The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Attacks on Migrants Are Attacks on All Workers

May 1, 2023

Today, the U.S. estimates that in Mexico, there are more than 600,000 people from Venezuela, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, and many other countries who want to come to the U.S. We are told to think of these desperate migrants as a threat. And their desperation could be a threat if we let it be used that way.

These hundreds of thousands of people sleep in tents, overcrowded shelters, or on the streets and alleys in cities across Mexico. They face kidnapping, extortion, sexual assault, and murder. All while they wait for the chance to come to the U.S.

People who are this desperate can be forced to take lower wages than immigrants here already do, even the millions of undocumented; lower wages than are already imposed on those with felony conditions. They could be forced to work longer hours, in less safe conditions. And if we let them, the capitalist class will use the threat of these particularly desperate workers to impose lower wages and worse conditions on the rest of the working class. This has been their game plan for two hundred years, since the first Irish workers fleeing famine stepped off the boats.

The Biden administration’s plan will help the capitalist class do all this, when, on May 11, the pandemic restrictions used to block migrants expires. Biden plans to deport and impose felony convictions on those caught crossing the border illegally. This is unlikely to keep people from trying to get here, but it does mean these workers will be forced to stay even more in the shadows. They will be even less able to complain when their wages are stolen, or they are forced to work unpaid overtime, or subject to sexual harassment on the job.

But even if these migrants are blocked from getting to the U.S., by Biden’s threats, or the Mexican army, pushed to do so by the U.S., or by Trump’s wall—U.S. corporations will still use their desperation against the working class in this country.

U.S. companies are already announcing their plans to increase production in Mexico. They openly complain that there might not be enough Mexican workers to accept the low wages they are willing to pay. And so, they are salivating at the chance to hire these people fleeing even more intense poverty than exists for most Mexican workers.

The factories in Mexico already make auto parts that feed into supply chains in the U.S. They make medical equipment for use in U.S. hospitals. They unload ships from China and put containers on rail lines that feed directly into U.S. cities. The goods on the trucks and trains don’t get stopped by the border patrol, even if people do. And if the capitalists are able to impose worse conditions on workers doing all these jobs, they will be able to impose worse conditions on workers in the U.S.

These same U.S. companies and the government that serves them are the ones responsible for this migration crisis in the first place. For instance, Venezuela, one of the main countries people are fleeing, is an oil-rich country. Over the last century, its oil largely profited U.S. companies. When the country’s last two presidents took a somewhat independent stance toward the U.S. and tried to keep more of that oil wealth in their country, the U.S. organized a series of failed coup attempts. The U.S. then cut off Venezuela’s ability to trade, blocking its access to credit and sanctioning transport of Venezuela’s oil. This produced severe shortages of food and medicine; a lack of materials to maintain the water and sewer systems; and spiking unemployment and inflation at the same time.

While the details are different, U.S. imperialism is equally behind the misery people are fleeing in so many other countries.

But instead of a threat, these migrant workers might be the allies of workers in this country. They face the same enemies. And they have already overcome enormous dangers: hiking through a roadless jungle, riding on rickety ships, braving the dangers of gangs and armies and border patrols. In making the trip, they proved their mettle, their willingness to do something to change their situation. That kind of mettle and determination is what the working class will need when we finally stand up to the capitalists who are driving down our standard of living here and around the world.

The U.S. capitalist class is powerful, but the working class of the world is much stronger. We are the majority, and we make everything run. They only keep their power by keeping workers divided. Organized together in our own interests, as one class, worldwide, workers would have the forces to take on this capitalist beast that is destroying all of our livelihoods.