Time to End North America’s Tangled Migration Crisis (OPINION)

Mar 18, 2022
3:38 PM

Asylum seeker from Honduras, Carla Leiva, 32, holds her five-year-old daughter Zoe as they pose for a photo at the “Casa del Migrante” shelter for migrants in El Ceibo, Guatemala, on Thursday, August 12, 2021, after they were deported by air from the U.S. to Mexico, then crossed into Guatemala by land. Central American migrants were expelled by the U.S. after being denied a chance to seek asylum under a pandemic-related ban. (AP Photo/Santiago Billy)

The following is part of a three-part series on the many manifestations of chaos in the modern world-system. Part I analyzed the chaos in the world as a whole, (in Spanish only). Part II focuses on the increased chaos in Europe resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine (English version).

In Part II, I show how the migration regime in North America became the entangled Gordian Knot it is today.

Incoming Refugee Flows

Of the manifold manifestations of chaos engulfing North America (which includes the Caribbean and Central America), no social aspect is more salient and pressing today than the issue of highly restricted, yet persistent flows of irregular international migration in and through the region.

Over the past four decades, ill-regulated, stigmatized flows of unauthorized economic migrants and asylum seekers to the United States from neighboring countries have in large measure resulted from the implementation of what should be recognized by now as a deeply flawed, U.S.-imposed, “neoliberal” architecture of regional integration, foisted onto a region that historically has been subjected to U.S. geopolitical interventions. These interventions have left behind a trail of failed states, rampant corruption, and chronic street violence—on top of now being subject to periodic natural disasters associated with climate change.

The chaos runs very deep—structurally, ideologically, and even at the cognitive level.

At the ideological level lies rampant incongruence between the much-vaunted “American values” and “Mexican solidarity,” on the one hand, and their purported adherence to a “rules-based international order”—which the U.S. regularly admonishes China and Russia of violating. It is instructive to compare the instant, welcoming, humane, and generous treatment that the most recent regional asylum seekers in Europe —the 2.5 million Ukrainians that have fled the military invasion of Russia to date— are receiving, with the hostile, shocking and horrifying treatment that equally desperate but much smaller cohorts of regional asylum seekers to the United States and Mexico —Central Americans, Haitians, Cubans, Venezuelans, and others— have been receiving since 2014. After incredibly harrowing journeys, tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and refugee families have turned themselves in to U.S. and Mexican border patrol agents—only to be detained, blocked from applying for asylum, and deported back to harm’s way, in flagrant violation of international law.

It has not always been the case that the E.U. has lived up to its humanitarian values (e.g., the appalling treatment of refugees from Syria, Libya, Yemen, etc.). But juxtaposing the welcoming of well-clothed Ukrainian children arriving with their caring mothers aboard passenger trains and buses, with the caging of Honduran unaccompanied children after traveling on top of cargo trains or walking over 2,000 kilometers to reach Brownsville, Texas, or watching Guatemalan and Salvadoran children being torn from their mothers, should jar the conscience of every American.

As Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has said, “How the world treats Ukraine, and Ukrainian refugees, should be how we are treating all refugees in the United States.” I would add Mexico as well, which has notoriously abandoned all pretense of defending the international rights of asylum seekers under pressure from the U.S.

Something is definitely jarring and chaotic —not to mention shameful and highly hypocritical— when the U.S. and Mexican governments instantly champion the cause of harboring European asylum seekers fleeing extreme violence, while they collude to block and return to harm’s way refugees from their own region. This includes turning a blind eye to the U.S.’ routine deportation of tens of thousands of Mexico’s own asylum seekers —including unaccompanied children— fleeing from violence-infested so-called “narco-states.”

Undocumented Americans

Another central aspect of growing systemic chaos surrounding international migration in North America has been the vast population of entrapped undocumented immigrants —11 million in the United States, three-quarters of whom come from neighboring countries (half from Mexico)— who, after decades of living in fear of deportation, still find themselves locked out of any path towards legalization and full integration into American society—what scholar Mae M. Ngai calls “impossible subjects.”

Most of these “Americans in every other way but papersare long-term residents that have formed so-called “mixed status families” with U.S.-born children and/or spouses. Their irregular status is not subject at present to any attenuating consideration or statute of limitations. They remain subject to deportation at any time, despite decades of residing and contributing to this country’s prosperity and security—millions toiled as “essential workers” during the pandemic).

