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"Capital Travels Freely - Why Not People!"

by Women of Color in the Global Women's Strike Friday, May. 12, 2006 at 3:37 PM
la@crossroadswomen.net 323-292-7405 PO Box 86681, Los Angeles CA 90086

For May 1, 2006, "A Day Without An Immigrant", Women Say "Capital Travels Freely - Why Not People!" A massive movement of grassroots women and men, workers and students, on the streets in the US is demanding that their work be counted and that this be reflected in what they are entitled to.

"Capital Travel...
020marching.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

A massive movement of grassroots women and men, workers and students, on the streets in the US is demanding that their work be counted and that this be reflected in what they are entitled to: immediate amnesty for all immigrants, no to criminalization, an end to militarization and fences along the US/Mexico border, no increased enforcement, no separation of families, an end to racism, and no to HR 4437 (the Sensenbrenner/King bill). On March 25th 2006, more than one million women, men and children filled the streets of downtown Los Angeles, 500,000 marched in Bush’s home state of Texas, and millions more participated in protests across both urban and rural US, North and South.

This massive and growing movement has shocked elected officials, who are now scrambling to find a way to achieve their goals. The House of Representatives had passed HR4437, and this initially sparked the protests. Since then the Senate has put forward legislation that, while appearing to meet the movement’s demands, is just as punitive, sexist and racist.



The Kennedy McCain Bill, no Solution

The Senate’s Kennedy McCain bill as well as other compromise legislation, claim to open the road to legal status for 11 million undocumented residents and allow 400,000 more immigrants into the US as “guest workers”. But to become “legal,” undocumented workers would have to pay a fine of up to 00, learn English, be nailed down to waged work for a prescribed period, and pay back taxes. It would further criminalize undocumented people and further militarize what is already a war zone at the US/Mexico border. Many – both north and south of the border -- are outraged by this and by the proposed “wall of the empire”, like Israel’s apartheid wall across Palestinian land.

Sexism, Racism and Legislative Proposals

Women will of course bear the brunt of repressive immigration measures; women’s work and women’s lives are undercounted and undervalued everywhere. And it is no accident that most of the immigrants who are under attack are Brown and Black, continuing the long US history of racism, that has included the slaughter of millions of Indigenous peoples; the slave trade that left millions at the bottom of the Atlantic while providing unwaged labor throughout the Americas for centuries; the theft of Texas, California, Nevada and Arizona from Mexico (a refuge for runaway slaves); the internment of people of Japanese descent during World War I; and coups and occupations across the world.

Women are rarely considered, and those of us who are Black or Brown are considered even less. The proposed new laws ignore, both the work women do within the family and the work outside to feed not only family members in the US but also those back in home countries. Immigrant and refugee women (and children), the poorest in any community, already carry the burden of shielding and comforting families and the wider community who face the pervasive fear and terrible uncertainty, including the threat of detention and separation from loved ones.

We cannot detail all of the objections to the proposed new laws, but problems facing women specifically include:

Ø All the work women do in the home, raising children and nurturing and protecting the whole community, is not valued as work, and does not count as a work record establishing a woman’s right to be here. The work of domestic workers and nannies, which enables the women for whom they work to pursue careers, is not likely to provide needed documentation.

Ø Separation of families is likely. For example, children who came to the U.S. later than their mother may not qualify, and non-U.S. citizen children may face deportation because they have a mental or physical disability. What is the mother to do? Stay with the children who have been born here or leave with other children? What if all the children are U.S. citizens but the mother herself is forced to leave? Or the father who is their financial support? Immigrants also face disqualification for absences from the U.S. greater than 45 days; women are often the ones who have to leave due to family crises back home.

Ø Women can be disqualified for legal status on various grounds as being “likely to become a public charge,” including having U.S. citizen children receiving Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF, welfare), or being found “guilty” of crimes of poverty, such as prostitution, petty theft and unlicensed sales, which women turn to for survival. Women are the least able to pay fines, registration fees and other documentation required for each family member, and are the most vulnerable to exploitation by legal professionals.

Ø Caring for children who are already showing signs of acute stress in consequence of this situation, witness the tragic taking of his own life by Anthony Soltero, a 14 year old student organizer of walkouts at his middle school in Ontario, California, when threatened by the vice principal with a three-year prison sentence, a fine for his mother etc. Witness his mother’s grief and her fight for his and all students’ rights.

These laws weaken a community and make all who are vulnerable even more so, including those of us whose sexual preference or lifestyle doesn’t conform to the status quo, as well as those of us who are older or have a disability.

Recognizing Women’s Contributions: We Have Earned the Right to Be Here

While the proposed immigration measures do not count the work, both waged and unwaged, of women who are undocumented or are documented (but whose loved ones are not), and who do the double shift of unwaged and low-waged work, the world is beginning to recognize and value women’s hidden contribution to society. On 3 February 2006, President Hugo Chávez of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela announced that, in recognition for their work in the home, the poorest housewives would receive a monthly income equivalent to 80% of the minimum wage – about 0 per month. Article 88 of Venezuela’s revolutionary constitution also ensures a pension for housewives. Argentina, too, has established a pension for housewives, and the new woman president of Chile is considering such a measure. However, to value caring for people and the environment, beginning with women, who -- whether documented or not -- are the first caregivers, is not a priority for the U.S. government, whose priorities are war, weapons and occupation.

