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International of Anarchist Federations 2019 Congress statement on migration

Here is a summary of the work-group on migrations and borders at the eleventh congress of the International of Anarchist Federations 24-28th July 2019, Ljubljana, Slovenia which involved a series of workshops including one on migration with participation of organisations including FAI (Iberia – Spain/Portugal), FAI (Italy), FAO (Slovenia/Croatia), FA (French-speaking), AF (Britain), FLA (Argentina), IFA-Brazil, APO (Greece) & El Libertario (Venezuela).

The main points that arose were as follows:

War, climate change and poverty have triggered and continue to trigger massive migratory movements from the most exploited, oppressed and plundered areas of the world, towards the economically richer ones.

Migratory movements have triggered a process of “globalisation of poverty”, that has been encouraged by the interests of capitalists and supported by states. Because of national laws against migration, it is typically hard, if not impossible, for a poor person to enter a rich country legall, so that migrants who reside in them are constantly blackmailed. For this reason it is easier to impose worse working conditions compared to those of local workers, removing the rights and protections that have been won for all workers in many countries of the world.

Migrant workers have assured great profits for employers in the agriculatural (fruit and vegetable) sector, in the logistics and care-work sector and in the construction sector (hard and dangerous work). Both legal and illegal capitalism has greatly benefitted from their exploitation. States and capitalist interests have always been selective about approach to borders and migration. However, some states which have previously encouraged migration for economic gain are now opposing new external and internal migrations, appealing to xenophobia, racism and fear of the poor.

Strongly patriotic and nationalist groups, characterized by highly reactive and reactionary positions, have prevailed in several global areas, for example in South America as well as in the North and in the major part of Europe. As life conditions of all exploited people become worse in every corner of the planet, excluded identities are increasingly emerging, turning migrants into the enemy, so that the class war becomes a war amongst the poor. Only class solidarity amongst  exploited people can create a conflict capable of overthrowing the existing situation.

Along each and every border a war is being fought against people who are on the move. During this war, thousands of people have died, including many children, and they continue to die. Borders stay open for goods and those who have money, yet are closed for migrants. Fascists often offer themselves as a volunteer force to aid police repression. The number of walls is increasing and the systems of control are intensifying, so that social space is becoming more and more militarized. Electronic IDs, collection of biometric data, massive use of drones and thermal cameras are just some of the instruments adopted for the control and the repression of migrants. Structures being put into place on borders against migration are aiming to obtain the support of local populations (bringing them into the ‘police discourse’). Indigenous populations and oppressed ethnic groups of people are moving from peripheral and rural areas towards the larger metropolises (internal migration) to escape poverty and are suffering the same violence and discrimination as migrants. The transformation of the ‘migrant’ category into ‘enemy’ helps and facilitates states to impose security laws, threatening the freedom of all.

Many governments externalise the repression for undocumented people, giving money to other states along the different points of migration routes, where violence, rape and torture have become dreadfully common. So the European Union has paid Turkey, Italy is paying Libya and the USA is blackmailing Mexico. Many states are making deals in order to reject huge numbers of people, so that they cannot successful gain or apply for asylum. Others have abolished humanitarian and other forms of protection.

Gender related issues are a major concern. Women are often subjected to abuses by the police and are seperated from children and families. Women and LGBTQIA+ people are detained in detention camps on the borders and are also deported back to countries where they are in danger of harm.

Detention centres for migrants who are waiting to be removed are true prisons in which they are confined without any charges or trial. These centres represent a strong demarcation line between those who have ‘citizen’ rights and those who do not. In recent years the struggle against detention centres for the paperless (sans papiers) has seen many anarchists involved, alongside  migrants, whose struggling, rioting and escaping has showed that there is no cage that can contain the irrepressible desire for freedom.

In every corner of the globe in recent years democracy has been showing its true face, setting up in practice ‘criminal and administrative law of the enemy’. Poor and migrants alike are targets: they are enduring serious deprivations precisely because they’re poor and migrant. Against every state, every border, and for the free movement of all!