Politicians have been scrambling to outbid each other in attacking migrants as the European Union (EU) referendum looms closer.
The official Leave campaign has been obsessed. One of its mantras is “taking control of our borders”.
An online image linking the Orlando massacre to the EU’s supposedly open borders rightly provoked outrage.
So did Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s vile claim that immigration would fuel sexual assaults.
But the Remain side has been little better—even with Labour taking the lead to mobilise its voters.
Most of the Labour right accepts the myth that they lost working class support through being “soft” on immigration—not through war and privatisation.
So now their campaign insists Turkish citizens won’t gain the right to visa-free travel in the EU.
Blairite Chuka Umunna told a TV debate that “the problem of immigration” won’t go away if Britain leaves the EU.
But for Labour’s Alan Johnson, “If anyone believes that our UK border in Calais is going to survive us leaving the EU then once again they’re in the realms of fantasy.”
Former prime minister Gordon Brown warned on Monday, “When you saw Albanians coming into the country, that wasn’t Europeans trying to get in by right, that was illegal immigrants.”
For Brown, the EU is “the only way to deal with that”.
Brown is right about the EU’s role. It locks out, represses and policies migrants and refugees.
But socialists on both sides of the EU debate must stand firm against the racist lies of both official campaigns, and insist that all immigrants are welcome here.
Immigrants are not a “problem”, a “burden” or a “drain” on society.
That description applies better to the rich bosses who lay off workers and hoard empty houses, and the Tories who slash services and benefits.
Most migrants—whether from inside or outside the EU, whether refugees or “economic”—look for work. As workers they contribute to the wealth in society, and can be part of struggles to reclaim it.
And our culture is so much richer for centuries of immigration.
Scapegoating immigrants gives politicians a free hand to use racist repression and discrimination against a large section of the working class.
This opens the door to more attacks on all of us.
And it divides us in our struggle against the real drain on society—those at the top.