Immigration has been a divisive force throughout American history, simmering just below the surface before exploding into paroxysm’s of violence where riots, lynching and murder are the order of the day.
In a future shaped by extreme climate disruption immigration is guaranteed to a remain a volatile and disruptive issue in American politics. Indeed, this future is already visible here, with Trump’s anti-immigrant message and actions, and in Europe, where immigration is one of the leading contributors to the rise of right-wing populism.
I’ve largely tried to avoid discussing immigration exactly because it’s such a contentious subject, with few easy solutions. That being said, if there’s any hope we better get started articulating the problems and actors who are responsible for the mess we’re in.
For instance, the liberal position that we should have open borders is nuts.
You know who else would love open borders? The rapacious corporations that desire a reserve army of desperate workers who will work for peanuts. Illegal immigrants often wind up in sweat-shop type work like meatpacking plants which are subject to frequent safety violations. Workers who are afraid of deportation don’t complain about labor abuses. It’s reasonable to assume that a high proportion of illegal immigrants are subject to all sorts of other mistreatment: below minimum wage pay, wage theft, hours violations.
Yet the liberal component of the corporate media constantly argue contradictory positions in defense of both wages and immigration without blinking an eye. Low wages are not a bug but a feature of mass immigration. The immigration-led growth model guarantees wage theft by relying implicitly upon a permanent supply shock that guarantees labour oversupply and by importing more exploitative attitudes to class within ethnic groups.
Meanwhile, liberal tech-bros support for enhanced immigration via H1-B visas is simply more labor arbitrage, where they can get highly skilled software engineers from India at a fraction of the cost of an American engineer.
Don’t gloat conservatives. Your support of a belligerent martial foreign policy has directly contributed to the flood refugees from the countries we’ve destroyed through invasions, coups and support and training of right-wing death squads. For example, the torrent of refugees streaming towards the Mexican border are the direct result of US foreign policies of the conservative saint–Ronald Reagan–who supported right-wing juntas in Guatemala and El Salvador, while funding and training the murderous Contras in their assault on the left-wing Sandinista government of Nicaraugua.
Conservative support for ICE and Homeland Security, two militarized and corrupt bureaucracies, makes a mockery of their claim to value small government and freedom. Since 9/11, they’ve cheered on Republican national security policies which have created for all intents and purposes a police state.
Finally, the racism that animates MAGA is an embarrassment. US presidents, particularly in the period of Cold War struggle between American imperialism and the Soviet Union, once sought to posture as leaders of the “Free World,” representing a country which long identified itself as being “a nation of immigrants.” Indeed, America is made up of immigrants who contribute to and enhance our country.
Unless you look like these guys–
–you are an immigrant too.
Of course, liberals fully support militarized foreign policy and draconian immigration rules too, as long as it was carried out by their progressive champions–Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton. Their approval and support for the right-wing coup in Hondurous in 2009 directly contributed to the wave of desperate refugees streaming toward our southern border. And, of course, they were all in for the murderous policies of regime change in Libya, Syria and Ukraine, carried out under the auspices of the Nobel-Peace-Prize-President, which have sent millions of desperate refugees to Europe, driving the rise of nationalistic, fascist political parties.
Who’d have thunk it? Liberals and conservatives both responsible for disastrous American policies?
So, I have to ask, in this contentious environment where both political parties are married to extreme proposals, is it possible to craft a sensible and humane immigration policy?
A good place to start, in my opinion, would be to end the disastrous neoconservative foreign and neoliberal economic policies so beloved by our bi-partisan elite.
For example, imagine the influx of desperate immigrants from Venezuela if the neocons had succeeded in overthrowing the Maduro administration? Or the flood of refugees that would overrun Europe if the neocons strong-arm Trump into attacking Iran?
Likewise, it will be impossible to get American workers to welcome immigrants as long as our neoliberal mandarins insist on offshoring American manufacturing jobs.
Meanwhile, the rampant brutality witnessed at the ICE facilities on the border is hardly an accident. I believe that neoliberal economic policies have aided and abetted racism and xenophobia by offering the former blue-collar industrial workers prison guard positions instead. What we’re seeing at the border is a continuation of this prison guard culture that was responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
It would be great if we could direct the hatred of immigrants on to the elites that have crafted these policies that are so disastrous for we-the-people, but oh-so incredibly effective at dividing and ruling.
I can dream.