Borders are a Weapon of Mass Destruction

The more things change the more they stay the same. The only place where that seems more true than Washington is at the border. Obama and Biden built the camps. Trump filled the camps. And Biden is building more as thousands of desperate people are racing to overcrowd them. After another election season of empty Democratic promises, we were all told that things would be different now. Joe Biden had somehow miraculously evolved in his old age into a kinder, gentler, racist neoliberal sack of shit. Wokeness was supposed to be a symptom of his dementia. But as the migrants came, one promise after another fell to shit. 72-hour detentions swelled to 177 and counting. Closing the private prison pipeline included everything but ICE’s notorious private immigration detention centers. And Trump-era concentration camps like Corizo Springs opened back up for business. Even now, we’re told reforms are on their way. But we were told this back when it counted and now we’re being told this again as the number of refugees rises and FEMA moves to reenact Hurricane Katrina at a sports venue near you.

They call this a crisis at the border, but the border is the crisis. Ever since Bill Clinton moved to militarize this country’s massive federally centralized border back in 1994, we’ve been violating migrant rights as if it were a competitive sport. Building bigger and bigger prisons and meaner and meaner posses of Border Patrol thugs whose authority stretched deeper and deeper into the heartland. All for a senseless war on the crime of crossing an invisible line scribbled by conquistadors and other assorted savages in the desert centuries ago. Borders, especially big borders, are nothing but another excuse to give the state unspeakable powers to do unspeakable things to desperate people. Fuck all of them. They all make me fucking sick.

My violent allergy to borders is more than just a side effect of my anarchism. It runs in my veins as an Irish Catholic daughter of renegade stock. There was a time when this awful country at least had relatively open borders. When they welcomed your poor, your tired, your sick… My ancestors were all of the above, fleeing for their lives from an English-enforced starvation genocide straight out of Madeline Albright’s wet dream journal called the Irish Potato Famine. In fact, if it wasn’t for the lax border politics of 19th Century America, there is a very real possibility that I wouldn’t even exist to bitch at you today. Millions more would have starved in the Crown’s final solution to their long Irish problem. So Morrigan help me, this issue is more than a little personal. Just add a history of child abuse and stir and you get one pissed-off tranny who sees herself in the thousand-yard stare of every hungry five-year-old confined in one of Mr. Biden’s fabulous decorated new cages. I get sick headaches just writing about it. But my Irish heritage includes another very different border crisis that I believe shines a light on not only the famines, but the bitter-sweet policies that saved us from them, and the very nature of mass immigration laws themselves.

The Kingdom’s putsch to liquidate Irish Catholics may have reached its gruesome apex in the 1800s but it began to take its hideous shape centuries earlier in the 1600s when England began to flood Northern Ireland with desperate farmers from the Scottish Lowlands and Northern England. They pit us against our Celtic brethren, survivors of English brutality themselves, by stripping all Catholics of their land rights and awarding huge swaths of property to the Anglican planters in what became known as the Plantation of Ulster. America, always the attentive royal sibling, largely mimicked this sick genocide-by-other-poor-people when they offered many of the same Scotch-Irish refugee’s similar promises of free land and bounty as long as they agreed to help wipe out the Indians of the Wild West. Ironically, many of today’s loudest white border warriors are Scotch-Irish descendants blubbering about being victims of a brown wave sent to erase whiteness. It might actually be a clever conspiracy theory if our current borders were anything resembling open.

My point here is that borders and immigration have and will always be weapons against the poor on both sides of the invisible lines as long as they are controlled by huge centralized states with huge centralized ambitions. The only reason why my ancestors were let in alongside our regional tormentors was that this state needed us to tame the West before the railroads could rip through our homesteads like border walls do to ranches today. And the only reason why thousands of desperate people are still flocking to our borders in throngs faster than we can abuse them is because of one big lie told by two big parties for two very different reasons. The lie that the Democrats have ever been for open borders was perpetuated by Republicans to terrify white people into voting against them, and it was also gently peddled by Democrats so they could secure the Latino vote. The current crisis at the border is just blowback from the same imperial games these scumfucks have been playing for centuries, and we are all just pawns on their haunted chessboard.

So how do we fight the scourge of big borders aside from the pipe dream of overthrowing the state itself. The best tactic I’ve seen lately that could potentially affect an essentially open border scenario comes from the rise in sanctuary politics. Whole states have embraced decentralized resistance to federal tyranny in the name of protecting everything from migrants to dope smokers and gun nuts. Why stop at the states? I say we create our own chessboard of sanctuary cities, towns, and counties. Many border communities have far more economic stock across the Rio Grande than they do with racist city-slickers in Dallas or Phoenix. I say we decentralize the borders and the immigration system in general. That way we can give migrants a road map to the communities that welcome them and give those afraid of radical change an opportunity to be proven wrong by economic competition. Worst comes to worst, border control becomes as cheap and simple as sending a few people on a bus to the next town over. The result would not only effectively disintegrate the border as we know it along with the thugs who profit from its police state, but it would also disintegrate the authority of the federal government itself and foster a pan-secession of a vast cluster of microstates too small to really fuck with anybody.

The second political martial art that could be used against American border fascism is a bit more radical and unorthodox. Undocument everyone. It’s a tactic taken up by libertarian Sovereign Citizens across the country and its wide-scale proliferation could erase borders as we know them by making them totally obsolete. It’s not the easiest solution but if more Americans, regardless of status, rejected any and all forms of federal documentation, from birth certificates to the draft, this nation would be utterly powerless to prevent free movement and association, and it would encourage many on the anti-immigrant right to form a pact with migrants in order to get Uncle Sam off both of their backs. No documents, no taxes, no borders. Think about it. It could be a beautiful thing.

And so could America. We’ve all been tossed into this colonialist mess based on one scheme or another, but you can’t turn back time so we might as well make the best of a beautiful mess. My people left a lot on their way to becoming Americans, but we gained the opportunity to take part in a massive experiment in extreme individualism. The one shred of the American Dream worth preserving is the dream of coming to this suburban desert wasteland and becoming whatever the fuck you want. Go ahead and start up that nudist polygamist commune between the Joshua trees. The Salvadorans are too busy unionizing in the avocado groves to stop you and their tattooed sons might just be able to show you how to aim that Kalashnikov when the taxman comes calling. That’s my America. Can you dig it, dearest motherfuckers. I can. But not without burning those goddamn nooses you call borders.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.