The decision of the Trump administration to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program marks a new stage in the attack on immigrant workers and youth in the United States and internationally. Nearly 800,000 young people who have spent most of their lives in the US will, beginning in six months, be left at the mercy of the apparatus of repression, violence and deportation called the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Border Patrol.
The end of DACA is only one part of a vicious campaign of terror and intimidation waged by the Trump administration against immigrants and refugees—including the anti-Muslim ban, expanded raids and deportations, plans for constructing a wall along the US-Mexico border and the pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who gloated over the establishment of “concentration camps” to hold immigrants in Arizona.
The American ruling class, which wages wars all over the world on the pretext of defending “human rights” and “democracy” is resurrecting within its borders measures that recall the horrors of the 1930s and the establishment of Japanese internment camps in the US during the Second World War.
These fascistic measures do not have popular support. The revocation of DACA has already provoked widespread anger and revulsion throughout the country. The mass demonstrations that followed Trump’s inauguration were motivated in part by hostility to his chauvinist attack on immigrants. A poll by Politico found that 84 percent of registered Democrats and 69 percent of registered Republicans believe that DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in the country.
There is a vast gulf, however, between the reaction of workers and youth, on the one hand, and the cynical and hypocritical criticisms of Trump’s decision from sections of the political establishment, Silicon Valley CEOs and, particularly, the Democratic Party, on the other. If opposition to the Trump administration’s attack on immigrants remains confined within the Democratic Party and its political affiliates, it will be strangled and suppressed.
The prize for hypocrisy goes to former president Barack Obama, who proclaimed on Wednesday that preserving DACA, which he introduced in 2012, was “about basic decency.” Obama would like everyone to forget that his administration deported more immigrants than any other in US history, including children fleeing war and economic crisis in Central America, earning him the designation of “Deporter-in-Chief.”
DACA, moreover, is not a solution to the crisis facing immigrant youth. Introduced as part of a maneuver to increase support for the Democrats prior to the 2012 elections, it requires applicants to hand over to government authorities their name, address, country of origin, personal histories and a signed document admitting to being in the country illegally. Those accepted do not receive any citizenship rights, but only a protection from deportation for two years. The WSWS warned at the time that, if political winds were to shift, this information could be easily exploited to unleash a wave of persecution, which is precisely what is now threatened.
Democrats and some Republicans are raising the possibility of Congressional action to “save” DACA, possibly as part of a broader “immigration reform” measure. Any such agreement would be tied to a further militarization of the border, increased powers for the state, and an even more onerous crackdown on immigrant workers living in the US.
This entire reactionary political framework must be rejected! The working class, of all nationalities and races, must advance its own independent solution to the attack on immigrants and the crisis of the capitalist system that has produced it.
The Trump administration’s actions are part of a global phenomenon. The deepening social and economic crisis, combined with a quarter century of unending war spearheaded by the United States, has produced the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, just in the last year, 4,337 people have died in the Mediterranean, fleeing wars in the Middle East and North Africa, confronting closed borders erected as part of “Fortress Europe.” The racist agitation of Trump has its parallel in France, Germany and other European countries, which have seen the rise of far-right and fascistic movements whose predecessors were responsible for the worst atrocities of the 20th century.
As in the 1930s and 40s, the effort to pit workers against each other through the promotion of nationalist poison goes hand-in-hand with the assault on social programs, the immense growth of social inequality, the destruction of democratic rights and, above all, the drive to world war.
This is the response of the ruling class to the historical bankruptcy of the nation-state system. The globalization of economic life, the development of technology and the rise of giant transnational corporations have created an unprecedented level of international integration. But under capitalism, the world economy remains trapped within the confines of the nation-state, the political instrument of the ruling class and the breeding ground for war and repression.
Against the nationalism of the ruling elite, the working class must advance an internationalist and socialist strategy. Only by uniting with the working class internationally can workers in the US or any other country successfully struggle against globally mobile capitalist corporations.
The Socialist Equality Party rejects the contemptible lie that immigrant workers are to blame for rising unemployment, poverty and falling wages—the product of the corporate-driven attack on the entire working class. The racialist politics of the far right, as well as the identity politics of the Democratic Party, are aimed at dividing workers against each other and diverting anger and frustration from developing into a movement directed at the capitalist system.
We insist that all workers and youth have the right to high quality public education and health care, a secure retirement and a decent job. The resources to ensure these rights must be obtained through a massive redistribution of wealth and the expropriation of the giant corporations and banks, which exploit and oppress workers all over the world.
Against the militarization of borders and the persecution of immigrants, the SEP stands for open borders: the right of all workers to live in the country they choose, with full citizenship rights, including the right to work and travel without fear of deportation or repression.
The SEP urges the broadest possible mobilization of workers and young people against the assault on immigrants, including protests, meetings, neighborhood mobilizations and job actions to prevent deportations. To be successful, however, the defense of the rights of immigrants must be connected to the political mobilization of the international working class against war, inequality and the capitalist system.