On this May Day, the international working-class holiday, the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) joins with our fellow workers in the United States to protest the attacks on immigrant workers here in the belly of the imperialist beast.
Immigrants have been living in a political environment of escalated threats for the past year. They fear a knock on the door or a workplace raid by the government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) police agents -- or a “routine stop” by local or state police. As well, the U.S. government boasts that it deported more than a million immigrants in fiscal year 2007, a record high. And the detention of Arabic-speaking or South Asian immigrants of seemingly Muslim background, who disappear into jail for years on suspicion of “terrorism,” has continued unabated.
The war on immigrants in the U.S. reflects the deepening crisis of imperialism world wide. Life for the masses under the imperialist system is getting more desperate. In oppressed nations, skyrocketing prices for food have driven many into near starvation --in Haiti, Indonesia, Egypt, sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. Imperialism offers only misery for humanity.
The more “lucky” workers in oppressed nations have some food on their plates. But they are as a rule forced to accept the most meager wages, while the imperialists reap the bulk of the profits. The exploitation and conditions of life that imperialism imposes on people is so severe that millions are forced to migrate. Many end up immigrating to the U.S. and other imperialist centers -- to look for work, just to survive and feed their families.
We in the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP) explain that the root cause of the increasing economic misery, both around the world and in the U.S., is the imperialist capitalist system. It is also the root cause for the disgusting racism and national chauvinism which is perpetrated against people of color and immigrants.
This year we have the presidential election. For the pro-capitalist movement leaders, that is all the more reason to put great energy into pushing the vote -- with the supposedly grand goal of electing a Democratic president. The strategy of electoralism, with an emphasis on supporting Democratic politicians, hasn’t worked in the past two years and it’s not working now. The truth is that only independent action of the working class can lead to a real solution regarding the attacks on immigrants.
Meanwhile Democrats and Republicans in Congress are lining up behind the anti-immigrant Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act, which would build more border walls, hire more Border Patrol and tighten ID checks for hiring. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) do not even oppose these measures for the most part. The CHC along with others in Congress still speak in favor of “comprehensive reform.” However, under the current circumstances, whatever new legal project they come up with is bound to be no better than the STRIVE bill of 2007 (See Mobilize Immigrant Workers Power).
Another prominent recent example of a dangerous proposal that is getting support is the so-called DREAM Act (Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors) in Congress. The DREAM Act is also supported by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
This bill is supposed to assist immigrant youth by granting temporary residence to high school diploma or GED holders, and permanent residence to those who complete two years of college. But very few immigrant youth can afford college, and under the DREAM Act they won’t even be eligible for federal education grants. The DREAM Act’s real purpose is not education, but using immigrants as cannon fodder for the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill’s more realistic path to permanent resident status is to serve two years in the U.S.’s “volunteer” army. This deadly trick will reinforce the disproportionate recruitment of Latino and Black youth into the military by economic pressure.
As well, it’s the internationalist duty of workers to oppose imperialism and seek unity with workers and oppressed peoples across national borders. This means opposing U.S. imperialist invasions and opposing the recruitment of young soldiers, many of them immigrants, into today’s army to kill Iraqi or Afghan workers for the benefit of U.S. imperialism.
Most of the pro-capitalist immigrant rights groups say that bills like the DREAM Act and STRIVE are steps forward; In fact they would be another step backward. These pro-capitalist politicians and leaders sneer at revolutionaries for saying we should fight all the attacks on immigrants and other workers. “In the real world,” they say, “you can’t get everything you want tomorrow. If we get a little something helpful, that’s a start.” Revolutionaries agree. But it’s not “realistic” or helpful to support proposals which are actually harmful to immigrants!
The three main presidential candidates, Senators Obama, McCain and Clinton, support these kinds of policies. While Obama and Clinton have avoided the most openly reactionary proposals, they all voted for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (CIRA), last summer’s “compromise bill” between Bush and the Democrats. CIRA aimed to tighten border security, modify temporary work visas and pressure employers not to hire undocumented workers. The bill only failed because many representatives in Congress oppose on principle the idea of offering a promise of citizenship to undocumented workers, even if it would only end up benefiting a tiny minority. To vote for Obama or Clinton is to vote for an enemy of immigrant workers and the whole working class, even if it seems to be a “lesser evil” than McCain.
