U.S. anti-migrant policies are only getting worse. This week brought the end of Title 42, a policy instituted during the height of the Covid pandemic which the Trump administration used to deny refugees the legal right to asylum. Biden continued, and at times expanded this policy. Now, as the policy comes to an end, Biden has put in place an asylum ban which denies asylum to any migrants who did not seek asylum in a country they crossed through on their way to the United States.
The new ban comes as the number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border tops 10,000 daily. The vast majority of these migrants are from Venezuela and Haiti, two countries that are in deep economic and political crises worsened by histories of U.S. intervention and sanctions.
The growing refugee crisis is also fueled by the climate crisis, which is making large portions of the Global South uninhabitable, and global economic crises which make basic necessities unaffordable especially in the Global South. These trends toward instability and crisis are only deepening, meaning that the refugee crisis currently playing out at the Southern border is not an anomaly but a sign of a new reality in which more and more people will seek asylum in the United States.
Biden and the rest of his regime understand this new reality. This is why Biden has responded to the end of Title 42 by setting up policies which are just as extreme as Trump’s policies, and has even positioned himself as to the right of MAGA Republicans. Currently, the administration is deploying 1,500 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. This comes weeks after Biden announced an agreement with the governments of Colombia and Guatemala to hold migrants in camps in those countries, and a separate agreement with the governments of Colombia and Panama to prevent migration through the heavily-trafficked Darien Gap. Biden is also setting up a chain of surveillance towers along the Southern border. Along with escalating the domestic war on migrants, these policies further advance U.S. control throughout Latin America at a time when the United States aims to increase its plunder of the continent’s resources.
The militarization of the border and increasingly restrictive asylum bans come as the U.S. regime is forming a consensus around a soft-protectionist policy. While the two parties are increasingly polarized on many issues, they agree that the United States should be using greater state repression to protect its “domestic stability” and pursue more aggressive competition with China. This consensus also sees the U.S. pursuing more protectionist economic policies, in contrast to the ideas of globalization which defined the last several decades.
This new protectionism risks greater division of the international working class along national lines by championing ideas of “supporting American jobs” and developing “American industry.” Those who blame immigrants and workers in other countries for “taking American jobs” are misdirecting blame away from the capitalists who use migrant labor and foreign labor to get away with exploiting workers who have less protections. The U.S. working class will need to organize across borders and nationalities to better resist capital’s use of precarious migrant and international labor.
Division of the international working class, with U.S. chauvinism, gives space for Far Right forces to stoke xenophobic violence against migrants and those who show solidarity with migrants. While both parties agree to a rightward shift on immigration, some representatives of the Far Right, such as Gregg Abott and Ron DeSantis, are taking anti-migrant policies to even greater extremes. DeSantis recently signed legislation which requires businesses and even hospitals to investigate and report undocumented migrants, and fines and legally punishes those who do not comply. The Texas House recently attempted to pass legislation which would have deputized citizens to enforce anti-migrant policies.
In this new era of crises, wars, and revolutions and greater trends towards nationalism, capitalist states across the world are set to further escalate anti-migrant policies. This is the context of Biden’s new policies, pushing immigration to the center of the upcoming presidential election. The working class and the Left must also make immigration central to our politics, but from a place of internationalist solidarity with our most oppressed and exploited class siblings. Because both parties of the U.S. regime will never fight for migrants, and increasingly fight even harder against migrants, we need our own party to fight for a socialist program in solidarity with migrants.
Not one more penny, soldier, or cop to the Southern border wall — open the borders! Abolish ICE! Fully legalize and establish the rights of all undocumented migrants living in the United States! Defend the universal right to migrate!