The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Migrants Are Part of Our Class, the Working Class

Oct 2, 2023

On September 20, the Biden administration announced it would allow 472,000 people from Venezuela to legally work in the U.S.

These migrants do need the right to work—but that is all they are getting, no other legal rights that citizens have. And even that right to work is good for just 18 months.

When he welcomed Biden’s decision to grant work permits, the governor of Illinois made clear who this policy is really aimed at helping: "In Illinois, we’re facing worker shortages in critical industries like hospitality, food processing, health care, and transportation, and these additional workers will help relieve these shortages and the burden they place on employers."

In fact, the interests of employers drive every aspect of U.S. policy, and it is these policies that have created this “crisis” in the first place.

There are already estimated to be more than eleven million undocumented people living in the U.S., many of whom have been here for decades. Most of them work already despite lacking work permits. While employers have no interest in deporting these workers, they also have little interest in granting them more rights since their lack of rights and inability to qualify for any benefits keeps them under their employers’ thumb more than other workers. The policy of every administration in recent memory, including Trump, just happens to line up with these employers’ interests—no new rights and no mass deportation of immigrant workers.

Migration itself is also largely driven by U.S. policies that serve U.S. corporations.

For more than 100 years, U.S. policy toward Venezuela has been aimed at ensuring that U.S. and European oil companies get the lion’s share of profit from that country’s vast oil wealth. In 1999, Venezuela began to take a slightly independent stance, using a tiny bit of the oil wealth for a few social programs. In response, the U.S. has backed at least two attempted coups and imposed increasingly severe sanctions that have destroyed the Venezuelan economy. For many workers in Venezuela, wages are no longer enough to pay for food. This is why so many are willing to take the risk to try to come to the United States.

This is not just a Venezuelan problem. U.S. corporations extract wealth produced by workers in every country of the region, whether they are growing bananas in Honduras, sewing clothing in Guatemala, or making auto parts in Mexico. U.S. policies toward each of these countries are aimed, first of all, at defending the interests of these corporations. The result is that they keep whole populations impoverished, breed violence, and have driven large numbers of people to leave their countries.

The U.S. corporations are determined to reap profits from the population of the entire world to the extent possible. They don’t care if they exploit these workers in Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico—or in the U.S., if the workers manage to get here.

These corporations and the politicians who serve them have an interest in dividing us. They benefit when we fight over who gets to live in what country, who gets what rights, even who gets access to the few beds available in homeless shelters.

But workers have a different interest. We are the same class, the working class, wherever we live, however we got there. We have an interest in every member of our class being able to live a decent life with the same rights as everyone else. To get that, we will have to fight the giant corporations that exploit everyone they can on every side of every border. And our fights will be all the stronger, the more we are united as a class.