There are also four and a half million Dreamers and TPSers who have received or are eligible to receive temporary relief from deportation but who remain in perpetual legal limbo, vulnerable to falling back into illegal status at any moment by capricious court decisions.

Taken as a whole, the U.S. media’s and political class’s demonization, scapegoating, and targeting of resident irregular-status immigrants or incoming asylum seekers has inevitably spilled over, smeared, and targeted the larger domestic Latino (over 60 million, 67 percent of whom are U.S.-born) and Asian ethnic communities, and in doing so, seriously destabilized the fragile regime of multiracial democracy inaugurated by the Civil Rights Era, today under orchestrated assault by conservative, white nationalist forces.

Unleashed anti-Latino, anti-Asian, and anti-Muslim xenophobia and racism have now combined with resurgent anti-Black racism into a toxic amalgam, producing such a sharp increase in social polarization and conflict that it threatens the entire project of American multiracial democracy. The immigration chaos cannot and will not stay merely contained to migrants.

The Missed Opportunity of 1965

Two fatal policy mistakes led to today’s broken and seemingly intractable migration regime in North America, both implemented in 1965.

The first was the decision to terminate the admittedly onerous and exploitative, —but legal— guest-worker Bracero Program with Mexico, which at its peak brought over 400,000 workers to the agricultural fields of the Southwest, without putting anything in its place.

The second was the passing of the celebrated 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which rightfully abolished the racist and restrictionist “national quotas” law that had kept Asians and non-WASP Europeans out since 1924, and enshrined the principle of family unification as the principal criteria for immigration visas, while capping the number of non-family visas for Mexican workers to a mere 20,000 a year (previously unlimited)—a number equal to any other country in the world despite the fact that Mexican workers were now the primary source of agricultural labor in the prosperous Southwest!

The combination of both policy decisions —the first championed by the then-mighty and protectionist U.S. labor movement, which led to the famous domestic farmworker organizing and strikes from 1965 to 1975, when now-illegalized Mexican flows returned; and the second championed by the dozens of “white ethnic” politicians in Congress, who insisted in assigning to all countries the same quota in the name of “equity,” regardless of the huge labor demand for Mexican immigrants in the Southwest— had the net result of transforming overnight millions of circular and contract migrants from Mexico, still sought by U.S. employers, into illegal aliens.

Mexico, then involved in an ambitious industrialization program and eager to retain as much of its own labor force as possible, went along with both decisions without any pushback. Adolfo López Mateos, president at the time, merely negotiated with the Americans, setting up the Border Industrialization Program, or maquiladora sweatshop system, along the Mexican side of the border, which would soon become a springboard to migration to the U.S.

Policymakers in Washington and Mexico City smugly predicted the natural decline of Mexican migration—as they would again when they signed NAFTA. Both were wrong.

A unique opportunity to construct an adequate, visionary architecture for North American integration, including establishing an economically realistic and socially enlightened migration regime for the 20th century, was missed in 1965. 

The Perennial Failure of Vision

The U.S., and the North American region as a whole, have been in deep denial regarding the centrality of regional migration to the prospects of ethnic and racial relations, national and regional social and economic integration, political and geopolitical stability, and regional governance and well-being in general.

In this continent, the fact remains that while all other factors of production have now been set free to move unfettered across international borders —under the current neoliberal regime of trade, production, and investment— labor and human mobility in general have not. The social aspects of regional integration remain incongruously absent and neglected.

To begin with, the “politics of immigration” are deemed by policymakers, disingenuously but deliberately,  to be the “domestic affairs” of each country. That is an appalling failure of vision, and a recipe for the chaos we now see all around us.

Bad enough as that is, the geopolitical aims and strategies of the sole superpower in the region —the United States— keep not only interfering with but preventing a rational, more balanced migration regime from emerging for the region. How so? By previously casting regional migrants and refugees through warped Cold War lens, tainting economic migrants and refugees from U.S. interventions as subversive infiltrators and illegal aliens versus the very selective embracing of some migrants, such as Cubans, as “freedom fighters,” who are then granted refugee status. And from the 1990s onwards, as the “War on drugs” and the “War on Terror” took off, all regional migrants began to be tainted as criminals, drug traffickers, gangs, law-breakers, and terrorists—now even COVID-19 carriers!

