What the Gaza Slaughter and the U.S. Border Crisis Have in Common
A U.S. Border Patrol Agent supervises Guatemalan police officers during training in 2013.
Photo Credit: Miguel Negron/Wikimedia Commons
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When my friend and I used to hitchhike around Mexico some years ago, truck drivers would occasionally ask to see our passports to verify that we were not Latin Americans trying to smuggle ourselves into the United States. Aside from improvised passport control, obstacles to travel were quite minimal, and the worst thing that ever happened was that I was once trampled by a small bull after drinking too much tequila and deciding to participate in a village bullfight.
Obviously, things aren’t so easy for a lot of folks transiting Mexico. Earlier this year, Amnesty International reported that as many as 20,000 Central American migrants are abducted in the country annually while en route to the U.S. border, often riding atop trains. As many as six out of 10 migrant women are raped.
Crossing the desert into the U.S. on foot, an untold number of migrants perish from dehydration and exposure to the elements. Additional hazards occur in the form of right-wing vigilante groups that have taken it upon themselves to augment the anti-immigrant services offered by the Homeland Security Department.
Nor is life a piece of cake once migrants actually reach the country, thanks especially to the xenophobic discourse of many in the political establishment. While encouraging the persecution of the “other,” this discourse helpfully distracts from the structural causes of individual and communal malaise in the U.S.—which have more to do with a noxious politico-economic system that favors corporate wellbeing over human wellbeing and not with the supposed exploitation of said system by immigrants.
To be sure, it’s a lot more comforting to blame one’s misery on brown people who pay taxes and do jobs Americans refuse to do than to ponder the implications of the fact that the U.S. government does things like spend over $700 million a day on wars and funnel billions of dollars to Israel so it can make its own wars.
Barack Obama’s maniacal track record as far as deportations go incidentally illustrates a key common denominator between the mentality of the U.S. and that of its Israeli partner in crime: the principle of “borders for us but not for you.”
Let’s consider the case of Immigrant X, a Mexican farmer whose livelihood was obliterated by NAFTA, or perhaps Immigrant Y, a Honduran attempting to flee a country whose conversion into the homicide capital of the world was in no small part abetted by the U.S. via decades of national militarization, support for death squads, and the general fostering of an environment of impunity.
X and Y head north only to discover that the penetration of borders is not a two-way street and that walls have been erected to contain the human fallout of the empire’s military and economic forays.
Or consider the case of Palestinian Z, a Gaza Strip resident whose existence is defined by the heavily fortified borders that are required to facilitate ethnic cleansing by Israel. As has been demonstrated once again by the latest protracted slaughter, the sanctity of borders applies to exactly one of the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead of the right to self-defense, Z is granted the right to participate in the collective bullseye known as Gaza, an initiative that enables sectors of Israeli society to make a killing—both literally and figuratively.
Israeli political economist Shir Hever recently remarked to the Real News Network that “the Israeli arms industry is so dependent on these cycles of attacks every two years that Israel will never accept a 10-year ceasefire, because it would be a deadly blow to the… industry.”