Imperialism Drives Immigration So Capitalism Can Devour All of Us

*This article has been edited based on a member’s direct experience working for immigration reform, especially DACA.

Imperialism is the natural expansion of capitalism. The constant need for growth and increased profits sends capitalists beyond national boundaries in search of new markets and lower production costs.

Under the guise of economic development, USAID, trade agreements, Inter-American Development Bank, IMF, and the World Bank work in conjunction with imperialist governments (US, Canada, Europe, etc) and multinational corporations to dominate countries into the global economy. They destroy local economies and subsistence cultures with tactics like land grabs, privatization and grain dumping. Military force and political manipulation are also used.

This drives ruined peasants and farmers to cities – where, conveniently, they can get jobs in sweatshops that export goods to the US and other imperialist countries. And, because these jobs are too few and pay sub-survival wages, many people desperate to make a living are driven to try their luck in the US, to accomplish “The American Dream.” 

“One of the things that prompted millions of low-wage workers to abandon Mexico over the last two decades was the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. With NAFTA, cheap imports, particularly agricultural products, flooded the Mexican market, leaving farmers and other low-skilled workers without jobs.” (Liberation News)

By destroying the self-sufficiency of people and societies, capitalists force us to migrate. 

US imperialism violently dominates as much of the planet as it can get its hooks into. It does so through ideological, political, and economic means (including war, the extreme form of politics), all for the fundamental goal of extracting and accumulating surplus value (profit) for the capitalist class.

Capitalists require this. Keeping in limbo and terrorizing a section of workers so they will work for even less than minimum wage, cuts production cost. They use the desperation of this super-exploited group to drive down wages for the entire working class. This means higher profits.

Farm workers in Immokalee, Florida.

So, why are US ruling class politicians, who all represent capitalist interests, currently interested in immigration reform? What is their aim?

Whenever capitalists pay lip service to people’s rights, we need to analyze their underlying motivation, and what policies they actually plan to put in place. As long as they remain in power, they will find ways to recuperate and benefit from any rights that they concede to us or are won by us. They try to make reforms sound positive for us, even when they are draconian and repressive. Obama positioned his image as pro-immigrant, but he was known as “Deporter in Chief,” because no other president has deported as many people as he did. 

Donald Trump and Barack Obama shakes hands.

Currently, capitalists are facing a global structural crisis. Economies are increasingly based on financial speculation, rather than industrial production, which has created bubbles of instability. Some US-based capitalists are attempting to resolve this by bringing industrial production back to the US. To keep profits high, as high as they make off the backs of workers in their global network of sweatshops, they need to drive down wages in the US even further than they already have.

The capitalists will craft and use immigration reform to try to further exploit, divide and pacify us. They will use it to gain soldiers to fight their imperialist wars for them. They will use it to increase surveillance, tracking and control of the entire population. Whatever policies they offer are never in our interests, but are always structured to benefit them.

Resistance to this is crucial. As long as we are forced to depend on jobs, no one should be denied the right to work. No one should be subject to wage violations or abusive conditions. No one should suffer the denial of health care. No one should live in fear of deportation or separation from loved ones.

New York City protest urging Donald Trump to keep the DACA program

When we are fighting against this issue, we need to analyze the roots of the problem. This will give us a clear understanding of why and how these problems resurface. Many organizations and individuals were satisfied when Obama signed a version of DACA. But it’s not enough to fight for DACA or TPS. Immigration should not be seen as an individual problem. Because when we only discuss DACA, we ignore the conditions that imperialism is creating in our home countries. Issues like the murder of Berta Cacéres in Honduras, who used to organize for environmental and indigenous rights. Plus, the disappearance of 43 student activist, who were order to be murdered by local police force.

March in Mexico City demanding an answer on 43 missing students

This is why an anti-imperialist perspective is fundamental. It is critical for connecting our struggles globally. Fighting for our rights is necessary, but we need to go further.

Why should the capitalists have any say over what rights we have? Why should they decide where we are allowed to live, and what types of documents we’re required to carry? What gives them the right to lock us up for breaking rules that they impose? What gives them the right to prowl the world, grabbing resources and exploiting people without restriction? We need more than for them to grant us our rights. We need to take away their power to determine what our rights are. We need to overturn the entire social relationship of class domination.

We won’t allow them to divide us. We – all the dominated masses in the US including immigrants – must unite to defeat our common enemy: the capitalist/imperialist system. We need to build combative organizations to fight for the interests of the people internationally. Together we can emancipate ourselves and transform society to end domination and exploitation.

Let’s unite against our common enemy: global capitalism and imperialism!

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