Mar 27, 2006
The proposal to turn immigrants without papers into criminals is the answer of right wing politicians to their falling numbers in the polls. Hoping to resurrect a reactionary base in the population by pushing patriotism, they also hope to win over workers concerned about the loss of jobs, and especially the loss of good-paying jobs.
If these politicians hope to gain a hearing by making such proposals, it’s because there has been such a drastic loss of good paying jobs with benefits over the last few decades.
Company after company has found ways to dump better paid workers, replacing them with low-paid workers. The Big 3 auto companies, for example, have spun off their parts plants into a multitude of companies, many of them very small, and many located in rural areas of Indiana, Ohio or out-state Michigan, where there are few jobs, and where the young workers still left can be forced to take a $6.50 an hour job – just because there’s nothing else.
Other companies have pushed to open plants in the rural South, even while shutting down plants in the traditional industrial areas of the Mid-West or Pennsylvania.
And still others have turned to setting up sweat shops in the middle of big cities, bringing in immigrants without papers to staff them. In many different sectors – including construction, meat packing, small factories, hotels, restaurants and janitorial services – the bosses simply expelled those workers who had been paid better wages. Using whatever pretext to do so, they dumped union contracts, and the workers along with them. Taking advantage of the extreme poverty and misery in underdeveloped countries like Mexico and other Latin American countries, the bosses have been using the acute desperation of workers fleeing these countries to bring down wages here – wages not only of native-born American workers, but also of the previous generation of immigrants.
Even while the actual employment of black workers – and in many cases white workers also – went down, the employment of immigrants went up. Studies recently reported on by the New York Times point up this situation in the real employment figures for males between the ages of 20 and 30. This is the prime time for someone to enter the work force and install himself and his family in society. Only 50% of black males in this age group with a high-school diploma have a regular, full-time job. Among white males the rate of real employment is 79% and among Hispanic males, thepercentage of those employed is 81%. For males without a high-school diploma, the gap is much worse, with only 28% of black males with a job, 66% of whites, and the same 81% of Hispanics. Historically and still today, the most oppressed part of the working class, black workers, continue to be the first to be squeezed out of jobs and neighborhoods.
Such a situation is used by the bosses to create divisions in the working class. And these divisions have already produced increased tensions between immigrants and the exploited and oppressed inside the working class, including ethnic-based violence.
Vile reactionary politicians hope to play on this horrible situation for their own personal gain.
No part of the working class has an interest to let itself be pulled along.
Immigrant workers aren’t “taking the jobs,” the bosses are. And they are doing it in a multitude of ways. So long as workers don’t fight to keep their jobs when they have them, so long as they don’t fight to stop the speed-up, the outsourcing, the two-tier wages – just that long the bosses are free to do whatever they want, including setting one part of the working class against another.
If workers who are today losing jobs (or failing to find them) turn against recent immigrants, they will only worsen the situation, making it easier for the bosses to attack everyone.
Either we stand together, or we fall separately.
And damn these racist politicians to hell!