May 1st — Day of Struggle for Immigrant Rights

April 8 , 2007

On May 1, millions of people in cities and towns throughout the country will join in demonstrations for immigrant rights. The main slogans will include "Full Rights for Immigrants!", "Stop Raids and Deportation!" and "Stop the Militarization of the Border!"

These marches and rallies are a continuation of the massive immigrant rights movement which developed in 2006. Last year's mobilizations focussed on and successfully defeated the government's attempt to pass new anti-immigrant legislation. In addition, people organized many new initiatives to fight against raids and deportations, to help unionize immigrant workers and fight for better wages, to build new organizations in the communities and unfold many struggles to advance immigrant rights.

The work underway for this year's May 1 actions indicate that the immigrant rights movement is continuing to develop in breadth and depth.

The capitalist class and the government, for their part, have not given up their anti-immigrant agenda.

Last year, the federal government began building a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and Bush deployed 6,000 national guardsmen along the border.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carried out dozens of raids in immigrant communities, deporting tens of thousands. Heavily-armed ICE agents stormed factories across the country, arresting, shackling and "disappearing" thousands of workers. These raids, generally carried out at the request of the capitalists, often directly targeted union activists. Many of those deported were caregivers for infants and children; the government left the children to fend for themselves.

Congress, as well as various cities and towns, keeps pushing new anti-immigrant laws.

Immigration and Capitalism

U.S. capitalism is built on the superexploitation and national oppression of immigrant labor.

To begin with, the capitalists brought the African peoples here as slaves. Europeans were imported as indentured servants. Later, after grabbing, by war, the present-day southwest, the capitalists disenfranchised the Mexican people, stealing their land and turning them into agricultural and industrial workers. So too, successive waves of immigrants from Germany, Ireland, China, Eastern and Southern Europe, etc. were brought to the U.S. in a myriad of legal and illegal ways. Each wave of immigrants was subjected to abuse, racism, repression and confined to the lowest rung of a complicated caste system designed to maximize the exploitation of the workforce.

Thus, while Chinese immigrants were branded "coolies," the capitalists were content to use their labor and their lives to build the railroads. While laws were passed condemning Eastern and Southern European workers as genetically inferior, the capitalists eagerly used their labor to build the stockyards, the steel mills, etc., etc. In the last 50 years, new waves of immigrants - from Mexico and Latin America, from the Philippines, India and Asia, from Africa and Eastern Europe - have continued to be superexploited and oppressed by the capitalists.

Today, the capitalists and the government have created a complex caste system of "undocumented workers," "guest workers", "legal immigrants" and citizens. More than 11 million undocumented workers and their families are at the bottom of this caste system, forced to live "underground," deprived of the most basic human rights. By constantly holding the threat of deportation over the heads of "undocumented" workers, the capitalists are able to superexploit them, deprive them of unions and other democratic rights and organizations. Today, both the Republican and Democratic parties are working to drastically increase the number of "guest workers." "Guest workers" are generally hired at poverty-level wages for a fixed period of time (one or two years) and then sent back to their native country. Thus they form a rotating pool of temporary, foreign-born workers at the beck and call of the capitalists. Even legal immigrants are denied basic human rights, including freedom of association and political actions, as well as the right to bring their families here. This superexploitation of immigrants is, of course, also used to divide the working class and drive down the wages and rights of everyone.

Colonial Domination

Immigrants are forced to come here largely because of the colonial oppression imposed on their native countries by U.S. imperialism. The U.S. capitalists have stolen the natural resources and taken control over the economic foundations of countries around the world. Thus the working people in Mexico, Haiti, the Philippines and scores of countries have been deprived of any means of a livelihood.

Today, under the signboard of "globalization," U.S. capitalism has extended its worldwide colonial empire. As part of this process, every year, 200 million workers are forced to leave their native lands to seek a livelihood in the U.S. or other imperialist countries. In many countries, such as the Philippines, more than 50% of the peoples' incomes come from remittances sent home by migrant workers.

U.S. imperialism has turned whole countries into slave nations whose labor force is part of a rotating pool of indentured servants. When the capitalists want to expand their labor force, they bring migrant workers here, only to send them back, penniless, when their labor isn't needed.

Our country is a land of immigrants and the struggle for full rights for immigrants has always been an indispensable part of the struggle of the U.S. working class and people.

Today, the struggle for immigrant rights is giving new impetus to all the democratic struggles of the American people - to the struggle against racism and national oppression, to the struggle against the growing repression and fascism of the state, to the working class struggle against exploitation and for emancipation. Let us all help carry the struggle for immigrant rights through to the end by creating a society which guarantees, in practice, equal rights for all.