Anti-Capital has said from the beginning that the attacks on immigrant labor form one of three general pillars in the attacks on the working-class in the present. While there are national peculiarities involved in these attacks worldwide, the combination of attacks on organized labor, migrant workers and racial minorities is a constant characteristic internationally today– and has been intensifying exponentially since the crisis of 2007-08.
Attacks on immigrant labor was the central pillar of the Trump campaign and is the central pillar of the Trump administration. It is the echo of bullwhips, of “Operation Wetback”, of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. It’s as though history has consumed all of the manifestations and side effects of oppression and exploitation and vomited them back up as our present.
At the center of it all in the United States today is the Migra state, in which the traditional cudgel of the state– its special bodies of armed men– are now driving social policy. The days when the INS was used as a tool at the behest of the employers and their governments are over, replaced by the INS transformation into ICE, which has its own political voice in the form of the National Border Patrol Council and innumerable Political Action Committees, think tanks and organizations through which the ICE agenda is transmitted to the media, political figures, campaigns and the government.
The Minuteman Project was ahead of its time. Now they occupy the White House.
In practice circa 2016 that looked like a 2,000 mile wall; a ‘Border Surge’ with a mass hiring of thousands of new ICE agents; criminalization of ‘Sanctuaries’; mass workplace raids; putting refugees back on planes destined for locations where they will likely be murdered upon landing, the extension of Arizona SB1070 type laws nationwide, policies of ‘self-deportation’ and the creation of ‘deportation forces’– it was a moment of euphoria for a major faction of the reactionary political blocs and their representatives in the government for whom immigration is their single-issue. Everything was possible. Punitive racism and xenophobic extremism had a blank check.
In practice circa 2018, that looks like internment camps for migrant children, the use of family separation as a punishment for entering the country, all conducted under disturbing euphemisms like “tender age shelters” and “we’re just taking your child for a bath…”.
In 2011 —
“Alabama’s HB 56, had passed in a landslide vote, and the state had quickly become hostile territory for anyone even suspected of being a foreigner. Officially titled the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, the law targeted immigrants—primarily Latinos—everywhere: in school, at work, in church, and on the street. Cops were not only allowed but required to demand immigration papers from anyone they suspected might be undocumented, and to hold him or her in jail until the individuals proved they had papers. Teachers could ask students about their legal status. HB 56 made it a crime to employ, house, or even give rides to undocumented individuals, effectively criminalizing any contact with illegal immigrants in the state”
In the last analysis, all of this is for a single purpose: to feed capitalism with a permanent low-wage and battered workforce. Citizenship status is itself a cudgel used to attack the working-class as a whole. Capitalism is nurtured by the social barriers that are erected on the political terrain. But when this logic of the immigrant question is taken to its conclusion by its most passionate partisans, capitalists recoil. They need a permanent population of characteristically low-wage workers to use against the rest of the workers. They don’t want and can’t have an end to both immigration and the expulsion of immigrants.