A short-lived moment of what we can call “ideological equilibrium” miraculously appeared earlier in the mid-1980s —at the closing of the Cold War and before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001— when Ronald Reagan signed the last bipartisan immigration reform law that sought to regularize the status of about five million undocumented immigrants, mostly Mexican, in return for criminalizing the presence and employment of future flows.

This celebrated “Compromise of 1986 was nonetheless a flawed, narrow (it kept the same caps for legal visas for Mexicans), punitive (imposed employer sanctions), and incomplete approach to regulating future regional migration flows. It did not even consider, let alone anticipate, the immense impact the unfolding U.S.-sponsored neoliberal project for North American integration would have on Mexico and the region.

That fatal omission set off a chain of events that soon not only made the Compromise of 1986 a dead letter, but set the stage, once large irregular migration flows resumed —and in the absence of proper analysis from all state and social actors— for the gradual, then unstoppable rise of a renewed virulent, restrictionist, and enforcement-heavy nativist movement in the U.S., not seen since the anti-Communist McCarthyite 1950s and the earlier eugenicist period culminating in the 1920s. The U.S. increasingly returned to its default, recurrent ugly expression of American Exceptionalism on the immigration front. We have yet to break out of this latest nativist fever.

By the mid-1990s, in the face of massive irregular migration from Mexico —as a direct result of the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) decimation of millions of farmers, predicted by none of the ubiquitous cheerleaders for free trade at the time, in either country— both major parties in the U.S. duopoly began to compete over which would criminalize and deport undocumented immigrants faster, resulting in the dramatic bipartisan expansion of the criteria for mandatory deportations beyond judicial review, deputizing local enforcement agencies for immigration enforcement, barring deportees from returning and jailing those that did, and laying the foundation for the mass incarceration of otherwise ordinary economic migrants and refugees.

A peculiar political polarization emerged within the duopoly after the 9/11 attacks —an early precursor occurred in California under Gov. Pete Wilson— with the Republican Party stridently championing nativism, systematically demonizing and scapegoating immigrants, and proposing evermore draconian federal laws and local ordinances, on the one hand, and the Democrats increasingly feigning alliance to immigrants without questioning or altering the draconian laws they had actually help set up, nor proposing a better architecture for North American integration to begin to tackle the problem of irregular regional migration beyond enforcement, nor truly fighting in Congress for the regularization of all or even some undocumented immigrants—as can be seen in the repeated faint efforts and failed attempts to pass immigration reform since 2006, including the one just attempted by President Biden in 2021, quickly watered down and presently “shelved” (Washington’s euphemism for abandoned).

The Democrats’ fair-weather, timid, and duplicitous commitments, and the Republicans’ all-weather nativist and obstructionist stands, have coincided with the dramatic increase, since 2012, of large regional refugee flows of destitute, desperate families and unaccompanied children from the region’s much-intervened failed states—the so-called “Northern Triangle” countries of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador), as well as Haiti and the many narco-states in Mexico that have emerged in the shadow of the NAFTA era’s poor economic results for the vast majority of Mexicans.

And most unsettling to the emergent liberal-conservative “Restrictionist Consensus” in Washington, these dramatic flows have begun to occur in evermore massive, organized and defiant fashion through “caravans,” despite the heightened militarization and legal hardening of the U.S. southern border and the vast expansion of the Border Security Industrial Complex—both authorized and funded with overwhelming bipartisan support over the past two decades. What we are witnessing today emerging out of North America’s broken migration configuration is nothing less than a transnational social rebellion by families forced to move or die, without waiting for “permission” from anybody, with unforeseen historic consequences.

So far, the response has been more U.S. repression, in collusion with the governments of countries of origin and transit, proving, once again, an abysmal absence of vision.

The Racket

Corruption can be structural, systemic, and legal. Persecuting migrants, on top of political considerations, has become a lucrative business for the huge incarceration corporations tapped to lock them up and a huge source of federal, unionized jobs, and both sides now regularly lobby Washington and donate generously to politicians willing to vote for evermore avenues and funds for mass detentions and deportations. Just last week, the House proposed adding to the $1.5 trillion spending bill for next fiscal year an increase of $284.7 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on top of its already bloated budget of $2.5 billion!

These powerful new interest groups have been wagging the tail of immigration policy in the United States since 2000. Other corporations lobbying Congress seek contracts to militarize and surveil the U.S. southern border, now involving drones and robotic dogs.

