by Daphna Whitmore
While Trump’s visa bans and a wall across the US-Mexico border are rightly seen as abhorrent, Labour and the Greens advocate a pretty high wall of immigration restrictions here in New Zealand.
Labour is facing criticism of its long simmering anti-immigration campaign and it is being called out as hypocritical for denouncing Trump while indulging in dog whistle politics.
The latest comments come from Peter Dunne who notes that Labour “talks about new migrants as problems, rather than as people”. He goes on to point out this “is exactly the same ‘us versus them’ narrative that contributes to reactionary and damaging policy regarding immigration”.
A few days earlier Graeme Edgeler on The Spinoff website suggested folks take a look at the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982. “In a sense, this law is worse than anything in Trump’s recent executive order,” says Edgeler. He goes on, “Trump’s order denied entry to the United States of people with a lawful right to be there (those with visas, and even initially, those with permanent residence), based on their country of origin. New Zealand’s treatment of Western Samoans went further – cancelling the citizenship of people legally entitled to it.”
We have written on this in Redline (see below for links). Edgeler reminds readers that it was Labour that started the Dawn Raids against Pacific Islanders in the 1970s. While the Citizenship Act was the work of a National government, Labour has never repealed the Act when in power.
It’s not all in the past either. Labour is continuing to plug an anti-immigration message. A few months ago Little was complaining about foreign chefs getting jobs in Chinese and Indian restaurants, and advocated “turning the tap down”. So what he is really saying is that workers from other parts of the world are expendible; use them when it suits and lock them out when ‘the economy’ is in a downturn. Meanwhile Little has nothing to say about what causes capitalism’s downturns. The Greens too want to cap immigration. Between Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First the nationalist, anti-foreign muttering never stops.
National, Act and the one-man party United Future present a slightly more progressive and humane attitude to migration, but their concerns are primarily focused on the needs of business.
At Redline we believe that freedom of movement is essential for human liberation. The capitalists want to make the most of cheap labour overseas and have shifted vast amounts of production to developing countries. They also want to use cheaper sources of labour locally. The answer to this is not to demonise the ultra-exploited; people need to stand together, to break down borders and organise against exploitation.
Here are a few of our articles on open borders and immigration controls:
Among those hardest hit by NZ’s immigration restrictions and discrimination at the point of entry have been Samoans. Indeed, Samoans faced a double-whammy, as 100,000 of them were stripped of NZ citizenship rights by the NZ Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act of 1982.
The following article details yet another of Labour’s racist immigration efforts – in this case the 2008 Immigration Amendment Bill. Indeed, one of the few differences between National and Labour is that the Labourites seem to be rather more racist than National when it comes to immigration.
This article first appeared in one of the predecessor publications to this site, namely revolution magazine, issue 21, August-October 2003. While the names of Labour’s bigots have changed, their political position on the issue remains. . . .
The article below is taken from issue #3 of revolution magazine, August/September 1997. The issues around immigration which it raises continue to be essential for a real workers’ movement – a movement which fights for the class as a class rather than subordinating workers to their exploiters.
Passports, border controls and immigration laws are a relatively new political development. They arrived with the emergence of the modern, capitalist nation state, most particularly in the late 1800s and early 1900s, “depriv(ing) people of the freedom to move across certain spaces and render them dependent on states and the state system […]