Immigrant Rights are Workers’ Rights! No Somos Illegales, Somos Trabajadores!

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Abolish ICE and the CBP (Border Patrol)!
For Mass Labor Action to Liberate the Kidnapped Children and Unite the Families Now!

Down with Trump’s Muslim Ban! No One is Illegal!
Tear Down the Wall! For Free Movement Across Borders!

For Full Citizenship and Employment Rights for All Refugees!

Tearing children away from their parents is well beyond the pale of human decency. Yet the American imperialist ruling class unabashedly breaks up families and locks up children who are likely to be traumatized forever from the experience. The liberal and religious “left” cry crocodile tears for the children and seek to make Trump the anomaly, while they give the last administration’s Deporter in Chief a pass and ignore the causal factors leading to mass migration, many put in place or sustained by Democratic regimes and their forbearers dating back to the Monroe Doctrine. It was in 2009 during the Obama regime that the U.S. supported, allowed and advanced the dictatorial coup against Zelaya in Honduras. A military dictatorship which today shuts down union organizing with a bullet to the head to ensure U.S. capitalist interests are secure. These conditions of oppression drive people to migrate.

Republicans and Democrats alike have intervened militarily to annex territories now claimed by the United States from Puerto Rico to Hawaii. These twin parties of oppression collude to prop up and sustain military dictatorships that protect the local Latifundistas and comprador bourgeoisie of Latin America. Decade after decade for the last hundred and sixty years there have been so many incursions and manipulations, slaughters and disappearances, enough to fill volumes.

The NAFTA agreement created the corn crisis in Mexico to the advantage of Big Agra, ADM, Monsanto, and the finance capital behind them. Cheap U.S. Genetically Modified corn flooded the market driving Mexican farmers to bankruptcy, opening the market opportunities for the cartels and the further desolation of our Mexican brethren. The workers and farmers are driven into total immiseration and poverty. Criminal enterprises and criminal brutality festers and people living in fear do their best to survive and sometimes have no choice but to run. Run from total destitution or run from total brutali; running just to have a life. The causal factor is and has been imperialist super-exploitation justified by the imperial mandate: the Monroe Doctrine and the ideological justification of slavery, slaughter of the First People, denigration of immigrants, the “White Man’s Burden” since the early days of the Republic.

Capitalism has no solution to the human suffering involved in the international migration of populations because its life blood-profits- depend on the exploitation, oppression and subjugation of the masses of workers and farmers in Latin America and other countries of the global south to sustain the the capitalist class’s wealth and power. The international crisis and brutality of capitalism is driving masses from their homes from Myanmar to Bangladesh, from Syria and Central America. As capitalism cannot prevent the causes of migration, its ideologues engage in xenophobic and nationalistic rhetoric and unleash brutal state repression against immigrants in order to whip up a nationalist revival of patriotism and hatred to divide the working class and mask the decay of the teetering behemoth. Right wing populism-the path to fascism-is the ruling class’s last refuge against emergent internationalist working class consciousness and its corollary, independent political action.

Trump, Republicans, and the Democrats

Republicans and the Democrats built and wielded the anti-immigrant state machinery that Trump is currently using. It is not really necessary to go into much detail about Trump or the GOP. They represent capitalist social reaction with few niceties. The Democrats, at least their progressive caucus, play the liberal populist card and what is left of the ‘left’ in the U.S. perpetuate vast illusions in the Democrats, in electoralism and the institutions of power as reformable with “good” candidates.

It was Hillary Clinton who in a 2014 interview stated that “[W]e have to send a clear message. Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.” Her husband, Bill Clinton, dramatically increased anti-immigrant measures such as Operation Gatekeeper, the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Black Lives Matter co-founder and Executive Director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Opal Tometi, wrote that “As a result of these laws, millions of immigrants have been victims of fast-track deportations and unjust, arbitrary detention; families and communities have been torn apart; and entire generations of immigrants have been criminalized.

In 2010, Obama allocated $600 million to patrolling the border which included deploying drones. The Obama administration deported a record 1.5 million immigrants in his first term under formal removal (which has a lasting legal consequence unlike returns), breaking previous records. In August, 2011, at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast Obama administration Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano bragged, “The numbers are going to be very robust in terms of numbers of removal — we don’t fool around about this. Our border enforcement is second to none.” And she wasn’t kidding. If the Obama administration’s attacks on immigrants appear “humane” to liberals, it is only because it is difficult to compete on the social reaction scale with such racist, right-wing, anti-immigrant xenophobes such as Iowa nut job Congressman Steve King or budding dictator Donald Trump.

