Originally published in Liberation Newspaper, October 2015.
Statement from the La Riva/Puryear campaign
The La Riva/Puryear 2016 Presidential Campaign stands for the full equality and complete legalization of all immigrants in the United States. We oppose border militarization, as well as the racist criminalization and scapegoating of one of the most vulnerable sectors of the working class.
With respect to the current refugee crisis, we would vastly increase the number of refugees admitted from Syria and other war-torn areas into the United States. That number is shamefully low, given the special responsibility the U.S. government has for instigating the crisis, and the current process is far too slow (requiring approximately 18 months of vetting). In reality, the refugees should be given flights to countries of their choosing rather than forced to make perilous journeys with smugglers and in overcrowded rafts.
We demand aid be vastly increased to the refugees and to the countries who have received them. This is not just humanitarianism—as if the U.S. were a neutral and benevolent actor—but should be the first step in a comprehensive reparations program to the countries that have been exploited, pillaged and invaded over more than a century of U.S. imperialism.
But the number one way to resolve the refugee crisis in Syria is to end the regime change efforts and respect Syrian self-determination.
Our campaign condemns the overt and covert war against the Syrian government, which has devastated a nation that used to take in millions of refugees from around the region.
We call for the end of all the ongoing U.S. wars and interventions and the closure of U.S. military bases around the world. We demand that all the troops be brought home and the $1 trillion military budget be used to provide for people’s needs here and around the world.
Capitalist hypocrisy on borders
Today, the ruling classes of Europe and the United States a rewhipping up anti-immigrant sentiment, combined with repressive policies and blatant discrimination. The EU, which for decades bragged of its open movement, is now throwing up border fences. Democratic and Republican leaders say they will further militarize the U.S.-Mexico border, potentially building a wall.
Using virulent racism, far-right politicians worldwide are warning of the collapse of their national identity, if not “Western civilization” as a whole. They are preying on the economic and social insecurities that their global economic system has produced.
While the capitalists tighten borders when it comes to human beings, they pass “free trade” agreements that allow their banks and corporations to freely cross in pursuit of profit. They have privatized and destabilized existing economic structures, stripping untold numbers of their livelihoods.
The U.S. and leading EU militaries routinely cross borders to bomb and attack sovereign countries throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
When we demand full rights for all immigrants, and allowing in refugees, we are accused of being unrealistic, of wanting “open borders.” In reality, the corporations have already created open borders for themselves. They criminalize human beings who cross borders, fleeing the very conditions capitalism has created.
There are 60 million displaced people in the world, forced to leave their homelands for fear of violence. This is in addition to the 232 million migrants worldwide. The vast majority of immigrants to the United States and Europe arrive from formerly colonized nations. Their experience, too, is largely one of “forced migration,” of an economic type, a choice made from the absence of choices. Most immigrants, like refugees, want nothing more than to be back home.
Working-class internationalism is key
The poor and oppressed people who are forced to migrate—for whatever reason—did not create this world of violence, oppression and exploitation. They are its victims, who are doing what anyone would do when facing a dangerous or insecure future for their families. They are our brothers and sisters.
The Communist Manifesto’s slogan of “Workers of the world, unite!” was not just stated as a lofty idea. It was raised because at the time of its writing workers of different nations of Europe were being taught to think of each other as enemies and then sent to kill each other in wars that only benefited their ruling classes. Working-class internationalism offered a vision and a program to end the nationalist hatred and the constant bloodshed.
We stand in solidarity with the refugees and the millions who are greeting them in train stations and in the streets of Europe with banners saying “Refugees welcome!” In the best traditions of international solidarity, they are rejecting the anti-immigrant tide and opening up their homes, schools and communities to the new arrivals—with or without government support.
The truth is poor and working people have far more in common with each other than we do with the capitalist rulers of our own countries.
We reject the false argument that refugees and migrants threaten the living standards of the countries to which they arrive. The banks and corporations have reaped billions from our collective labor and the super-exploitation of Asia, Africa and Latin America. A revolutionary struggle for power can redirect this wealth to the benefit of all. There are more than enough resources to go around, to provide every human being with food, clean water, clothing, shelter, education and health care.