IWL Declaration on the Situation of Latin American Migrants
Stop the repression of immigrants in the United States!
For an immediate halt to the deportations!
For the Mexican government to stop its repressive policies against Central American migrants!
The crisis of the Central American migrants trying to reach the United States has exploded in the news in recent months, especially over the tragedy of the unaccompanied children that are being detained in the U.S. and that are in the process of being deported.
While immigration is already part of the lives of millions of families from Mexico and Central America, especially Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the number of migrant children accompanied by an adult has increased considerably. From October 2013 to now, there have been more than 58,000 children deported, and the prognosis is that it will reach 70,000 by the of the year. This number is 60% more than the previous year, and when compared to previous years it grew more than 100%.
But what is striking is not only the number of children, but the conditions they face when being caught on U.S. soil: thousands sleep on the floor, inside cages. There are also reports of children who do not receive legal aid to face deportation proceedings, while others have been subjected to ill-treatment by border agents. Should children have family in the U.S., they should be reunited with their family before facing deportation proceedings, which does not always happen.
Barack Obama characterized the situation as a ‘humanitarian crisis’. The Central American presidents and other officials, including Pope Francisco, join him in this discourse. Many present poverty and violence that these children face in their countries of origin as the causes of this crisis. What they do not say is that the one responsible for this situation is U.S. imperialism, along with the submissive complicity of local governments.
Semi-colonies of U.S. Imperialism
The situation that Latin American and Mesoamerican countries live is mainly a result of the policy of colonization of the region by U.S. imperialism. The looting carried out by the United States through free trade agreements, foreign debts, the “Free Zones”, & their security policies are largely responsible for the poverty and violence that exists in these countries.
With the approval of the FTAs, countries in Latin America, especially the weakest like Central America, import much more products which, besides meaning a blow to the domestic industry itself, generates more fiscal deficits in all of them. One of the most serious consequences of these imports is the crisis of agricultural production in Central America that has failed to meet the lower prices of imported food, which generates the abandonment of fields and increased migration to Central America.
By using Free Zones, transnational firms pay wages far below what the workers in the country of their headquarters are paid. They are exempt from paying taxes on imports, exports and services, and thus generate huge losses in revenue for the host countries. To top it off, they close their doors when they see fit to move to another country where they can better exploit workers and increase their profits.
Another clear expression of the dependence is the external debt reaching about one third of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the Central American countries. The debts and their interests do not stop growing, and these countries become increasingly dependent on foreign capital.
Poverty, Violence, and Migration
Poverty is the other side of the coin. In Central America, there are 26.5 million people living in poverty, of which 15% are in extreme poverty. The poorest country in the region is Honduras, with 65% of its population in that condition. It is followed by Guatemala and El Salvador, where half the population is poor. In Mexico it is 45.5%.
In the case of Honduras, this year’s poverty was made worse by the drought in Central America. The region supplies 60% of domestic demand for grain in the country and it has lost half of the crops and the entire south. The government, in its policy of submission to imperialism primarily through FTAs, opened the market, and this led to the ruin of small producers. Furthermore, the government has not invested in infrastructure projects such as irrigation.
Because they are on the drug trafficking route to the United States, Mexico and Central America have high rates of violence. The northern triangle of Central America, consisting of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, is the most violent region in the world, totaling 14,989 homicides in 2013. Honduras is considered the most violent country in the world, with 90.4 homicides per 100 thousand inhabitants. El Salvador and Guatemala have an average of 40 homicides per 100 thousand inhabitants.
Looking to escape poverty and violence, millions of Central Americans have already emigrated. 1.5 million Guatemalans live abroad, of which 1.3 million are in the USA. In the case of Salvadorians, there are almost 3 million living abroad, of which about 2.7 million are located in the USA. It is noteworthy to point out that in El Salvador there are 6.2 million people living there, or which means that one third of Salvadoreans live outside the country. Just over 1 million Hondurans live in the USA, but there are whole villages in Honduras that have migrated to escape poverty and now the trend is for an increase of the exodus from the most violent cities, such as San Pedro Sula. Mexicans are the majority of immigrants in the United States, reaching 11.4 million. A huge sector of these Latin American immigrants in the United States are undocumented.
