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The Deadliest Year for U.S.-Mexico Border Crossings Occurred during Biden’s Administration

The humanitarian crisis at the border was created by capitalism. Voting for a lesser evil won’t save the Latin American working class; it will take international, political and strategic solidarity across borders to build a combative immigrants’ rights movement.

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Not content to have participated in the most deportation-happy administration under Obama, Biden is now overseeing the deadliest land-based border crossing in the world.

On September 12, the International Organization for Migration released a statement saying the U.S.-Mexico border in 2022 was the deadliest land route for migration worldwide. The 686 documented deaths and disappearances account for almost half of the 1,457 migrant deaths and disappearances that took place throughout the Americas in 2022. With this stain on North America laying bare for the world to see the barbarism of US government policies toward migrants, it’s no wonder the Democratic and Republican parties are content to allow this story to fade from public consciousness, as they have attempted to do with the children in cages and families who are still separated.

These statistics are only the logical conclusion of the increased militarization of the border undertaken by both the U.S. and Mexican governments, which have deployed saw buoys, razor wire, and National Guard on both sides of the border. Border Patrol thwarts mutual aid efforts undertaken by groups that leave water on oft-traveled routes through the increasingly inhospitable Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, resources that are often the difference between life or death. While the administrations of far-right ghouls like Greg Abbott, Bolsonaro, and Trump have done their best to amplify and accelerate these crises, Biden’s immigration policy has been to crack down harder on people who don’t follow the legal process of asylum seeking (a process that often takes several years and can sometimes still result in asylum seekers going back to their origin country) and to continue to militarize the border in an effort to outflank the GOP from their right. During the second GOP debate candidates absurdly claimed there was not enough militarization. 

The deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean, with European border patrol reportedly watching passively as people drowned, are well covered in news media. On the other hand, the deaths of migrants in the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts and throughout the Latin American land route are seemingly easier to ignore for American media. This goes hand in hand with the Democrats’ collective amnesia regarding separating children from their families and caging their children; when Trump was in office, the Dems rightfully denounced the dehumanizing practice. Now that Biden is doing it, the violence against migrant youth and families receives less and less coverage as we near the 2024 elections.

Addressing the root causes of these mass waves of migration requires confronting and defying capitalist logic. The precarious conditions that precipitate migration from Central and Latin America has a through line that leads directly to U.S. imperialist policy in the region; even the Biden-Harris administration, which has overseen an extension of Trump’s border policies, paid lip service in 2021 to combating the direct causes of migration, such as economic precarity, organized criminal violence including the phony “war on drugs” which has led to increased militarization at the border and police repression, femicides, etc. Of course, they did all this without acknowledging the role U.S. imperialism has played in sowing the seeds for this barbarism, from CIA-constructed coups in Haiti and Honduras, to the maintenance of Mexico as a semicolony servile to Yankee interests, being forced more and more to conduct the “war on drugs” that has been waged in and around the U.S.-Mexico border for over 10 years and throughout three presidential administrations. That doesn’t even take into consideration the displacement of mostly indigenous, Black, and economically precarious communities throughout the Americas and Caribbean due to the climate crisis. We demand an end to the phony war on drugs on both sides of the border which has contributed to militarization and violence against women.

Socialists must not only denounce the continued militarization and state violence on the border, but also demand the end to all borders and freedom of movement for all people regardless of nationality.

We call for an end to the criminalization of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and denounce the two-party capitalist regime that has even more blood on its hands this year. The criminalization of migrants leads to a two-tier system of workers, keeping undocumented immigrants superexploited, and it serves a strategy to instill fear into documented workers from fighting for better wages. This also leads itself to a chauvinist “U.S. vs. them” mentality encouraging impoverished U.S. citizens to blame migrants for unemployment and homelessness. The developers drive rent up and capitalists, such as mogul parasite Tim Gurner, call for more unemployment so workers “remember their place.” As a workers movement is developing with strikes and unionization, we must fight alongside and defend undocumented immigrants, calling for full legalization and open borders. A united working class is a stronger working class, and organizing with undocumented immigrants in the labor movement and in a working-class party that fights for socialism will break the power of capital.

A working-class party that fights for socialism needs to fight across borders and have analysis that doesn’t limit itself to domestic politics. The capitalists and their parties, from the U.S. to France to Greece, force workers to flee their homes to move closer to the governments that made them move in the first place. The anti-immigrant policies in the U.S. and around the world are an attack on all workers and oppressed people everywhere. We need to organize with socialists in Mexico and fight the border as as tool to discipline the working class in both the U.S. and Mexico; the capitalist class uses the Mexican working class as a pawn to threaten the offshoring of American jobs. Borders are murderous traps that maintain capitalism. We fight for a socialist world without borders and for an internationally united working class. The worker’s struggle has no borders. 

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Julia Wallace

Julia is a contributor for Left Voice and has been a revolutionary socialist for over ten years. She served on the South Central Neighborhood Council in Los Angeles and is a member of SEIU Local 721. Julia organizes against police brutality and in defense of LGBTQ, women, and immigrants' rights. When she's not actively fighting the patriarchy, white supremacy and/or capitalism, she enjoys many things: she loves Thundercat, plays ultimate frisbee and is a founder of the team, "Black Lives Hammer."

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