Behind the backs of the people, the Biden administration is implementing a dangerous and reactionary shift in immigration policy and enforcing it through a dictatorial extension of presidential power.
The goal of this change is to significantly reduce physical border crossings to a scale not seen in decades, as well as prevent asylum seekers from reaching US soil where the US Constitution applies. This shift to the right shows that the claim that US imperialism is a beacon of “democracy” and that its war against Russia has to do with “human rights” is a lie.
On October 30, NBC News reported that the Biden administration had drafted a policy document giving the executive authority to detain Haitian immigrants at Guantanamo Bay, adjacent to the military prison where the government has imprisoned and tortured immigrants. Hundreds of people are under the auspices of the “war on terror”.
Today, the Biden administration says it could use Guantanamo as a “lily pad” for immigrants, even though the correct term is “concentration camp.” According to the initial proposal, 400 Haitian immigrants would be held in cells and rows of dormitories in a barren land Constitutional law where they are not entitled to challenge their treatment or deportation as if they had arrived on US soil.
Days ago, the Biden administration withdrew from mediation talks with lawyers representing more than 300,000 TPS recipients who had sued the Trump administration for overriding TPR for 240,000 Salvadorans, 77,000 Hondurans, 14,000 Nepalese and 4,000 Nicaraguans. In 2018. The Biden administration continued to oppose the immigrant protest, primarily supporting Trump’s repeal of TPS status and threatening to deport hundreds of thousands of people.
Earlier in October, data from the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) documented that the Biden administration deported 2.8 million immigrants from the United States in fiscal year 2021, more than any other year in American history.
More importantly, the data revealed that more than a million people were expelled under “Title 42,” the undemocratic provision under which the government bans immigration due to the “public health” emergency. Trump initially invoked Title 42 citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a false legal justification, and courts have upheld it under Biden. People barred from entering the United States under Title 42 also do not have constitutional rights and cannot seek asylum.
On October 12, the Biden administration signed another dirty deal with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) preventing tens of thousands of immigrants from Venezuela from crossing into the United States, also under Title 42. AMLO agreed to allow Venezuelans to live in tent cities, where he lives Immigrants fleeing societies devastated by imperialist war and capitalist exploitation are in misery and disease.
With a mixture of cynicism and hypocrisy that the Democratic Party has honed over the past 200 years, Biden and Democrats continue to emerge as defenders of immigrants.
At a recent event for New American Citizens, Biden repeated the Democratic Party’s outdated plea: “It was the dreams of immigrants like you that built America.” But on Monday, when a group of asylum seekers attempted to cross the Rio Grande near El Paso carrying a flag that read “We Are Immigrants We Built America,” Biden’s Customs and CBP shot cayenne peppers in the head as they crossed the river back to their canvas homes in Mexico.
The attack on immigrants comes at a time when poverty and scarcity are ravaging the working class in Latin America and the Caribbean. The pandemic and the prolonged war between the United States and NATO against Russia in Ukraine had a devastating effect on hundreds of millions of people in countries that had endured more than a century of American imperial rule.
In Haiti, society is in a state of collapse as cholera spreads, food and fuel run out and swathes of the country are under control. However, the Biden administration deported the refugees to Haiti, even after family members reported that the Haitian government was holding the deportees in a prison for ransom.
Those who arrive in the United States are treated with extreme brutality. The World Socialist Web Site I spoke with a young mother from Haiti who was detained by the Biden administration at the border last year:
It pains me to talk about what happened to me in Texas. When I talk about it, I feel like someone is putting a thorn in my heart. When I was arrested, it was horrible. First, I had to sleep under the bridge with my baby. Some of the guards were beating us under this bridge, as we saw on the news. When we were taken to a prison, I thought things would be better, but they weren’t. In prison they took my child’s medicine even though he was bleeding. I stayed there for four days, they didn’t give us food, we only ate biscuits. We couldn’t brush or brush our teeth, we had to sleep on the floor. The children were dehydrated, and their eyes looked as if they were about to faint. You don’t know what to do as a mother when your child says, “Mom, I’m hungry, I’m hungry,” but there’s nothing you can do. My child was vomiting, had diarrhea, and was bleeding from his feet. And when we left, the guards laughed at us because we smelled bad.
The political pivot that the Biden administration is currently leading is a massive concession to the fascist political right.
The GOP’s midterm strategy has gone beyond the usual chauvinistic language of the right. The Republican governors of Texas and Florida (Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis) have spent the past few months moving more than 11,000 immigrants to Democratic-run major cities in a series of propaganda stunts aimed at portraying immigrant workers as criminals.
The Democrats’ political strategy was to adapt to this rhetoric. During a Pennsylvania Senate debate with Trump-backed Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, for example, Democrat Jon Fetterman denounced “illegal immigrants” and called for “safe borders.”
In this right-wing climate fostered by the political establishment, incidents of violence against immigrants are increasing. In late September, Michael Sheppard, director of an immigrant detention center in Sierra Blanca, Texas, shot a group of immigrants stopping for a drink in the desert, killing Jesus Ivan Sepulveda Martinez, a 22-year-old Mexican immigrant, and wounding Brenda. 31-year-old Bernice Casillas Carrillo is seriously injured.
The current attack on migrant workers is an international operation and a warning to the entire working class. On Monday, Britain’s Conservative Home Secretary Suella Braverman denounced immigration as “out of control” and an “invasion”, and on the same day a right-wing individual threw petrol bombs at an immigrant refugee center in the port city of Dover, where the government was. Refugees are held in overcrowded concentration camps, where they sleep on the floor and contract diseases such as diphtheria.
The same is true of the “democratic” European Union, where hundreds of migrants fleeing North Africa and the Middle East drown trying to enter each year.
Also on Tuesday, a boat carrying 68 refugees sank off the Greek island of Evia. Earlier in October, 92 migrants from Morocco, Iran, Bangladesh and Pakistan were discovered in Greece after being “abandoned” and stripped naked by the authorities. In Italy, Fascist Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Tuesday appointed a man photographed wearing a Nazi insignia as a minister in her government.
The attack on migrant workers follows the logic of escalating the war against Russia. In times of war, the most ruthless attacks on democratic rights are always associated with restrictions on immigration and the strengthening of the repressive apparatus of the nation-state.
When US imperialism entered World War I, the Wilson administration signed the Espionage Act, which restricts anti-war and anti-immigration rhetoric and forms the basis for the trial of Julian Assange. While the United States was preparing to enter World War II, the Roosevelt administration signed the Smith Act, also known as the Alien Registration Act, which prohibited anti-war rhetoric, prohibited immigration and allowed the internment of Japanese.
The struggle to defend the rights of immigrants must be based on the struggle to mobilize the working class against imperialist war and social inequalities and their source: the capitalist system. The Socialist Equality Party (USA) demands the lifting of Title 42 restrictions, granting legal status to all immigrants wishing to enter the United States, ensuring the right to travel for all, regardless of nationality, and dismantling the Customs and Border Protection, ICE, DHS and National Security Complex.
(Article published in English on November 2, 2022)