The Shutdown: A Trumpian “Cave-In”? Or the Logic Of GENOCIDE!

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There is nothing sacred to us about the USA, as it is presently constituted, or about the borders of the U.S. as they are presently constituted. Quite the opposite.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:20

The shutdown of the government, which erupted over Trump’s proposed wall on the border, has temporarily ended. Democrats and Republicans are negotiating, with Trump set to make the major “State of the Union” speech next week, with a new deadline for a budget deal in mid-February.

The fact that Trump has been forced to end the shutdown and go to negotiations is being hyped as a big cave-in. In fact, while Trump’s particular tactic did not work in the immediate sense—no, he did not get the funding yet—in fact, the whole fascist agenda on immigrants moved forward.

First off, we should be clear: these negotiations are struggle within the ruling class—over how vicious the repression of immigrants should be, how best to carry out this repression, and where this will “fit into” the new social and political “norms” now being fought out. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker and highest-ranking Democrat, has already been giving ground. She has increasingly upped the Democrats’ spending proposals for “border security” (translation: militarization of the border) to match Trump’s. Instead of making a big deal out of how “immoral” the wall would be, she has shifted to focusing her objections on demanding more “evidence-based” measures to carry out this repression.1

Through this struggle, Trump has doubled down on his fascist rhetoric and has continued his threats to use executive power to bypass congressional approval for building the wall, including threats to declare a national emergency, the implications and consequences of which could go beyond the question of immigration. To call this a “cave-in” as many Democrats and their media mouthpieces have done is somewhat mind-boggling.

WHY Is This Even Happening? A System That Sucks Blood All Over the World

In opposing the shutdown, the Democrats directed people's attention away from the refugees now suffering terribly at the U.S.-Mexico border, and away from the millions of immigrants in this country who are now detained or who have to live with the fear of deportation hanging over their heads in an increasingly hostile atmosphere where their humanity is constantly called into question. They train you to think only about the suffering of U.S. citizens—of the federal workers and independent contractors who were left without a means to make a living, of those who are in desperate conditions, of those who are going hungry or are sick, who now face even more hardship because of the shutdown. This suffering is real and criminal, and should be opposed. But the Democrats made a show of doing this to divert people's attention from the crimes this system is committing against immigrants. In doing this, they are training you to think that American lives matter more than other people's lives.

Meanwhile, no one dares ask WHY people come here from all over the world, lest they expose the bloody hands of U.S. imperialism as a driving force in all this. No one dares ask what is the solution to a world where people are driven, by the workings of imperialism, to risk their lives and suffer tremendous hardship, to escape their situations.

This country rests at the top of a system of imperialism. This system has caused 65 million people to flee their homelands because of the ways their societies have been made unlivable by imperialism, whether by economic plunder and disruption, wars for empire, or the accelerating ecological catastrophe. The U.S. has conducted coup after coup, backed brutal dictators, torn apart the social fabric in one country after another, using its military and economic power to intimidate, murder, and sentence to death whole sections of humanity all as part of gaining its riches and maintaining its position at the top of this cutthroat imperialist system. At the same time, this system both has a hunger for immigrant labor while at the same time the growing number of immigrants from oppressed nations has the potential to undermine the core white Christian “identity” of America and the whole feeling of white superiority that has bound the dominant white nationality together since before the founding.

In sum: the U.S. rulers have no real answers to the chaos and suffering they have unleashed, other than more and even worse suffering.

Your Options as Dictated by This System: “Build the Wall and Crime Will Fall” vs. Drones and Sensors

One response to the intensifying refugee crisis is what is represented by Trump and the whole fascist tide we are seeing around the world. Since the start of his campaign to “Make America White Again,” Trump has launched a comprehensive attack on immigrants, making this question a linchpin and a battering ram for advancing the fascist program overall. The fascists in power in this country have made concrete advances in their attacks on immigrants (through policies like the “Muslim Ban” and the ending of TPS2) and are whipping up a fascist base that sees the “browning” of this country as an existential threat to America's existence and its ability to maintain its position at the top. The racist border wall has become a concrete way of enforcing this repressive assault and a symbol for the genocidal program they aim to advance.

On the other side, we have the Democrats who also promote enforcing border security through drones and high-tech sensors. The Democrats unite with the fascists on keeping many immigrants out and more generally maintaining a repressive atmosphere especially among those doing low paid labor, but they want to do this under the radar as they promote a multilateral multiculturalism—they want to accept the “respectable” immigrants (aka those who can be profitably exploited by this system) or who can “contribute” as technicians, managers, scientists, professionals, and capitalists. They also want to maintain the appearance of “enlightenment” they've projected throughout the world. They have a just as bloody a record of draconian assaults on immigrants—just look at the measures passed under Clinton and the Deporter-in-Chief, Obama (see the recent article “How the Democratic Party Has Persecuted and Deported Millions—and Murdered Thousands—with Their ‘Moral’ Immigration Policy”)—but they want to make you think they care about the humanity of immigrants and oppressed people, peddling the lie that they think the wall is immoral to corral your outrage into the dead-end solutions provided by the very same system that got us into this mess.

