Tag: Refugee Crisis

JHISN Newsletter 09/18/2021

Dear friends, 

Welcome to our new readers! JHISN has been sharing our newsletter leaflet the last few weeks at the Jackson Heights Green Market. We are excited to build out our free subscribership to the newsletter — beyond the 500 loyal folks (amazing!) who are already with us. Please circulate our newsletter subscribe link to your neighbors and friends who might want to join. And please contact us at info@jhimmigrantsolidarity.org if you have a good idea for a local immigration story.

Today’s newsletter offers a look at the emerging demographic picture in Queens after a surprisingly successful 2020 census count, thanks in part to months of work and outreach by immigrant justice organizations. We then try to understand the deepening crises around state borders and mobility, as tens of millions of people are forced to leave their homes seeking–but often not finding–refuge and a safer haven. 

Newsletter highlights

  1. Census results: NYC immigration groups shape who counts  
  2. Refugee crises deepen in the US and globally 

1. Immigration Advocacy Groups Helped Save the NY Census Count

Last year, as the 2020 Census count began in earnest, there was widespread concern that a population decline over the last ten years, combined with a typical undercount of hard-to-count populations, might cause New York State to lose 2 of its 27 seats in the US House of Representatives. But thanks to heroic efforts by grassroots community groups to count everybody, the city exceeded its expected self-response rate and the state only lost one seat. No seats would have been lost had just 89 more people been counted! 

This past week, 2020 redistricting data became publicly available, and local organizations can start to see the results of their work encouraging people in their communities to complete the census forms. A more complete picture will emerge about the demographics of our community, supplementing the information already available about Queens: 

  • In 10 years, the Queens diversity index grew by an insignificant half percentage point to 76.9%.
  • Queens is still the most diverse county in NY State, but fell from the 3rd to the 6th most diverse county in the US.
  • A 5% drop in the white population, replaced with a 5% growth in the Asian population, has led some to forecast a growth of Asian political influence
  • The Hispanic/Latino population is now the largest in Queens, with the Asian population just a half percentage point behind. The white population dropped from the first to third-largest group.
  • Queens’ overall population growth of 7.8% since 2010 was higher than the 7.7% of NYC overall, but lower than Brooklyn’s 9.2%.

There are always concerns about the impact of a census undercount when using the Method of Equal Proportions, which has been in place since 1941, to determine how many congressional seats each state gets; it is the fifth approach to apportionment since the US census began in 1790. In addition to the regular challenges every decennial census faces to count every person, there were extra factors including the pandemic putting an accurate 2020 count at risk. The Supreme Court had to block the Trump administration from including a citizenship question, which would likely have prevented many immigrants from participating. After that failed, Trump released a memorandum instructing the removal from the apportionment base of people without legal immigration status. There was no practical way to meet that memorandum’s empty directive this time, but the future possibility of such a threat remains. 

Exclusionary attempts to remove immigrants from the census were not unique to the Trump administration. Since its creation in 1979, the hard-line restrictive immigration group with the ironic acronym FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) has pushed the government to ignore its constitutional duty to count all people in the US. To date,  such efforts have been successfully countered by actions to effect a true count of all people.

The brazen attempts to undermine a true count underline the significance of the massive grassroots census activism that took place in New York. In particular, local immigrant justice organizations adopted the Census as a central priority to be sure their communities are seen. There has been extensive media reporting on the funding distributed to several local immigrant support groups by the federal, state, and city governments to assist with those grassroots efforts. But in reality, organizations such as Adhikaar, African Communities Together, Asian Americans for Equality, CIANA, Chhaya CDC, DRUM, and Make the Road NY–many of them groups serving immigrant communities in central Queens–ended up spending their own money and time to encourage the people in their communities to be counted.

The government did assist with multi-lingual printing costs and hard-to-miss t-shirts. But there were significant limits placed on what else could be funded. Certain types of groups could receive money, but bureaucratic criteria prevented many other groups from applying. Those who did apply had limits on what they could spend. No software could be purchased, no awards could be given for filling out the census, and no mobile computing devices worth more than $500 could be bought. Any money spent before March 10, 2020, for those groups who started early, was not reimbursed.

In the end, these local efforts resulted in census numbers that exceeded expectations. Some speculate that post-census redistricting will bring positive changes, such as the possibility for Little Manila, currently split between three districts, to have better representation. However, we have to wait until people can dive into the newly-released data  to understand the changes and to see what impact there might be from knowing, for example, that “300,000 New Yorkers said they belong to two or more races, roughly double the number from 10 years ago.”

