American Democratic socialists pass resolution favoring open borders

May 31, 2019 • 1:00 pm

UPDATE AND ERRATA: I have erred, and I am to blame. The DSA Convention hasn’t yet taken place, and will be held August 2-4 in Atlanta, Georgia. This is just a resolution which is proposed to the membership, but it’s not clear that even if this is adopted somehow, it will become part of the DSA’s political platform for the next election.

However, the Immigrants’ Rights Working Group of the DSA has published its goals:

Our Objectives
Our policy objectives are ultimately abolitionist:

Abolish ICE
Abolish Borders
Abolish Detentions
Abolish Travel Bans
Abolish Deportations

So this remains a viable option for the DSA. It is not, however, part of their present official platform, and I apologize for my error. However, what I say about the necessity of Democrats’ proposing serious immigration reform is unchanged.
I’ve often said that the Democratic Party is cagey in limning its own immigration program in response to Trump’s own odious, kneejerk, and constantly changing policy. I haven’t seen much about a Democratic immigration program, though I haven’t paid a lot of attention. My own take is that Democrats are struggling to formulate such a policy. And to many voters it seems that the Democrats want open borders in the U.S.—a policy that simply won’t work, either for the functioning of the country or as a stand that could help Democrats get elected in 2020.

But one party to which at least two House Democrats and one Senator belong, has just espoused open borders at its national convention: The Democratic Socialists of America. Two congresswomen elected as Democrats are also members of the DSA: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Bernie Sanders is also a Democratic Socialist. While I support some of the DSA’s stands, including its pro-labor position and its endorsement of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election (I voted for him in the primary, and for Clinton in the general election), I disagree with others, such as their anti-Zionism and view that Israel has no right to exist in its present form. Tlaib adheres to this policy, while Ocasio-Cortez refuses to give her position on Israel for fear it would hurt her image.

Well, if you’re a fan of the DSA, which the Republicans will deliberately conflate with the Democratic Party when it suits their needs, be aware that they just passed a resolution for open borders. Click on the screenshot to see the resolution, of which I quote only a part below:


Whereas borders serve to undermine the international working class, by pitting immigrant and citizen workers in America — and foreign and American workers — against each other in a race to the bottom;

Whereas border and immigration enforcement are tools of white supremacy, capitalism and imperialism;

Whereas borders, their creation, and their enforcement, erase the existence and sovereignty of indigenous peoples;

Whereas borders are, and will increasingly be, utilized to violently dominate and restrict people’s movement as climate change pushes people from their homes;

Whereas border and interior immigration enforcement threaten immigrant workers’ ability to organize;

Whereas Comprehensive Immigration Reform policies seek to control who “deserves” entrance to and/ or permanence in the US, and offer empty promises of protection for resident immigrants in exchange for increased border enforcement, and thus will continue to undermine solidarity and organizing efforts for immigrant justice;

Whereas immigration policy, and its enforcement practices, are set on the federal level, without democratic input or accountability and thus demands a nationally coordinated response;

Whereas the continual assault on immigrants’ rights from both the right and the center produces a reactionary, short-sighted view on immigration that reinforces border securitization, which pervades even leftist spaces and thus necessitates a positive, radical vision for immigration justice and internationalism;

Be it resolved that DSA supports the demand for open borders;

Be it resolved that DSA supports the the uninhibited transnational free movement of people, the demilitarization of the US-Mexico border, the abolition of ICE and CPB without replacement, decriminalization of immigration, full amnesty for all asylum seekers and a pathway to citizenship for all non-citizen residents;

This is a recipe for disaster on all fronts, and shows how clueless the DSA really is. It supports no borders anywhere, not just in the U.S.

But we don’t have a One World Society, and it’s hard to envision the ratchet of different countries having different cultures being reversed. At one time borders were more fluid than today, but those days are gone.

I’d be curious if the press asked Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Sanders if they favored open borders. They would dissimulate, of course, because it would hurt their own reputations and their standing within the Democratic Party and the Left in general. (I’d also like someone to ask Donald Trump if he believes in evolution.)

One of the most effective things that the Democratic Party could do before next year is to formulate a coherent immigration policy. While most Americans favor some continuing form of immigration, and say that immigrants strengthen this country (I agree), most Americans would bridle at the thought of open borders, and many would bridle at voting for a party or a President without a clearly stated immigration policy.


46 thoughts on “American Democratic socialists pass resolution favoring open borders

  1. “One of the most effective things that the Democratic Party could do before next year is to formulate a coherent immigration party.”

    Did you mean “immigration policy”?

  2. A question regarding this part:

    “Whereas borders, their creation, and their enforcement, erase the existence and sovereignty of indigenous peoples..”

