As difficult as it may have been for my German immigrant ancestors, who came to the United States in the 1830s and 1840s, and my Polish immigrant ancestors, who left Eastern Europe in the 1870s and 1880s, they had one “privilege” no migrant laborer has today. Yes, they faced xenophobia, exploitative employers, dislocation and poverty, but unlike today’s migrants they never had to face a police state. Until 1924, the United States had “open borders,” at least for immigrants from Europe. None of my ancestors had to worry about being arrested and sent back to the Kingdom of Prussia or the Russian Empire. It’s much different today.
The Vietnamese woman who texted her mother as the refrigerated container carrying her and 38 others ran out of air had been deported from Britain days earlier and was trying to return, her family claimed today.
Pham Tra My, 26, has not been in contact with anyone back home after sending a final horrifying message as she crossed from Zeebrugge, Belgium, to Purfleet, Essex, saying: ‘I can’t breathe. Mum, I’m very sorry.’
She was trafficked to Britain for £30,000 after her parents, who earn around £300-a-month, had the debt added to their mortgage – and now her brother has claimed that her fateful journey across the North Sea was her second crossing.
Pham Tra My was buried alive, buried alive by our stupid, cruel immigration system, and by “our” I mean “the Global North,” North America and Western Europe. There are people, including, sadly, some leftists who might argue that Pham Tra My’s death is an argument against immigration, for “borders.” It’s nothing of the sort. If you’re a capitalist, unless the United States government has decided that you are part of the “Axis of Evil,” you can pretty much do business in any country you please. In fact, right wing American politicians like Scott Walker might even bribe you to come to the United States. That Ford you bought last year. It was only assembled in the United States. Most of the parts were made in Mexico and China.
Essentially, there are no restrictions on capital moving across borders. So why should there be restrictions on labor moving across borders? Let’s not kid ourselves. If capitalism is international, labor will not only move across borders, it will be PUSHED across borders. Those Central American migrants Trump’s base is up in arms about are only trying to get into the United States because the Reagan Administration waged a terrorist war against the Sandinistas in the 1980s and set up death squads in El Salvador (which eventually were transformed into violent criminal gangs). Those Vietnamese immigrants who died in the United Kingdom only came to Western Europe because the French and American empires waged a genocidal war against Vietnam for decades.
So we need open borders. If you’re a leftist or a liberal it’s the only humane position you can take. And if you’re a conservative, if you’re a white American screeching about “obeying the law,” spare me. Your ancestors, like mine, not only had the “privilege” of open borders, they came to steal land from the people who were already here. If you’re really concerned about “the law” go back to Southern Italy or Scandinavia or whatever European shithole your people came from. Who knows, you might even get free healthcare.