The Worker (Update), April 21, 2008
Published by the Workers Party, USA
P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625

The Struggle for Immigrant Rights

The struggle for immigrant rights, which is rallying workers and democratic-minded people throughout the country, is a clarion call to all the workers and people to rise in the struggle for democratic rights for all.

The immediate aims of the movement are to stop the government from imposing anti-immigrant laws which would criminalize immigrants and further repress them.

The federal government has tried but not succeeded in imposing reactionary laws that would increase the repression of immigrants such as the Sensenbrenner bill (H.R. 4437) in 2005, the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006,” and the STRIVE Act in 2007. All of these bills have included provisions for militarizing the border, moving towards a national ID system, criminalizing immigrants. The latter two would create new castes of workers who can legally be deprived of basic rights—through means including “guest worker” programs and an “earned path” to citizenship.

In the recent period, the U.S. capitalists' anti-immigrant agenda has been carried out increasingly at the state and local level.

In many areas local police have been instructed to ask about immigration status and to report people without proper identification to federal immigration authorities. In addition, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers are training over 100 local police departments in targeting immigrants.

Twenty-five states already have laws or amendments declaring English the “official language.” Others are being pushed through in towns and cities. Such laws are reactionary, not only because they trample on the inviolable human right to speak one’s own native language, but also because they are an integral part of the criminalization of immigrants and ongoing propaganda campaigns aimed at inciting racism. Furthermore, they implicitly give the green light to increased profiling and arrests of people of the minority nationalities and immigrants.

Many laws have been pushed through local governments quickly and quietly in an attempt to bypass the inevitable mass outrage. Nevertheless, people have organized in opposition and in many areas such measures have been and are being defeated.

Through mass rallies and numerous other forms of struggle, people are defeating anti-immigrant legislation at the state and local levels, including efforts to cut off public benefits to immigrants, efforts to cut off access to college education, efforts to forbid immigrants from driving legally, and efforts at integrating state and local police with ICE.

People continue to oppose repressive measures as they are being implemented.

Protests took place in Pheonix in April against "saturation patrols" carried out in Maricopa County, AZ. The Sheriff's department, with ICE backing, organized officers and others to stop masses of people in Latino neighborhoods; dozens have already been arrested.

A similar police "crackdown" has doubled the number of immigrants referred by local police to federal authorities in New Jersey over the last year. Mass outrage has forced the racist profiling and repression out into the light of day and authorities are shouting themselves hoarse claiming that such things are "mistakes," but have been forced to back down, at least partially and temporarily.

In defeating and fighting against these measures, the immigrant rights movement makes an enormous contribution to the fight for a truly modern America which recognizes the equality of every nationality and which recognizes that the rights of one are inseparable from the rights of all. This struggle must be carried to completion.

American Axle Workers Strike

Over 3,600 members of United Auto Workers at five American Axle and Manufacturing plants in New York and Michigan have been on strike since February 26.

American Axle and Manufacturing is a spin off from General Motors and produces auto parts, primarily for General Motors.

The workers are fighting American Axle's demand for concessions. The concessions include elimination of retiree health coverage and pensions for many of the workers, and drastic wage cuts—by as much as 50% for some workers.

American Axle is attempting to force the concessions contract by claiming it is necessary in order to stay "competitive." This is the same slogan which the capitalists in every sector are using to slash workers' wages and benefits.

The facts are that American Axle had $3.25 billion in sales and claimed $37 million in profits last year.

The workers have had enough. They are determined to stop cuts on wages, health care, and pensions.

Picket lines have been set up at American Axle plants and workers say they will stay on strike "as long as it takes."

The tremendous collective strength of the workers can be seen in the fact that because of the American Axle workers strike, GM has had to idle or cut production at more than 30 plants.

The workers are receiving enthusiastic support. Mass rallies are being held, as on April 17, when 300 other workers and community members joined a rally of American Axle workers in Three Rivers, Michigan.

For Your Reference:

Language Rights and the Equality of Nationalities

April 21, 2008

On May 18, the Senate voted to direct the federal government to "preserve and enhance the role of English as the national language of the United States of America."

The Senate resolution further declares that no one has "a right, entitlement or claim to have the government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services or provide materials in any language other than English." The Senate also voted that immigrants seeking to qualify for citizenship must demonstrate English proficiency and understanding of American history and government.

The Senate resolution still does not have the force of law, but its provisions are widely supported in the House of Representatives, which could pass a similar resolution, and by George Bush. In his May 15 speech, Bush said that our "common identity as Americans" includes "an ability to speak and write the English language." Bush also insists on legislation to mandate that immigrants learn English.

The attempt of the Senate and Bush to impose English as the "national language" is a brutal attack not only on millions of immigrants but also on the oppressed minority nationalities in the U.S.

The fact is that English is not the only language in the U.S.

Historically people spoke Native American languages, as well as Spanish, long before English was heard on the territory which comprises the present-day U.S.

Through force of arms, the Anglo-dominated state grabbed the land of the indigenous peoples, of the Mexican people in the southwest, the Puerto Rican people, the Hawaiian people, etc. These peoples were deprived of their national independence and forced under the thumb of the capitalist state which, for centuries, has tried to erase the peoples' national identities by suppressing their languages, their cultures, and their human rights. Similarly, the capitalist state has tried to force immigrants to give up their national identities and languages.

But the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Native, Hawaiian and other peoples have continued to assert their national identity and rights, including their language rights. The fact that today many languages flourish in the U.S. is a testament to the vitality of the oppressed nationalities as well as the multi-national character of our country.

In sum: the U.S. is a country with many nationalities. To deny the language rights of non-English speaking peoples - to declare English as the "national language" - means legislating the superiority of one nationality and the oppression and degradation of other nationalities. It means denying the equality of peoples.

Every nationality has the equal, inalienable right to its language and culture. The government must guarantee the right of every person to fully participate in all the common affairs of society on the basis of their mother tongue.