WHAT CAN WE DO?

2. Refugee Crises Out of Control

The statistical picture is unfathomable. In 2020, over 82 million people worldwide are geographically displaced by war, violence, climate catastrophe, and persecution. Girls and boys under the age of 18 make up 42% of that total. Forty-eight million people are internally displaced within their own country. Over 26 million are refugees, fleeing across borders. Just over 4 million people are asylum-seekers. And one million children have been born as refugees from 2018-20.

 As the pandemic started to rage in 2020, 160 nation-states closed their borders, with at least 99 countries refusing to accept migrants seeking protection. Refugee resettlement has plunged dramatically, with only 34,000 people resettled worldwide last year. Nine in ten refugees are now hosted by low and middle-income countries with limited resources and infrastructure.

 Despite the declarations of the United Nations’ 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, and despite the ambitions of the UN’s 2018 Global Compact on Refugees, in 2021 there exists no formal global recognition of refugee rights, nor even a legally binding international definition of “refugee.” In many of the world’s refugee-hosting countries, refugees have no legal status at all. Their rights are under increasingly vicious attack in many countries, even as the conditions that force them to leave their homes become more dire.  

 Just this week, the Global Strategic Litigation Council for Refugee Rights was launched. They aim to establish transnational legal standards for addressing the plight of refugee populations, and to establish the right to be free from immigration detention, which has become widespread in the US and globally.

 But. The news on the ground is not good. By FY 2020, the Trump regime lowered the refugee admissions ceiling in the US from 85,000 in 2016 to a mere 18,000 (with less than 12,000 refugees actually admitted), and then set the FY 2021 admissions quota at 15,000. The Biden administration initially maintained that ceiling but, under political pressure, raised it to 62,500. Yet as of July 2021, only 4,780 refugees had been admitted to the US.

The US’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has set off a massive refugee crisis. As the headlines blare, tens of thousands of Afghans have entered the US, temporarily ‘housed’ at US military bases. Tens of thousands more remain precariously in transit in Qatar, Spain, Germany, and Kuwait. But the largest population of Afghan refugees are those left behind in the implosion of the US’s decades-long military occupation. Hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children are fleeing their homes to seek safety from civil war and right-wing terror in another part of Afghanistan, or in neighboring countries, including Iran and  Pakistan. 

The refugee situation among Haitians, while garnering fewer headlines, is also grim. Under pressure from serial climate disasters and the political assassination of Haiti’s president, Haitian migrants are surging along the US-Mexico border in search of refuge. In the border town of Del Rio, Texas, in just the past few days, thousands of Haitians have gathered under a bridge for protection from the sweltering heat, sleeping in the dirt, without food, sanitation, or clean water. The Biden administration has announced it will begin putting migrants on return flights to Haiti starting Monday, September 20, to “signal to other Haitians that they should not try to cross the southern border.”

Immigration rights groups have slammed the Biden administration for continuing to use an obscure Title 42 regulation, put in place in March 2020 by the Trump regime, to expel tens of thousands of asylum seekers using a phony “public health” pretext. (News flash: A federal judge has just ordered a halt to this practice.) And the Women’s Refugee Commission along with over 100 other groups, has demanded that the Administration stand up to the Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate the (misnamed) Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), popularly known as the “Remain in Mexico’ policy. The policy has to date prevented over 70,000 people from claiming asylum in the US while stranding them in inhumane and dangerous conditions in Mexico.   

WHAT CAN WE DO?

  • Attend Rise and Resist’s Thursday immigration vigils protesting Biden’s extension of Trump’s anti-immigration policies.  
  • Donate to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). RAWA has organized resistance to the Soviet and US occupation and also to the Taliban and other right-wing criminals. They establish underground schools for women and children in Afghanistan, and provide education, medical care and other support for families in Pakistani refugee camps and for internal refugees.
  • Sign the Domestic Workers Alliance petition to stop Haitian deportations. 

In solidarity and with collective care,

Jackson Heights Immigrant Solidarity Network (JHISN)

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In Praise of Migrants—And Jackson Heights

(A Review: This Land is Our Land: An Immigrant’s Manifesto, Suketu Mehta)

Suketu Mehta is an immigrant. And he’s not apologizing for it.