    In the quotation above, What does “indigenous” mean? I ask this because I know many people who are affluent, educated, don’t question climate change…..who think that native americans are from “here”, for example.

    Ultimately, what you discover is that they think that homo sapiens evolved as distinct species in the Western Hemisphere. Or all over the place….really, like creationist. Of course, they would rather die than identify with the right.

    1. “Indigenous peoples” is prone to a snapshot effect that for the Americas is timed at which tribes are alive & well at the pre-Columbian to Columbian transition. Thus the Norse aren’t indigenous North Americans until we track down which hidden cave they’re living in in Newfie land. 🙂

      Looking at the website for the names of “indigenous people” groupings indicates that all living tribes present in the pre-Columbian Americas are regarded as indigenous i.e. all those who ancestrally walked through the Bering Strait. The Norse aren’t counted, as they seem not to have left a genetic mark, and the other route from across the Pacific isn’t thought to have resulted in colonisation of South America by Polynesians [but the Polynesians traded with South Americans who got there from the Bering Strait].

      Thus the “indigenous peoples” means the first [known] surviving settlers of the region in question: more than 500 native north American tribes, the Inuit & Yu’pik up in Alaska, the 400 Amazonian rainforest tribes etc etc are regarded TODAY as indigenous although we can be sure that the above have indulged in replacing peoples themselves in events lost forever to history.

      The above is my opinion mostly, so more knowledgeable correction is welcome!

      1. “Norse aren’t indigenous North Americans until we track down which hidden cave they’re living in in Newfie land. 🙂”

        Pretty sure Viking descendants in very small numbers were still on Greenland in 1492. So the non-existent alive today descendants of these would be Greenland indigenous if good old Christoper Columbus and his first trip are to be the start-time. Perhaps present-day Iceland should lay claim to a large chunk of North America.

        I’m a strong supporter of most indigenous claims within my country (Canada). But I also believe that the guilt associated with the European domination needs to be tempered. For example, the degree of genocide associated with one ‘tribe’ taking over from another may well be less there than what had happened often in the distant past but same geographical place.

      2. “.. but the Polynesians traded with South Americans who got there from the Bering Strait”

        My understanding is that the evidence for this is still weak to non-existent, and the idea is generally rejected by experts.

  3. A second question:

    Are porous/open borders sustainable with a benefits giving state, ie single payer medicine, medicaid, social security, etc etc?

    I am thinking about Gov Newsom of California vis a vis CA legislature wanting to expand subsidized healthcare to all immigrants (eventually) including the undocumented.

    1. To fund his expansion of healthcare to illegals, Governor Nuisance is raiding county health agencies’ surpluses. Some counties will have their budgets cut as well, meaning California citizens will be deprived of health services so illegals can receive them.

      1. Matt, can you support the below with a link to the source you are using? I’m particularly interested in knowing which counties will have their budgets cut & why:

        expansion of healthcare to illegals, [Gov. Gavin Newsom] is raiding county health agencies’ surpluses. Some counties will have their budgets cut as well, meaning California citizens will be deprived of health services so illegals can receive them.

        Also your narrative is highly selective, but I’ll go into that after I’ve seen your source[s]. My other concern is while California is a big state, your observation is somewhat cherry picked since there’s a few other states where illegals play a part & also illegals are NET CONTRIBUTORS to the economy. Paint it black why don’t you?

        1. Deciding which factors should be included in the formula to determine whether illegals are net contributors, would surely be a contentious exercise.

        2. Newsom proposes expanding eligibility to unauthorized young adult immigrants from age 19 through 25.
          His office estimates it would cost nearly $260 million to cover them in 2019-20. While state and federal governments usually share Medicaid costs, California would have to bear the full cost of covering this population.
          To help pay for it, Newsom proposes to redirect about $63 million in state funds from 39 counties, arguing they would no longer need to provide health benefits to low-income young adults covered by the state.

          Four counties struggling to cope with disease outbreaks — Placer, Sacramento, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus —

          “would take big and immediate hits to their public health budgets, officials say.
          The amount of money the governor wants to divert from them to cover unauthorized immigrants under Medi-Cal is far more than the counties now spend on comprehensive health services for those immigrants….”

          Three of those most-affected counties petitioned against the diversion of funds, outlining the immediate adverse affects:

          In response to criticism, Newsom recently revised his budget only slightly. By adding a six-month delay,

          “… it would cost $98 million to cover them in 2019-20, a significant drop from his original forecast of $260 million…. The lower cost estimate means the administration won’t need to divert money from those four counties. What it does need, it will take from a special state budget reserve fund…. Newsom still plans to divert state money from 35 mostly small and rural counties, funds that currently pay for health services for uninsured residents….”

