The Spark

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

What “American dream”?
It’s the American Nightmare

May 22, 2006

President Bush and the U.S. Congress are now making a big show about “securing the border” with Mexico. The National Guard, military contractors, high tech monitoring devices, and hundreds of miles of double or triple layered fencing will supposedly stop immigrants from “illegally” coming into the country.

Such proposals are not new. Over the last ten years, under both presidents Clinton and Bush, Congress had already doubled the number of Border Patrol agents along the Mexican border. And they had already carried out militaristic operations like Operation Hold the Line in El Paso and Operation Gate Keeper in San Diego to stop undocumented immigrants from crossing the border.

But these added barriers and obstacles did not even slow the flow of unauthorized border crossings. In fact, most of the undocumented immigrants now in the U.S. made it across after more stringent methods were set up. The only difference is that people were forced to take more risks, to cross in more remote and dangerous areas. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives.

Currently, there are between 11 and 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country, increasing by more than one million per year. More than three-quarters of them are from Mexico and the countries of Central America.

The usual propaganda is that people take these risks to fulfill the “American Dream.” In fact, the opposite is true. They are forced to uproot themselves, leave their families, friends and loved ones, because they feel they have no choice.

In their home countries, there are no jobs, no schools, no future. The history of these countries shows that people have often organized to fight for better conditions. But when they did, they were met by the military and police of these countries, which tried to crush them. Tens of thousands of ordinary people were killed during the civil wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala in the 1970s and 1980s – at the behest of the U.S. government! Thousands of peasants, workers and unemployed people were cut down by the Mexican government when they simply demanded a decent life.

The U.S. news media speaks of corrupt governments or corrupt business leaders in these countries. True. But they don’t mention that these governments are dominated by the U.S., that the military and police forces are trained and armed by the U.S. Neither do they mention that U.S. corporations dominate these economies, that they own the big plantations, mines and factories. U.S. banks suck wealth out of other countries by imposing big interest payments on top of a huge national debt.

In other words, the growing number of people fleeing these countries for the U.S. are fleeing a nightmare that was created by U.S. imperialism.

Once these undocumented immigrants get to the U.S., they find there is no paradise! On the contrary, the same U.S. capitalist class that has bled their countries dry is ready to take advantage of their desperation. The undocumented immigrants are forced to slave away at dangerous, unhealthy, low-wage jobs for very long hours. They are crowded into tiny apartments, which are often little more than hovels. A big proportion suffer from malnutrition, and when they get sick or injured, they have little or no access to health care. If they dare complain, or stand up for their rights, they can be deported – back to their countries of origin where conditions are even more unliveable.

The politicians pretend to stop the flow of immigrants, making it sound like they are doing working people in this country a favor. The politicians pretend that keeping out impoverished workers from other countries will solve the problems in this country – the lack of jobs and the low wages.

This is nothing but a smokescreen for increasing the police presence and making more repressive laws – which the capitalists and their government can use not just against the immigrants, but against all workers.

What the capitalists and their mouthpieces call the American Dream for immigrants is really an American Nightmare for all workers.