And while the Feds wage attacks on immigrants, several states have enacted or have tried to enact anti-immigrant legislation. Jeff Session’s Alabama passed HB56 in 2011 which is considered the toughest immigration law in the United States. Its provisions deter children from going to school, deny people public benefits and the ability to rent housing or earn a living, along with a range of new immigration-related offenses with draconian penalties attached. It also involves racial profiling where state and local police officers can detain and investigate people based on a “suspicion” that they may be undocumented immigrants. In effect this is a throwback to the days of de jure segregation of George “Segregation Forever” Wallace’s Alabama. In 2012, the Alabama law was revised and made even harsher.

Between E-Verify checks, registering for Registered Provisional Immigrant Status (RPI) or applying for a visa, the federal and state agencies have full toolboxes with which to track and target “undesirables,” native-born or not. Even as immigrants fight to become legal citizens, civil liberties for the native born are being shredded as the government wages its never-ending “War on Terror,” which actually means a war on workers and the oppressed domestically and abroad. For the Black and Brown communities, this is a literal war being waged against their neighborhoods and their persons. A Black person is gunned down by the racist cops practically every day (at the rate of every 28 hours in America in 2014).

The “secure border” Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)

To their credit, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) have organized rallies against Trump’s deportations. DSA combines street actions and organizing (such as tenant unions,) with political support for the Democratic Party of U.S. imperialism. DSA supports “progressive” Democrats for office, such as Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner. Only fake-socialists support cops, D.A.’s, judges, prison guards, ICE, the CBP or any other repressive agency of the capitalist state.

Krasner has shown his true colors as he appointed rabid death penalty advocate, pro-cop and former D.A./Justice Ronald Castille to his transition team. Krasner’s office has stonewalled on releasing documents that could help free former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal who has been imprisoned for the last three decades on a frame-up. The documents implicate Castille as playing a significant personal role in Mumia’s case at the time as District Attorney. Castille, later on as a justice and chief justice in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court refused to recuse himself from Mumia’s appeals. Krasner’s office has publicly stated that Castille had no “significant, personal involvement” in Mumia’s case when Castille was a D.A.? Krasner certainly knows which side he is on. Organizing protest rallies cannot make up for bad politics. DSA fights not for a socialist political program to abolish capitalism, but for the politics of the liberal populist Democratic Party that they yearn for. They dream of an Eleanor Rooseveltian “New-New Deal” and sell this to collegians. This is something Capital will not let them have absent an upsurge of the working class with a class-for-itself dynamic. Should this happen the DSA will be revealed as another ploy of reaction designed to maintain the dictatorship of Capital and its facade, the bourgeois-democratic superstructure.

DSA’s main slogan against Trump’s anti-immigrant terror is to “Abolish ICE”, which is fine on the face of it. It has become the main slogan for the protests and is demagogically supported by a section of the Democratic Party, and even some ICE agents themselves who prefer not to terrorize children and would rather chase national security “threats” and child pornographers. However, “Abolish ICE” only touches the surface and avoids the question of imperialism that drives immigrants to leave their countries; it avoids the question of anti-immigrant border security, full democratic rights for immigrants and even the anti-immigrant laws and other repressive state agencies besides ICE.

To much acclaim by reformist socialists, DSA member and Democratic Party candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated longtime incumbent Joseph Crowley in the primary for New York’s 14th congressional district. Ocasio-Cortez ran on Medicare for All, free college, jobs for all, to abolish ICE and for “immigration justice.” Already after her win, when pressed in an NPR interview about open borders, Ocasio-Cortez stated: “Well, I think – I do think that we have to have a secure border. We need to make sure that people are, in fact, documented. But that doesn’t mean that we threaten people’s lives. It doesn’t mean that we kill them.

So much for “workers of the world unite!” as far as DSA is concerned. What “justice” is there in border security, immigrant deaths from trying to cross the border, guest worker status, e-verify employment authorization or waiting years for not even guaranteed citizenship, with many hurdles put in place? We say there can be no second-class workers. The demand for “immediate full citizenship and employment rights for all immigrant workers and their families” unites the most oppressed workers with the rest of the class; it does so in logic, but in fact the conscious workers have to wage the struggle for this unity. This requires launching a struggle for jobs for all. Immediately these struggles will collide headlong with the interests of our capitalist class enemy and with their defenders. We need to unite and organize the entire multi-racial, multi-ethnic working class to fight against this unjust capitalist system, and a critical part of that fight means defending the democratic rights of immigrants, one of the most vulnerable and exploited sections of the working class.

