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      Refugee & Immigrant Crisis A Result of Capitalism's Inhumane Policies
      Open the Borders Now!

      By Alison Bodine

      Because of U.S. president Donald Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, at least 2,342 children, including infants and babies, known as “tender-age” children, were separated from their parents in the one-month between May 5 and June 9. The videos, photos and recordings of families being separated, and children and infants being detained in cages by U.S. border officials are gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.

      Furthermore, the government of the U.S. does not have a plan for how the children taken will be returned to their parents. As soon as the children were separated, they became “unaccompanied children,” the same classification they would have received if they had crossed alone. This makes them eligible to be sent to one of an estimated 100 Department of Health and Human Services shelters in 17 states.

      As reported by Migration Policy Institute, “As of yet, the administration has articulated no plan to reunite these parents and children. Doing so would require a massive logistical system…with reports of some mothers deported back to Central America as their children were left in the United States, and of detained parents not knowing where their child is and vice versa.”

      This is U.S. immigration policy in its rawest form ± traumatizing children to terrorize migrants coming to the United States fleeing war, violence and economic and environmental destruction. The cruelty and inhumanity that is U.S. immigration policy did not begin in 2018. The criminalization and dehumanization of immigrants, migrants and refugees are fundamental to the immigration policy of the U.S. government.

      From Family Separation to Indefinite Family Detention

      The U.S. government, both under President Obama and President Trump, also pays private companies and non-profit organizations a shocking amount of money to detain children and immigrants ± and appears to have no intention to break these lucrative contracts. One non-profit, Southwest Key Programs, Inc. will be paid $458million this year alone for detaining children in their facilities (Time Magazine).

      As well, family separation is set to continue through escalating deportations being carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This agency, which was founded in 2001, is responsible for terrorizing immigrant and refugee communities in the United States, and their campaign of fear has only increased since Trump took office. As David Leopold, the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association told Bloomberg News “I’ve never seen anything like it in my 30-plus years of practice…Trump has created a police state for immigrants Ð legal and unauthorized.”

      Detaining Immigrants and Refugees is Business as Usual

      This policy of the U.S. Trump administration is shocking in its blatant abuse of children and families, but it is not the first time that the U.S. government, headed by either a Democrat or a Republican, has been exposed for their criminal treatment of immigrants, migrants and refugees. Under President Obama, a quota was established for the Department of Homeland Security which bound them to have a minimum 34,000 people detained and “in bed” at the detentions centres at any given time. Between 2009 and 2015, President Obama deported 2.5million people - earning him the name “Deporter In Chief ” in the immigrant’s rights movement. In the eight years before Obama, over 2 million people were deported by President George W. Bush. Millions of families were separated by these criminal policies.

      Then there is the Presidency of Bill Clinton, who also implemented policies that criminalized people fleeing for their lives. During the 1994 Clinton Presidency, there was a policy called “prevention through deterrence” - which sounds an awful lot like the “deterrence” that President Trump is referring to today. This policy forced immigrants to cross through the border under much more deadly conditions in deserts or mountains where they died from dehydration, heat stroke, exhaustion and hypothermia.

      To make it acceptable to people in the United States to treat migrants this way, Trump has also increased the campaign to dehumanize people crossing the border, capitalizing on people’s fears and the economic insecurities caused by deepening capitalist crisis in the U.S. Racist Trump has referred to immigrants as "animals", "murderers", and "rapists", and has even used the word “infest” to describe immigrants crossing the border looking for somewhere safe to be.

      Who Is Responsible for the Crisis?

      As reported by Robert Warren, from the Center for Migration Studies, “The number [of people] attempting to get across the Southern border is probably the lowest it’s been since at least the 1970s.”

      What this means is that unlike the U.S. government wants people to believe, the socalled border crisis today is not due to increased migration to the United States. The U.S. border is not unprepared or overwhelmed; its brutality has been deliberately organized. The human crisis at the border is in fact, not due at all to anything that the migrants and refugees themselves have done. The responsibility for the crisis lies squarely on the shoulders of the U.S. capitalist government.

