FORGET DONKEYS, ELEPHANTS AND GREENS-BUILD A WORKERS PARTY!
Forgive the writer for taking a page from the late, unlamented Ronald Reagan’s playbook but with all this talk on Capitol Hill about walling in the Southwest I got carried away. The point however is that such a scheme as is currently proposed in the House version of the immigration bill is flat out crazy. And that, my friends, is a true political fact. No militant can support any of the immigration bills before Congress and if we had workers party representatives in Congress we would emphatically and loudly vote such measures down.
A few thoughts on the struggle for full citizenship rights for all immigrants.
As I write these lines there have been a couple of weeks of massive demonstrations for immigrant rights spearheaded by the Hispanic populations of the West and Southwest followed by a massive May Day boycott and further demonstrations. Noteworthy, in Chicago at least, were contingents of Polish, Irish and other nationalities. All these developments are steps in the right direction and points out the stark reality of immigration in America. In the final analysis all real victories for working people come from the streets not from the Congress.
Let’s face it, one way or another, in the near or remote past, almost all of us came here as immigrants from someplace else. I will confess that, as far as I know, my father’s forbearers were run out of England as horse thieves in the early 1800’s. My mother’s forbearers came over from Ireland on the ‘famine ships’ in the 1840’s. Thus, my family tree is a little shaky on what passed for green cards in those days. The point is that people generally do not leave their countries of origin without extremely good reasons to leave. Those who want to shut the door on immigrants here, unless their surnames are Chief Joseph, Red Cloud or Sitting Bull, should be very, very circumspect about their positions. In fact, let us check THEIR green card history. Sorry, even arrival on the Mayflower is not good enough.
It is particularly important that the last waves of immigration gain the same rights that those of us who have been here longer. This is especially true for working class people who have been victimized by the same divide and conquer strategy by the capitalists who run this government and the country. Let’s put the onus where it belongs, on the capitalist who do benefit from such policies. Immigrants do not threaten our livelihoods. Failure to struggle against the bosses does.
One aspect of the current bills is the ‘guest worker’ plan. Let us be clear- THIS IS INDENTURED SERVITUDE- and must be opposed by militants. It is noteworthy that the major labor federations, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win Coalition as well as such an august figure as the National Chairman of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean have expressed at least half-hearted opposition to this portion of the bills. They believe they are being progressive and pro-worker by such a stand. And such a position would be truly progressive- in the 1700’s. For militants today that is not nearly enough.
It is rather ironic that one of the most impoverished sections of the working class-Hispanics- is leading the struggle. This is not accidental, for many of the foreign born militants leading today’s struggles come from countries where they have participated in class struggles against their own boss class (and under less than democratic conditions, including loss of life). It is up to the American labor movement, especially the organized trade union movement, to lead the fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants in its own self-interest and self-defense. Even a cursory look at the history of social struggles in this country demonstrates that to win any demands sharp class struggle methods are needed. Yesterday’s labor struggles to win union recognition in the 1930’s were not gifts but fought for in the streets, by strikes, sit-downs and other militant methods. The lesson-If you do not fight you cannot win. This battle can be won. Let’s win it.
The writer has been asked what type of immigration bill he would support. Well, I have a simple one point plan. Give each immigrant a local map, and depending on individual economic circumstances, bus fare, train fare or money for a car rental and head him or her to the nearest federal courthouse to be swore in as a citizen. Enough said.
FULL CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS FOR ALL THOSE WHO MAKE IT HERE! NO REPRISALS AGAINST DEMONSTRATORS! DROP CHARGES AGAINST ANY ARRESTEES!
BRING MOTIONS TO SUPPORT THESE DEMANDS BEFORE YOUR UNION, STUDENT GOVERNMENT, POLITCAL ORGANIZATIONS OR RELGIOUS GROUPS. URGE A NO VOTE ON ALL CURRENT IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION BEFORE CONGRESS.
THIS IS PART OF A SERIES OF ARTICLES OF COMMENTARY ON THE 2006-2008 ELECTION CYCLE UNDER THE HEADLINE- FORGET THE DONKEYS, ELEPHANTS, GREENS-BUILD A WORKERS PARTY!
FOR MORE POLITICAL COMMENTARY AND BOOKS REVIEWS CHECK MY BLOG AT- Http://markinbookreview.blogspot.com/