The result has been, starting with President Obama, a vastly expanded American gulag that has detained and deported over three million long-term undocumented residents, terrorizing settled ethnic communities and tearing apart millions of mixed-status families. Millions of U.S.-born children have had at least one parent deported, and over a million more find themselves exiled, living with their deported parents in Mexico or one of the Northern Triangle countries, with no relief in sight.

Would we treat Ukrainian families in such inhumane ways? Should we encourage Hungary, currently under President Viktor Orbán, a hypernationalist and favorite of Trump and Fox News, to emulate us?

Continental Collusion

Mexico’s era of inwardly protected industrial development collasped when it defaulted on its enormous foreign debt in 1982, ushering in the “Lost Decade” of Latin American debt crises and stagnation. Unauthorized migration to the U.S. had already reached record levels by the late 1970s, and it continued in a steep upward curve from then on, until reaching over 12 million immigrants in 2007 (slightly more than today).

The architecture of the region’s migration regime only worsened in the NAFTA era, which formally began on January 1, 1994—the same day the Zapatistas launched their insurrection against the new neoliberal order from their base in Chiapas. By mutual accord in the negotiations leading to the free trade accord, both the U.S. and Mexico (with Canada going along) agreed that the labor migration aspects of North American economic integration would be kept strictly off the table, each country free to regulate migration flows on its own.

Both countries turned a blind eye to the obvious implications that asymmetrical regional economic integration would have to human migration dynamics, and the need to complement and complete the North American integration project with a strong social component—one that afforded workers and citizens the same freedom of mobility it granted all other factors in the soon-to-be highly integrated economic zone.

Such lack of planning and agreement on regional migration is what led to the flawed and unilateral Compromise of 1986 in the U.S., and for Mexico to simply ignore the subsequent outmigration of millions of its nationals in the 1990s and 2000s. In fact, Mexico soon learned to take advantage of this exodus of NAFTA-created “excess labor,” by converting immigrant remittances into its greatest source of dollars and its biggest anti-poverty program. Not even the pandemic has slowed it down: more than $38.5 billion dollars in remittances were sent to Mexico via formal channels in 2019, $42.9 billion in 2020, $51.6 billion in 2021.

This is universally celebrated by Mexico’s political class, in the same grotesquely cynical fashion as when, on the U.S. side, politicians universally repeat the mantra of the supposed need to “secure the border.”  Should we applaud Poland or Hungary for “securing [its] border” from incoming Ukrainian women and children?

Meanwhile, Mexico’s callous indifference, complicit silence and willful inaction on the growing U.S. persecution and deportation of millions of its nationals continues. The same flawed willful abandonment of enlarged diasporas of displaced families has followed the “sons of NAFTA” agreements in Central America and the Caribbean, even after hundreds of thousands of families and unaccompanied children began fleeing as refugees of extreme poverty, hurricanes, and extreme violence.

The awful, inconvenient truth is that nobody in a position of authority in these countries, like their Mexican counterparts, will seriously complain about the cruel mistreatment of their respective diasporas in the U.S., as long as the remittances keep coming and keep their economies afloat. This is true across the region—in the Northern Triangle countries (in Guatemala, which in 2021 received $11.4 billion: in El Salvador, $5.9 billion; in Honduras, $5.6 billion), Haiti ($3.1 billion), and the Dominican Republic ($8.3 billion).

So, it turns out, irregular migration in North America has become an enormous racket not just for U.S. jailing corporations, border-security vendors, and immigration enforcement agencies, but also for the governments and elites of the entire region, Mexico included—all at the expense of the persecuted migrants and refugees who undertake the painful process of forced relocation and live and work in the shadows of North America’s illegalization regime “without permission.”

Without the remittances, by the way, we would soon witness an even bigger exodus of many more economic refugees to the United States. And without immigrants, the U.S. economy would go into a steep tailspin. “Essential workers” they are indeed, for both sending and receiving countries, though they remain socially devaluedWhy would they continue to put up with the universal opprobrium, exploitation, and persecution? The surprise is not that they have endured, but that they have not risen up more forcefully to shut down the racket and demand social justice. But we see signs everywhere the rebellion has begun.

And yet, the United States refuses to acknowledge that its neoliberal model imposed on these countries —predatory free trade and pauperized locked labor— has been a dismal failure, while the corrupt elites and regimes of these sending countries refrain from fighting for their diasporas in the U.S., and in fact greatly profit from their misery.

