Thursday, July 05, 2018

Socialism And Immigration Don't Mix


Counterpunch |  Socialists of different varieties have been debating immigration for a long time. Some socialists argue that immigrants bring down wages and weaken the welfare state because they raise the costs of keeping it intact. Critics think that this is just an electoral strategy, but there may be some political philosophy beyond the left’s immigration skepticism. Karl Marx himself argued that immigrants would be used to separate the working class in two camps. That being said, there are other socialists who insist that class solidarity extends beyond borders. Socialists have been inconsistent on immigration throughout history, and the debate still isn’t settled.

The recent separation of over 2,000 immigrant kids from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border energized massive protests around America, which eventually pressured President Trump to put an end to the policy of family separation. Though it’s still unclear what will happen to the immigrant families that are already separated, some left-wing activists argue this shows why Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be abolished. But Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the most prominent members of the American left, surprised many when he dodged the question of abolishing ICE in an interview with Jake Tapper.

This is not the first time that Sanders hasn’t sounded as radical as expected on the issue of immigration. In an interview in 2015 he called open borders a “Koch Brothers idea.” Open borders is supporting the free movement of people between countries, an idea that many libertarians support—and yes, this does include some people working at foundations funded by the libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch. The libertarian argument is that open immigration would boost the economy and that states don’t have the authority to decide where a human being can live. Sanders resisted this line of thinking, and argued that immigration would bring wages down—an argument many socialists make, and not only in America.

But that doesn’t mean all socialists in America have the same position on immigration. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the young woman of Puerto Rican descent who just defeated Joseph Crowley in the recent Democratic primaries for Congress, supports abolishing ICE. Ocasio-Cortez identifies as a socialist and is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Unlike other leftist organizations, DSA is strikingly pro-immigrant.