Thursday, May 26, 2016

Migration as Reparations

Instead of a “surge” in deportations, the U.S. government should be paying off its imperial debt to Central America.

By Joseph Nevins, NACLA Report on the Americas
May 24, 2016

On May 12, Reuters revealed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is poised to undertake a 30-day “surge” in deportations. The label for the operation suggests a military-like endeavor—the stated goal of which is to arrest and deport hundreds of single adults, mothers, and children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras who arrived after January 1, 2014, have been ordered to leave the country, yet remain in the United States without authorization. According to Reuters, it will constitute “the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families by the administration of President Barack Obama this year.”

Reports of the looming surge have led to protests, with many asserting that the would-be targets of the operation are in fact refugees, as defined by international law. They are individuals who have a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” and can’t rely on their national governments for protection. As such, the critics (who range from immigrant rights advocates to Bernie Sanders to mainstream Democrats) argue that the women and children from Central America’s “Northern Triangle” who are said to be in the United States ”illegally” have a right to stay—even if only temporarily.

While this argument certainly has merit, their critique of Obama administration policy accepts the narrow international definition of who is and isn’t “deserving” of asylum. The result is that the criticism can only bear fruit to the extent that U.S. authorities accept and acknowledge that the humans they prey upon are under extraordinary threat in their countries of birth.[...]

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