In our fake democracy that is actually a dictatorship of the rich, run by and for the rich, some things that are legal are morally wrong, and some things that are illegal are morally right. So the legality or illegality of people crossing U.S. borders to live and work inside the United States tells us absolutely nothing about whether, on the one hand, we should welcome these illegal immigrants or, on the other hand, call for preventing them from entering the United States and call for deporting them if they are already in the United States.
Is illegal immigration a problem for ordinary Americans? Yes, it is. The reason illegal immigration is a problem, however, is not the fault of the personal characteristics of individual immigrants. In fact, the claim by some talk radio hosts and politicians that Hispanic immigrants and their children have particularly high crime rates is just not borne out by the hard data, as discussed in detail here and here. What makes illegal immigration a problem is the fact that it is large numbers of immigrants (not just occasional individuals) coupled with the fact that their language and customs are often different from those of most (not all!) American citizens. The problem, in other words, is MASS migration (as discussed very eloquently here.) Mass migration can create problems such as too many people suddenly needing too few resources: health, education etc. Some of the problems due to mass migration only exist, however, because we live in a dictatorship of the rich. The sudden arrival of people more than willing to work doesn't mean that our capitalist rulers will let them work; if a capitalist can't make a profit by hiring somebody, then they don't hire them. And yes, our capitalist rulers DO use illegal immigrants for super-cheap labor and thereby lower wages for working class American citizens. The question is not whether mass migration does or does not cause any problems for American citizens. The question is, what is the CAUSE of this illegal mass migration?
This mass migration is caused by the billionaire rulers of the world who, when it suits them, ratchet up the oppression in places like Latin America, knowing that it will force large numbers of the poorest people to illegally cross the U.S. border in search of employment. American and Mexican rulers did this, for example, when they implemented NAFTA. The U.S. government subsidized Big Agribusiness so it could dump very cheap corn on the Mexican market, which drove the small Mexican farmers out of business. Additionally, the Mexican rulers removed the part of the Mexican Constitution that gave small farmers rights to their land, and they did not offer alternative jobs to these farmers. The large wave (nearly 2 million people according to CBS Evening News, July 1, 2006) of illegal immigration of Mexicans into the United States was the result. (Read about this in detail here and here and here and here.) American Big Business loved having cheap laborers who were afraid of "rocking the boat" for fear of being deported. American Big Money also loved turning the anger of American workers away from Big Money and instead against illegal immigrants.
In an egalitarian world, where the rich were removed from power and ordinary people ran things on the basis of equality and mutual aid with no rich and no poor, there would no longer be Big Money rulers forcing large numbers of people outside the United States to leave their homes and families looking for work in the United States. This is why the only real solution to the problem of mass migration into the United States is to make the United States and the rest of the world egalitarian.
To implement this solution requires all of the hundreds of millions of Americans (and billions of people in the world) who want an egalitarian world to join in a huge revolutionary movement for that goal. Obviously we should welcome everybody into our movement who agrees with its goal, whether they are in the United States legally or illegally. The very last thing we should do is treat people who agree with our egalitarian aspirations as the enemy on the absurd grounds that the ruling class says their presence on our side of the border is illegal.
As is the case with American citizens, the vast majority of people in mass illegal migrations into the United States are working class people who very much want an egalitarian world. We should treat them as friends, not criminals or foes. We should treat them exactly the same way we treat American citizens. Big Money may declare some of our friends "illegal," but Big Money's law against coming to the United States looking for honest work without the permission of Big Money's fake democracy is a bad law that good people are not bound to respect. It's a bad law because our Big Money rulers who deliberately cause illegal mass migration in the first place only want it to be illegal so they can a) use the threat of deportation to cow the immigrants into obeying employers who pay them very low wages and make them work in poor quality working conditions and b) stigmatize the immigrants as criminals and thereby implement divide-and-conquer of workers in the United States by turning "legal" workers against "illegal" ones.
If an illegal immigrant does something that we consider morally wrong when done by an American citizen (like committing burglary or scabbing on a strike), then and only then should we treat that illegal immigrant as a criminal or foe. The police at U.S. borders who follow orders from America's Big Money rulers to bar illegal immigrants from crossing the border and even to shoot them if they try to cross, and the police who capture illegal immigrants to deport them, are treating our friends as the enemy. This is wrong.
* Some people say:
"Don't call it 'illegal'; call it 'undocumented' immigration instead. It's wrong to say a human being is an 'illegal immigrant' because no human being is illegal."
There are two reasons this article uses "illegal" instead of "undocumented." The first reason is simply to use the phrase that most people have heard so that there won't be any confusion about what we are talking about. The second reason is to take the question of legal versus illegal head on and deal with it explicitly, rather than try to dodge the issue by using the word "undocumented." The people who lead the campaign to deport illegal immigrants base their argument precisely on the fact that these immigrants entered the country illegally. "Why should these people be allowed to break the law?" say the proponents of deporting them. The article on this webpage answers that question head-on without denying that, yes, the law says these immigrants are not allowed to be inside the United States. "So what?" is the best answer, much better than weakly replying, "Well, they're not here illegally; they just don't have documents."
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