These days, a great many people in the rich countries complain loudly about migration from the poor ones. But as the migrants see it, the game was rigged: First, the rich countries colonized us and stole our treasure and prevented us from building our industries. After plundering us for centuries, they left, having drawn up maps in ways that ensured permanent strife between our communities….

Having built up their economies with our raw materials and our labor, they asked us to go back and were surprised when we did not. They stole our minerals and corrupted our governments so that their corporations could continue stealing our resources; they fouled the air above us and the waters around us, making our farms barren, our oceans lifeless; and they were aghast when the poorest among us arrived at their borders, not to steal but to work, to clean their shit, and to fuck their men.

Still, they needed us. They needed us to fix their computers and heal their sick and teach their kids, so they took our best and brightest, those who had been educated at the greatest expense of the struggling states they came from, and seduced us again to work for them. Now, again, they ask us not to come, desperate and starving though they have rendered us, because the richest among them need a scapegoat. This is how the game is rigged today.

Mehta’s book is a clear, engaging explanation of the global, national and personal dynamics of immigration. It’s based on his own experience, and that of his family, which has migrated all over the world. But it’s also grounded in research, informed by righteous indignation, and fueled by a desire for justice for migrants, especially those less fortunate than himself. As the author puts it, “This book is being written in sorrow and rage—as well as hope.”

This Land isn’t a “movement” book. It doesn’t delve into the various strands of the immigrant rights struggle, analyze immigration legislation or lay out a strategy for defeating Donald Trump. But nevertheless, it’s definitely a political book. What Mehta does is to try and change the popular discourse about immigration, using facts, experiences and exhilaratingly blunt arguments. He approaches migration in various contexts and from various angles, always reinforcing the value, humanity and dignity of migrants.

Mehta, who lived in Jackson Heights as a young immigrant, combines pithy arguments with devastating real-life examples. One of his most memorable examples is an extended description of a “friendship park” between San Diego and Tijuana. For many years, this was “the only place on the two-thousand-mile U.S. Mexican  border where you could meet your family face to face…a small patch of land adjoining the Pacific Ocean.” Mehta describes in agonizing detail how this tiny park, where families were once allowed to mingle freely, was suddenly fenced in, then double-fenced, so that people could barely touch pinkies. Today only ten people at a time are allowed in from the U.S. side. They are forbidden to take photos or videos, or even record the voices of their loved ones. Mehta spent two days at the park, absorbing the poignant and tragic stories of separated families, who travel for hours and days to see their loved ones across the border fences. Meanwhile, Border Patrol officers he interviewed exhibited open disdain for the park’s visitors.

Some of Mehta’s most potent writing is dedicated to exposing the realities of imperialism. He doesn’t pull any punches:

Before you ask other people to respect the borders of the West, ask yourself if the West has ever respected anybody else’s border. How often has the United States gone over the southern border or into the Caribbean or Southeast Asia? How often does it keep doing so, going over the borders of Iraq or Afghanistan? The United States has not acted lawfully with other nations, including the Native American nations on its soil, through most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. How can it now expect the human victims of that enormous illegality to obey the laws of the United States and stay home or wait thirty years for a visa to rejoin their families?

Mehta makes it clear that this imperial hypocrisy doesn’t just apply to the U.S., but to all the colonial powers. For instance, he spends some time examining the history of British imperialism in his original homeland of India. He also describes how brutal French colonialism in the Caribbean and North Africa has resulted in massive migration.

In recent decades, as Mehta explains, colonialism has taken new forms. Many former colonies have gained legal independence. Now it is primarily multinational corporations and global banks that control the world economy, not Western governments. But the effects on ordinary people are largely the same. As he puts it,

They looted us for centuries, and they took whatever was worth taking, and they continued taking after we became ‘independent’—of their governments, but not of their corporations.” Trillions of dollars in wealth is still being transferred from the poor countries to the rich countries….

This has a direct bearing on the ethics of immigration. Between 1970 and 2010, Mexico lost $872 billion in illicit financial outflows, and most of the money ended up in American banks. Around this time—from 1965 to 2015—16 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States. They weren’t doing anything wrong; they were just following the money. Their money.

Besides the economic injustice of imperialism, Mehta discusses how imperialist wars trigger mass migration. He discusses not only classic armed conflicts, such as proxy civil wars and invasions, but also the phony “war on drugs,” which destroys nations while fattening the wallets of Western bankers. Together, all of these wars generate refugees by the millions.

