countries as an industrial reserve army, to which it appeals to keep the national labor markets balanced. It regulates the flow of this army through immigration laws which are softened or hardened according to the needs of each period.
At the other end of the process, the situation of poverty and misery caused by the exploitation of colonized countries (more recently, the environmental collapse in flooded or highly populated desert areas caused by climate change), creates ever larger sectors of workers for whom emigration becomes the only possible way to feed their families, either by moving with them or by undertaking the adventure alone in order to be able to send back remittances. The total volume of money returning to the country of origin through these remittances is very large: several billions of dollars. In some countries, such as El Salvador and Ecuador, it has become an essential component of the national economy and GDP. In the case of El Salvador, it has become a financial source of capital for companies.
For this reason, migrants often do not hesitate to risk their lives in the crossings or to live an almost clandestine life in the destination country. In the recent caravans of Hondurans attempting to enter the United States through Mexican territory, several of the participants declared: “We are not leaving because we want to, we are expelled by violence and poverty”.
Obama and the immigrant deportation machine
What we have analyzed about migratory flows in imperialist capitalism is especially valid for Latin Americans and the United States. In the last decades, this country has always had repressive and persecutory legislation against undocumented immigrants. But this legislation was applied with greater or lesser rigidity according to the needs of the labor market. This has little to do with whether the government is Democratic or Republican. Democrat Bill Clinton (1993-2001), at a time of economic boom, expelled “barely” 870,000; during the administrations of Republican George W. Bush (2001-2009) that number more than doubled (2,100,000).
But who ended up taking the “prize” was Barack Obama: during his terms in office (2009-2017) almost 2,800,000 immigrants were deported. Worse, he went even further: in 2004, Bush had centralized several agencies that carried out this repression: the Citizenship and Immigration Services (called “migra” by Latinos), the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Customs and Border Protection. Under Bush, that unit had 28,000 agents and a budget of $4.9 billion. Obama increased the number of agents to 48,000 and raised its budget to $18 billion. It is no coincidence that, at the end of his second term, some left-wing and Latino media talked about the “deportation machine Obama built for President Trump”, in addition to earning the nickname ” Deporter in Chief”.
At the same time, in 2014 Obama proposed a “carrot”: legalization plans for undocumented immigrants who had children born in the U.S. or for those who had arrived as children (DACA). These plans proposed a cumbersome process that would take no less than ten years to qualify for citizenship and that, in addition, aimed at dividing them, since it only benefited a part of the “illegals”. In addition, the initiation of the process required the payment of a fine of 1,500 dollars per person for “having entered the country illegally”.
What happened with Trump?
Despite what may be believed, Donald Trump’s administration’s policy did not represent any qualitative leap compared to that of Obama. Trump rode on the “deportation machine” that Obama had built. He even “deported 177,000 fewer immigrants in his first year in office (2017) than Barack Obama did in 2009, during his first year in the White House, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”
The difference is that while Obama acted “quietly” and kept his smile, Trump acted with an angry face and in a vociferous manner, with a xenophobic discourse since his electoral campaign, and with repugnant public actions as president, such as the summary expulsion of ten thousand immigrants detained in the middle of the pandemic (so that “they would not spread the virus”); the announcement of the construction of a border wall with Mexico (which should be paid for by the Mexican government); the detention of immigrant children in cages (an image that went around and outraged the world); the refusal to grant political asylum to all refugees who requested it, and so on.
Among these ” boisterous ” measures, one of them provoked a strong crisis: the so-called ” Muslim Ban “. That is, the executive order signed in January 2017, shortly after taking office, which practically prohibited the entry into the country of people from several Middle Eastern countries, and even denied the right of return to those who already had various types of residence visas in the United States. The order provoked demonstrations against it at several airports in the country (especially Kennedy Airport in New York); lawsuits by lawyers’ associations; and court rulings against it, such as that of a federal judge in New York who authorized the entry. The measure was suspended in its application, but in 2018 the Supreme Court (in a very divided vote) considered “legal” the order, of which Trump had made a second version.
But, outside of this more “belligerent” attitude, Trump fell short of fulfilling his campaign promise to expel the “eleven million people who came illegally to this country.” However, while under Obama the average number of annual deportations was 350,000 people, the Trump administration only in 2019 reached the figure of 269,000, according to data from the MPI (Migration Policy Institute). What did increase was the number of detainees at the border with Mexico: from a monthly average of 35,000 to one of 40,000. The number of “illegal alien hunting” operations in workplaces also increased, such as the one carried out by ICE in Odessa (Texas), with very violent methods, in Koch Food Inc. factories, whose owners are among the richest families in the country and were Trump supporters.