      People crossing the border didn’t decide to implement a “zero-tolerance” policy, nor to be separated from their children, nor to be imprisoned for months waiting to have their asylum claims heard. No, people crossing the border aren’t even responsible for the conditions that drove them to make the deadly journey through Latin America in the first place.

      The U.S. government and their allies have decimated economies, imposed neoliberal policies, destroyed entire countries, wrecked environments and torn apart the basic social fabric that holds entire societies together across the third-world (colonial and semicolonial countries).

      Migrants and refugees are fleeing countries that have been destroyed by imperialist war, occupations and theft of resources. All migrants and refugees unconditionally have the right and deserve a chance to build a life within the countries that are responsible for the destruction of their homelands.

      As reported by the Doctors Without Borders, in a May 2017 report on conditions in Central America’s Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala), “Through violence assessment surveys and medical and psychosocial consultations, MSF [Doctors Without Borders] teams have witnessed and documented a pattern of violent displacement, persecution, sexual violence, and forced repatriation akin to the conditions found in the deadliest armed conflicts in the world today.” These are the conditions that the U.S. government has imposed upon millions of people in Latin America.

      The Government of Canada Detains Children Too!

      The government of Canada is no exception when it comes to the criminal treatment of immigrants and refugees, including migrant children. The StarMetro Vancouver compiled data from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and found that on average, 182 children are held in immigration detention in Canada a year. The damaging impacts of detention on children know no borders, and children in detention in Canada experience the same terror and long-term psychological effects as those in the United States.

      When is comes to an understanding of the inhumanity of Canada’s refugee policy, it is important to examine Prime Minister Trudeau’s policy of accepting Syrian refugees in Canada. During the 2015 election campaign, Trudeau made the promise that the government of Canada would sponsor “25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015.” This promise was made at a time when thousands of refugees were drowning in the Mediterranean Sea fleeing imperialist wars and occupations in the Middle East and North Africa. The government of Canada failed to meet this target, while at the same time they also utterly failed at welcoming the refugees as they also promised. Syrian refugees reported trouble with accessing food banks, sub-standard housing and 16-month long wait-lists for federally funded English classes.

      Last year, when U.S. President Trump first instated the outrageous Muslim Ban Liberal Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau was boasting #WelcometoCanada on Twitter. Hypocritically at the same time as this tweet, the government of Canada was decreasing the number of government-assisted refugees it would accept in 2017. As reported by the Canadian Council for Refugees only 7,500 non-Syrian refugees were resettled in Canada at a time when the United Nations Human Rights Commission has called for the urgently needed resettlement of over one-million people. The government of Canada has the moral obligation and responsibility to accept more refugees, from Syria and every other country that Canada has worked to destroy alongside other imperialist governments.

      Another gross example of the criminality of the government of Canada’s immigration policy is the “Safe Third Country Agreement” currently in place between the governments of the U.S. and Canada. According to this agreement, a person making a refugee claim must do so in the first country that they arrive in - whether that be the United States or Canada. Therefore, if a refugee enters through the U.S./ Mexico border, but then travels to Canada before making their claim for asylum, they will be returned to the United States and told to make their claim there. The Safe Third Country Agreement is the treaty that forced refugees and migrants to cross into Canada in the middle of winter, risking their lives and losing limbs, fingers and toes. They have the very real fear that if they cross at an official border crossing and make their claim for asylum, they will be turned back to the United States.

      We encourage people to sign an online petition sponsored by the New Democratic Party (NDP) MP Jenny Kwan, demanding that Canada cancel the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S.

      Sign Here

      Ending the Safe Third Country Agreement is especially important now that the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session has announced that asylum will no longer be given to those migrants fleeing domestic and gang violence.

      This Crisis Facing Humanity is Worldwide

      The reasons that there is an “immigration crisis” in the U.S. are the same reasons why there is a “refugee crisis” in Europe. An unprecedented number of people around the world are fleeing countries that have become unlivable due to wars, occupations and economic devastation wrought on them by the U.S. government and their allies.

      Today there are 68.5million people that have been forcibly displaced around the world. According to the UN Refugee Commission, this is the highest number ever recorded. Over 50% of refugees worldwide (25.4million people as recognized by the United Nations Refugee Agency) come from five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.

