The Trump administration’s policies have largely emphasized immigration as an issue that must be dealt with. Whether it’s Muslim immigrants trying to escape terrorism and western imperialism in their own countries, or Central and Southern Americans heading to the United States to escape cartel violence and seek economic opportunity, the Trump administration has stated time and time again that these immigrants are “not good people.”
Trump’s campaign promised a wall that would keep the “criminals” out, and the Muslim ban was pushed to keep “the terrorists” out. But the popularity surrounding Trump’s policies begs the question: How did these policies gain so much support?
A quick answer is simply racism and ignorance, but there’s a lot more too it than that. When we analyze the history of immigration in the U.S., we run into a pattern that has continued to this day. To put it simply, the United States has a history of dehumanizing immigrants as a way to exploit them for cheap labour because employers can view them as lesser peoples, and therefore companies gain access to a type of labor that is becoming harder and harder to find in the western world. The labor is not just cheap, but can be subject to terrible working conditions. The difficulty of immigrants being low-income in conjunction with a need for sustenance in food and shelter creates an exploitable workforce.
Immigration is incredibly difficult with the need to find work when in certain countries. The United States specifically has a thorough and complex immigration policy that can be a hinderance to many trying to immigrate. Because of this issue, many decide to cross the border illegally out of necessity.
Illegal workers can be very exploitable. There is a reason that immigrants find themselves in job positions that are very physically strenuous. The fear of being reported by their superiors and deported because of their undocumented status keeps workers in line without demands for better pay, better hours, or even better working conditions. Whether or not they like what they’re doing, at the end of the day they have to eat. A hard worker takes what they can get and has to live with it. We can see this in many migrants such as Latino farm workers. In some sense it resembles slavery.
America is a country built on the oppression of people considered less than the upper class. Immigrants have always been a large portion of this group. Whether or not we’d like to admit it we all benefit from their struggles. Their hard work has provided the luxuries we take for granted.
It’s important that we recognize and appreciate what we’ve been given. The least we can do is support the immigrants of today, and help them against prejudice and persecution. The working class are our comrades, and we must show solidarity.