Another major source of migration discussed in This Land is climate change. More and more nations are experiencing droughts, floods, and severe weather of all kinds. Crops are dying; heat-related deaths are skyrocketing. And so people are leaving their homes.

And where should they move to? To their former colonizers, or to the country most responsible for the heating of the planet? Americans are only 4 percent of the world’s population but are responsible for one-third of the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Next comes the European Union, which put another quarter of the existing CO2 in the atmosphere. America creates a third of the world’s solid waste and consumes a fifth of the world’s energy. The average American uses as much energy as 35 Indians, or 185 Ethiopians, and consumes as many goods and services as 53 Chinese. But America was the first and only country to walk away from a global attempt at a solution: the Paris Agreement. The Trump administration is an existential threat to life on the planet today. The most damning indictment against Americans: we ruined the planet and then elected a government that will stop any last chance we have of saving it.

Mehta emphasizes that anti-immigrant sentiment, especially in the U.S., is closely tied to racism. White citizens often feel a sense of entitlement, coupled now with the feeling that they are losing privileges that used to be automatic. White citizens also, at times, feel jealous. Many immigrants are better educated than white U.S. citizens, and make more money after arriving here. (For instance, the median income for Indian Americans was over $110,000 in 2016.) Donald Trump, of course,has amplified false white nationalist narratives about crime and about immigrants draining resources from the U.S. His open appeal to white grievance and betrayal has helped increase and intensify an onslaught of racist attacks on immigrants. As Mehta says, “the conversation about immigrants in America…is approaching incitement to genocide.”

Mehta makes it clear that this racism isn’t random or disorganized. It’s actively encouraged by wealthy capitalists. The billionaire class and giant corporations have profited from globalist outsourcing,while simultaneously disinvesting from the U.S. Now the capitalists are eager to redirect outraged white resentment away from themselves and onto scapegoated immigrants.

One of Mehta’s most controversial assertions is that immigration should be understood as a form of reparations for the sins of colonialism. This is an attention-grabbing argument, but it turns out to be one of his less rigorous ones. After all, as Mehta argues at length, immigration has been good for countries like the U.S. Not just good: indispensable. It seems like an odd kind of “reparations” that comes free of cost to the offenders. This Land struggles with the contradiction, finally concluding that: “A huge bill is coming due to the West. And it is one that the West is not only morally obligated to pay, but one that it should also look forward to paying.”

This part of Mehta’s analysis, while it may be somewhat confusing, is also pretty thought-provoking. Mehta is putting his finger on a sensitive spot. Doesn’t the U.S. in fact owe reparations to the countries and peoples it has undermined and ripped off? Isn’t migration a human right, whether it helps the receiving country’s economy or not? These are some of the most important questions in front of us today.

This Land is full of revealing data. For instance, did you know that there are now 9 million U.S. citizens—migrants—living abroad, up from 4 million in 1999? Or that Turkey took in more than a million refugees in 2014, while the has U.S. allowed in just 50,000 refugees per year for decades? (Trump wants to reduce that to 30,000.) Mehta’s book is not only interesting and easy to read, but it’s also chock full of ammunition for immigrant rights fighters and supporters.

This Land includes many heartbreaking and hopeful stories of migrants—those who he calls “everyday heroes”—in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. They are people who often end up doing the hardest work in our societies, after risking their safety and freedom to migrate because they are driven to help their families or are fighting to escape intolerable situations. In many cases the migrants Mehta profiles show tremendous insight, courage and initiative.

Ultimately, This Land is a cautiously hopeful book. Bringing things right home, Mehta upholds Jackson Heights as an example of the advantages of migration and multiculturalism. Mehta is aware of the divisions here. And in fact, he argues that multiculturalism doesn’t depend on everybody instantly loving each other. It’s more of a process. He remembers that, in his youth, Jackson Heights had to cope with some deeply rooted ethnic antagonisms, which had migrated right along with people.

My neighbors were Indians and Pakistanis, Jews and Muslims, Haitians and Dominicans; the building was owned by a Turkish man but the super was Greek. Many of them had been killing each other just before they got on the plane….