      Migrants fleeing the Middle East and North Africa continue to risk their lives crossing the deadly Mediterranean Sea. In 2017, 186,768 refugees arrived in Europe; at least 3,116 were killed on their journey. 200 people were drowned off the shore of Libya in just three days at the end of June 2018. Tens of thousands of people are subject to human trafficking and slavery. As of April 2018, over 56,000 people are left living in limbo in Greece.

      In nearly two years, from October 2015 to December 2017 a shameful 33,154 refugees were relocated by the European Union as hundreds of thousands of people continued their dangerous journey through Europe until they found a country where they could claim asylum or settled in the large slum camps. And this is Europe’s “solution” to the refugee crisis?

      Although government representatives in the European Union and Australia, like those in the U.S., claim that they are facing an unprecedented crisis when it comes to immigrants, migrants and refugees, thirdworld countries continue to bear the brunt of the crisis. 80-90% of refugees fleeing their home countries remain in a country that is neighbouring their own according to the United Nations. For example, one in four people in Lebanon is a refugee, and Turkey is currently home to 3.4million refugees from Syria.

      If colonial or semi-colonial countries like Lebanon and Turkey can accept millions of refugees, then the countries like the United States and Canada have no excuses.

      After 17 years of the new era of war and occupation since September 2001, imperialist wars, occupations, sanctions and all forms of foreign intervention in the Middle East and Africa have brought on the crisis. The imperialist legacy of the dirty wars in Latin America has forced tens of thousand of people to look for a life in the United States. People have been left with no other option than to abandon everything that they have ever known for the possibility of a better future and some sense of security, in another city, country or continent.

      Family Separation is Not New

      Over the last month, the mainstream media in both the U.S. and Canada is reporting on the separation of families and the inhuman treatment of migrants as if the news is a shocking of somehow not representative of “Canadian” or “US” values. However, this is far from the case.

      The governments of the U.S. and Canada are well experienced in family separations, starting with the genocide of millions of indigenous people. Then there are the millions of African children that were ripped from their families and homes as part of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the continued forceful separation of black families within the system of slavery, where children were ripped from their mother’s arms to be sold.

      In Canada, as in the U.S., the use of terror to control Indigenous people and destroy their culture continues to this day. From Residential schools which forced 150,000 children from their families through to today, where 52 percent of children in foster care are Indigenous, although they are only 8% of the Canadian population.

      These are only a few examples, and it is easy to see the legacy of family separation and abuse of children that runs through the very foundations of the U.S. and Canada.

      Open the Borders Now!

      Think about it, in 2017 every two seconds one person around the world had to flee their home in search of somewhere safe to try and build a new life. Such a vast exodus on humanity cannot be contained by walls, or checkpoints, or razor-wire fences and armed guards. The only solution to the crisis of immigrants, migrants and refugees facing the world today is to open the borders and demand imperialists hands off colonial and semicolonial countries.

      Imperialist governments around the world are attempting to use racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia to divide poor, working and oppressed people from immigrants, refugees and migrants. If immigrants are living in fear of a “zero tolerance” policy and family separation or detention, they will be less likely to fight for their human rights.

      More than that, keeping poor, working and oppressed people, including immigrants, divided gives imperialist governments the space that they require to implement the government cut-backs and austerity measures necessary to stave off an economic crisis. This is more easily realized when people are divided, a task that can be accomplished through Xenophobia and Islamophobia.

      This same economic crisis also requires imperialist countries around the world to maintain and expand wars and occupations in the Middle East and Africa, to reach more and more markets. For people living in the Middle East and Africa, this means getting used to living under the new era of war and occupation, a period of perpetual war. Imperialist wars and occupations, combined with the ever-increasing climate crisis, will continue to create millions of migrants willing to risk everything for somewhere to be safe.

      This crisis will not be solved by legalities, because the criminality lies in the actions of imperialist governments themselves. Opening the borders is a short-term solution to the humanitarian crisis facing migrants today. The only long-term solution is to end all imperialist world domination, as well as wars and occupations.

      As a start, Canada should immediately accept 200,000 refugees, and grant them immediate human and legal rights. It is the government of Canada’s obligation to do so.

      Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette

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