Those who migrate do so to ensure the survival of their families that are left behind in the countries of origin, and thus makes dollar remittances an important contribution to the local economy. They represent more than 15% of the GDP in El Salvador and Honduras, and 10% in Guatemala. In Mexico, despite being the number one recipient of remittances in Latin America, only 2% of GDP are remittances.
The large number of children who migrate do so due to the conditions of women workers, who are the most over-exploited sector- both among the working class of their countries and among undocumented migrants living in the United States. From October 2013 to the present, some 39,000 migrant mothers have been captured with their children, many of them pregnant. Many unaccompanied children migrating try to meet their mothers who working undocumented in the U.S.
This sector is the most vulnerable to violence in the path of migration. Along the way, many of these women and infants are victims of sexual violence, organ trafficking and labor exploitation of all kinds, especially forced prostitution and trafficking abuse. According to civil society organizations in the USA, recent data shows that 80% of girls who immigrate from Central America that are unaccompanied suffer from sexual abuse on their way to the USA.
Migration to the U.S. and Deportations
In the United States, of the 21 million immigrants from Latin America, its calculated that 54.2% come from Mexico and 14.4% from Central America. Today, more than 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the country which contains over 40 million people. Of these, 1 million are children. The United States deported a total of 368,644 people in 2013. The majority were deported to Mexico.
The 200,000 immigrants who cross Mexico each year in route to the United States face situations such as kidnapping, rape, extortion, human trafficking, murder, without the same Mexican government intervening on their behalf. Actually, the Mexican government continues the same logic of the American government and deports thousands of immigrants from their country on their way to America. From January to March 2014, Mexico deported 21,366 Central Americans. In 2013, it was 77,756. This also means the Mexican government deports the migrant children. From 2008 to 2014 so far, Mexico has deported more than 40,000 children, 26,000 of them unaccompanied. Many migrants end up staying in this country, where they suffer labor exploitation and other worst violations often. Like Mexicans in the United States!
Barack Obama has made Congress a request for 3.7 billion dollars to supposedly alleviate the situation. However, this allocation will be dedicated mostly to more investment in security, that is, more repression, which goes in the opposite direction to resolve the situation created by the massive migration.
The fate of these resources clearly demonstrates these policies. Of that figure, 200 million will be allocated to programs of “social development and security” in Mexico and Central America. Everything else will be used to accelerate the deportation hearings, build more detention centers for immigrant families, increase border enforcement (divided between the Departments of State, Safety, Health, Justice and Human Services).
The Obama administration has broken records for deporting immigrants, about two million since 2009. Some migrants are deported just arriving in the country, being caught by the Border Patrol. Others are deported after years or decades of living without papers. Obama’s policy with the Deferred Action Program (2012) was limited to a moratorium to stop deportations of immigrants up to 31 years of age, who entered the country before 2007 as children.
Here, the policy of the Obama administration is no different from the various governments of American imperialism. The brutal repression of immigrants is a policy that uses immigration to overwork immigrants, mainly Latino workers but also to native workers.
At different periods, imperialism encouraged immigration from Latin American countries to the United States. These workers are critical to take unskilled jobs, such as construction, cleaning, farm work, home, waiters etc. Imperialism needs, especially now, labor living under a condition of overexploitation to maintain levels of accumulation, surplus, and profits of the American bourgeoisie. Furthermore, immigrants, mainly undocumented, meet another role: as they are forced to accept any job and earn less than legalized workers, and end up pushing wages of American workers down.
The repression of immigrants and deportations are a way to prevent migration from becoming uncontrollable. Moreover, the ongoing terror against the undocumented, functions as a form of social repression. It ensures that migrants accept the system, thus suffering overexploitation. For this reason, Obama does not approve a law to legalize the status of millions of undocumented workers, because it would mean giving them basic rights (minimum wage, social security and others) which would represent for imperialism a huge expense the bourgeoisie are not willing to cover.