But we were in a new country now, making a new life. And we could live side by side and interact in certain demarcated ways. We could exchange food; our kids could play together; they could go to school together. We discovered that we are more alike than different. South Asians in the West, for instance: Indians and Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who have been warring at home discover, in Jackson Heights, that they are “desi,” and share a love of samosas and Bollywood. If we still didn’t like our neighbors, we would not burn and riot as we might at home; we would suffer them…. Because no one ethnicity dominates, no one community gets blamed if the economy goes south.

And now, diversity has become a point of attraction for all kinds of people, from all kinds of backgrounds. As Mehta puts it, “Creative people want to live in the kind of city where they can hear many languages spoken on the street, and have a choice between pupusas and parathas for dinner.”

Mehta is inspired by Jackson Heights, and by New York in general. He notes that the city has been thriving because of the huge waves of immigration that arrived in recent decades. The author’s moving hope is that New York can serve as an example to the world.

But as Mehta knows only too well, there’s plenty of racism and inequality in New York. And there’s a vicious anti-immigrant storm raging all around us. Many residents of Jackson Heights are living in fear, while ICE thugs swagger around like modern-day Brownshirts.

Woven together with his sadness and rage, This Land’s moral clarity and expansive vision do give us cause for long-term hope. Mehta’s manifesto is important for that reason, among many others. But it’s pretty obvious that the author’s optimistic view of Jackson Heights isn’t something we can take for granted. On the contrary, it’s something we’re going to have to fight like hell to live up to, and to defend.

 

 

How the US Created the Refugee Crisis

Every month, tens of thousands of migrants are detained along the US-Mexico border. Right now, most of those migrants are refugees from the Northern Triangle of Central America—El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. When they get to the border, these folks have already endured a long, dangerous journey, covering thousands of miles. They've struggled through perilous desert crossings. They've clung to the top of freight trains in baking heat and freezing cold. They've faced very real odds of being kidnapped or raped. They've borrowed money or used their last resources to pay off coyotes and corrupt officials. Once they arrive, they are brutalized by border agents and a dehumanizing, racist detention system.

Harsh Life in the Northern Triangle

People don't undertake a journey this terrible for no reason. The reality is that El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have become unbearable for these refugees, no matter how much they might wish they could stay in their homes.

Poverty is widespread in the Northern Triangle. Parents must watch their children go hungry. Family farmers are forced off their land, flooding into cities where there are no jobs. Homelessness is common.

Violence is out of control. Many of the people leaving the Northern Triangle have had family members killed, have witnessed murders, or have been themselves threatened with rape and other deadly violence in their home countries. Young people are subjected to forcible recruitment into street gangs, with their families as hostages. The military and police rule society with a heavy hand.

How We Got Here

Why is life so difficult for so many Central Americans? To a large extent, the blame lies with the policies of the US government, and with the power of US corporations.

For over a century, the US has acted like Central America was its private plantation. The US has invaded the region over and over. It has backed corrupt military dictators, overthrown democratic governments, armed and trained vicious death squads. The CIA has manipulated and assassinated its way up and down Central America. And US economic policies have destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people.

Here are just a few examples of US political-military intervention in the Northern Triangle:

Repressing El Salvador

  • In 1932, the US helped suppress a peasant rebellion in El Salvador led by Farabundo Martí. Tens of thousands of rebels and civilians—many of them Indigenous—were systematically massacred.
  • In 1944, the US supported a reactionary coup.
  • In 1960, the US supported another right wing coup.
  • From 1980 to 1992, the US enthusiastically funded, trained, and directed a military dictatorship, whose main purpose was to crush a popular leftist-led uprising. Some 70,000 people were killed by the Salvadoran military and death squads under the direct sponsorship of the US. Thousands more were raped or tortured. During that period, hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans fled to the US, which deported many of them back into the war zone.

Destabilizing Honduras

  • In 1911, the US launched a coup to overthrow its elected government. After that, the country was afflicted by a series of military dictators propped up by Washington.
  • In the 1980s, the US set up military bases in Honduras, turning it into a launch pad for waging war against Nicaragua. Thousands of US troops trained, armed and dispatched the right-wing Contra guerillas from Honduras, in violation of US and international law.
  • As recently as 2009, the US backed a coup against reform-minded President Manuel Zelaya.