To solve the conundrum of entangled migration in the region, we must not just rid U.S. policymakers of their ideological “magic of the market” blinders and ingrained imperialist hubris, but acknowledge the endemic corruption they have allowed to be codified into law and regional development plans, at the expense of millions of migrants toiling for the benefit of corporations, enforcement unions, and governments.

What Is to be Done Broadly

First, from now on and for the medium and long terms, there needs to be a paradigm shift in North America of what constitutes peoplehood and how it combines with economic integration and geopolitical stability in today’s globalized world. We need to adopt a broader, transnational definition of the social contract and citizenship, akin to the social component of the European Union’s continental integration project, painstakingly built over the past half-century. This necessarily must include defining the zones of free transit and unfettered mobility and labor, educational, residential, and social welfare rights—let alone setting up the infrastructure for attending to any regional refugee flows that may arise.

Secondly, we need to discard the unipolar, asymmetrical architecture for North America integration that benefits only the U.S. and regional elites, and move towards a multipolar and balanced architecture that delivers shared prosperity and equalizes opportunity and living standards for all—a goal which will require the active participation of all states and social actors in the region, including first and foremost the immigrant diasporas themselves.

The good news is that, since 2006, the immigrant diasporas and incoming refugee flows have irrupted onto the stage of history as conscious, militant agents for social change. Their transnational vision is today way ahead of the narrow vision of policymakers in both the U.S. and their countries of origin. They embody the future of North America. But the citizens of every country of origin, transit, and destination, need to abandon all forms of national chauvinism and join the fight with their migrant brothers and sisters to build a better future for all.

This represents a great ideological challenge. More specifically, considering the entrenched blinders of American Exceptionalism, what will encourage the people and leaders of the United States down this new path of transnational region-building?

In a word, the increasing sense of being left behind by the other, better-integrated zones of the world economy. This is already quite clear in comparison to Europe and East Asia. Even South America has embraced this new paradigm of continental union better than North America.

The other persuasive factor will be the increasing chaos sure to continue under the current architecture. Consider the political and social divisiveness and chaos already generated by Donald Trump’s rise to power, with his championing a chauvinist and white nationalist “America First” agenda. We are lucky his January 6 insurrection failed! Joe Biden might have defeated Trump, but U.S. nativist impulses remain strong and are still on the march —certainly in the GOP— and more turmoil is in store throughout the land until and unless the country moves in the direction it needs to go and embraces a more humane, just, and rational regional migration system.

As the United States discovers the value of adopting a sounder, more competitive, more balanced, and more equitable multilateral integration plan for North America, a new, transnational sense of shared peoplehood is bound to take root, encapsulated in the slogan “¡Norteamericanos todos!

Reconfiguring the integration of North America on a whole new vision is, indeed, a tall order, but the alternative is to invite more chaos. If we do not move boldly to deal in a positive way with this festering issue, U.S. nativists will surely deal with it in their negative way and will continue to win power—and the countries of the region will continue to kowtow and “adapt,” ducking the issue of immigrant persecution while squeezing remittances from their diasporas. And all this pathetic state of affairs will only generate even more chaos.

The One Action Biden Can Take Now

On a more immediate and tactical level, focusing on the U.S. and setting aside other actions by political actors in the region, we in the immigrant rights movement should regroup and consider our leverage as we head towards the U.S. midterm elections in November. The first thing we should agree on is the need to creatively participate in the elections, despite the widespread disgust and disappointment with both parties. We should neither call on our immigrant-heavy ethnic communities to abstain from voting (what the Republicans want) nor blindly endorse and support the certifiably unreliable Democratic “allies” (what the Democrats want).

A sober assessment of the political conditions should highlight that: (a) Congress failed to pass any immigration relief bill last year and will probably not pass one during this midterm year; (b) the Supreme Court has now been captured by the ultra-right and has closed the avenue of seeking relief through court challenges; (c) this leaves the executive branch —the Biden administration— to do something regarding immigration, as promised, or else face abject defeat in most if not all of the congressional districts with heavy concentrations of Latino (and Asian) immigrant communities; and (d) we still have to confront the fact that, if the Democrats lose control of even one congressional chamber in November, the prospects of immigration reform will be reduced to zero for the remainder of Biden’s term.

