By David Martinez
This past week, Joe Biden’s administration issued an executive order to enact a 100-day moratorium on many of the deportation proceedings for undocumented immigrants residing in the US. Almost as soon as it was disseminated, a federal judge suspended it for fourteen days for review after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the order.
Regardless of his actions, Biden should not be seen as the ‘good guy’ trying to help the millions of immigrant workers and their families who labor and struggle within the US and live with the possibility of being thrown into detention centers or deported every day. He and his fellow imperialists have been a direct cause of the misery of countless immigrants within the US as well as the cause of waves of migrations from the Third World to imperialist countries like the US. None of Biden’s policies will change this as a whole, regardless of any possible short-term relief for the immigrants here.
The longtime haggling among the bourgeoisie over the status of undocumented immigrants in the US is reflective of imperialism’s denigration of the people, and its control over the workforce according to its current economic needs. The exploitation of immigrant labor has been a go-to for US imperialists for years. They allow the flow of immigrants when they want a more exploitable workforce to compete with domestic workers and drive down wages, or restrict their flow as necessary, especially when imperialist crises of overproduction, such as the one we are in the midst of, occur.
In addition to his currently blocked deportation moratorium, Biden has proposed an immigration legislation overhaul, at this point an obligatory exercise for administrations. This comes at a time when the dysfunctional governance of the US is at a higher state of decomposition than even previous eras. The likelihood of any package with substantial changes to immigration policy is low, but it’s a safe bet for Biden to push it and then blame Republicans for being unable to change anything. The two factions of the bourgeoisie play off each other as people suffer, but the system itself remains fully intact.
Biden, however, may still win propaganda points and goodwill through his swindling. There will be opportunists and hustlers who push the people to continue backing the imperialist state’s political and electoral process, and unfortunately, many progressive people with good intentions are conned into backing the Democrats and seeing these piecemeal reforms (if they’re even passed) as the primary arena of struggle. Those with the sincere desire for change must recognize the necessity of completely sweeping away this system before there can be any real protections and stability for the lives of workers, whether they are immigrants or not.
One only has to look back to a year ago on the presidential campaign trail in 2019, to see the inconsistency and opportunism of Biden on clear display. At a town hall, immigration activists had a confrontational exchange with then-candidate Biden regarding the Obama administration’s heinous record of 3 million deportations of undocumented immigrants, which Biden defended as part of Obama’s administration. After relating her story, an immigrant woman speaking in Spanish called on Biden to commit to enact a moratorium on deportations on his first day of office.
Biden responded with an immediate and forceful, ‘No.’
Another activist began to challenge Biden, who turned away, showing how any honest criticism is too much for a bourgeois politician to handle. A visibly annoyed Biden dismissed the activist, telling him, “You should go vote for Trump.”
The activist himself implied he would still vote for Biden, but this is an unfortunate enabling of the very bourgeois representative who had just told him that he didn’t want his vote if it meant that he would dare criticize him.
Now, in the first days of his presidency, Biden issued the 100-day moratorium on deportations, the very thing he so quickly shut down to an immigrant’s face. His change in position is rank opportunism, nothing more. At the time of the campaign, his tough guy act was part of his law-and-order strategy to ensure that he would be seen by the as the sensible alternative to Trump while showing to his bourgeois backers he would not always pander to progressive demands.
Now that he has won, the 100-day moratorium can be entertained without consequence, especially when the other wing of the bourgeoisie represented by the Republicans will continue to play a convenient foil, either giving the Democrats a ready-made excuse for why they can not achieve the demands they traffic with during campaigns (minimum wage, healthcare, police brutality, etc..) or why they will pass ineffective and toothless policies which require ‘bipartisan compromise.’
Even according to acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske, who issued the moratorium, it does nothing to prohibit “the apprehension or detention of individuals unlawfully in the United States.” There is no intention on the part of Biden to cease use of any of the state’s mechanisms to hunt and control the immigrant population, but instead he will use his executive power for publicity stunts and deception.
This does not mean that the moratorium, if it is truly enacted, may not benefit many immigrants who deserve relief, and their efforts to fight for that relief should not be discounted. There are lessons to be learned in the struggle for demands, but the struggle for these demands can not be directed into absolving imperialists such as Biden, and especially must not diminish a clear and militant resistance to US imperialism, which will continue to create the conditions that put the people of the Third World in the position to flee their home countries in order to feed themselves and their families, then prosecutes them for this supposed crime.
The struggle of immigrant workers must be combined with the struggles of all the proletariat in the US and the world. The proletariat has no country, and immigrant workers in the US should be defended as fiercely as the workers born here, just as we stand with the workers of oppressed nations outside of US borders. This means striving for greater organization, greater militance, and relentless efforts to expose the attempts of US imperialism to mask its crimes with its fleeting and insufficient gestures.
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