Jun 25, 2018
Defending his so-called “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal immigrants, President Trump recently declared, “There are only two options: totally open borders or criminal prosecution for law breaking.”
Judging from his many declarations like this, you would think that Trump wants a fundamental change in the immigration policies of the United States. But in fact, the fundamental goal of U.S. immigration policies has remained the same for decades, including under Trump: Create a large source of cheap labor through the use of threats of deportation and the criminalization of immigrants.
For decades these policies have succeeded in boosting the profits of big and small companies alike by providing an abundance of cheap, semi-slave labor. This is most obvious among the lowest-paid layers of the working class.
The bosses use immigrants not only to provide cheap labor, but they also attempt to use immigrants to pressure the rest of the working class to pull back from demanding better wages and benefits. They try to stoke fear in other workers that their jobs will be given to lower-paid immigrants.
From its very birth, the working class in this country has been composed of immigrants – some who came here seeking a better life, some brought here in chains – plus a few survivors of the wars to exterminate their tribes. The big fights to improve our lives have always happened when those who were struggling worked to overcome at least some of the divisions in our class.
This is still the situation today.