The deportation of fellow workers is less popular than ever among workers in the United States — including among those who voted for Trump — who face the carnage from the worldwide capitalist economic crisis. Many know that the target of the raids and deportations is not just workers without papers — the measures are aimed at dividing the working class and pushing down all our wages and living conditions to benefit the propertied rulers.
New Department of Homeland Security guidelines open the door to broader raids and deportations. But Trump continues to say the focus will be on workers without papers who have been found guilty of crimes.
“We are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals,” Trump said in his Feb. 28 speech to Congress. “Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised.”
Before the session, Trump floated a trial balloon about a bipartisan plan for a “pathway” to legal status for undocumented workers without criminal backgrounds.
It’s still to be seen what exact course the administration will end up pursuing. That is being fought out.
The DHS guidelines say that immigrants who illegally enter the U.S. — no matter what country they are from — will be returned to “the territory of the foreign contiguous country from which they arrive” — in other words Mexico — while they await court hearings.
But the Mexican government says they’ll refuse to take them. “We told them that was impossible,” Mexico Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, told the press Feb. 24.
While Trump prides himself on being a tough negotiator, the Mexican government has strong cards in its deck as well.
New York Times columnist Eduardo Porter noted Feb. 22 the apprehensions of Mexican immigrants at the border are the lowest in 40 years. Because of high unemployment in the U.S. and tighter policing of the border, fewer Mexicans are coming to the U.S. than are returning to Mexico.
Last year the Mexican government deported more than 143,000 Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans who attempted to pass through Mexico to the U.S. In effect the “wall, as it were — is Mexico,” Porter said.
If the capitalist government in Mexico stopped deporting Central Americans, it could double or triple the numbers reaching the U.S.
Tens of thousands have marched across Mexico protesting the Trump administration’s threat to dump immigrants it deports into Mexico, regardless of where they come from. One banner in Mexico City read, “Gracias, Trump, for unifying Mexico.”
The White House has also floated the possibility of sharply increasing tariffs on goods imported from Mexico. Some 80 percent of Mexican exports — $21 billion — go to the U.S.
But that’s not a one-way street either. U.S. agribusiness exports $17.7 billion a year to Mexico, their third largest customer, in products ranging from corn and wheat to corn syrup. Small farmers and agribusiness alike are worried that an increase in tensions between the two governments could hit them hard.
Little enthusiasm from military, copsThere is little support among the military brass for turning the armed forces into auxiliary immigration agents.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly went to Mexico City Feb. 23 with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for discussions with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. “There will be no — repeat no — use of military force in immigration operations,” he said.
The retired Marine Corps general also said “there will be no — repeat, no — mass deportations.”
Instead, Kelly said, immigration agents would focus on “criminals,” essentially the policy during the presidency of Barack Obama.
Many police chiefs have spoken out against their officers acting as immigration cops, fearing it would destroy immigrants willingness to talk to them. “I would rather have my officers focused on going after violent criminals and people breaking into homes than going after nannies and cooks,” Houston Chief Art Acevedo told the press.
Over 350 people jammed the city council chambers at a town meeting Jan. 10 in Kingston, a town in rural New York, to debate whether cops there should ask people about their immigration status. Police Chief Egidio Tinti said they had a longstanding unwritten policy against asking people about their papers. The debate lasted three hours with dozens of speakers, speaking 3 to 1 in favor of making Kingston a sanctuary city. The council approved the policy 5-3.
In his speech to Congress, Trump raised imposing new restrictions on legal immigration, as well as targeting workers without papers. He called for “switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system.”
Trump isn’t the only one to call for shifting immigration rules to favor admitting more “smart” people — tech whizzes, entrepreneurs and meritocrats, but he’s among the most brazen. Cutting working-class immigration, Trump says, will “raise workers’ wages and help struggling families — including immigrant families.”
But growing numbers of workers refuse to buy into pitting workers against each other no matter where they were born.
Jim George, 68, who lives in Perry, Iowa, home to a Tyson Foods meat-packing plant, told the Washington Post Feb. 26 that though he voted for Trump, he doesn’t agree with deportations. “These are good folks,” he said. “This place would not be functioning without the folks that have come in here.”
The Post ran interviews with a number of workers in rural and small-town Iowa who said the same thing.
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