Against the Officially Sponsored Xenophobic Attacks:
to Defend Immigrants!
Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants –
Asylum for Refugees!
Break with All Bourgeois
Parties and Politicians!
Forge a Revolutionary
NOVEMBER 24 – After traveling 3,000 miles from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to Tijuana, the first members of the Central American caravan arrived at Mexico’s northern border. At present there are more than 5,000 migrants in the city, and another 2,000 are expected soon. That that does not end the exhausting pilgrimage they undertook in order to flee the endless poverty and violence of their homelands. Now they confront a wall fortified with concertina wire and patrolled by 8,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army and National Guard, with orders to “shoot to kill” to prevent them from setting foot in the U.S. On the Mexican side of the border, they face the threat of attacks by xenophobic mobs egged on by Tijuana authorities and whipped up by the media, along with raids by municipal police and agents of the National Immigration Institute (INM, disparaging referred to, as is the I.C.E. immigration police in the U.S., as la migra).
A week before the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (universally known by his initials, AMLO) takes office, many (including in the Mexican left) have placed their hopes in this bourgeois populist politician. They are mistaken. AMLO and his National Regeneration Movement (Morena) are by no means the friends of migrants. As a speaker of the Grupo Internacionalista noted, “AMLO has said over and over that he won’t clash with Trump over the question of immigrants” (see our article, “The Caravan of the Dispossessed,” The Internationalist No. 53, September-October 2018). Now we have concrete proof: today a spokesman for the White House announced that the administration of Donald Trump and the incoming Mexican government have agreed that anyone seeking asylum in the United States must remain in Mexico until a court issues a ruling on their asylum request.
Tomorrow’s Washington Post (25 November) quotes the statement by Mexico’s incoming interior secretary (equivalent to the U.S. attorney general) Olga Sánchez Cordero that “we have agreed to this policy of Remain in Mexico” as a “short-term solution.” Sánchez’ subsequent non-denial denial in no way refutes this information, only denying that there is a formal agreement and that she had accepted that Mexico would be a “secure third country” – meaning that no request for asylum in the U.S. would be accepted – a proposal by Trump that even outgoing Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto resisted. The plan was reportedly worked out in a meeting between Mexico’s incoming foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard and his U.S. counterpart, Mike Pompeo. What was agreed to, if not (yet) formalized, is that Mexico will serve as a holding pen for refugees requesting asylum, and that AMLO’s government will act as Trump’s border patrol.
According to the New York Times (25 November), “because of the backlog in the immigration courts – about a million cases – these individuals would most likely wait for years in Mexico.” Thus Mexico, a semi-colonial country, will be – even more than it already is – a border retaining wall to impede immigrants from Central and South America, as well as Africa, from entering the imperialist colossus of the north. These are the bitter fruits that the opportunist leftists who greeted AMLO’s victory are harvesting. The Grupo Internacionalista in Mexico and the Internationalist Group in the United States, sections of the League for the Fourth International, call, as an elementary act of international workers solidarity, to let them in and for full citizenship rights for all immigrants (both in Mexico and the U.S.).
Meanwhile, on the night of November 14-15, a mob of enraged residents of the beach community of Playas de Tijuana set upon a group of migrants camped out around the lighthouse. With shouts, threats and blows, the residents of this well-to-do Tijuana neighborhood spewed out their bourgeois hatred against the marchers. They demanded that the municipal police and the Grupo Beta (riot squad) of the infamous Mexican migra evict the Central American immigrants from “their” city, that they be arrested and deportation proceedings against them begun. The following afternoon, in a TV interview that was broadcast nationwide, the mayor of Tijuana, Juan Manuel Gastélum, of the PAN (the rightist National Action Party) clearly expressed the xenophobic sentiment of the local ruling class: “We want Article 33 of the Constitution applied to them [the migrants]” – in other words that they be peremptorily expelled from the country.
The filthy mayor labeled the members of the caravan a “horde,” and suggested that they have no rights at all, because “human rights are for upright humans” (La Jornada, 16 November). Gastélum’s remarks were in the same vein as the statement in the fall of 2016 by the racist and xenophobic senator Marco Antonio Blásquez of the PT (Labor Party), an ally of president-elect López Obrador, that the hundreds of Haitian migrants blocked at the border should be thrown out of Tijuana and Mexicali, calling on then-president Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) to “clear out the areas and localities” that had been “invaded by migrants who are completely alien and, as we have seen, don’t even try to integrate themselves into our community.” At that time, the Grupo Internacionalista organized a tri-national protest – in the United States, Mexico and Brazil – calling to “let them in” and denouncing any deportations.
The height of the hostility faced by the Central American marchers in Tijuana came on November 18 when a demonstration called by the immigrant-bashers at the statue of Cuauhtémoc in the center of Tijuana decided to march on the Benito Juárez refuge to throw out the migrants on their own. These threats must be stopped cold. We must sweep away the racist and xenophobic scum whipped up by the Mexican bosses! Meanwhile, the mayor keeps threatening the immigrants. Just yesterday he suggested that he would not “spend the money of the people of Tijuana” to attend to the migrants, and declared a “humanitarian crisis.” At the same time, local officials announced that 108 Central American migrants had been arrested for “administrative infractions” (including for “causing disturbances” when they defended themselves against attack), and hence would face deportation proceedings.
One of those detained was Víctor Mejía, a correspondent of Izquierda Diario, an internet outlet affiliated with Left Voice in the U.S. Mejía was arrested in the early morning hours of November 21 as he was covering the arrival of buses at the Benito Juárez refuge. After being held incommunicado, he was sent to the migra offices in Mexico City. Today, Mejía is being held by the INM in Chiapas, soon to be deported. Yesterday, in a protest demonstration called by the Movimiento de Trabajadores Socialistas (MTS), our comrades of the Grupo Internacionalista carried placards demanding that Víctor Mejía and all the detained immigrants be released.
It is the duty of Mexican working people to use our social power in defense of our working-class sisters and brothers from Central America. In the face of the threat of deadly violence whipped up by the Baja California bourgeoisie and spearheaded by fascistic elements, what is needed are workers defense guards of defenders of democratic rights to protect the immigrant shelters and massive workers mobilization to crush the attackers. Teachers, telephone workers, agricultural laborers and the hundreds of thousands of workers in the enormous area of maquiladora (free trade zone) factories should organize to repulse the attack orchestrated by the bosses who exploit them every day and repress them when they dare to resist.
Internationalist Group at solidarity demo in San Ysidro at the Mexican border, November 25, called for workers action to smash the deportation machine of Democrats and Republicans.
The working class is a single international class. The migrants, as they themselves put it, are not criminals but international workers. The caravans of the dispossessed keep on forming, day after day, with the intent of marching to Mexico and on to the United States. This enormous human tragedy cries out for the working people of Mexico and the U.S. to mobilize in defense of those who have nothing and who are flocking to an exodus leading them right up to the barriers imposed by the Mexican bourgeoisie and their imperialist masters. To organize the defense of the immigrants against the racist violence, what is needed is a revolutionary, internationalist leadership of the working class, capable of combatting the poison of bourgeois nationalism and the scourges that go with it. What’s needed, in short, is a revolutionary workers party which acts as a tribune of the people, organizing the defense of all the oppressed, and which unites the struggles of the working people across national borders with the perspective of international socialist revolution. ■