May 22, 2006
Handing the bosses a weapon against every worker in this country, the U.S. Senate seems ready to pass a so-called “immigration reform” bill. The Senate bill is supposed to be “better” than the one passed by the House last December, HR 4437 – what people call the Sensenbrenner bill.
In fact, the Senate bill is every bit as much an attack, it just does it in a much more sneaky and insidious way.
Immigrants without papers are to be divided into three different groups, with only one of those groups having a “pathway” to citizenship – which they can get 13 years from now if there are no hitches. But hitches there will be. For most of those 13 years, this “favored” group will be in a situation where they are “semi-legal” at best. They will have to pass test after test, pay thousands of dollars in fines and fees, agree to let members of their family be deported if they don’t have the same status and – above all – keep quiet. Their status can be changed, made fully “illegal” at the whim of any petty official, at the behest of any boss.
In other words, immigrant workers are being told don’t oppose your employer, don’t attempt to organize a real union, don’t push to strike for better wages. Don’t rock the boat. There are so many technicalities written into the bill, almost any person can be thrown out.
The Senate and Bush dare pretend they are giving the immigrants a gift. This is no gift. It’s an outright attack. And yet, this is the best the so-called Senate “reform” has to offer. And it applies to only about one-third of the nearly 12 million immigrants without papers.
For another third, they have no possibility whatsoever to gain citizenship and the bill orders them to leave or be deported. The remaining third can remain “legally” in this country for the next three years – but then they too have to leave voluntarily or face deportation.
In other words, the choice in front of two-thirds of the immigrants without papers is either to stay here “illegally” or to leave, some right now, some in three years.
This is no choice! None at all!
Most people will remain here “illegally” just as they have been here up until now, looking over their shoulders every day as they go to work.
The Senate bill is not, as some people say, a step in the right direction. It is not the lesser of the two evils, when compared to Sensenbrenner. There are only two evils.
The Senate bill is nothing but a scam, aimed at convincing the immigrants they are getting a gift, when in reality they are only getting screwed, with one part forced to work for years without any rights, and the majority kept in an illegal status.
This is an attack on the whole working class. When one part of the working class is without rights, every part of the working class is weakened. Immigrant workers without rights, who have to keep a job, any job, in order to stay in the country, are forced to work for much less money. The bosses pit the immigrants against other workers, and pit the immigration police against the immigrants. It’s a perfect way to divide the working class.
The whole working class needs to push for immigrants to be given full legalization – and immediately. They have been working, contributing to the wealth the bosses amass off the workers’ labor, paying taxes, helping make the country run. They are an integral part of the working class.
It’s not the immigrants who are cutting wages today or suppressing good-paying jobs. It’s the bosses. The standard of living of the whole working class is going down because the bosses are stealing still more profit from the labor of every one of us. And they are doing it because workers are not fighting back against them as a single unified class.
Either the working class will stand together in the face of these attacks, or we will be splintered into many parts, without force.
Our unity is what gives us the power to back down the bosses.