On July 17, 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah declared in the Rajya Sabha that his government “will identify illegal immigrants living on every inch of the country’s soil and will deport them as per international law”. The BJP had made the constituting of a “National Register of Citizens” in all states as a key point in its election agenda. Earlier, during the election campaign, the Home Minister had repeatedly referred to immigrants from Bangladesh as “termites”.
Currently, there is a National Registar of Citizens (NRC) specifically for the state of Assam, which has been set up to implement the Assam Accord of 1985. According to the NRC data released in August 2018, over 40 lakh people had been declared non-citizens with the threat of deportation hanging over their heads. Those declared to be non-citizens have been given time till August 31, 2019 by the Supreme Court to prove before the government appointed tribunals that they are indeed Indian citizens. Meanwhile, the Assam government has done a reverification of the previously published NRC list and added one lakh people to the list of “non citizens”.
A terrible situation confronts those thus declared “illegal immigrants”. They face the terrible prospect of living the rest of their lives in concentration camps in this so called “largest democracy in the world”. The thoroughly inhuman attitude of the government of India towards these people is reflected in the statement of the Attorney General in the Supreme Court that “India cannot afford to be the refugee capital of the world”.
The central and state governments have been justifying the NRC exercise by carrying out a constant vicious propaganda campaign accusing “illegal immigrants” and “foreigners” of “taking away jobs, land and other precious resources of our people”. Bengalis, particularly of the Muslim faith, have been made the special target of this attack. The aim is to divide the people along lines of language and religion and to spread fear and insecurity among the people.
Poverty, insecurity of livelihood, state persecution and war are some of the factors that have, over the years, driven people of our neighbouring countries to leave their homes and countries as refugees, and seek a home and livelihood in India. Many of those who have been denied or may be denied citizenship are people who have settled and worked in Assam for many decades, contributing to the wealth of the society. The same is true of people who have settled in various other parts of India. Many of the people who are being hounded as foreigners have been born in this country or have made it their home for nearly 50 years. In particular, the poor, working people who have been driven by harsh circumstances to come to India, who are forced to work in the most exploitative conditions and live in constant fear of attack and deportation, are the target of the state. The Indian state has been building a barbed wire fence all along the thousands of kilometers of border between India and Bangladesh, allegedly to stop illegal immigration.
The position adopted by the Indian state on the citizenship question has always been thoroughly anti people. The Indian state has used the question of citizenship to systematically inflame communal and sectarian passions and attack the unity of the people. It has used the citizenship issue to divert and disrupt the struggle of the different nations and peoples of the North East for their national rights.
The present Indian state represents the interests of the biggest monopolies who are riding roughshod over the interests of the vast masses of Indian people. Depriving large sections of people of citizenship by declaring them “illegal immigrants” serves the ruling bourgeoisie to divide the toiling people and perpetuate its rule.
The witch-hunt against immigrants being carried out by the present BJP government in India has a close and uncanny similarity with the anti-immigrant campaign being carried out at present in the USA.
Ever since he was elected as President, Donald Trump has targeted “illegal immigrants” as the source of all the problems facing the working class and people of the US. President Trump has threatened to build a wall with Mexico, to allegedly prevent illegal migration from the South. According to reports, there are over 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US, with the majority being from Mexico, and other Central American countries. There are also thousands of such immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and various countries of Africa. It has been estimated that more than half the so called undocumented migrants in the US have lived in the country for over 15 years.
US security agencies and immigration authorities have in the past months been brutally attacking thousands of people seeking to enter US as immigrants along the southern border. Many have been detained in inhuman conditions in detention camps, with children being cruelly separated from their parents and families.
The US President has threatened that his government will catch and throw out a million illegal immigrants. On July 12, Trump announced that Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would be conducting raids on immigrants in at least 10 major cities, with plans to arrest migrants who entered the US recently. Millions of immigrants across US are living in fear and uncertainty. Adding to their concerns are reports that ICE agents are picking up not just those against whom deportation orders have been issued but other “collateral targets”, i.e. potentially including migrants who have been in the country for years. It is feared that many families may be cruelly broken up and children separated from their parents, as a consequence of these raids.
According to North American Punjabi Association (NAPA), just during 2013-2015, 27,000 Indians were arrested at the US-Mexico border. Of these 4000 were women and 350 were children. Many of them, it is reported, are still languishing in jail. According to a recent news report, hundreds of Indians are in the detention centres at the Mexican border with US. Just last month, horrific stories appeared of Indian children dying in the desert along the US-Mexico border because of thirst, while their mothers were out desperately searching for water to drink.
This ferocious onslaught on immigrants is being justified under the slogan of “America first” with the alleged aim of protecting American industries and jobs of American workers. All people from Latin America, Africa and Asia are being targeted. As part of US imperialism’s on going “war against terrorism”, Muslims are being specially targeted in this campaign against immigrants.
On July 14, US President Donald Trump declared that four members of the US House of Representatives, of Latin American, Palestinian, Puerto-Rican and Somali origin respectively, should go back to their home countries “and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came”. He has accused them of having "love" for America's "enemies like Al Qaida". These women legislators have been attacked because of their race, religion, and national origin and because they opposed the migrant detention “concentration camps” in the southern US.
The US state is a racist and fascist state. It is itself responsible for carrying out the devastation of nations and creating the conditions that have forced millions upon millions of people to seek refuge abroad. Crores of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America have been forced to flee their homelands and try to migrate to foreign countries in search of livelihood. Contrary to its claim of “defending democracy and human rights”, which it uses as the pretext to intervene in and aggress upon various other countries to carry out regime change there and wreck those nations, the US state is utterly racist in its attitude towards even its own people. It divides, discriminates against, criminalises and persecutes people on a racial basis. Trump’s immigration policies and campaign against immigrants and persons of foreign origin are a continuation and vicious intensification of this racist and fascist policy of the US state.
World-wide, the biggest monopoly capitalists and the imperialist bourgeoisie are viciously attacking the rights of the working class and people, in their drive to further expand their own profits by intensifying the exploitation of the workers. They are encouraging and giving full support to all kinds of fascist groups and political parties to carry out their diabolical aims. The US administration’s current campaign against immigrants, its racist attacks on Muslims and people of foreign origin, is a part of this. The present Indian government led by the BJP is also following the same criminal, communal, divisive and anti-people path.
All progressive forces must fight for the unity of the working people, irrespective of nationality, religion or language, against the monopoly capitalist exploiters. The savage persecution of immigrants by the Indian and American states must be resolutely opposed and condemned.