Failed Foreign and Immigration Policies Underline Crisis on the Southern Border

More than two centuries of war and economic exploitation has characterized the United States’ role in Latin America and the Caribbean

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By Abayomi Azikiwe

Since coming to office on January 20, the administration of President Joe Biden has faced a mounting problem of managing the influx of migrant workers and their families on the southern border with Mexico.

Although these issues have been largely ignored by the president and his spokespersons, daily reports of thousands of people, including unaccompanied children, crossing the border intoTexas has created a political problem for the new president and the Democratic-dominated House of Representatives and Senate.

Biden has so far refused to characterize the situation as a crisis. Nonetheless, photographs and videos posted by a Congressional representative on March 22, have alarmed advocates for immigration rights along with broad segments of the population in the United States.

Congressman Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas, visited a recently opened detention facility for migrants located in Donna, Texas. Cuellar’s images show people sleeping on floor mattresses in crowded conditions which are not conducive to preventing the transmission of COVID-19 infections.

In an article published by The Hill on March 22 which discussed the visit by Cuellar to the detention center, it says:

“A spokesperson for Cuellar declined to say who provided the photos to the border-district lawmaker. Cuellar told Axios, which first obtained the photos, that the facility amounted to ‘terrible conditions for the children’ and that they should be moved into care from the Department of Health and Human Services instead of Customs and Border Protection.”

Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, has spoken to television news programs in an effort to contain the political fallout from the crisis. Mayorkas says that the Biden administration is working to transfer migrant children from the CBP detention camps to the custody of HHS. Nonetheless, a clear administration policy remains elusive while Biden has said to the media that migrants from Central America and Mexico should not come into the U.S.

Katharina Buchholz wrote in a report for the statista online website that:

“According to figures released by Customs and Border Protection, more than 9,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the border in February, compared to just over 5,600 in January. For family units, numbers skyrocketed, with almost 19,000 individuals in family units (adults and children) detained, compared to just approximately 7,000 in January. A surge facility for unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border had reopened as of late February, the AP reports.”

On March 24, the administration announced that it would allow some members of the corporate media to enter the migrant detention camps to observe the conditions. Prior to this time, White House officials have said that due to the pandemic access to the facilities housing migrants would not be open for viewing.

Another statement from the Biden team on March 24 said that two military facilities in Texas would be opened for the temporary housing of migrants. However, many people including children, are being returned to Mexico on a daily basis by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. The Biden administration deployed a delegation to the southern border on March 24 in order to create an appearance of concern and effective response.

U.S. Has Maintained Imperialist Foreign Policy Throughout the Region

Many of the people crossing the border into the U.S. are from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. All of these states have been subjected to the unwarranted interference into their internal affairs by successive U.S. administrations dating back to the early 19th century.

The destabilization and overthrow of the governments of Guatemala (1954), El Salvador (1980s) and Honduras (2009) has created monumental social problems inside their countries. These historical realities are compounded by the economic policies of U.S.-based multinational corporations which have ruthlessly exploited the land, resources and labor of the peoples of Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

The plight of the people suffering from the social impact of imperialist foreign policy initiatives by the U.S. government and corporations, has provided a mechanism for enhancing institutional racism on a domestic level. This was evident under the Trump administration when migrants from Mexico and other Latin American states were scapegoated as being violent criminals belonging to gangs.

However, the problems of immigration did not begin under the Trump administration. The problem is deeply connected with the overall racist and imperialist domestic and foreign policy imperatives of Washington and Wall Street.

Predatory loans and the super-exploitation of agricultural and industrial labor within the region has done more to break down society’s worsening impoverishment and geographical dislocation. These are the factors that must be taken into consideration when analyzing the rapidly increasing numbers of those attempting to enter the U.S.

And certainly the climate-change-sourced droughts and devastating storms spawned by Western imperialism have devastated the livelihoods of millions of farm families in the entire region, forcing  them to flee their homes or face starvation..Even under the administration of former President Barack Obama, more people were deported from the U.S. than in any other time in history. Biden was questioned on several occasions in 2019-2020 during his campaign appearances about the legacy of the Obama-era immigration policy and the damage it inflicted on families and communities. His responses always sought to avoid the actual situation which prevailed during those years when he served as Vice President.

It was the administration of President George W. Bush which established the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the aftermath of the attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. The DHS sought to bring all of the intelligence and enforcement agencies within the U.S. government under one umbrella. This process of the further centralization and militarization of intelligence and federal law-enforcement has never been opposed by the two Democratic administrations of Obama and subsequently, the Biden program has remained silent on these important questions as well.

Those countries within the Caribbean, Central America and South America which have sought to break the chains of imperialist hegemony are under constant threat by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the State Department and the Pentagon. Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador among others, are being undermined through the foreign policy directives of Washington and the psychological warfare propaganda of the corporate and government-controlled media outlets in the U.S.

Immigrant Rights and Anti-Imperialism Are One Struggle

Any movement to end U.S. militarism in Latin America is inextricably linked to the struggle against national oppression and institutional racism. In fact, the social dynamics of the current situation is connected to the interventionist policies of the Pentagon and State Department in other geo-political regions.

African migrant workers from the continent have travelled to South American states such as Brazil. These workers may later leave Brazil or other states in the region in an effort to cross the border with the U.S. from Mexico.

Tens of millions of people have been displaced throughout large swaths of Asia and Africa directly stemming from the wars of imperialist aggression launched by the Pentagon, NATO and its allies. The influx of African and Asian migrants into Europe has provided a milieu for the growth of neo-fascist political parties and groupings which oppose immigration from oppressed nations along with the denial of fundamental human rights to these impacted nationalities.

The hostility embedded in the domestic and foreign policy of Washington towards the peoples of Africa, Asia-Pacific Islands and Latin America along with other Indigenous and oppressed peoples is designed to foster racial segregation and economic exploitation. People inside the imperialist states can make an enormous contribution to humanity by engaging with social forces committed to ending all forms of discrimination, national oppression and imperialism.

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