          The state assembly is still considering a bill that would expand healthcare to every illegal in the state, at a cost of $3.4bn p/a. Newsom admits he has no idea where those funds would come from.

  4. the abolition of ICE and CPB without replacement

    Do they realize that these are the guys that stop drug smuggling, human trafficking (which is not just about illegal immigration, but forced prostitution etc.), and the more mundane smuggling associated with organized crime, right? And that these guys also work with their Mexican counterparts to stop gun smuggling from the US to the Mexican cartels, too?

    I’m all for greatly expanding legal immigration and treating illegal border crossers and asylum seeker far better than we do. But even in the far-left case of open borders for willing human beings, customs and border agents serve a critical function in helping to reduce unwilling people movement and illegal goods movement.

  5. About a week ago there was a Washington Post headline that read: “After shooting himself in the foot, Trump wonders why he’s having trouble walking”. It seems the DSA simply want to join the hobbling classes

  6. Bernie Sanders is also a Democratic Socialist.

    Bernie is a small “d” democratic socialist, and has been endorsed by the DSA, but he is not, to my knowledge anyway, a member (card-carrying or otherwise) of the Democratic Socialists of America.

  7. Open borders? Great – I guess in that case the lefties will immediately stop complaining about all those supposedly “illegal settlements” on the West Bank of the Jordan. After all, if borders are oppressive and invalid, and everyone has the right to live wherever they want, then no-one can object to Jews living there, can they?

    1. That is patently a false equivalence since the immigrants (to USA) are not seeking to throw USians off their land or establish exclusively Immigrant townships.

      There is no resemblance between the two cases.


  8. I’d also like someone to ask Donald
    Trump if he believes in evolution.

    He would answer with a question: What is evolution? But you know he is a young Earth creationist.

      1. Drumpf’ll think: ‘Let me check with my base before I say what I claim to believe on this question of evolution’.

  9. Bernie was very clear about his position on open borders when asked about it in 2016: see this interview with Vox. He calls it a “Koch brothers proposal”. And indeed it was not received very well by the identitarians.

  10. “While most Americans favor some continuing form of immigration. . . .”

    I would say that almost all Americans, even Donald Trump, favor some continuing form of immigration, but you’re definitely right that most would bridle at open borders. This DSA proclamation is indeed “a recipe for disaster.”

  11. How clever of the DSA to include a specific denunciation of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The capitalized term alludes to S.744, proposed in 2013 by a bipartisan group of Senators including (beside John McCain) such influential Democrats as Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer (currently Senate minority leader). With President Obama’s support, the measure passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin, but was blocked in the House.

    The DSA might also be asked whether it considers border enforcement “tools of white supremacy, capitalism and imperialism” when the border is that of Venezuela, and the enforcers are under the orders of the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela. The whirring sound we hear at each new DSA pronouncement is Michael Harrington, spinning in his grave.

  12. I believe the democrats are suppose to come out with something soon regarding immigration but not sure when. Certainly it won’t be anything like open borders. Many have said we must start concentrating on the origins of the problem we are seeing at our southern border, not the end result. Most of these people are from three central American countries and they are fleeing from bad conditions at the origin. So that is where we must go to correct the problem. Going after Mexico is just stupid and only Trump does these things. Right now he is putting Tariffs on Mexico if they don’t stop the people coming. It is insane.

    1. But Mexico is allowing those people to transit through Mexico relatively unimpaired.
      When we try to impose some sort of order amidst the chaos of places like Honduras, we inevitably end up with all sides of the conflict there hating us, and everyone else in the world angry about imperialism.

      And providing aid without supervisory infrastructure only works with places that are undergoing temporary setbacks, not long-term systemic breakdowns. The aid we send to failed states is just another source of wealth and power for corrupt leaders, or criminal gangs and clans.

      I have been on the ground for several such efforts. It can be a very disheartening experience.

      This reminds me of my Grandmother. Her church was pretty focused on aid and missionary work in Haiti. I have been there several times, and see the problems there as having no easy solutions.
      She saw pictures of the Haiti, noticed that it was a fertile place with lots of rain, and decided that all we needed to do was send them some seeds, and they could grow themselves out of famine. But that is not how it works at all. The solution is significant cultural change, which is an idea that they are generally hostile to. And as they are sovereign nation, that should probably be their right.

      Attempting to impose our solutions to such places only results, in the long term, in more airplanes being flown into tall buildings.

      1. You have lots of complaints but no solutions. To blame Mexico for others marching across their country not only solves nothing, it makes another enemy. Putting tariffs on Mexico will cost us. Building walls will solve nothing. Closing borders with a trade partner like Mexico is even worse. Diplomacy is almost always the answer but this is not in the vocabulary these days.

