On Oct. 12, dozens of folks gathered at Larsen Field in San Diego to protest the 25th anniversary of Operation Gatekeeper. Present were organizers from Unión del Barrio, Anakbayan, Brown Berets de Aztlán, ANSWER Coalition, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, among others.
U.S. Border Patrol implemented Operation Gatekeeper during Bill Clinton’s presidential administration. The measure militarized and increased surveillance of the border. This was done in preparation for the increased migrations that would follow NAFTA’s implementation. NAFTA’s neoliberal policies decimated the rights of the Mexican working class in favor of multinational capital, causing tens of thousands to flee their homeland.
Since Operation Gatekeeper began, over 8,000 people have died while trying to cross the border. Thousands more are still missing. At the rally there were 25 signs that listed the death toll of each year so far. Protesters also brought cardboard cutouts to mourn children who have died in ICE custody.
U.S. imperialist policies do not affect only a select group of people. As Nika Chinarath of Anakbayan stated: “In 2019 alone, more than 4.7 billion U.S. tax dollars have been funneled into heavily militarizing the U.S. border. Yet, they supposedly do not have the funds to maintain our crumbling infrastructure.”
After the rally portion, the demonstrators marched throughout the surrounding neighborhood in San Ysidro. Protesters chanted names of those killed by the policies of Operation Gatekeeper. A united shout of “¡Presente!” followed each name.
It is clear that all workers — undocumented, residents, and citizens alike — share struggles that are inextricably linked. This rings true from the U.S. to Mexico, the Philippines, and beyond. We must stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable sections of the working class in order to advance the struggle for a better world, a world free of violent borders and concentration camps.