In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed December 18 as International Migrants Day, to “…continue trying to ensure respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants.” According to the UN, there are 272 million migrants in the world, 80% more than 20 years ago, but they represent only 3.5% of the world’s population. Around 31 million migrants are children who, in many cases, are alone.
Beyond the statements and formalities, there is nothing to celebrate and there are plenty of reasons to protest. Migration is an elementary human right, whether to seek better living conditions, or to flee from war, political persecution, torture, misery or any democratic or social horror. However, the European Union, the United States and other world powers exercise brutal migration controls that cause suffering and death to many in their attempt to cross borders.
In 2019, the IOM estimated that 3,160 migrants had died or disappeared around the world that year. Shamefully, the limits of the so-called “advanced democracies” in the “First World countries” are the scenes of anti-human barbarism. The Mediterranean is a mass grave for African migrants, with approximately 20,000 deaths in the last seven years. The “Atlantic Route” to the Canary Islands, through which more and more improvised boats sail, with more desperate people, is also becoming the final destination of many lives. The same happens with a large number of Venezuelans who are shipwrecked trying to reach Trinidad and Tobago.
The European Union, far from extending a helping hand to newcomers, has become a fortress whose gendarmes are the governments, the right and the extreme right. With varying intensity and in various forms, they reject rescues on the high seas, close their ports, execute “immediate” returns of people, and promote or allow criminal xenophobic policies. European imperialism also delegates the repressive control of its own borders to countries such as Libya, Turkey, Morocco or Niger.
With Donald Trump as president, the United States also contends the first place in horror, with its wall on the border with Mexico where hundreds of people die each year and the brutal measures taken against migrants, mainly from Latin America. Another humanitarian drama has refugees as victims. According to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 70.8 million people who have been forced to flee their homes, 25.9 million of whom are refugees outside the borders of their countries of origin. Just to take an example, more than 11 million people have fled from Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan, some of whom live in precarious camps, like those set up in Greece.
People who manage to arrive and remain in their destination are subjected to brutal exploitation, are singled out and persecuted, minors are interned, democratic and social rights are curtailed. The sectors of the right and the far right are the main cultivators of xenophobia, while social democracy and the reformist center-left make declarations and take partial measures that solve none of the underlying problems. In countries like Spain, where the PSOE-UP coalition governs, deportations are carried out and the immigration law exists as a tool against human rights. It is no coincidence that the death of Nicaraguan Eleazar Blandón in that country has not yet been clarified. Eleazar was abandoned from a van at the door of a health center in Murcia, where he worked as a day laborer in deplorable conditions. It is no coincidence that Fatima, a temporary strawberry worker of Moroccan origin, was abandoned and died in Huelva, once his exploiters learned that he was suffering from cancer. Nor is it coincidence that a fire on a ship in Badalona, caused the death of immigrants and poor people. All these calamities inflicted on the most vulnerable have deepened with the pandemic and the health, economic and social crisis.
At the same time, immigrants organize and receive the mobilized solidarity of millions of people around the world, who demand respect for human and social rights and maintain that “no person is illegal.” The underlying problem is the capitalist-imperialist system, with its national borders created to divide workers and the peoples, to exploit and oppress them. This system must be defeated so that it does not lead humanity into barbarism. From the International Socialist League we support the demands of immigrants, their struggles and the full recognition of their rights, which will only be fully obtained in a different, just and supportive system: socialism with democracy in a world without borders.