While many watched with awe the theater unfolding over the election of the next Speaker of the House, President Joe Biden announced a huge crackdown on immigration at the southern border. He aggressively increased restrictions on asylum in an effort to discourage migrant crossing into the United States.
According to this new policy, the U.S. will deny immigrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Haiti from applying for asylum if they cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization between official ports of entry, and will be returned to Mexico instead. “If You’re trying to leave Cuba, Nicaragua or Haiti,” Biden said, “or have agreed to pay an attorney to America, do not, do not just show up at the border.” Such a transit ban is already in place for immigrants from Venezuela.
Further, in what he sees as a concession to the tens of thousands of migrants from these countries who attempt to cross the border every month, Biden said that he would give as many as 30,000 people from these countries a chance to migrate legally into the United States. However, these measures are little more than crumbs, and are tied to migrants’ ability to buy a plane ticket, get a U.S. fiscal sponsor, qualify background checks, and meet other requirements and paperwork to obtain legal status. These legal means are often out of reach for most migrants, especially the many who are working class or poor.
Biden’s declaration came shortly before his scheduled trip to El Paso, Texas on Sunday, where Mayor Oscar Leeser declared a state of emergency last month, and called for federal intervention.
This move by the Biden administration is a significant concession to a xenophobic Right embodied in the Republican Party that has made the war on migrants and refugees a significant part of its agenda. Not only have GOP lawmakers been calling on Biden to be tougher on immigration, but Republican mayors and governors across the south have for months been bussing migrants to cities across the country that they consider Democratic party bastions.
But it isn’t sufficient to blame far-right and Republican xenophobia alone. Although it pays lip service to immigrants rights, as one of the two main parties of capital the Democratic party is equally complicit in building and maintaining a system that not only forces millions each year to abandon their homes, but also violently represses them when they do so.
Lest we forget, the Obama administration deported more immigrants during his tenure than any previous administration. The holding cages that became synonymous with Trump’s callous “zero tolerance” policy and family separations were built during the Obama years. Through the Trump years, the Democratic party and its leaders embraced a rhetoric of immigrant rights, using displays of righteous indignation to paint themselves as the champions of those making the treacherous journeys across the southern border or the families separated and held in cages in detention camps.
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For his part, Biden ran on a similar campaign, promising to “overhaul immigration laws.” Now, almost two years since he took office, the Biden administration has continued to build Trump’s border wall. Instead of dismantling cages and family separations as he promised, Biden has continued to maintain them. And although he says he stands against Title 42, his administration has used and expanded it to expel over two million immigrants so far.
For the working class and oppressed, both here and abroad, the Democratic party represents nothing more than a series of dead-ends. Biden and his ilk are tasked with maintaining a capitalist, imperialist system that thrives on oppressing working people everywhere. Indeed, it is the same regime that has, while saying they “stand for Black lives,” increased police funding across and has given billions to an imperialist war machine while saying there’s no money for healthcare, education, or infrastructure. The borders are yet another frontier for Biden and the capitalist state that he and his party serves: one that disrupts the lives of millions of working people and poor and keeps them precarious to maintain U.S. imperialism.
Against this racist, capitalist, imperialist state, its xenophobic policies, and for the lives and dignity of millions of working people displaced by the wrath of U.S. imperialism, we must fight for opening the borders and for the full rights and liberties of all immigrants making the perilous journey across the southern border.