Apr 10, 2006
“Immigration reform” – under this watchword, right-wing Republicans in the House of Representatives pushed through a bill that would turn immigrants without legal papers into felons, and make anyone who helps them, including members of their own family, a felon.
It’s nothing but an attempt by outright reactionary forces to divert the anger of native-born workers from the bosses who are making all of our lives more and more insecure.
Equally disgusting are the hypocrites who played on the hopes of immigrants for “legalization” in order to push through a bill that aids essentially only the bosses.
For example, Ted Kennedy and John McCain proposed a bill giving a kind of semi-legal status to immigrants, hedged in by all sorts of limitations and requirements. In reality, what it did was legally authorize the bosses to hire immigrants, without giving full legal status to the immigrants they hired.
As though that weren’t bad enough, the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote a “compromise” between the Kennedy-McCain bill and the House bill, making the conditions faced by immigrants still worse. Two days later, the Senate Republican leadership came up with a “compromise” of the “compromise.” This “compromise” – with still worse conditions – was said to have the support of 70 of the Senate’s 100 members. But it stalled, supposedly because right-wing Republicans and some Democrats refused to go along with it. There is talk now about a third “compromise” when Congress gets back from its spring recess.
None of these bills really give legal status to immigrants who have been living and working here, many for years.
But without full legalization, an immigrant worker who attempts to fight against low wages and rotten conditions faces expulsion from the country. A bill that “legalizes” you only so long as you are working is a bill that gives your boss a very big weapon against you.
When one part of the working class is forced to work for lower wages and worse conditions because they aren’t quite “legal,” every part of the working class is more vulnerable to attack.
There’s a reason the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports this kind of semi-legalization – it provides labor forced to work for lower wages. That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce went so far as to support and encourage the recent demonstrations of immigrants – just as did the Spanish language radio and TV stations that are owned by some of the biggest U.S. media chains.
By pointing to the open attack in the House bill, the politicians hope to get the support of immigrants for the less obvious attack in the Senate bill.
In effect, the bosses are trying to use the anger of the immigrants to support a bill in Congress that will be an attack on the immigrants themselves.
There is no answer for workers – immigrant or native born – in any of these bills in front of Congress. The only answer is to fight for full legal rights for every worker. When every worker has the same rights, every worker can fight against the real enemy, the bosses who lower all of our wages, worsen all of our working conditions.
The immigrants who flooded out into the streets of some of the biggest cities in the country to protest their illegal status could force the bosses to back off – but not by throwing their support to any of the bills making their way through Congress.
The Chamber of Commerce is not the friend of immigrant workers. No more than the politicians who play on anti-immigrant sentiments are friends of native-born workers.
The bosses and their politicians are the only “foreigners” in this country, the only “aliens” – the ones who should be tossed out.
The workers have plenty of forces when we depend on each other, all of us, native-born and immigrant.