The Pattern Repeats in Guatemala

  • In 1954, the US organized a coup against the reformist Arbenz government. This coup led to a long guerrilla uprising, which was brutally suppressed by a US-led counterinsurgency campaign. The tactics of this counterinsurgency included aerial bombing, use of napalm, and the eradication of whole villages.
  • In 1970, when US-backed President Carlos Arana took office, he said, "If it is necessary to turn the country into a cemetery in order to pacify it, I will not hesitate to do so." The US-sponsored regimes that followed Arana in Guatemala had the same basic philosophy. Turning a blind eye to all their brutality, the US gave political support and tens of millions of dollars to the Guatemalan military.
  • In 1978, Rios Montt became dictator, in a coup that had full US support. Montt unleashed a campaign of genocide against the Maya. Villages were bombed and looted; civilians were raped, tortured and executed. During the long Guatemalan civil war, some 200,000 civilians were killed by the regime and allied right-wing death squads. Hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans fled the country.

An Economic Thread

Running through all of the US violations of sovereignty and human rights in the Northern Triangle, there 's always been an economic thread. The almighty dollar is behind it all. US policy has been formulated to serve the US corporations that profit from Central America’s resources and labor. For instance, several brazen US interventions in Guatemala and Honduras were specifically intended to benefit the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita Brands), whose low-wage fruit plantations were fantastically profitable.

Maybe the best way to sum up the history of US colonialism in Latin America is to quote Marine General Smedley Butler, who helped lead US military campaigns in Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Haiti. In the 1930s, he wrote: "I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism."

CAFTA Devastates Farmers

Over the last few decades, the US pressured and bribed Central American politicians to join what is called CAFTA-DR. CAFTA, like NAFTA, is a trade pact designed to override national laws, favoring the interests of large multinational corporations. Given the economic and power imbalances in the Americas, we shouldn’t be surprised at how that worked out for Central America. US banks and commercial interests have now taken over large parts of the financial systems and retail trade in the Northern Triangle, and US manufacturers have overwhelmed local industries.

But maybe the biggest effect of CAFTA has been to drive small farmers off their land. Under CAFTA rules, small farmers can't possibly compete with well-financed, large-scale global corporate agribusiness owned by investors from the US and other wealthy countries. To give one example of the impact: Not long ago, Honduras used to be a net exporter of agricultural products. But now it imports more food and other farm goods than it exports.

CAFTA specifically forbids any national legislation by Central American countries that would allow them to protect their small farmers—even farmers trying to sell products to their own local markets. Hundreds of thousands of family farmers have fled out of the countryside, flooding into the cities, where they find little but unemployment and crime.

On top of all this is the impact of the US-fueled drug trade, and the US's "War on Drugs," each of which lines the pockets of Miami bankers while undermining one Latin American society after another. Gangs like MS-13, which was exported from Los Angeles to the Northern Triangle by the US government, thrive in this environment of chaos and corruption.

There’s a Word for This

US policies and corporate greed have left a lasting legacy of poverty, civil strife and social violence. Every time the people of Central America resist, the heavy fist of the US and its military puppets slams down on the peoples’ movements. Demands for fair trade by Central American countries are met with economic blackmail by global banks and the US, intent on enforcing the wishes of the large corporations.

There's a word for this relationship. The word is imperialism. This parasitic relationship between the US and Central America has been a constant destructive force for generation after generation, during both Republican and Democratic administrations. The whole time, it’s been justified by naked racism and victim-blaming. When we see desperate people from the Northern Triangle arriving at the Mexican border, we must recognize that it’s US imperialism that has forced them to make this painful exodus.

The Responsibility of US Citizens

Under international law, and in light of basic decency, all countries are expected to provide asylum for people seeking refuge from persecution, war, social violence and disasters. But US citizens have a special responsibility to give refuge to the people that US imperialism—in its cold-blooded search for profit—has cruelly driven from their homes. Citizens have a special obligation to defend the human rights of Central Americans, and to repudiate every racist attempt to demonize and dehumanize them. And finally, beyond the immediate human rights crisis at the border, US citizens have every moral and practical imperative to help rebuild the countries that the US has pillaged and devastated.

For Further Reading and Study:

A Century of U.S. Intervention Created the Immigration Crisis

How US ‘Free Trade’ Policies Created the Central American Migration Crisis

How US policy in Honduras set the stage for today’s migration

The devastating effects of American intervention in Guatemala

The Impact of CAFTA: Drugs, Gangs, and Immigration

Video: The War on Democracy

UNHCR: Claims from Central America

CISPES: Community in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador