Jun 23, 2014
Since October 1, the U.S. has arrested more than 50,000 unaccompanied children trying to cross the southwest border, on top of thousands more coming with their parents. The biggest number are coming from Central America.
After surviving a dangerous, often brutal trip across Mexico, these young migrants are penned up in horrendous conditions. In one Texas detention center, 1,000 women and children are crammed into a space meant for 400. In Arizona and Texas, the Border Patrol is housing hundreds of children in warehouses, with mattresses lining the concrete floors. The children are kept inside for 23 hours a day, in the sweltering summer heat, while they wait to be sent back to the hells they fled in the first place.
Many of the migrants say they thought children had a chance to stay in the U.S. if they made it across the border. But the Obama administration has made it perfectly clear that they were badly mistaken.
The Obama administration is “surging government enforcement resources to increase [the] capacity to detain individuals” by setting up mass jails in Texas and Arizona. It’s also setting up immigration courts to deport the children as quickly as possible.
Obama says that the child migrants are coming to flee the poverty and violence of Central America. He’s right. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, and El Salvador is second. “You really don’t know at what moment you’re going to be killed,” one 17-year-old migrant said of life in Honduras.
But Obama neglects to mention that this violence and the poverty that underlies it are the result of U.S. domination of the region for more than a century. U.S. corporations continue to suck fruit, coffee, textiles, minerals, and many other riches out of Central America and Mexico, exploiting the desperation of the poor in those countries, paying extremely low wages and creating atrocious working conditions.
Many of the violent street gangs the migrants are fleeing came out of the wars of the 1980s, in which the U.S. funded and trained military dictatorships and death squads throughout Central America. In 2009, the military of Honduras, which is essentially an arm of the U.S. military, took over the country in a coup, and the current right-wing government of Honduras came to power in “elections” organized by that military.
President Obama now proposes to give the brutal militaries of these countries even more money. In reaction to the child migrants, he’s pledged 261.5 million dollars for the governments of Central America. This money will help “Central American countries to respond to the region’s most pressing security and governance challenges” and it will “help stem migration flows.”
In other words, the Obama administration is arming the militaries of these countries to keep their children imprisoned at home.
The Republicans complain that Obama’s harsh policy isn’t harsh enough. They say that Obama’s “leniency” on immigration has attracted the flood of children, even though Obama has deported more immigrants than any president in history. The Republican answer is to drum up anti-immigrant hysteria and to portray these desperate children as a threat.
Both the Republicans, by their words, and the Democrats, by their actions, are using this human tragedy to inject a deadly poison into this country’s political life. The two parties of the capitalist class ask workers to blame immigrants for the problems of low wages, unemployment, high taxes, and the lack of government services.
What a load of bull! The corporations that both the Democrats and Republicans serve are to blame. They created the crisis; they pay low wages and layoff as many people as they can; they stole trillions of taxpayer dollars in the bailouts and pay almost no taxes. Immigrant bashing is a way for the politicians to divide the working class, and turn one part of it against another.
In attacking these desperate children the politicians of both parties have reached a new low. But they can go much lower – and will, if the working class falls for this anti-immigrant hysteria.