History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
(Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon)
During the Paleolithic age, and into the dawn of the Neolithic age, everyone was a migrant. People moved because resources moved. The seasonal cycles foretold the movement of the animals, and plants that people depended on to live. Since the humble beginnings of humanity, movement, or migration, was necessary for the continuity of life. Presently, tens of millions of people around the world remain steadfast in this migratory way of life, exemplifying time-honored traditions of renewal and survival.
Today, people also migrate because they depend on life-renewing resources, as they have always done, since time immemorial. Presently, socioeconomic motivations are among the most prevalent causes for migration. Sociopolitical marginalization, and forced migration, due to conflict, is another prehistoric, and modern, impetus to migrate, or move. Nonetheless, social, economic, and political factors, especially as expressed in armed conflict, are often predicated on resource issues. Resource sharing, as the exploitation and trade of resources, also incites migration. When the spread of resources extends beyond ecological boundaries, especially by the will of a foreigner, into national, and global spheres of influence, so the peoples originally dependent on those resources will move, most desirably towards the destination of the resources they once justly claimed. For this reason, families emigrate, and immigrate together to the Global North.
Fundamentally, the reason for human migration has not changed. The availability of resources is a prime mover, literally. The changes are due to the barriers that restrict movement. As one can make the case that forced migration is due to political, social or economic instability, so one can argue that forced migration is caused and defined by the modern barriers to human movement. The inheritors of the spoils won through the colonial divisions of land, initially spurred by invasion and resource exploitation, now exploit one of the most basic human means to survival: movement. As migration is part of prehistoric, and modern human identity, so freedom of movement is a human right.
Human rights are about recognizing individuals, and peoples as a whole. The holism of peoples’ struggles for rights, and to establish and maintain them, respects the greater context of an individual or people. Such contexts include the geographical, ecological, economic, and technological circumstances of an individual, or a people, as with the subtler cultural, gendered, political, and social contexts. As such, migration, from time immemorial, has been about maintaining human holism, as in the original human right, prior to the necessity to institute one. Holism is a quality that affirms life beyond mere survival, but lived with respect to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual fulfillment. Realizing the seasonal round, and following it through to its life-renewing power was initially the predominant impetus to migrate. Whether consciously, or unconsciously, migration remains as a right to human holism. Family reunification, economic sustainability, and unopposed survival all affirm the right to human holism, often as fulfilled by means of migration into the 21st century.
A Brief History of Assimilation in America
Among the inheritors of the social capital of Western Europe, where national identity was first developed, it has ever been very easy for citizens to exploit, and silence, the stateless, illegal and unrepresented. In the United States, for example, national officialdom silences the minority, such as the over 600 Native American nations, many of them unrecognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and some of them completely annihilated over years of bloody invasions, racist legislation and modern assimilation. In America, national identity is an entitlement rarely appreciated with respect to the stateless, unrepresented minorities around the world, such as the Uighur, Darfurian, or Palestinian, to name only a few of the untold many.
The anxiety of American identity, and truly of modern national identity everywhere, is that its origins, and perpetuation derive from the presence of stateless people, occupied territories, and illegal migrants. For this reason, Americans, while bearing the title of the most militarily powerful, and economically potent nation, are threatened by desperate, unaccompanied children. As is clear, the some 70,000 migrant children who sought to join the approximately 11 million illegal residents of the United States by the end of 2014 did not cause alarm because of the inherent threat of the child, but because of the questionable state of border security (Harrop, 2014). Modern nationalism may never get over this ineluctable geopolitical neurosis.
The first two presidents of the 21st century, Bush, and Obama considered the special cases of Central American, and illegal immigrant minors, respectively. In August 2014, the U.S. Congress sought to implement Senate Bill S2648, the Emergency Supplemental Funding Bill, which was introduced into the Senate on July 23, 2014. The bill complements the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008, that George W. Bush signed, as it seeks to offer $291 million in funding for the care of children who are now detained. While the bill addressed the reasons why unaccompanied children decide to risk their lives and immigrate illegally to the United States, many more millions of dollars, including $586 million for “detention, prosecution and removal of undocumented families were to be issued for enforcement procedures (Morris, 2014).
At first, Obama moved to deny the right of child migrants to go before an immigration judge prior to their deportation, and has sought to expedite deportations. Hunger, poverty, and violence are chief among those on the list of concerns for agencies who will receive the politicized humanitarian-inspired government funding. “It is imperative that we break up the cartels and other transnational criminal organizations which see children as a commodity for profit – much like a load of cocaine,” reads Senator Mikulski’s (D-Md.) summary of the bill, which noted an additional $112 million to be issued to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to crack down on child trafficking.
Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled House was not a friend to migrants, who instead of seeing the greater picture of humanitarian leadership, resort to perceiving child migrants as lawbreakers, and invaders. For example, in response to Obama’s plea for $3.7 billion in emergency funding, “the proposal was quickly met with broad skepticism among Republican lawmakers, who were doubtful that the package would be approved quickly — if at all” (Nakamura and Lowery, 2014). Republicans and Democrats continued to stalemate over the immediacy with which migrants can be legally deported, which was one of the final legacies of the Bush administration (Parker and Peters, 2014).
The Republican front on the issue is joined by the fundamentally racist dogma of “The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan”. With such asinine “shoot-to-kill” policies in store for unaccompanied children, Ku Klux Klan leaders from North Carolina represent the frontlines of the extreme right (Savan, 2014). While the Republican, and other extremist anti-immigrant platforms saw illegal migrants as primarily motivated by the U.S. job market, the truth stems from a more comprehensive view of the local reality of migrants in their countries of origin. Why would people migrate internationally, across swathes of terrain, towards an unknown future, risking their lives in the process, and facing one of the most formidable border security states on Earth?
Central America, as a region, has been devastated by over a century of belligerent U.S. support of autocratic military governments. In fact, in 1903, the U.S. military self-interestedly, and profitably cleared the way for American fruit companies in Honduras, a truth that Marine Major General Smedley D. Butler came out with after his retirement. It is the case, at present, that Latin Americans experience more death and violence due to crime, than Africans experience in the recurrent civil wars of their continent. For example, Honduras, the origin of most child migrants arriving in the U.S., was identified in 2013 as the most violent country in the world by the United Nations.
Gang violence is deeply entrenched in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. In Central America, gangs are part of popular culture, where, for example, 60,000 members of the El Salvadoran 18th Street Gang spread their violent pathos through a “with us or without us” terror. Fatal torture is common in the northern triangle of Central America, including El Salvador, where, in 2014, an average of eight people were murdered every day. In El Salvador, 8-year-old children are recruited into gangs, who also deny youth from attending school in the neighborhoods under their control. Naturally, the ages of children who are fleeing their bloody homelands are younger and younger every year, many even under 5 years of age.
Froma Harrop. (July 31, 2014). What Scares Americans About the Child Migrants. Nation of Change. Retrieved.
Vince Morris. (July 23, 2014). Chairwoman Mikulski Releases Summary of Emergency Supplemental Funding Bill. United States Senate Committee on Appropriations.
David Nakamura and Wesley Lowery. (July 8, 2014). White House requests $3.7 billion in emergency funds for border crisis. The Washington Post.
Ashley Parker and Jeremy W. Peters. (July 22, 2014). Plan for Young Migrants at Impasse in Congress The New York Times.
Leslie Savan. (July 30, 2014). The KKK Wants a ‘Shoot to Kill’ Policy to Include Migrant Children. The Nation.