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Capitalist Disagreements Over Immigration Erupt in Eagle Pass, Texas

A dispute over federal immigration policy has erupted, with 26 governors openly challenging the Supreme Court. This is part of a broader crisis of stability for the U.S. state and shows the power of the Far Right.

Samuel Karlin

January 26, 2024
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Brandon Bell / Getty Images file

“Civil War” has been trending on Twitter, and while the term is hyperbolic, it comes from a very real crisis of legitimacy for the federal government. Texas’ far-right governor, Greg Abbott, has openly declared he will challenge a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, and 25 other governors have declared their support for Abbott.

This is an escalation in an ongoing dispute between the federal government and Texas over razor wire that the Texas National Guard constructed in Eagle Pass along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of Abbott’s anti-migrant Operation Lone Star. For weeks, Texas National Guard soldiers had been blocking federal agents from accessing Eagle Pass to take down the wire. On Monday, January 22, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government had the right to take the razor wire down. The following day, Abbott announced that despite this ruling, the Texas National Guard would “continue to hold the line.” Every Republican governor but one has signed a letter in support of Abbott and other prominent Republicans from Trump to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson have also voiced their support for Abbott in his ongoing stand-off. 

Immigration — A Hotspot in a Broader U.S. Crisis

This is the latest sign of an escalating crisis of legitimacy for the Biden regime. Hugely unpopular — even more so than Trump was as president — Biden is struggling to maintain U.S. stability, and the stand-off at the border is a right-wing expression of Biden’s failure to keep the state from imploding. That so many elected officials are standing with Abbott as he resists federal agencies backed by the Supreme Court illustrates how deep the crisis within the government goes and how the loss of legitimacy of key institutions of the U.S. regime has both left- and right-wing expressions. 

There has been an ongoing campaign by far-right politicians throughout the country to weaponize the migrant crisis against the Biden administration. Their tactics have included bussing migrants to Democrat-run cities to stoke chaos and deploying state forces to the border to aid Operation Lone Star in defiance of federal policy. This latest move by Abbott marks a qualitative leap in just how much the Far Right is willing to challenge the entire legitimacy of the federal government’s immigration policies.

The fact is that U.S. capitalists and their various representatives in government cannot agree on what to do about the increasing number of migrants coming to the United States. However, the dispute between the state governments behind Operation Lone Star and the federal government is not about whether to let migrants in, but rather how to most effectively keep migrants out and maintain domestic stability. 

While Republicans accuse Biden of being weak on immigration, his administration has effectively continued Trump’s draconian policies. But both Biden’s left and right flanks in the Democratic Party have sought to refine these policies. The Democrats agree with keeping the repressive immigration system in place, but some push for the government to increase the amount of migration to the United States while others want even more restrictions. Biden has been unable to unite these different wings, and certainly has not been able to negotiate a deal with Republicans. The inability of the various factions in government to reach a consensus on immigration is becoming explosive, as we are now seeing.

Organize a Fight against the Far Right

It is undeniable that the Far Right poses a threat not just as militias, but as a force represented within the U.S. government, able to use the mechanisms of the state to fight for a reactionary agenda. The crisis developing around the border will not be the last display of the Far Right’s institutional power.

Many are calling on Biden to deploy the U.S military and take control of the Texas National Guard as a way to reign Abbott in. No socialist should join these calls. As noted above, Biden himself is carrying out the war on migrants. Any strengthening of the federal government in response to Abbott will be used to continue the war on migrants in the long run.

This crisis does, however, show that the Left, workers, and all those who support migrants need to organize our own fight against the Far Right. As I argued in November 2022, the war on migrants weakens the power of the working class within the United States and internationally. Along with dividing our collective power across borders to resist attacks by the capitalists, the war on migrants is part of the Far Right’s strategy to strengthen the authoritarian power of the state against working class and oppressed communities within the United States. The working class has a vested interest in resisting the Far Right and its war on migrants, and we must use our own power — not rely on the Democrats or the state to fight for us.

Workers across the country, but especially in states with governors supporting Operation Lone Star, can fight back with methods like strikes, walkouts, and pickets, demanding an end to the war on migrants. Along with this, workers should resist any strengthening of the state’s repressive forces from the National Guard to the federal border enforcement agencies, all of which are institutions that exist to attack our class. We must begin organizing this fight immediately, as we are seeing just how organized our enemies are.

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Samuel Karlin

Samuel is a socialist with a background in journalism. He mainly writes for Left Voice about U.S. imperialism and international class struggle.

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