The fact that the number of deportees was not higher was not due to Trump’s unwillingness. On the one hand, as we have seen, he had to face mass mobilizations against it and even strong frictions with bourgeois sectors that take advantage of the exploitation of undocumented immigrants to increase their profits, besides having them as consumers who pay in cash, because many of them do not have credit cards.
On the other hand, there were some incipient manifestations of moral crisis in those who must exercise repression against undocumented immigrants. A border guard in the city of Tucson, Arizona, told the New York Times, “People really hate us. They call us child murderers. We can’t go eat at many restaurants for fear that they will spit on our food.” In the same state, one officer resigned because “imprisoning people for nonviolent activity began to eat me up inside.” In the same state, one officer resigned because “imprisoning people for nonviolent activity began to eat me up inside.”
At the same time, and completely hypocritically given the background we saw with Obama, the Democratic party positioned itself in opposition to this policy. In many cases, officials and even police officers in cities administered by Democrats refused to collaborate in detaining or deporting immigrants. These “sanctuary cities” have been around since the 1980s, in conjunction with solidarity with the Central American revolutions, but took on new meaning in the face of Trump.
The famous wall
During his electoral campaign, Trump promised the construction of a wall that would run along the entire border with Mexico and said that the cost of its construction would be paid by that country. As soon as he took office, he even signed an executive order authorizing the work and at the end of his term (already defeated in the elections by Joe Biden) he took a picture with it and expressed that he hoped that his successor would maintain this “work of my government”.
The reality, however, is very different from Trump’s bluster. The U.S.-Mexico border is 3,142 kilometers long. Before he came to the White House there were already barriers or separation fences on one third of that border, some 1,050 km.
In more urban areas, the barriers are made to prevent the passage of pedestrians and vehicles. The fences are of various types: in some segments they are panels of sheet metal or corrugated steel, in other parts there is a wire mesh or several overlapping ones, and in certain sectors there are vertical bars measuring between 5.5 and 9.1 meters in height placed on concrete and separated by small spaces. At the border post between San Diego and Tijuana, the fences extend up to 100 meters into the sea and are made of materials resistant to rust and salt corrosion. Sometimes the barriers are single (primary) and sometimes they are doubled in parallel (secondary).
In the more remote areas, the government uses “vehicular fences”, crossed wooden posts (generally obtained from railroad tracks) that prevent vehicles from passing but can be crossed by pedestrians. In much of the rest of the border, there are mountainous areas, deserts, wetlands and canals around the Rio Bravo (or Rio Grande) and there is no human-made structure because in theory nature forms its own barrier.
Last August 28, after the Republican National Convention, Trump declared that he had built “300 miles (480 kilometers) of border wall”. But this was not true: there were works in 507 kilometers, but most of them (451 kilometers) were replacements or repairs of already existing structures. Of the remaining 56 km, 43 km correspond to new secondary fences. In other words, only 13 kilometers of fence were actually added.
However, despite the extension of the already existing fence, the official surveillance on the northern side, and the repression, this border continues to be a “sieve”, with clandestine tunnels crossing it and with uncontrolled parts, where nature was supposed to fulfill its role as a barrier. These “holes” are used both by drug trafficking cartels and by “coyotes”, a sinister activity that smuggles migrants (often in subhuman conditions) in exchange for payment of the “service”.
Some of the extreme right-wing militia groups operating in the country are dedicated to “hunting illegal immigrants” who have not been detected by the Border Patrol. Others go even further and plan attacks even against those who were granted asylum. A 2017 article reports: “In October, a plot by a militia in Kansas to blow up a building sheltering Somali immigrants was uncovered.”. In 2019, in the city of El Paso, Texas, a 21-year-old white man shot at people in a major shopping mall, killing 20 people and wounding 26, almost all Latino. Prior to that action, the killer had written a manifesto (which was not made public), and upon arrest was prosecuted for “hate crime”. This phenomenon did not start with Trump but was exacerbated in his administration.
The agreement with López Obrador
With a wall that was not advancing and only partially fulfilling its function, Trump sought other ways to try to resolve the “southern border” issue. He did so by appealing to the servility of the bourgeois governments of the colonized countries. Something like “outsourcing the service”.
