The Rights of Immigrants – The Rights of All

June 26, 2014

While on the surface the capitalist state seems to follow contradictory policies on the question of immigration, there is a “method to this madness.” On the one hand, the capitalists recruit immigrant labor from the four ends of the earth, making extensive use of the labor of both documented and undocumented workers. On the other hand, the capitalist government and monopoly controlled media never tire of “alerting the nation” about the “tidal wave of illegal immigration;” repressive laws and measures are implemented against immigrants and millions of undocumented workers are deported every year.

In fact, these two seemingly contradictory policies – the extensive use of immigrant labor side-by-side with a constant campaign allegedly seeking to limit the use of immigrant labor – are merely different sides of the same coin. Precisely because the undocumented immigrant workers are subjected to a host of repressive laws they remain in a condition of virtual slavery. While some workers are deported, the capitalists always have plenty of “fresh blood” at hand.

The net result of this policy is that immigrants – both legal and illegal – are forced into a caste which can be super-exploited and oppressed. In other words the system of discrimination and persecution against immigrants was created and is maintained in order to provide the capitalists with a pool of cheap labor. This, in turn, assists the capitalists by creating divisions amongst the people, forcing down the wages of the entire working class and denying the rights of all.

This situation must be changed. The people of this country have always tried to create a land of asylum and a society which guarantees equal rights for all. This is especially true of the U.S. working class which is made up of workers of all nationalities. The workers can only advance their class interests by defending the rights of all.

The struggle for immigrant rights is especially important at this time. The Obama administration is demagogically talking about “amnesty” for undocumented workers even while it is preparing yet more attacks on immigrants. Obama is proposing a “limited amnesty” which would leave millions of undocumented workers mired even deeper in illegality. In addition, Obama is pushing for an expanded “guest worker” program – like the infamous bracero program of the 1950’s – to provide a constant stream of cheap labor for the capitalists in such sectors as agriculture, hotels, meatpacking, nursing homes, etc. Guest workers are allowed in the country only for limited periods as specified by their work contracts, denied the rights of citizens, and subjected to the worst working and living conditions.

In short, Obama and company look on immigrants not as human beings with inalienable rights but as an “economic factor” for increasing the profits of U.S. capitalism – as meat in the market to be superexploited. Today, as part of its program of “globalization,” U.S. imperialism is not only plundering other countries, but – after despoiling other economies and depriving people of their livelihoods – imperialism seeks to bring the disenfranchised foreign workers here to be at the beck and call of the U.S. capitalists.

The struggle for immigrant rights as well as the entire fight against the reactionary agenda of big capital shows the need for the workers and people to take the initiative into their hands by coming out as an independent political force with their own aims and agenda. An essential part of the workers’ agenda is the demand for a modern definition of rights. Not only must every member of society be assured equal economic, political and social rights but these rights cannot be left to exist only on paper while they are ignored or violated in practice. The economic and political system must provide real guarantees so that everyone can enjoy the right to a job or livelihood, to free medical care, to full participation in political affairs and all the other inalienable rights of the people.