So far, the Biden administration has been instituting many positive administrative changes, reversing the hundreds of anti-immigrant regulations enacted by the Trump administration. But Biden has, infuriatingly, preserved the asylum ban imposed by Trump, has not dismantled the for-profit gulag of immigrant detentions, has continued deporting many thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers, and has not delivered on his promise to regularize the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.—all of this despite controlling both chambers of Congress. That is certainly not a way to energize the Latino vote!

So, what can we push President Biden to do in the time remaining before November, or if the Democrats lose control of Congress, still do before the 2024 presidential election?

Well, we should push Biden to strike a single, bold and effective blow to the Gordian Knot of the entangled immigration mess, in a way that cannot be challenged in court. Cornered by Republican intransigence, he needs to issue nothing less than a general presidential pardon for all 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, as well as for the deported parents of U.S.-born children who are either living separately in the U.S. or are forced to live in exile with them.

With the stroke of a pen, President Biden could bring immediate relief from deportation and separation to millions of mixed-status immigrant families, and put the nativists and white nationalists in the Republican Party on notice that, at long last, their callous obstructionist gig and disgusting immigrant fearmongering are up, that we are all Americans —North Americans all!— and that a new era begins for not just for the country but for the region, based on universal human dignity, shared prosperity, common destiny, and adherence to human rights.

The beauty of taking such action is that it elegantly bypasses the purposefully gridlocked Congress and avoids judicial review in the conservative Supreme Court, as the Constitution unequivocally grants the president absolute, unconditional pardon power to any person or class of persons under U.S. jurisdiction that may have violated federal law—and all immigration infractions are federal. The immigrant rights movement must apply maximum pressure on President Biden to take such action.

Finally, while it may not provide an immediate path to citizenship, a class presidential pardon for the undocumented would dramatically change the political dynamics in Washington. Leaders would finally begin to address the immigration conundrum in North America afresh, perhaps now with all other regional stakeholders in mind, on a broader and more rational conceptual framework for the entire region. It would usher in a renewed opportunity to correct the policy mistakes of the past and do so without millions of immigrant families being held hostage to, and traumatized by, the unilateral imposition of evermore restrictionist and punitive laws.

The Role of the Immigration Rights Movement

A final word regarding social agency: Team Biden will never muster the will and political courage to act in this or any other bold way without militant and relentless pressure from the social movements advocating for immigrant rights and other progressive causes. We learned that during the Obama era.

At the tactical level, it should urgently become the first priority between now and November for the entire immigrant rights movement, as well as for all the Latino and Asian advocacy organizations in the United States, to unite behind and vigorously embrace the call for an immediate general presidential pardon, as described above, and —here’s the key to energizing Latino and Asian voters for this year’s elections— to make it conditional for all Democrat candidates that claim to be our allies and seek our support to sign a pledge to (a) call on Biden to issue an immediate general presidential pardon, and (b) if elected, continue to support that call regardless of the general outcome; and (c) pledges to sponsor and vote for all laws that bring legalization to all immigrants, provide a pathway to citizenship, undo all past punitive and restrictionist laws dating back to 1986, and promotes a new multilateral architecture for regional migration in North America.

That’ll shake the tree and put a real bite on the Democrats’ cavalier treatment and shameful betrayals on the issue of passing pro-immigrant laws, as well as forewarn them that unless they sign the pledge and mean it, they stand to lose the Latino and Asian vote for good.

Let the constitutional scholars debate the feasibility of issuing such a bold pardon—there is ample precedent in American jurisprudence for class pardons. Let the timorous and duplicitous politicians that have betrayed the immigrant communities again and again now feel the heat coming from the immigrant side. Let President Biden confront his own naïve delusions regarding negotiating anything on immigration with the Trumpist Republicans, and finally wake up and muster the resolve to act boldly while he still can—or lose the Latino and Asian vote this November, as well as other progressive sectors fed up with his failure to deliver results thus far.

And let the country and the region as a whole begin to confront and begin to reduce the migration chaos it has allowed to burn for decades. 

Either we push Biden to cut through the Gordian Knot of entangled regional migration at its hardest, American core, or much deeper, endemic social and political chaos awaits this country and the region. There is no alternative.

President Biden, sign a General Presidential Pardon and help lead North America to a new beginning!

Democrat candidates, sign the pledge or face defeat in November! 

Enough is enough! 

¡La lucha sigue y sigue! 

¡Norteamericanos somos todos!


Gonzalo Santos is a long-time activist and scholar at California State University, Bakersfield, where he teaches sociology and is a faculty advisor of the group United Now for Immigrant Rights.