The first to join him on this path, and the most important for this policy, was the supposedly “progressive” president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). At the beginning of 2019, he had already accepted the renegotiation of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement, between the USA, Canada and Mexico, NAFTA for its acronym in English) accepting even worse conditions than those already imposed by the original treaty.
A few months later, Trump “blackmailed” AMLO with the threat of increasing import tariffs on Mexican products if the Mexican government did not begin to act as a “wall” and police on the southern side of the border between the two countries, to control the migratory flow. AMLO, of course, eventually complied and his government began to fulfill this internal role in Mexico.
But this measure not only affected the Mexican people but also migrants from other countries (including Africa and Asia) for whom Mexican territory was the “gateway” to the USA. Mexico was to be a sort of “containment dike” so that the problem would not reach the border. AMLO set aside his electoral promise of a “humanitarian” migratory policy and started to play the role of US border guard. This was expressed in the “Stay in Mexico Program” which required non-Mexican migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico until their hearing date in the United States. This led, among other things, to the establishment of camps, in conditions that were not always ideal, on the Mexican side of the border, including those where the first caravan of Hondurans stayed.
For the following caravans coming from this country, the “containment dike” was placed even further south and with more violent methods: it was the Guatemalan government (this one is openly recognized as right-wing) that prevented them from entering Mexico and repressed them harshly on their side of the border.
What really changes with Biden?
We have said that the press conveys the idea that the new administration has made a complete turnaround on Trump’s immigrant policy. For example, the Spanish edition of CNN states: “One of the first immigration policies of U.S. President Joe Biden is to achieve greater openness to immigrants and, in general, to welcome foreigners”.
He then lists a series of measures that support this assessment, such as appointing Cuban immigrant Esther Olavarría as chair of the White House National Immigration Policy Council. Quickly, he also overturned the “Muslim Ban” issued by Trump, promised to resolve the issue of family unification for 600 children of immigrants separated from their deported parents (an action in which Biden’s wife is expected to participate), and rescinded the continuation of enrollments in the Stay in Mexico Program. On the latter issue, however, the proposed policy will be essentially the same as Trump’s: “Biden would seek with the forthcoming executive orders to protect migrants near their homes through an asylum system in neighboring countries.”
The most significant change, so far, would be the fulfillment of his election promise to increase the admission quota of 15,000 “refugees” imposed by Trump (legally in force until next September) to 125,000. But, even in this increase, the concept of refugees is confusing: does it refer to the total number of visas with residence permits to be granted or only to those who apply to enter in this capacity?
These measures and the ambiguity between what is declared and what is executed have generated confusion on both sides of the border. On the U.S. side, some Central American mothers with their children have been released from detention centers; on the Mexican side, thousands are still waiting in shelters and camps in Matamoros and other Mexican cities.
At the same time, Biden has sent to Congress the United States Citizenship Bill: “The proposal includes an eight-year path to citizenship for most of the 11 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S., strengthens the refugee and asylum systems, and calls for additional technology to help secure the southern border…”.
This project essentially repeats the one presented by Obama in 2014, which Trump set aside. The path to citizenship is long and cumbersome, full of red tape and bureaucratic stages. On the other hand, it is not clear whether it will be broader than the one in which only half of the undocumented immigrants were included, while this one, at least in its public presentation, speaks of the “majority”. But what does “majority” mean, who will be excluded and why? At the same time, the government has already announced that “it is open to divide the package into parts”, in order to gain the support of Republican legislators, and that, in the meantime, it will move forward with “minor measures”. On the other hand, it is very possible that the cost of initiating the process will be much more expensive than under Obama: there is talk of a fine of $10,000 (almost the same as that charged by a coyote for bringing someone into the country).
Finally, there remains the issue of those who want to enter the U.S. to live and work legally. On the one hand, as we have seen, Biden’s promise has been to expand the annual quota to 125,000 applicants, an amount far below the real demand, which will continue to feed both the accumulation of contingents of people in the “containment walls” in Mexico and Guatemala and the flow of undocumented immigrants.
Faced with this reality, “additional technology” will be used to “protect the southern border”. We already know what that term represents in the mouth of imperialism. That is, there may be a change of form in the mechanisms but the policy of “stopping them at the border” will remain the same.
This concept (change in form and mechanisms with continuity of substance in relation to Trump) applies to the whole of Biden’s policy toward immigrants. Trump said that “immigrants had to go” (i.e., be expelled), the Democrats do not use that terminology, but let’s remember that Obama was the ” Deporter in Chief”.
