When I first heard about the Honduran migrant caravan, I wrote this post and then stashed it away as perhaps too much of a doomsday prophecy, but now that we’re moving closer to the reality that the caravan will reach the US border and given the things that are being said of them in the media and the increased white nationalist violence in the US, I’m resurrecting it.
There’s an estimated 4,000 people in the caravan and by one estimate they will start reaching the border near the end of November, but it could be sooner if they utilize public transit or rideshares. The US military is being deployed to “protect” the border, and the President, GOP, and mainstream media (even the so-called liberal elements of it) are spewing white nationalist rhetoric calling the immigrants and refugees an infestation and lepers.
Some claim this is a political stunt by the American right to bolster their numbers in the upcoming midterm, but that’s ignoring the fact that what they are doing right now is their goal and has been all along, keeping the “others” out and enforcing American (white) supremacy.
A recent statement made by Trump and genuine cause for alarm was him claiming that immigrants could be shot for throwing rocks. This almost immediately led to the Nigerian military using this exact claim for shooting of protesters.
Well meaning liberals who still believe in the authority of the State and the rule of law clamor on about how this is a reasonable action because, well, borders need defending and those soldiers have lives too, so they certainly must defend themselves.
Recent history shows things in a different light if we look back at what started earlier this year and continues in at the Gaza Strip, the Great March of Return. The people of a nation facing imperialist oppression attempted to cross a militarized border to better their lives leaving some 15,000+ injured and 168 dead. We saw the IDF using live ammunition on barely armed protesters with video emerging of snipers shooting medics and non-combatants, sometimes picking off non-threats while laughing.
The situation with the US military is perhaps less volatile than that of the IDF, but there is a strong white nationalist presence in the US military, and atop that is the less explicitly racist but nonetheless nationalist elements like we see in the Proud Boys. The US Border Patrol has little care for the life of immigrants as we can see by their systematic destruction of supplies in the desert near the border.
However, what we also have to contend with is the American far right militias who are currently heading to the border to fend off the perceived threat.
A final, and equally alarming possibility are the [following quotes][not-releasing-quotes] from Trump about what would happen to the immigrants when they reach the border.
“We are not releasing them into our country any longer. They will wait for long periods of time. We’re putting up massive cities of tents; the military is helping us incredibly well.”
“We have thousands of tents. We have a lot of tents. We’re going to hold them right there. We’re not letting them into our country.”
This sounds like a plan for indefinite detention without trial that will in all likelihood lead to the exploitation of the incarcerated into a slave labor force to be administered by the for-profit prison system.
Here’s some guesses at what’s going to happen.
We know the US military will be joining the Border Patrol and other agencies at the border. We know that militia groups that are in some ways aligned with the goals of the military and in someways at odds with them will be present, and that this may lead to skirmishes between the two as the militias will be armed.
This means that the border will see a scattering of the different groups across it.
Both the government sanctioned and unsanctioned units will have greater mobility than the majority of immigrants. We also know that the US military will have aerial surveillance that will allow them to intercept the immigrants. The militias may have drones or even moles in the military giving them a fair chance of intercepting the immigrants.
Because this is a caravan and not random waves of immigrants, my guess is the bulk will stay together and attempt a mass border crossing. This is likely where the military and LEOs will intercept them.
However, some may attempt to break off from the main action and circumvent the major blockades. These smaller groups may evade the eyes of the State, but they are at higher risk of being picked off and murdered by the militia groups.
Some immigrants will turn back, some will hold back on account of violence. Some will be injured or killed, and some will be apprehended. This may turn into a long stalemate of the caravan camping out near the border by not crossing it, so we need to plan for sustained action and not only a weekend’s worth of activism.
What can we do? What should we do?
Aside: I am not a lawyer, look up local laws, don’t do anything illegal because crimes are very bad. Be careful, and take this with skepticism.
Show up with cameras, and record everyone who is there to “defend” the US border. Being filmed puts the threat of a PR nightmare into the minds of command, and in the cases of the militias, the possibility of legal action or arrest.
Report back and provide a conduit to get their messages to the outside world. Political pressure can and should be weaponized to force the State’s hand in conjunction with direct action to aid the immigrants.
This is going to be an armed conflict with innocent lives at stake. If you do not have an equal or greater capacity for violence than the militias, you cannot meaningfully oppose them. If you show up to block their actions unarmed, they can simply pull out their guns and force you to leave. A comrade recently used the term “brinkmanship” to describe how one should act tactically in the current US political climate, and I think this is something that the left needs to embrace.
Medical gear, food, camping gear, appropriate clothing. You may be at the border for a long time, and they who are better prepared will outlast the opposition.
A corollary to this is to think about logistics. How are you going to get where you’re going? Can comrades resupply you? Are you going to end up somewhere where you need to be rescued?
Look for when the caravan is going to reach the border. Plan accordingly.
Groups may need to works in shift with the bulk showing up as the immigrants reach the border, but unfortunately some people will need to work. Some will become exhausted and need to be rotated back home.
But why is this important?
I mean, why aside from the abolition of borders, the protection of human life, and freedom of movement all humans should enjoy?
This would be an escalation of US border policy if the US were to fire on, round up, and imprison immigrants at this scale. It could embolden right wing militias if they get a “taste for blood”.
Moreover, disrupting the State’s actions at the border sends the message that they are not final adjudicators of who gets to inhabit these lands.
We, the left collectively, need to stand up to white supremacy and help those most in need, and what better way to do it than to help those seeking a better life?