In recent weeks, we have seen the rapid growth of a magnificent new movement for immigrant rights. It has already drawn millions of protesters into the streets in more than 100 cities. It has emboldened tens of thousands of immigrant workers to go on strike and tens of thousands of high school students to walk out of classes. On May 1, the movement will take a historic step forward with mass protests, workplace strikes, and student walkouts shaking the country.
The movement erupted on March 10 when 300,000 predominantly Latino immigrants flooded the streets of Chicago to protest HR 4437. This bill would turn all 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. into felons.
Anybody offering them any type of assistance would become felons, too. Under the law, millions of hard-working immigrants could be rounded up and jailed to await deportation. School teachers, nurses, and even the children of undocumented workers would face fines and jail time.
Politicians thought they could win some votes in an election year by using immigrants as scapegoats for the severe problems in the U.S. They underestimated the willingness of the Latino and immigrant community to organize and fight back.
Some of the largest and most energetic protests in U.S. history have sprung up in dozens of cities throughout the country: 1 million in Los Angeles on March 25, 500,000 in Dallas on April 9, and up to two million in over 120 cities on April 10.
The action on May 1 promises to carry the movement forward under the banners The Great American Boycott 2006 and A Day Without an Immigrant. In a historic development, there has been widespread calls for a national immigrant worker strike. No Work, No School, No Sales, and No Buying We will settle for nothing less than full amnesty and dignity for the millions of undocumented workers presently in the U.S. (www.nohr4437.org)
For decades, Republicans, Democrats, and the big business interests they represent have had their cake and eaten it too. They want immigrants to come to the U.S. as cheap labor, but brand them as illegal aliens to keep them in a second-class status. Corporate America tries to keep immigrants in a permanent state of fear of arrest and deportation to stop them from organizing union drives to demand decent wages and benefits.
Immigrant workers are some of most hardworking people in this country, but they are paid the lowest wages and work the longest hours. Collectively, they pay more than $90 billion in taxes per year and only receive $5 billion in public welfare. The average immigrant will, over their lifetime, pay $80,000 more in taxes than they will collect in government services according to People For the American Way.
But this doesnt just concern immigrant workers. As long as they are deprived their basic rights, the U.S. working class will always be competing against workers who are forced to work for less, which exerts downward pressure on all our wages. Full and equal rights are the basis for pushing wages up and achieving what we all want: jobs with living wages, healthcare, pensions, etc.
No U.S. worker can be truly free while millions of immigrants are exploited and oppressed. The denial of democratic rights to undocumented immigrants represents a threat to all workers. The harsh repression of immigrants by the state is only the thin wedge of a general drive to push back democratic rights for all U.S. workers.
Socialist Alternative calls for unconditional and immediate amnesty for ALL undocumented workers living in the U.S. This is a basic human and democratic right, which will make it much easier for undocumented workers to begin to organize, unionize, and fight back.
Get involved with Socialist Alternative and help us fight for all workers rights by fighting for immigrant rights.
Socialist Alternative Stands For:
- Papers for All – Immediate and unconditional amnesty for all undocumented workers!
- Stop the deportations and attacks on immigrant communities!
- Drivers licenses for all who need them, regardless of immigration status!
- A living wage of $12.50/hour for all workers Organize the unorganized into unions!
- A free, universal national healthcare system! Healthcare is a right, not a privilege!
- Workers of the world unite! An Injury to One is an Injury to All!