Last week a camp of mostly Haitian migrants swelled at the border crossing at Del Rio, Texas, and by the end of the week an estimated 14,000 waited for their chance at a hearing to plead their case for entry into the U.S. While perhaps hundreds have now begun the process of entering the U.S. legally, thousands have faced uncertainty, abuse, and deportations under the current inhumane U.S. border and immigration laws.
This situation is yet another example of the cruelty of U.S. border policy, and of the struggles of poor people desperately trying to improve their lives in a capitalist world.
Many of these migrants fled unbearable conditions in their home nation of Haiti. Haiti, a nation descended from former slaves of the French colony of Saint-Domingue, has been exploited economically since its earliest days as a French colony, and dominated politically and economically ever since by the United States. This colonial and imperialist domination has left the tiny nation in a state of poverty, in fact it is the poorest nation in the Americas. Today, in 2021, ravaged by massive earthquakes, powerful tropical storms, a pandemic surge, rampant violence, political assassinations and unrest, the nation is a disaster for its nearly 12 million people. Is there any wonder why Haitians are fleeing by the thousands?
Many of these migrants have undertaken truly desperate journeys, some through South America, then into Central America, and eventually into Mexico and to the U.S. southern border. That they are willing to risk their lives, and the lives of their children, to escape their impoverished situation, shows clearly their desperation for a better life and future. Some actually lived in South and Central America for years, earning and saving money there for their eventual trek to the United States. One man, deported back to Haiti a few days ago after living for 18 years in Central America, said of the island of his birth: “I don’t know this country.”
These are all signs of how miserable and desperate life is for hundreds of millions, if not billions of people throughout the world. The misery of everyday life pushes millions to migrate every year. And it’s getting even worse as climate change inflames the conditions in the poorest nations. It is a sign of callous cruelty that U.S. officials have decided that the best policy is to deport people back into the miserable conditions from which they came.
And when they finally reach the border of the nation that they view as their best opportunity for a better life, and a better life for their children, they are penned into a squalid camp without basic necessities, and then hundreds or more are deported via plane back to the very place they fled in desperation. And, when they dare to try to walk – barefoot – to a better life across the U.S. border, they are chased back by mounted U.S. border patrol agents swinging their riding reigns like whips in scenes reminiscent of 19th century slave patrols chasing down escaped slaves.
The waves of migrants coming to the U.S. southern border is a sign that capitalism is not working for people throughout the world. And Democratic and Republican politicians continue to carry out the same policies at the border, no matter which party they are, or whether they talk nicely or like a vicious sociopath. It was true of Obama and it is true of Biden – these are Deportation Democrats. Both parties represent the same economic system, which benefits from racism deeply entrenched in American society and in our world, dividing working people by race and nationality while our real enemies are the bosses who exploit us all.
When will we decide that everyone deserves to live a decent, dignified life, without having to endure incredible suffering as they strive for that life? When will we decide that it’s time to organize, build, and rise up to destroy this sick system that condemns billions to misery and suffering?
The time is now.