FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy

Since Donald Trump took over the White House, many US residents have been repeatedly shocked by the cruelty of his immigration policy.  From the detention of returning relatives at US airports when his Muslim ban was announced to the separation of children from their parents seeking asylum on the southern border, the cries of alarm have finally focused attention on US immigration policies.  As should have been expected, Trump’s supporters have pointed out that his policies are just an extension of those in place since at least 2001.  The acknowledgement of this is supposed to somehow absolve Trump from his harsh enforcement of the policy.  Similar criticism has come from the left, where the point being made is that much of the Democratic Party is also implicit in the atrocity that is US immigration policy.  When all is said and done, the important aspect to this is that many more US citizens are becoming aware of the way Washington’s agencies treats humans crossing US borders and their newfound knowledge is making them angry.

Earlier this year, Verso Books published an important and timely text by journalist Eileen Truax titled We Built the Wall: How the US Keeps Out Asylum Seekers from Mexico, Central America and Beyond.  An immigrant herself, Truax’s narrative tells the stories of individuals and families under threat from police, military and other forces in their home countries and their attempts to gain asylum in he United States.  Simultaneously, she provides a recent history of US immigration policies, a look at who profits from those policies and a hopeful call for a new look at human migration and for more humane policies.  While her focus is on the future, she does not let those in previous administrations off the hook for their complicity.  Reading the book is an emotional roller coaster—at times one feels tears welling up and at other times one works to keep their anger on hold.  Exasperation and determination are two words that come to mind while reading the stories of those hoping for asylum and those aiding them in their quest.

Truax focuses primarily on the stories of a couple families and immigration advocates.  She provides both a history of the families’ interaction with Mexican authorities and those from US immigration agencies.  These stories include murders, threats, inaction by US courts and abuse from US immigration officials.  It is clear that the stories in this book are not unusual when it comes to the lives of asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America.  Truax’s narrative includes unsung heroes and nameless officials “just doing their job.”  It is a job that makes them complicit in a crime against humanity that is far from being maned that by the people who run the world.

We Built the Wall was published before the Trump administration ordered the separation of asylum seeking families at the border and before the repeal of the order allowing women fleeing from abuse to claim asylum.  It was published before various administration officials heard recorded cries of toddlers being ripped from their parents.  It was published before those officials’ response to hearing the recordings rationalized the practice by repeating the mantra “the law is the law.” We Built the Wall was published before news was leaked that the Trump administration intends to have ICE begin removing legal immigrants from the country and just as the private prison industry was given the funding to build five new detention facilities. Still, it is still a blistering indictment of the immigration policies of the United States and an eye-opening testament to its innate cruelty.

A key aspect of the debate on immigration that often seems to be forgotten is that one is talking about human beings. Women, men, children; families, friends and lovers.  Their humanity is no less than that of those debating their future and no more than that of those who wear the uniform of the immigration authorities ushering them through the system.  Truax’s text refuses to let the reader forget this.  Indeed, it is the foundation on which the book is based.  It is this truth that those officials and politicians busy contriving more ways to deny that humanity do not want US residents to consider.

Personal stories of inhumane treatment of individuals by the authorities serve to emphasize the actual barbarism of those authorities. However, they can also disguise the universality of that barbarism. In We Built the Wall, author Truax manages to convey both individual atrocities and the general atrocity of the US immigration control system itself.  In her undertaking, she has provided an important read for those desiring to understand and change that system.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
July 22, 2019
Michael Hudson
U.S. Economic Warfare and Likely Foreign Defenses
Evaggelos Vallianatos
If Japan Continues Slaughtering Whales, Boycott the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Mike Garrity
Emergency Alert For the Wild Rockies
Dean Baker
The U.S.-China Trade War: Will Workers Lose?
Jonah Raskin
Paul Krassner, 1932-2019: American Satirist 
David Swanson
U.S. Troops Back in Saudi Arabia: What Could Go Wrong?
Robert Fisk
American Visitors to the Gestapo Museum Draw Their Own Conclusions
John Feffer
Trump’s Send-Them-Back Doctrine
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
Landscape of Anguish and Palliatives: Predation, Addiction and LOL Emoticons in the Age of Late Stage Capitalism
Karl Grossman
A Farmworkers Bill of Rights
Gary Leupp
Omar and Trump
Robert Koehler
Fighting Climate Change Means Ending War
Susie Day
Mexicans Invade US, Trump Forced to Go Without Toothbrush
Elliot Sperber
Hey Diddle Diddle, Like Nero We Fiddle
Weekend Edition
July 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
The Blob Fought the Squad, and the Squad Won
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
It Was Never Just About the Chat: Ruminations on a Puerto Rican Revolution.
Anthony DiMaggio
System Capture 2020: The Role of the Upper-Class in Shaping Democratic Primary Politics
Andrew Levine
South Carolina Speaks for Whom?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Big Man, Pig Man
Bruce E. Levine
The Groundbreaking Public Health Study That Should Change U.S. Society—But Won’t
Evaggelos Vallianatos
How the Trump Administration is Eviscerating the Federal Government
Pete Dolack
All Seemed Possible When the Sandinistas Took Power 40 years Ago
Ramzy Baroud
Who Killed Oscar and Valeria: The Inconvenient History of the Refugee Crisis
Ron Jacobs
Dancing with Dr. Benway
Joseph Natoli
Gaming the Climate
Marshall Auerback
The Numbers are In, and Trump’s Tax Cuts are a Bust
Louisa Willcox
Wild Thoughts About the Wild Gallatin
Kenn Orphan
Stranger Things, Stranger Times
Mike Garrity
Environmentalists and Wilderness are Not the Timber Industry’s Big Problem
Helen Yaffe
Cuban Workers Celebrate Salary Rise From New Economic Measures
Brian Cloughley
What You Don’t Want to be in Trump’s America
David Underhill
The Inequality of Equal Pay
David Macaray
Adventures in Script-Writing
David Rosen
Say Goodbye to MAD, But Remember the Fight for Free Expression
Nick Pemberton
This Is Heaven!: A Journey to the Pearly Gates with Chuck Mertz
Dan Bacher
Chevron’s Oil Spill Endangers Kern County
J.P. Linstroth
A Racist President and Racial Trauma
Binoy Kampmark
Spying on Julian Assange
Rose Ramirez – Dedrick Asante-Mohammad
A Trump Plan to Throw 50,000 Kids Out of Their Schools
David Bravo
Precinct or Neighborhood? How Barcelona Keeps Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Global Capital
Ralph Nader
Will Any Disgusted Republicans Challenge Trump in the Primaries?
Dave Lindorff
The BS about Medicare-for-All Has to Stop!
Arnold August
Why the Canadian Government is Bullying Venezuela
Tom Clifford
China and the Swine Flu Outbreak
Missy Comley Beattie
Highest Anxiety
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail