Afscme Local 444, retired
My father, despite his best friend being a Nigerian, albeit, one with money, used to complain about the influx of Nigerians and other African immigrants and the strain it put on Britain’s social services. I lived in Nigeria for three years as a kid and my sister was born there so I had to remind him Nigeria never invaded Britain, it was the other way round.
Immigrants become a handy target when the violence of the market economy forces people to seek answers to what is wrong with the country, any country. Here in the US, Latino’s, particularly Mexicans are a useful scapegoat. In Britain now, Poles, Lithuanians, Somalis are among the root causes of the British economy’s demise.; the Muslims have taken the place of Ulster Catholics. They always used to say that the Irish got a breather after the people of color from Britain’s former colonies came in. The British bourgeois referred to the Irish as White Chimpanzees at one time but it's easier attacking someone who looks different.
The capitalist media likes to blame immigrants for social decline, as it obscures the fact that their system, their beloved free market, is incapable of providing the basic necessities of life even in the advanced capitalist economies. Production of unmanned drones and other weapons of mass destruction needed to defend corporate profits abroad can continue unabated but if only those damn Somalis would go home. A friend in England had it in for the Somalis and I tired of hearing from him every time I went over there how the Somalis got a check, free money and place to live when “real” English people struggled.
British nationalists and racist groups and parties like the BNP, The English League and UKIP whine on about immigrants but given that white’s are 87.2%, of the British population while blacks (black/African/Caribbean/black British) are a mere 3%, one wonders how a handful of Somali’s, who are black, are destroying the British way of life. In the UK, Asian/Asian British Indian are 2.3% of the population and Asian/Asian British Pakistani are 1.9%, and 2% of the population are mixed according to the CIA World Factbook (2011).
Right wing publications like the Daily Mail and Telegraph in Britain as well as right wing groups here in the US foster the false view that the cause of capitalist crisis is immigration, along with people on welfare of course. As I pointed out in a blog contribution some time ago, the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle some months back announcing that Latino’s will outnumber whites here in California is purposefully designed to frighten white folks (and others as we compete for the crumbs from the 1%'s table) and cause division in the working class.
Immigrants, whether Poles or Kurds in Britain or Mexicans and Central Americans here in the US, are victims of capitalist globalization. They are economic refugees. For starters, people do not leave their families and loved ones and brave all the perils of illegal border crossings because they don’t like their hometown or village. People need to eat. Irish immigration couldn’t be stopped in Britain either; people will do what they have to in order to eat and feed their kids. The undocumented (I don’t like the word “illegals”) are also the most victimized, doing the worst jobs for the least pay. The bosses’ refer to this as being more willing than the native born when more desperate is the correct term.
Last week a Honduran woman and two children trying to enter the US illegally were kidnapped by a border patrol guard and assaulted. According to the media, they were in the process of surrendering to the border patrol agent when he kidnapped them, drove them from the river and assaulted them. He slashed the mother’s wrists raped the older girl and took the youngest, the woman’s daughter, to his apartment. The mother survived and escaped and was eventually picked up which led the authorities to the border patrol agent’s apartment. At this point the kidnapper shot himself.
The journey to El Norte is a horrifying prospect for desperate migrants in search of food and security from decaying capitalism. We should remind ourselves that as well as destroying jobs in the US, NAFTA threw millions of Mexican subsistence farmers off the land depriving them of a living and a means of feeding their families. US capitalism has also long seen Central and Latin America as its own back yard.
The stunting of economic growth and democratic development in countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador is due to the role played by US imperialism in these countries. Billions of US taxpayer’s money has been used to overthrow legitimate democratic governments in order to keep oligarchs in power who are in the pockets of the giant global corporations. In the case of Guatemala, the Dulles brothers, also responsible for orchestrating the coup that overthrew the secular democratic government of Iran in 1953, were the main architects in the overthrow the Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán government that same year. * Guzman had instituted major land reform that gave land to the peasantry but threatened the interests of the US corporations. The CIA used the Red Scare as the excuse for this intervention. Dictators are good for helping keep wages low and unions out-----as long as they’re Washington’s dictators.
The journey north is particularly violent for women and young girls. They have often been the victims of violent assault and robbery from the coyotes or men that bring them north as well as officials like the border agent in the above case. Many have been shot by vigilantes in the south. Then they face discrimination, harassment and racist attacks in the media as they are forced to do the worst jobs for little pay, always fearful of immigration raids. Alameda County Industries that collects garbage where I live called the immigration after workers complained of being bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by this employer. See here.
To think that some people also want to deny these people medical care as they are illegal. The billions we have paid bankers, the trillions that the Pentagon’s predatory wars fought on behalf of the 1% , cost us, and some workers are influenced by the media’s attempts to blame immigrants for the crisis of capitalism. Immigrants work hard at the worst jobs and contribute far more to society than the hedge fund crowd, a bunch on parasitic coupon clippers. Many workers that fall for this are not necessarily racist but the groups that promote the idea that immigrants are a problem generally are.
Immigrants are our allies in the struggle against the 1% and global capitalism. It is also in our interests to oppose US foreign policy that is the cause of this migration as walls to stop human migration will not stop the migration of capital beyond our borders as the 1% seek the cheapest and most easily exploitable labor power. To the 1% freedom means the freedom of capital to go where it wants, when it wants, free of any obstacles to profit making like unions and democratic rights. That’s capitalist freedom. Guaranteed health care, a job, a secure life, that’s a freedom the 1% guarantee only for themselves.