An Assault on Immigrants with Genocidal Logic

The Democrats have people celebrating a supposed setback for Trump. On one level, it is true that the Trump regime was unable to immediately get its way with the shutdown. But these Democrats hyping up the celebration want you to forget Trump may still declare a state of emergency, push for another shutdown, or figure out other ways to take the offensive.

On a deeper level, Trump actually moved the fascist agenda forward in two important and destructive ways. First, as the accompanying box shows, attacks on immigrants have actually intensified during this period. Second, and even more important, the terms of the debate further shifted in the direction of the fascists. Things have quickly gone from “the wall is immoral” to arguing over whether it’s the most effective, “evidence-based” way, to repress people whom the U.S. itself has reduced to desperate situations and driven out of their countries.

The increased militarization of the border, and the fascist wall in particular, are a way of enforcing the assault on immigrants, forcing them to make even more dangerous crossings through the desert—thousands of people have died in the past 25 years because of the barriers built by the Democrat Clinton and the Republican Bush.

AND the wall is a symbol for the fascist genocidal program. It will stand like the monuments to the slave master generals that were built after the Civil War, a symbol that drove home to Black people their subordinate position. Symbols matter A LOT. Years before the Holocaust, Nazi officials forced Jews to wear the Yellow Star as a prelude to the mass deportations to ghettos and later to the death camps in Eastern Europe. Imagine the opposing section of the German ruling class opposing Hitler's systematic implementation of this symbol on the basis that “we need more evidence-based” ways to control Jews. This is a symbol of further “other-izing” a whole section of the population. Deepening the rift between who is considered human and who is considered dispensable, and—to quote Pat Robertson, a prominent Christian fascist member of the coalition headed by Trump—“a stain upon society.” The terms get set and reset with advances and setbacks along the way, but accepting these terms leads us right into the jaws of fascism.  

We need to break out of these terms and dead-end solutions proffered by this system and its representatives for whom fascism is merely a matter of taste. We need a revolution to overthrow this system, to build a world beyond these blood-soaked borders, where humanity is working together to overcome ALL the oppressive divisions among people. That is the only way to get beyond the system of imperialism which grinds people down all over the planet, driving them from their homelands and forcing them to cross oceans and deserts, risking death to escape the devastation and destruction in their countries even in the “most democratic” of times.


1. While the wall is “immoral,” to put it mildly, it is striking that Pelosi never voiced such reservations when Democratic president Bill Clinton initiated funding for walls and fences on the border, and her fellow leader Schumer had voted for them. [back]

2. TPS, Temporary Protected Status, provides a legal status to immigrants in the U.S. from a small number of designated countries who are deemed unable to safely return to their homelands because of natural disasters or armed conflicts. TPS temporarily protects people from deportation even though they lack legal status as permanent residents, and enables them to obtain work permits. [back]

Lost In The Hype: What Is REALLY Happening to Immigrants in the USA

Lost in the hype about Trump’s supposed cave-in to Pelosi, lost even in the exposure of how the shutdown messed over government workers and masses of people more broadly, is the basic reality of one group of people: the immigrants themselves, driven from their homelands by the workings of this system and the policies of the U.S. rulers, with thousands now languishing at the U.S.-Mexico border, tens of thousands in detention, and millions living in the shadows and demonized.

While this struggle has been going on—and while the Democrats have directed people’s attention elsewhere, to what is being done to Americans (which is, to be clear, in many instances itself extremely unjust), they have not exposed what continues to be done to immigrants, during this shutdown.

  • The regime has targeted various political leaders, including securing a conviction against immigrant's rights advocates for leaving water in the desert for people crossing the border.
  • ICE expanded their definition of “criminal alien” to include immigrants who have traffic tickets.
  • ICE dramatically increased workplace raids in 2018—beginning by targeting 7-11 stores across the country. This includes the largest workplace raid of the year where 300 agents from across the South stormed a trailer manufacturer facility with weapons drawn in Texas and arrested 160 people. In 2018, the number of workers arrested increased by 800%; of employers, 82%.
  • Last week a “pilot” program was announced declaring that in California asylum-seekers will be returned to Mexico to await their eventual hearings before an immigration judge, implying that people who are already in the U.S. awaiting hearings will be sent to Mexico. People will have to find a way to survive in dangerous border towns, where smugglers cruise the shelters, offering to get people across the border undetected through even more dangerous routes for a price that is increasignly skyrocketing. This pilot program is expected to expand to other states as well.
  • 98% of the applications to waive the Muslim ban due to “undue hardship,” are denied, including for situations like that of a seven-year-old Somali boy who was prevented from reuniting with his mother after his father died.
  • Two children died in the custody of Border Patrol: an eight-year-old migrant boy from Guatemala—Felipe Alonzo-Gomez and Jakelin Maquin, seven years old, died waiting for medical care.

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