The reason why many immigrant workers today accept the idea of settling for the kinds of politicians and laws the “pro-immigrant” leaders advocate is that they don’t see a real alternative. The mass immigrant marches in 2006 showed the potential for immigrant workers to exert their power, and even to spark a wider working-class struggle here in the U.S. But that potential has not yet been realized --due to pro-capitalist misleadership of different stripes.
Today the working class in the U.S. looks weak and terribly divided. The same imperialists who profit from the superexploitation they carry out in Latin America, Asia and Africa, hypocritically turn around and scapegoat immigrants in the U.S. for the economic crisis here. The aim is to divert American-born workers from their real enemy, their own ruling class.
This is the old strategy of divide-and-conquer. The U.S. capitalist class has always used racism to keep Black people down. They use false notions of American superiority, i.e. national chauvinism, to set American workers of all colors against immigrants. They use anti-Muslim prejudice to divide whites, Blacks and Latinos from Middle Eastern and South Asian workers. There are too many examples of this kind of divide-and conquer method at play.
There is only one way to stop racism, anti-immigrant attacks and all the other economic and social ills -- socialist revolution made by the working class. As the economic crisis deepens, if the capitalist class stays in power, in the United States, it will mean more job losses, evictions and inflation, more police raids against immigrants, more police brutality against Black people, and more wars abroad. Life in the oppressed nations will get even more horrific. Trying to make the existing social system more humane is a hopeless task.
The working class can win temporary victories under capitalism. The massive immigrant marches and partial strikes of Spring 2006 that killed the Sensenbrenner Bill is one example. (See the article “Democrats and Republicans, Enemies of Immigrant Workers” in PR 78) But ultimately it’s them or us: Either the capitalist class will rule, or the working class, in alliance with all the oppressed, will rule.
A key barrier must be overcome if revolution is to become possible. Workers must learn the need to fight all forms of racism and national chauvinism, the most vile way that capitalism divides workers and the oppressed against each other. By defending themselves from the racial oppression and denial of equal rights in this society, Latino, Black, and immigrant workers can play a key role in pointing the way forward for all workers. Revolutionaries advocate a strategy that champions the special demands of the oppressed, and also champions such demands as jobs for all and free and decent housing, healthcare and education for all -- which shows that the needs of all workers can be advanced in a unified manner, without suppressing the fight against racism and national chauvinism at all. This interracialist approach of uniting to oppose racial oppression and fighting for working-class gains is key. The working class must unite in struggle, across racial and national lines, in order to build the needed defense against the system.
While the class struggle in the U.S. is at a low point, the economic and social conditions will inevitably force more strikes and struggles. The wave of terror against immigrants in the U.S. takes place at a time when the situation for all workers in the U.S. is getting worse. Banks are taking workers’ houses and cars away as the mortgage crisis unfolds. Unemployment is rising, wages are stagnating, and the cost of food, gas and other necessities is skyrocketing. There is a material basis for unity, if a revolutionary party leadership can be built which can provide a way forward for day-to-day struggles that also points to a real solution.
Revolutionaries support all struggles while always arguing for the maximum working-class unity, in order to exert our class power and construct a real defense. We promote the idea of a general strike against all the capitalist attacks as the best way that the working class could turn around the one-sided war against immigrants, and in fact against all workers, in this country. It is only when such powerful struggles take place that it will be possible to make demands like “jobs for all” into a reality. Faced with massive upheavals, the ruling class may temporarily cede real gains to the working class as it did in the past.
However the real need for guaranteed full employment and a decent life for all really points toward the need for a different society, a socialist society based on workers’ unity and co-operation.
A workers’ socialist revolution would seize state power and replace the capitalist state with a workers’ state on the road to socialism. The socialist perspective requires not only making a revolution in one country, but a strategy for spreading workers’ revolution internationally. (See Workers Need International Unity.) The task of workers who understand the need for socialist revolution is to join together to show the way to their fellow workers. That is, they must form an internationalist workers’ revolutionary party, which is composed of vanguard workers who fight alongside our fellow workers in order to make the working class stronger and prove the need for revolution.
This task is the whole reason for the existence of the League for the Revolutionary Party (LRP). We urge all workers committed to the fight against imperialism and capitalism to join with us in the construction of this revolutionary party, in the U.S., Mexico, and all countries around the world.