US immigration proposals are in direct conflict with UN resolutions agreed to by the United States. At the UN Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995), the International Women Count Network with the support of over 1200 Non-Governmental Organizations won the historic decision to measure and value unwaged work in official accounts. The Forward Looking Strategies (Nairobi, Kenya 1985) recognizes the work of women within the family and the rights of immigrant women to family unity and social benefits without being penalized.

Opportunism

The present immigration debate is part of the racist environment carefully nurtured by the United States, which it hides behind Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Alberto Gonzales, and other scabs. The whole world watched as poor Black people, most of whom were elderly women and those with disabilities, were left to die in toxic water in New Orleans - this shocked those in other countries who wanted to believe in Bush. What is less well known is that the corporate friends of Bush and Cheney then brought in undocumented immigrants to do the worst of the clean-up at slave wages, in unsafe conditions, and with no protections.

While Black people, starting with single mothers, across the US are poorer today than three decades ago, so-called Black and Brown “leaders” who have gotten “a piece of the pie” (or at least some crumbs and a photo op) have left behind the grassroots movement that made the way for them, and are helping Bush and his friends to get away with slaughter and torture.

Also “advocates” and Non-Governmental Organizations who are more concerned about protecting their grant money than ending racism and poverty in the US (and internationally) have been bought out by those in the business of buying and selling movements.

Black/Brown Unity or Division?

In an attempt to stop or weaken grassroots self-mobilization, some in the halls of power are whipping up Black/Brown divisions. Black/Brown coming together in a movement for economic and social justice would challenge them more strongly than anything ever seen in the US. That’s why those who hold power over all of us are quite prepared to use provocateurs and misinformation, to pit people against one another from prisons to schools to neighborhoods, all to keep Black and Brown communities apart. So for example some within the Black community charge that immigrants are taking jobs from Black people and displacing Black programs in schools. The truth that disproves such claims is kept from the general public. Few have been informed about the rich history of collaboration between Black and Brown people.

Those of us who are Black and who claim we are “American,” that we helped to build the US and that we should have rights that those of us from “south of the border” should not have, are ignorant of the people of African descent who, since slavery, have lived in Central and Latin America, including Mexico and Brazil (which has the largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa). They are either ready to be used by those in power, or encouraged by the inaction of so-called “leaders”, or glad to have other people over whom they can have some power, or denying the fact that this land was stolen from indigenous people, including those “south of the border.” Furthermore, it has been the work not only of those living in the United States, in particular those at the bottom economically, but also of those of us from the Global South everywhere, starting with women who do 2/3s of the world’s work for 5% of the world’s income, that has made possible the wealth accumulated in the US.

Grassroots Self-mobilizes Globally

But despite the efforts of elected officials, NGO’s and so-called advocates, grassroots self-mobilizations are hitting the streets, in the forefront of what some are calling the new civil rights movement. This movement of immigrants against racism and for the right to live where we choose is global -- from grassroots women who have proclaimed “capital travels freely, why not people”, to Indigenous people in Latin America calling for an end to borders that divide their nations, to the Sans Papiers (undocumented) movement against “Fortress Europe” that has spread from France throughout Europe. In Australia, London, New York, Madrid, and other major cities, asylum seekers from the global South are staking their claim against former colonial powers. High school students in East Los Angeles and throughout Southern California have led walkouts that spread to thousands of schools throughout the US in both urban and rural areas.

This global movement is inspired and strengthened by the revolutions now taking place in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti and spreading like a cane fire across the Americas. And at the forefront is the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela, a Black and Brown women-led non-party revolution, with President Hugo Chavez as its leader and spokesperson challenging the United States and working to establish a caring economy. And we cannot forget the Cuban Revolution, which has held out against the US government bent on destroying it for more than four decades.

Indigenous people from all over Latin America called for an end to borders in Caracas Venezuela, January 2006. A similar demand has been made by the Global Women’s Strike since the first Strike action in 2000. The call for a May 1st “Great American Boycott: A Day Without An Immigrant”, despite lack of support from labor unions, quickly spread via the immigrant grapevine across Mexico and Latin America and became a global day of action, the closest we have seen to a general strike across the Americas; a movement that has only just begun to make its presence felt.



From Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike

& Global Women’s Strike

The Global Women’s Strike is a network which organizes throughout the year to end poverty and war and environmental devastation. Men’s support and participation are coordinated by Payday, a multiracial global network of men. Every International Women’s Day since 2000, grassroots women and men in over 60 countries have taken action to demand that society Invest in Caring Not Killing, and that the money squandered on war be spent instead on what our communities need, beginning with the needs of women the first carers on whom everyone else depends.



Contact: la@crossroadswomen.net 323-292-7405

philly@crossroadswomen.net 215-848-1120 sf@crossroadswomen.net 415-626-4114

For more information go to www.globalwomenstrike.net and www.refusingtokill.net

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Black & Brown: One People One Struggle

by Women of Color in the Global Women's Strike Friday, May. 12, 2006 at 3:37 PM
la@crossroadswomen.net 323-292-7405 PO Box 86681, Los Angeles CA 90086

Black & Brown: One P...
04black_brown.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

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Invest in Caring...

by Women of Color in the Global Women's Strike Friday, May. 12, 2006 at 3:37 PM
la@crossroadswomen.net 323-292-7405 PO Box 86681, Los Angeles CA 90086

Invest in Caring......
placards600pix.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x800

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