Immigrant Rights are Workers’ Rights! No Somos Illegales, Somos Trabajadores!

Anti-immigrant, along with anti-Black racism, is the spearhead of social reaction in the U.S. The defense of immigrant workers, along with Black and Brown democratic rights, is crucial for the American working class. Immigrants bring strong traditions of labor militancy and class consciousness as was demonstrated for example by the Justice for Janitors LA strike in 1990 and the International Workers May Day walkouts in 2006. Immigrants are concentrated in key sectors of the U.S. working class, particularly in the industrial working class. The working class in America will be incapable of uniting and making significant gains unless they come to the defense of their immigrant fellow workers.

Karl Marx wrote of chattel slavery “Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded.” This quote could be applied to Black oppression as well as to immigrants today. In the union organizing victory at Smithfield Foods in North Carolina in 2008, Black and Brown unity against anti-immigrant attacks played a major role in successful union organizing. In contrast, the South remains largely unorganized today because the CIO was unwilling to take on Jim Crow segregation during its Operation Dixie organizing drive from 1946-53. And while AFL-CIO President Trumka may invoke his Polish immigrant ancestors, anti-immigrant racism is directed primarily at those emigrating from Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa.

As Karl Marx wrote of the British and Irish working class:

And most important of all! Every industrial and commercial centre in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians. The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life. In relation to the Irish worker he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the “poor whites” to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A.. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money. He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland.

This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organisation. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this.” (emphasis added, Letter: Marx to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt In New York, 1870)

The infamous, racist Postville, Iowa raid (see the excellent documentary “AbU.S.ed: The Postville Raid”) and deportations at Agriprocessor, Inc. in 2008 also points to the intersection of labor and the fight for immigrant rights. This raid was conducted at a time when the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) were conducting an organizing campaign. There were large rallies, organized mainly by religious organizations. But what was needed was a fighting labor movement. Massive, militant Labor, Black, and Brown mobilizations to defend the immigrant workers against La Migra through labor actions were needed. Organized disciplined, militant and trained Labor/Black/Brown self-defense guards with the perspective of driving ICE out of the plants and the community were what was called for. Labor action such as solidarity strikes were needed both throughout the Midwest, as well as nationally and internationally to demand no deportations and that all workers imprisoned be immediately released. An all-out organizing campaign should have been launched to organize not only Agriprocessors, but the entire meat-packing industry which is heavily Latino and immigrant. And the surrounding communities should have been organized as well.

In the 1930’s, at Hormel in Austin, Minnesota, workers organized the Independent Union of All Workers using militant, class struggle means such as sit-down strikes. This was led by Frank Ellis, an IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) organizer and by Trotskyist militants. They went on to organize much of Austin and surrounding communities “wall-to-wall”. This is the kind of organizing that is desperately needed today. It certainly isn’t going to come from the servile, sellout, class-collaborationist union bureaucracy, whose ideas of “mobilizations” are rallies and vote-herding for the Democratic Party. A general strike was needed nearly 40 years ago when Reagan busted PATCO. And here we are today with the Janus Supreme Court decision that is a direct attack on public sector unions.. And the labor misleaders are doing zilch.

A new generation of worker leaders needs to be built, particularly a class struggle leadership of Black, Brown, immigrant and women workers. These are the more militant and class conscious members of the working class. Worker militants need to start organizing rank-and-file caucuses and action committees within our unions based on a political program of irreconcilable class struggle to organize and mobilize the workers against the assault of capital and to replace the misleadership of the labor-fakers who hold back struggle. Uniting the trade unions with the oppressed communities in struggle is necessary if we are to even begin to defend what we have. Anti-immigrant racism sows disunity within the working class and places a very vulnerable and exploited sector of workers in an even weaker position. Immigrants didn’t cause the financial collapse and attacking immigrants does nothing but further the consolidation of power of the wealthy few who exploit workers throughout the world.