On this issue, perhaps there may be some change from Biden over Obama. But it is for reasons of the political situation and not because of “humanitarian philosophy”. Immigrant communities should be approaching a hundred million by now. Latino communities alone must be approaching sixty million. As we have seen, most of those who have obtained citizenship supported Biden against Trump. At the same time, they are in solidarity with their relatives and compatriots threatened with deportation and, many times, they participate in the struggles against that and in the anti-racist rebellions of the last years.
Along with this, there are more and more legislators of Latino origin (mostly in the Democratic lists), several of whom are located in the “left wing” of that party, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of Puerto Rican origin who, at 29, became the youngest woman to enter the House of Representatives, and claims to be a “socialist”.
Biden does not have the political conditions to launch a massive deportation of immigrants, as Obama did, without the risk of facing strong mobilizations and rebellions against him and, on a smaller scale, of suffering significant ruptures of the left wing of his party and of his electoral base.
We have said that imperialist capitalism is responsible for the reality experienced by immigrant workers and their families, because it is the one that generates the poverty and misery that forces the peoples of the dominated countries to migrate and because it uses them as an industrial reserve army, to keep their national labor markets balanced. But it does so with discriminatory and repressive laws, whose application it tightens when it needs to reduce this flow. At the same time, it uses them to make this sector of workers “behave” in the face of the permanent threat of deportation.
The fight against this reality is a task that the entire working class of the country of immigration must take on, because the bourgeoisie uses it in two ways. In times of economic boom, to push down wages and working conditions. In times of downturn, to divide the class by accusing immigrants of “stealing jobs,” as Trump blatantly did, and evade responsibility for the crisis. As Marx said, already in the 19th century, “a people that oppresses another cannot be free.” That is why no man or woman can be considered illegal because of their geographical origin, race, ethnicity or religious beliefs.
In this sense, a first level of demands for struggle in the United States must respond to today’s serious problems. The first is the immediate legalization of all immigrants already residing in the country, with full rights to reside, work, study and receive public health care.
As demanded by immigrants in Europe: papers for all, as a first step, then the full right to citizenship. Related to this, specifically, is the right of reunification of those families separated by deportations.
The second demand is the immediate end to raids throughout the country, the repeal of repressive legislation and the dissolution of the agencies that enforce it, such as ICE, “la migra”. In the face of attacks by fascist and racist groups, we demand the right of self-defense of the communities under attack, a right that we believe is also valid in the face of police violence. Fighting for these demands is essential and immediate.
A second stage refers to the many who, because of the needs already described, want to emigrate to the USA. The national borders, the discriminatory laws against free emigration and the repression of it are mechanisms of the national bourgeoisies to maintain an “enclosed exploitation zone”.
Every worker and his family must have the right to choose the country where to live and work, because the bourgeoisie already has that right, in fact and in law. We demand a migratory legislation in which to emigrate and immigrate in any country is only an administrative procedure.
But this second stage leads us to a much deeper problem: the need to fight against imperialist capitalism as a whole, because it is the one that creates the current conditions, both the need to emigrate and the laws that repress migrants. Only by defeating imperialist capitalism, through a revolution that initiates the construction of a more just and humane society (socialism), will we be able to realize the goal set forth in the The Internationale anthem: “The Earth shall be the paradise of all Humanity”.
3] See the work La migración mexicana hacia los Estados Unidos. Una breve radiografía, by Adolfo Albo and Juan Luis Ordaz Díaz at: https://www.bbvaresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/mult/WP_1105_Mexico_tcm346-246701.pdf
4] Idem, graph 2.
 KHADRIA, Binod; India: skilled migration to developed countries; Latin America Collection in http://meme.phpwebhosting.com/~migracion/rimd/coleccion_america_latina/migracionYdesarrollo/c4.pdf
8] Data taken from a table based on data from the Pew Research Center at: https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-48893783
10] See paper cited in note , figure 3.
11] See note .
 The data in this subtitle is taken from https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-internacional-54022541
26] On this subject, see the section on Mexico in: https://litci.org/es/latinoamerica-avance-del-dominio-imperialista-parte-2/
 https://oglobo.globo.com/mundo/projeto-de-biden-para-dar-cidadania-11-milhoes-de-imigrantes-chega-ao-congresso-24888051 (in Portuguese in the original, translation ours).