In this context, Obama tries to expedite the deportation of children and young people, changing a 2008 law banning the immediate deportation of immigrants from countries not bordering USA. They must go through the due process of deportation. Democrats are against it, while Republicans demand it as a condition of approving the request of millions by the president. While Obama presents his populist policies like the current immigration reform bill, the Democrats and Republicans accuse each other of the current situation. Meanwhile, immigrants are still being deported, and those who remain, remain without rights to legalization.
The governments of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have already requested support from the United States and Mexico and held meetings with Obama. They discuss the creation of a regional plan in order to reduce the migration of children. This plan is limited to increase border control and develop a campaign of “conviction” of children and young people not to migrate.
The United States government also argues that, to avoid migration, it is necessary to further promote investment and job creation in the Central American countries with market-opening measures or borrowing. All governments in the region are implementing these policies, as is the case in FOMILENIO in El Salvador, Ciudades Modelo in Honduras and the policy of agro-businesses in all these countries. However, experience has shown that these policies further worsen the situation and exacerbate the conditions that make thousands of Central Americans migrating continue.
The security problem is also presented. The president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, said a regional initiative based on the experience of Plan Colombia to eradicate organized crime, drug trafficking and violence is necessary. That is, the output would be the further militarization and repression of these countries that they are already subjected to.
The government of Mexico, with its president Enrique Peña Nieto, also takes the lead in this policy by stating that the “solution” is to increase the control of its borders in the south to prevent immigrants from entering this country and hence , take the route to USA. The Southern Frontier Program supported the president of Guatemala, Otto Pérez.
The strict and repressive immigration policy is not going to stop the migration of thousands of children and young people from Mexico and Central America. They do not leave their countries by choice, but because of everyday situation of fleeing violence and poverty. Many who currently migrate go to find their families in the United States who, after time there, are able to bring their children by paying thousands of dollars to smugglers (coyotes) to take them to the border.
Let’s Fight for the Defense of Immigrants
Mainstream media only focus on the phenomenon of migration and give it a name of humanitarian crisis, indeed it is, but this is the logical consequence of the deplorable living conditions affecting our population, imposed by capitalist exploitation which aims to ensure increase the profits of transnational capital and the native bourgeoisie.
The unity of all Central American, Mexican and U.S. workers in defense of immigrants is required. We demand the government of the United States to stop the deportations and repression of undocumented immigrants, especially children who come unaccompanied, that they be released and delivered to their families. We demand that all undocumented immigrants be legalized immediately, and that all are entitled to documentation.
We also demand the Mexican government ensure passage and the safety of migrants from its southern border to the northern border, without the requiring passport from their country of origin or Mexican visa to stay in its territory.
The solution to the problem of immigration begins with the liberation of Latin American countries from the hold of U.S. imperialism and exploitation, which subjugates our people. That means, among other things, that our countries begin by refusing to pay foreign debts, break free trade treaties, abolish the zones and invest the resources generated by these measures to invest in jobs, health care and education. This is the first essential step, as the LIT-CI, we affirm that the problem of forced migrations can only be ultimately resolved when there are no borders between countries, when free movement of workers and when all peoples can live in a society without exploited and exploiters, i.e. a global socialist society.
- No to deportations!
- No repression, detention, imprisonment and ill-treatment of immigrants!
- That children are released and handed over to their families!
- Immediate legalization for all immigrants in United States! Papers (Documentation) for all!
- No to repressive laws against immigrants and no to Obama’s immigration “reform” bill!
- Down the wall of shame and all repressive actions on the border!
- End of NAFTA, CAFTA and all free trade zones/agreements! No to paying the debt!
- That the Mexican Government guarantee the passage and the safety of migrants from its southern border to the northern border!
Workers’ Socialist Party – Honduras
United Socialist Workers – El Salvador
Workers’ Party – Costa Rica
Socialist Workers – Mexico group
Workers’ Voice – United States
League of Workers for Socialism – Panama
Sections of the International Workers’ League- Fourth International (LIT-CI) in Mesoamerica and United States.