The Tasks of the Immigrant Workers’ Movement: For a working class program!

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As we approach the first anniversary of the immigrant worker mega-marches, the struggle for our rights continues. We defeated the Sensenbrenner bill, and yet the attacks on the families of undocumented workers have intensified. Dozens of raids, the limitation of habeas corpus, the militarization of the border, “no-match” letters, and other attacks on our class must be met with a decisive response!

We need a clear program of struggle that can lead us to victory – to full amnesty and equal rights for all immigrant workers and their families.

In 2006, millions of workers achieved what seemed impossible: we imposed our will on the powers that be through mass mobilizations on the streets. For decades, the traditional immigrant rights organizations fomented illusions in the legal and economic system of this country. They spent millions of dollars on lobbying, trying to win the tiniest of crumbs from the ruling class. What was the result of all these efforts?  The Sensenbrenner bill – an absurd and grotesque piece of legislation, a clear provocation intended to appease the most racist and ignorant sectors of U.S. society.  The bill included penalties including imprisonment for family members, trade unionists, clergy, and social workers who dared try and help undocumented workers improve their conditions of life. This was a smokescreen intended to make it look as though Congress was “doing something” to address the problems faced by all workers living in the U.S., whose conditions get worse every day.

It’s no wonder that millions of immigrant workers saw mass mobilizations as the most decisive way to struggle for our rights.  For the first time since the 1960s, the immigrant working class was able to demonstrate the enormous potential of struggling on the streets. Paralyzing the country from coast to coast, mobilizing tens and hundreds of thousands in every major urban center of the country, we acted as a united force in the struggle against the exploitation, racism, greed, and injustice of this system.  Less than 2 months passed between the March 10 mega march in Chicago and the national actions of May 1 – in that brief period we inflicted the greatest defeat yet suffered by this government.

Neither the betrayal of many “Latino” media outlets, nor the change of heart of many religious leaders, and not even the timid appeals for calm by the traditional “representatives of the immigrant community” could stop the national boycott on May 1st of last year. May Day was an independent movement which clearly demonstrated the resolve and determination of millions of workers who want real change and solutions, and not mere promises, cosmetic reforms, and illusions in a system that sows destruction and exploitation throughout the planet.

Immigration to the U.S. is not a “personal choice”. Most undocumented immigrants in this country are economic exiles, victims of the imperialist economic and foreign policy of the U.S. and Europe.  This process has been accelerated due to recent “free trade” agreements.  The effects of the greed and rapaciousness of the capitalist class can only be described as a one-sided war against the poor peoples of the world.  This is the price humanity must pay for the capitalists to accumulate ever more wealth.

The crisis of our peoples, the crisis of humanity, is the crisis of world capitalism. Capitalism can only advance by destroying the living conditions of billions of people around the world – it is truly “horror without end”.

The system is in crisis and its leaders can only maintain their power through lies and violence. They hypocritically defend “their” national borders, while in practice they do not respect any geographic, legal, or economic frontiers. They invade countries, blackmail them economically, and intervene in their internal affairs. For the imperialists there are no borders when it comes to amassing fortunes and destroying entire countries.

These very same capitalists are destroying workers’ quality of life here in the U.S. – destroying jobs and sending them to other countries where low wages and intolerable conditions of total exploitation are the norm – all in the pursuit of higher profits. These days, quality health care and education are luxuries reserved for the rich, while the public’s money is used to finance wars and to line the pockets of the multi-national corporations. Despite this, their propaganda machine never ceases to blame the system’s problems on immigration – never mind that the system could not continue for a single day without exploiting the labor of millions of undocumented workers. They will stop at nothing to divide the working class into the artificial categories of “documented” and “undocumented” – they know that the unity of all working people is the greatest danger to their system and their rule.

It’s no accident that soon after last year’s mega marches, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) intensified its raids. Since July of last year, they have launched a systematic offensive. They have passed new laws that allow the police to detain undocumented workers for no reason, they have sent thousands of troops to the border, and have launched a campaign of persecution around “no match” Social Security numbers. The message is clear – to use any methods necessary to put a halt to the movement. But in reality, these attacks are a sign of weakness, not of strength. The fact that they have to resort to terrorizing us shows that they are deeply worried. It is our duty to respond to each and every one of these attacks in a unified manner!

Many capitalists support “guest worker programs” which would allow a certain number of workers to get temporary work papers. They present this as a suitable “compromise”.  But the end result is the same – the capitalists benefit from a vast pool of cheap and unorganized labor with less than second-class status.  This is not what we mobilized for last spring! 

What we need is a program of struggle based on class independence and an orientation to our natural allies – the rest of the U.S. working class and in particular the unions.  We need to organize action committees in every factory, neighborhood, and school, with democratically-elected delegates to local, state, and national conferences.  This is the only way to effectively organize a national boycott, marches, and demonstrations on May Day 2007.  We can rely only on our own class and our own organizations to do this – we cannot rely on the media, the traditional organizations, or the political parties of the bosses. In unity there is strength!  Join El Militante Sin Fronteras and the WIL to fight for this program!

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