Internationally the capitalist crisis has seen the rise of xenophobic, racist reaction. The fascists have once again entered the political stage in Europe and the U.S.. The ascendancy of wannabe Bonapartist Trump has witnessed the growth of the ‘Alt-Right’, the KKK, Nazis and other white supremacists.The fascists, if not stopped, will not only attack immigrants, but they will crush a revived labor movement and the workers and leftist political parties. The labor bureaucracy, the reformist socialists, the Stalinists, the Chavistas and the anarchists have no means of resolving the crisis of capitalism and theirs are the politics of dead-end reformism. They have no perspective of organizing workers defense guards and militias; of building workers councils and building revolutionary Leninist workers parties to fight to organize the workers to smash the capitalist state and implement workers rule, and fight for socialism on a world scale.

Imperialism and “Free Trade,” Super-Exploitation of the International Working Class

The implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the Central American Free trade Agreement (CAFTA) increased U.S. imperialist exploitation of Latin America. While NAFTA did create 800,000 jobs in the Maquiladora zone in Mexico, income inequality and poverty have risen as nearly two million campesinos in Mexico were uprooted off traditional subsistence farmlands while the real wages of workers have fallen by about 20 percent. Now Trump thinks this is not nearly a big enough bite, and his policy generally can be called one of autarchy and abrogation, overruled only by the cautions imposed by the Federal courts. Despite Trump’s new tariffs, capital is still moving to capitalist China where raw exploitation of workers is even greater. These trade agreements furthered the bosses’ assault on workers in the U.S. and throughout Latin America, and the administration believes it can get even more one-sided deals at the semicolonies’ expense.

Capitalism is a world economic system; National divisions are maintained by the capitalists so that Capital can control its sources of wealth and in the imperialist club expand their exploitation beyond their borders. It was Marx that predicted that capital would seek to commodify the world and that despite capital being national in origin, it acts on an international basis, remaking the world in a manner in which it can exploit labor, thereby uniting all workers in an international class confrontation. The main enemy is at home and it is American capitalism, the capitalist ruling class and their Democratic/Republican political parties, not our working class sisters and brothers! We say workers of the world unite! There are no borders to capitalist nations which workers are bound to respect! The system is international, our class is international and the struggle is international!

As our fraternal comrades in the Revolutionary Workers Group of Zimbabwe stated several years ago in calling for International Working Class solidarity:

WE CALL ON WORKERS IN THE IMPERIALIST COUNTRIES U.S.A, FRANCE, AND CHINA: TAKE THE JACK BOOT OF IMPERIALISM OFF OUR NECKS! TURN THEIR COLONIAL WARS AND PROXY WARS IN AFRICA AND ASIA INTO CLASS WARS AT HOME! DEFEAT YOUR RULING CLASS’ ECONOMIC AND MILITARY INTERVENTIONS!

Unite the international working class in struggle at home & internationally across borders!

No one is illegal! Tear down the fences and disband the Border Patrol! Abolish ICE! Down with Trump’s Muslim ban! Asylum for all refugees! For free movement of all workers across the border! No fines or fees!

Full citizenship and employment rights for all workers!

Down with racism and racial profiling! No scapegoating of oppressed peoples! Down with English-only bigotry! For mass Labor/Community militant actions to stop ICE raids and deportations!

For labor political strikes to defend immigrant workers! For labor defense guards to defend immigrants at the border and to drive ICE from the workplaces and the communities!

Free all detained undocumented workers! Down with E-Verify!

Let workers choose where to work by demanding that all workers who do the same work get the same contract, same wages, and same working conditions, regardless of country!

An injury to one is an injury to all! For international working class struggle!

Fight for full employment at full union rates and benefits for all! For 30 hours of work for 40 hours pay to spread the available work!

Nationalize major industries and the financial sector without compensation under workers control to provide adequate access to credit and to get the wheels of industry rolling again!

American workers: The main enemy is right here at home and it is the U.S. capitalist ruling class! U.S. military out of the Middle East! Defeat U.S. imperialism in Latin America, in the Middle East, and everywhere!

Break with the Democrats and Republicans!

Build an internationalist fighting workers’/labor party to struggle for a workers’ government to abolish capitalism and its system of national borders!

For a new revolutionary Workers International, the World Party of Socialist Revolution!

For socialist revolution throughout Latin & North America and the Caribbean! For a socialist federation of the Americas and the Caribbean!

(Ed Note: This leaflet was adapted and updated from a 2013 CWG-USA leaflet)

Sources:

https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/obama-record-deportations-deporter-chief-or-not

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/08/immigration-democrats-hillary-clinton-barack-obama

https://www.npr.org/2018/06/27/623773884/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-on-her-primary-victory

http://www.blackstarnews.com/us-politics/justice/district-attorney-krasner-opposes-re-opening-mumia-abu-jamals

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