          1. As I kind of hinted at earlier, going to the source of the problem is the way and that is central America. People do not walk hundreds and hundred of miles across Mexico with small children, even babies without something seriously wrong down there. I hear nothing about that on the news. All I heard was Trump was pissed and cut of what aid we use to give these countries. That’s going to help allot. Lots of gangs maybe, lawless places and lots of desperate people, that is all I know.

            Maybe Trump, who is so good at dishing out threats, should threaten action in these central American countries unless they take care of the people. That would be a lot smarter than what he has been doing the past two years. I guess he is too busy threatening Iran, right?

            1. Better – help, genuinely, to fix what the US did to smash those countries in pieces, so people don’t have to leave them (as much).

              (Canada is also responsible for some of this, most recently in Nicaragua.)

        1. It is true that I don’t have many solutions. But that, I think, is better than believing falsely that I do have the answers.

          I have at least personally experienced what it is like to try to help those in dysfunctional countries, as well as those experiencing temporary disasters. My conclusion has been that what I thought were helpful solutions were usually not that at all.
          “Building walls will solve nothing.”
          Walls are a force multiplier. Any wall or gate or vault can be penetrated by a determined person given enough time. Barriers are designed to give us time to respond to intrusions.
          We will always need walls. It is a luxury to live in the sort of society where those walls are far away, but they always exist somewhere. In a lot of places, people are accustomed to living with bars on their windows and doors, often surrounded by walls topped with broken glass. I really don’t want to have to live like that.

          I would really prefer that Mexico gets it’s act together as far as controlling violence, criminal activity, and corruption. I am happy to help pay to achieve that goal, especially through partnerships between their military and police forces and ours. If not that, then through financial pressure.
          Open borders are absolutely the wrong answer. If you are willing to remove barriers, then you are by default willing to accept things reaching equilibrium.
          And even the level of things at equilibrium is hard to quantify in advance.

          1. Falsely believing I have answers. You are not going to get there if your statement wishing that Mexico gets it’s act together controlling crime and corruption is the answer. Mexico has had those things for many years. We have our share as well.

            Let’s just ask ourselves what has our administration done the past two or three years to solve this so-called emergency at the border. At one time he shut down our govt. for more than 30 days and did not pay about 800,000 workers. That really helped. Then he declares emergency so he can try to steal money and build walls. He uses the emergency to install tariffs. Everything is an emergency. Lets take that emergency stuff down to central America and solve the problem where it actually begins. There really is no other way.

            1. When I mentioned “believing falsely that I do have the answers”, I was not making an accusation. It was instead about my own experiences. Somalia in particular. Between the first time I went there to deliver aid and the last time I was there, the only change I see is that the population doubled. More direct food aid only results in more people who are completely dependent on that aid, and still on the edge of famine. When that aid is eventually disrupted, the suffering and conflict will be unimaginable.
              I have seen other places where two groups are perpetually fighting each other, and we tend to support “the underdog”, and construct a narrative that they are the good guys. But mostly they are not. They are just the ones losing right now. When they gain control, they start genociding their enemy right back. By always supporting the underdog, we only prolong the conflict, which results in more suffering and death.

              I don’t think we can fix Honduras or El Salvador any more than we can fix Somalia.

              As for Mexico, The only solutions I can come up with is them solving their own problems, us going in and imposing our solutions on them, or our doing what we can to keep Mexican problems on their side of the border.
              The first option is not something we can control, the second does not seem to work.
              How would you solve those problems?

        2. Problem Nº 1 in Latin America is teen pregnancy, and enemy Nº 1 is the Vatican and, increasingly, the Evangelicals. The Left should allow Trump to build the wall, and direct all its energies against the real enemies.

    2. Under international law (1951 UNHCR refugee status protocol), Mexico qualifies as the “first country of asylum” for refugees arriving there from Central America, and is obliged to process asylum claims and provide housing, care, etc. Once granted asylum by the first country, refugees are free to travel outside that country — but of course at that point they are no longer seeking asylum.

      NB: It was this provision, codified in the EU charter as the Dublin Regulation, that Angela Merkel unilaterally abrogated.

      1. That is a nice and worthless law you discover there. Also why the UN and their pronouncements are pretty much ignored. It is like making laws from my bathroom, at least I have a place to flush them.

        1. It’s a treaty, and Mexico is a signatory. The only response to non-compliance is to enact sanctions, something you’ve declared “just stupid” and “insane.”

  13. Comrade Alexandria long ago called for the abolishment of ICE. It’s unsure whether she favors abolishing travel bans, but she does wish to ban travel by any mode but high-speed rail or Prius.

  14. The Immigrant’s Rights Working group must be a false flag operation, they say exactly what the Trump cult followers and Russian trolls accuse the liberals (‘libtards’) of saying.

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